April 5, 2019


A few weeks ago, one of the moms, Lynn, who I sit for dropped a bomb at pick up.  ‘Oh Ernie, I have to talk to you about something,’ she whispered as she approached the island.  ‘We are having some family issues. Some financial trouble. The kids’ last day will be Friday.’  Seeing as it was a Friday, she was giving me one week’s notice.

You could have blown me over.  This might seem incredibly insensitive, but I do not believe for a minute that they are having financial difficulties.  Allow me to explain:

This woman teaches preschool full time, and her husband works as a lawyer. Lynn has two kids (Maddy and Jimmy) that only come to my house twice a week.  Monday and Friday. The grandparents watch them on Tues, Wed, Thurs, which are the days the 4.5 year old, Jimmy, goes to preschool so it makes it easy for them to transport him.

This is their first year with me.  Until now, Lynn's parents were watching her kids all 5 days. When her parents asked for a break, Lynn hired a nanny to come to her house.  That didn’t work out. (Lesson #1 - always ask, ‘Why did it not work out?). Lynn works at the same school as Jillie’s mom, and she reached out to me in late August when Jillie's mom described my setup.  We met and she seemed very nice.

And she is very nice.  Her kids are easy and well behaved.  I had one issue with Jimmy, that I believe contributed to them leaving.  He is accustomed to being entertained by his grandparents.  I imagine him sitting at the kitchen table partaking in adult conversation. This would explain comments he would make like:  ‘Did you know they are building a new Panda Express next to my Paw-paw’s grocery store?’

At nap time, he could not entertain himself.  I explained in my initial email to Lynn that if her kid did not nap - no problem, but he would need to be able to play solo.  I have a million bins of toys that promote imagination. Blocks, Thomas the train, legos, fake animals, play-doh you name it! He struggled.  I tried to teach him how to play. ‘This is a safari set - you hide the animals and then the safari workers drive around in this Jeep and capture the animals. These are the nets, cages, and the tent for the workers to sleep in.’ Hours of fun. Minutes later he would pop upstairs wondering what he should play next. He turns 5 next month. What is the deal? I do not do TV for my charges, but I have never been more tempted.

Jimmy and Joey pose in
front of one of their buildings.
I use nap time to schedule ortho appointments, check email, start my dinners, fold my laundry, do some kind of housework (note this is listed as my last priority, sigh), etc. Sometimes I can be found dealing with a fussy baby that does not want to conform to our typical nap time procedures. (Double sigh). As I told Lynn in that introductory email, ‘I don’t sing and dance during nap time, so the non-nappers just need to be able to self entertain.’  My basement is the bomb. Promise.

Anyway, Jimmy gradually get better about figuring out what to do during naps.  I spent more energy than I would care to admit giving him playtime pointers though. Seriously, what is the story - 'GO PLAY!'


Becky Brown said...

As a judgy nonparent, I know the world is just dying to hear my take on this. And so, I shall share it henceforth: WHAT THE HELL?

Any kid who expects to be entertained 24/7 is in for a hard time in, you know, life. Bless you for your patience.

Ernie said...

The world does want to know your thoughts, Becky. Totally valid. I swear my opinion would not change here if you, um, took the opposing viewpoint. Not even sure what the opposing viewpoint would be, 'A kid who knows how to start netflix on his home TV should be commended for being resourceful, not shamed for being crippled by free playtime' or something along those lines.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Gosh I remember my kids playing all alone in their rooms with their toys. It's kinda sad that he hasn't used his imagination to play with toys. I'm glad he is learning to play at your house. Thank you for stopping over. Thank you for the prayers. I'm 67 and I'm thoroughly enjoying my first grandbaby. You are a no-reply so I'm not able to comment you back through email.

Ernie said...

You sure got a cutey as a first grand-baby, congrats - as a grandma I once knew and loved (grandma to kids I babysat for when I was a teen) used to day, 'I mean, you love them anyway!' She always said it so fast - it took me years to realize what she was really saying. Like if you ended up with an ugly baby you would still love them anyway. She was a hoot!

I did not know I was a 'no-reply' - sounds so unfriendly. I might have to see if I can figure out how to change that. Might have to wait a bit. Headed to North Carolina on Friday for Irish dancing World Championships. Yikes!