Act Like an Adult, Think Like a ChildPosted: May 23, 2012 | |
I was hanging out with my pal Aspen and her 3 y/o nephew, Doc. He loves my fat cat Dixie “soooooo much”, and always wants to see her when he visits our apartment. On this particular day, Dixie was fast asleep (as she is wont to do sixteen hours out of every day) in her kitty bed, on my queen bed. Doc ran into my room, saw Dixie, and immediately started the slow and (as he is tiny) arduous process of climbing up the side of my bed. I immediately started smiling, stifling a giggle. Aspen looked at her nephew then back at me, laughing. “What’s so funny?” she asked, smiling and inquisitive. I replied, “He must really want to see her and pet her! That’s a lot of work for him to get up there!” See, when I saw him climbing up the side of my bed, I pictured myself with a mountain to climb, of that relative scale. What would I put out that effort and physical exertion for? A glass of red wine after a long day, that’s what!
It got me thinking about my childlike perceptions. Have they developed to suit my job as a nanny? Or maybe they have not shifted much from when I was a kid myself. Relating to children as not only a caregiver, but also as a peer is one of the reasons I enjoy being a nanny so much; the ability to see things from their perspective is a true nannying skill that has served me well. I have not forgotten all the moments that made a difference to me, but probably to no one else.
I would imagine, and I always say, “It’s hard being a baby.” Infants especially have no way of letting you know what they need, or what is wrong, and that must be so frustrating. Heck, I get frustrated in my own life when my phone won’t make a call out immediately. It’s why I have so much patience for babies: it’s not easy being small. I once had a part-time charge, a few mornings per week, and he was a delight! We’ll call him Snuggles. Snuggles’ mom had him on a great sleeping and feeding schedule (and would leave his times out for me, which, as a nanny, was much appreciated). But even with his impeccable schedule, there were times when Snuggles would cry more than usual. Maybe he was super sad that his mom left, or he wasn’t feeling great. On days like these I would start his nap in the rocking chair as usual, and then, if he cried out when I made the move from chair to crib, I’d end up staying in the rocking chair with him for the duration of the nap. It was not an every day routine, but some days it was what he needed. Then he’d wake up, and I would say, “Great nap, Snuggles! Yay!” and he and I would both clap. So funny! Instead of becoming frazzled or freaked out that Snuggles wasn’t a happy baby 24/7, I found a way to bond with him, and those times are some of my favorite nannying memories.
Thinking like a child not only helps me stay cool, calm, and collected in the harsh face of infancy and toddlerdom, it helps me give the benefit of the doubt to the bigger kids when they are “misbehaving.” Like when Mr. Man (at the time 6 y/o) was having a cranky day, I didn’t lose my positivity. Knowing it had been raining for the past few days, and that he probably hadn’t been able to go outside, I said, “Dude, this weather is brutal. I hope we get a sunny day soon so I can take you to the park and get some of those ants out of your pants. I think they’re making you cranky.” Mr. Man deadpanned, “I don’t have ants in my pants.” Now some might think he was being argumentative, but his answer intrigued me, “Then what’s making you cranky?” To which he replied, with a troubled expression, “Well, Miss Cheryl, I think it’s a common house fly in my pants. Or maybe a pincher beetle. And it’s pinching my penis.” Okay, so the park it is, and with any luck pincher-beetle-on-penis problem solved!