Nanny in KiddolandPosted: April 30, 2013
I recently watched Alice in Wonderland for the millionth time, both the Disney animated version and the 1985 movie (featuring an all-star cast including Ringo Starr, Sammy Davis Jr., Shirley Winters, and Lloyd Bridges). This prompted me to break out the Lewis Carroll tome and delve deep into this most whimsical and wonder-filled tale. It occurred to me while watching both films, and subsequently reading the text, that Alice’s experiences in the strange land of Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass are not so unlike those of a nanny entering the world of kiddos.
- Children are like Cheshire Cats. At times when avoiding blame, evading responsibility, or simply through misunderstanding kiddos have a knack for bearing a striking resemblance to the cat with the disappearing/reappearing body, and the frustrating habit of never giving Alice a straight answer. As a Supernanny I know that sometimes I have to ask children exactly the right question or I may not get a sensible, or not nonsensical answer. I’ve learned to ask, “Did you spill the paint by accident?” is met with a more honest answer than, “Who spilled the paint?”
- Just like in Wonderland, Kiddoland is home to the order of opposites. While in Wonderland up is down, right is wrong, and nothing is as it seems, in Kiddoland when Rebel answers, “No wet diaper,” Doc explains that, “That means it is a wet diaper.” Curioser and curioser! Or as we say in Austin: Weirder and weirder!
- Upon arriving at a tea party, Alice is met with much rudeness by the Mad Hatter and the March Hare, not unlike how charges respond to nannies and supernannies alike at first. It takes time to win them over and imminent separation anxiety is the source of much resentment to even the cheeriest nanny in the beginning. I’ve had my fair share of mornings when I arrive excited to start my day, but am greeted by kiddos perched at the breakfast table eying me suspiciously, knowing that if I’m there, mommy/daddy won’t be for long…
- The Mad Hatter and March Hare’s penchant for taking words literally is another attribute also found in kiddos. When I asked Rebel to, “Say ‘yes’ nicely, Rebel,” he obliged saying, “Yes nicely Rebel.”
- Working with kiddos and trying to understand them is much like solving riddles. While Alice ponders the Mad Hatter’s query of, “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” I must listen closely for clues to answer the kiddos’ conundrums. One day, while unbuckling Doc from his car seat he told me, “My feet feel like sparkling bubbles.” I surmised after a few Cheshire Cat-minded questions that his feet had fallen asleep during the car ride home from the park.
- Alice receives an unlikely (and unwelcome) lesson in manners from the rather rude twins, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum who seem happy to point Alice’s every misstep, oblivious to their own. I can recall one instance in particular when a five year-old scolded me similarly, “Miss Cheryl, you did NOT say please. You should mind your manners,” to which, not missing a beat, I countered, “With all the due deference I can muster for a boy with his finger shoved in his nose to the knuckle, you’re right, kiddo, ‘will you please use a tissue?’”
- Raging out like the Queen of Hearts is what we in the industry call tantrum-throwing, and just like with the Queen of Hearts, the source of fits can be something as arbitrary as roses the wrong color, or a nanny grabbing the wrong shirt/marker/snack.
Luckily, unlike Alice, a nanny can find her way out of Wonderland anytime she chooses through the reverse rabbit holes of reason and responsibility, and by remembering that even in Kiddoland, supernannies make the rules.