Big Bear is back to school after his second spring break and we have officially entered the last leg of the school year. With the start of Big Bear’s summer camp, an impending move to a new Bear House and a new writing course, I can’t help but wonder what Summer 2017 has in store.
Firstly, I predict lots of hot, humid weather and annoyingly-timed sun showers. Before Big Bear’s summer camp starts, I also predict countless field trips. We are now proud owners of Jungle Island’s annual pass, along with our Zoo Miami and Miami Seaquarium annual passes. I’m assuming we’ll spend most of our camp-free days alternating between the three.
Big Bear will spend most of the summer at camp (from 8:30-4:30) and my days will mostly be spent with Little Bear. The first summer that I worked for the Bear’s, BB was just a little older than LB (BB was 2/12 and LB will be 2). It’s crazy to think that LB is almost the age that BB was when I first became a nanny. The older LB gets, the more adorable he gets. Except now he’s entering the terrible twos. He shakes his head violently “no” when he doesn’t get his way and he’s starting to throw his toys out of frustration. He also climbs….. everything. The other day, I found him standing on the train table. Why? When I caught him he smiled at me and said, “hi, train, uh-oh.” Each day is a test for him, how can I give my nanny a heart attack today.
BB is at the age that while he still wants to throw tantrums, you can reason with him. You can explain to him, almost logically, why he can’t-do something. Sometimes he’ll cry and show his disappointment, but now he understands that there is a reason that he’s not allowed to eat a whole sleeve of golden Oreos before dinner or why he can’t draw on his little brother with a permanent marker. Little Bear, on the other hand, has no clue why I tell him that he can’t eat week-old, stale Cheerios he found under the couch or throw buckles full of sand out of the sandbox.
Even though LB is 20-months old, I don’t want him to associate me, the nanny, with “cant’s and don’ts,” especially in a house full of so many adults who are all trying to parent their own way. I use these terms entirely too often and every time that I do, it makes me cringe. I believe there are ways to talk to a toddler throwing a tantrum, and sometimes telling them that they can’t-do something isn’t the way.
BB, the kid who has never been a climber, decided to walk into dad’s office yesterday and stand on his swivel, office chair. Dad’s office is a deathtrap, which of course means that its the one room in the house both boys always fight to get into. The floor is littered with loose papers, receipts, and notes. There’s usually an electric drill, maybe some screwdrivers at arm’s length. I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t caught LB casually strolling out of the office holding a hammer. A young Michael Myers in training.
I was truly shocked when I saw BB standing on that chair. I picked him up and put him on the ground. He began screaming right away. I told him that it was time to leave the office. That’s not what he wanted to hear. Instead of dragging him screaming out of the office, I sat down on the floor next to him so that I was eye level. I began to look around. I told him that I didn’t understand why he wanted to play in dad’s boring office when he has a playroom full of toys. He looked around at me. He got up and walked out the door.
At this point, you’d think, “success!” But while I was talking Big Bear off the ledge, Little Bear had crept by me and was busy pushing the on/off button of dad’s printer. He didn’t get the same treatment as his big brother. I picked him up and closed the office door behind us. As predicted, he started screaming and kept saying “no, no, no.” But I brought him into the playroom where BB was busy playing with a toy bus and LB couldn’t get out of my arms fast enough. He always has to do what his big brother is doing.
Sometimes I leave work and I really have no idea why I’m so exhausted. Then I think about my day. I cook three meals for Little Bear. I clean up those three meals. I feed BB dinner. I give them baths. I do laundry, the dishes. I pick up scattered toys and throw out dirty diapers. Despite all that, I know I am lucky. I get two hours a day (I consider it a long lunch break) to do yoga, read Rolling Stone or a novel, write my homework, this blog, or a personal essay, and if I really am just so tired, I have no shame watching the Lifetime Movie Club app on my iPad. It’s the best $3.99 I could spend each month.
Lately, I’ve been on a kick that I want to get an MFA in creative writing. But everything I’ve read reaffirms to do what I’m doing now. Have a job that’s 9-5 (or my case 8-6), where you can write. Take courses that aren’t a fortune that hones in on the kind of writing you want to do.
Children are so special, but they can also be so overwhelming. Sometimes I have to take a step back and say all that I’m grateful for. I never felt this way at my last job, the environment was just too toxic. The way I felt about who I was as a writer was also too toxic.
I am grateful to be on the same frequency as my Day-Fam, the kind of family I hope to have someday. I have a job where if my boss finds me sitting on the couch writing or reading, drinking green tea, she knows that LB is asleep and the house is in order and that I deserve the downtime. I also know that although it doesn’t look so good on paper, I’m glad I have a job that is building towards my future. Each day I discover something new about the way I want to raise my children, the way I want to write and the kind of writer I want to be. Most days, coming home exhausted is well worth the long days.