January 20, 2021

re-framing normal, words weren't his and sanity was ours

A few of you commented that you might miss the drama if all of my families are normal this year. Rest assured, the families are generous with me, appreciative, and I like them . . . most of the time. Allow me to re-frame 'normal' and assure you that there will be plenty of head scratching this year. 

I believe I once referred to the absent-since-early-November guy as World's Worst Baby. Well, he turned 2 in October. I will call him William in place of World's Worst, not because he deserves to ditch that label. It's easier to type. 

As a baby, he didn't like his formula's taste. He had allergies. I was the only one who could get him to drink it. The dad came here for a lesson. 


The dad is a goof. A few months later he asked me if I had an iPhone. When I said no, he was like OH THAT'S TOO BAD, BECAUSE I SHOW HIM VIDEOS ON MY PHONE IN ORDER TO GET HIM TO EAT. 

My thoughts:

A) you need to stop doing that

B) my android is a smartphone, moron. It plays videos just as easily as yours. (This man is a device/video game junkie- how did he not know about an android? His older son had two phones that were HIS as a kindergartner. Don't get me started.)

C) William developed a hatred for food, they say this stems from a bad eating experience i.e.: disliking his formula. He'd scream constantly. I got death stares from people last fall when we went to places because it appeared that I was torturing him. I finally told his parents that he was hungry. Um, I was right. But he had to go to therapy to learn how to eat. In case you didn't know, this is a thing. 

So this family is still here, and while they are very generous- paying me during the pandemic (when we were locked down and they couldn't bring him) and grateful in recognizing that I've helped William a lot, they aren't mainstream types, in my humble opinion. Not deal-breaking issues, but sometimes irritating: 

A) They rarely show up at the designated drop off time OF THEIR CHOOSING, which makes my life a little hard. They are often over 40 minutes late. I hesitate to lay the twins down for naps, because while it doesn't take long, I prefer to be in the kitchen when a kid arrives. Same goes with sitting on the couch feeding a baby a bottle. Should I start the bottle NOW? Or are they going to drop off in 2 minutes and interrupt the bottle in order for me to welcome Mr. Tears?

B) They're almost ALWAYS late to pick up. She's not a teacher, so she picks up later, around 4:30.  She asks often if her kid can stay later than he's supposed to stay - like beyond 4:30 or 5. *editing to add, at the risk of lengthening this:  she texted me this afternoon - "Can William stay till 5:00 or do you want his dad to come get him?" Like why is that even a question - if the dad could get him on time, why wouldn't you just send him over (they work from home, a 2 min drive from my house) rather than ask me a favor?  

C) They can't say no to him. And they wonder why he cries when they drop him off here in the land of WHAT ERNIE SAYS GOES. (this is why Coach often says, YOU'RE THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO THESE KIDS)

EXHIBIT A:  This morning, William's mom told me that he had a toy from home in his hand (I don't allow toys from home because I don't want to keep track of them - most families tend to forget this and I honestly haven't done a reminder message in a while). It wasn't just a no-brainer matchbox car but a part of a set he had at home. She said:   I COULND'T GET IT AWAY FROM HIM. She wanted me to snatch it as soon as he put it down.  

I'm sorry, but . . .  WHAT I JUST HEARD YOU SAY IS THAT YOUR 2 YEAR OLD IS STRONGER THAN YOU ARE AND THAT YOU'RE UNABLE TO PRY THAT TRAIN CAR FROM HIS GRIP. I do get the 'pick you battles' thing and that two year olds are tough, but lay. down. the. damn. law. Some parents just make things harder later (steps off soap box and kicks it out of the way).

So last week, William came back after a 2 month break/quarantine. We braced for his arrival, assuming he'd scream and throw a fit. Like all the other kids who cry when they arrive, they are fine in seconds- usually. William can linger with his tears, so I warned my kids who were still on break:  DON'T EXPECT TO SLEEP IN.

And then . . . he cried on the driveway, but he stopped when he came inside. Head on Mom's shoulder, acting like he was shy. Tank dragged the toy kitchen set out of storage in the basement in advance so there was something new and exciting in the family room. Diversions:  my secret weapon. 

Me:  (taking him from her) WE MISSED YOU. White lies are acceptable in my line of work, by the way. I put him on the floor in the family room. He instantly ran to his favorite drawer of trains. 

He picked up the Little People bus that was already on the floor. His mom said he'd been talking about this bus. Last time we saw him he had very few words. 

Slowly I turned. Step by step. I inched my way back to the kitchen. That's when I heard it  . . . 


William playing with the minivan AND the
YELLOW BUS back in August when words weren't his and sanity was ours.
Is it me, or does this phrase belong on a t-shirt?

I froze. Curly was eating breakfast at the island. Her eyebrows shot up. We were both like OMG! NOOOOO!

Young William must, and I mean MUST, show you the toy he might play with and repeat the name of it 1,000 times until you acknowledge said toy. He sort of did this with colors starting in the fall. 

Mini babysits for William and his brother on weekends. These two boys are 100% screen addicts. Once the folks wheeled a big screen TV into the living room. Baby (keyword here) William was getting teeth, they told Mini. He was fussy, so they put his shows on in the family room. So that the older son wouldn't be stuck without HIS shows, they set up the other TV for him. Mind blown.

I assume that the dad 'taught' William his colors by playing the same video over and over again - on his prized iPhone, till he was like a robot, because in the fall he'd hold up a toy and repeat the color in not-so-clear speech but he'd NEVER play with it. 

The goof dad came to pick up last week and was like: SO DIFFERENT KID, HUH? HE'S REALLY TALKINKG A LOT.



*full disclosure:  not all of my kids had the poop in the potty mastered by 18 mos, but we were working on it and most were done, if not close. They call it TRAINING for a reason. 

*I know it's my hang-up, but parents rarely TRY to get a kid potty trained until they're almost flipping 3. WHY??? By that time, they can practically change their own damn diaper. You know when a perfect time to potty train is? During a pandemic when you aren't leaving the house. 

A week later, he's still on constant repeat. I know repetition might be a stage, but LAWDY it's the worst. The other 2 year old I sit for is younger than William, and he can respond to a YES/NO question without just repeating it. As in:  DO YOU WANT TO READ THE TRAIN BOOK? William repeats it back. 

It's exhausting. 

Reg finds the repeating a greeting thing so funny, that he greets William a million times. It never gets old, for Reg. Will the real 2 year old please step forward? 

Since this family has been so generous with me, I feel awkward correcting stuff like showing up late at pick up, forgetting to knock on the door (yes, they are falling into this habit too!), bringing their own toys, or not giving me a set drop off time. The mom IS very nice and if it gets super annoying, I guess I'll approach her.

This isn't horrible - no where near Narcey, but the drama DOES exist, maybe more frustration than actual drama. I hope you're happy. (I had another smallish story about another family who I ADORE, but going over my self-imposed word limit . . . more later).

Coming Friday . . . a memory capsule just discovered accidentally, I didn't even know it existed. Half the size of a normal post, perfect for your busy Friday. 


Kara said...

::Sheepishly raising hand:: My kids were not out of diapers until they were 3. And, yes, at that point, it was "you are 3 and are not wearing diapers any more." I lucked out with all three being dry through the night at a very young age, so nighttime training wasn't a thing, they just didn't pee in their sleep.

Eli said...

Sheepishly admitting that I've been working on potty training my youngest since March.... He can and will go in the potty, but I've been at different levels of committed to get him there on a regular schedule, depending on different phases of pandemic life.

Suz said...

TV's for babies. Goodness....that might be the worst thing ever. Oh, and cell phones. HORRIBLE choices, people.
But the phrase 'nobody is perfect' does come to mind with these people. I didn't know about therapy for babies who don't want to eat. I wish I didn't want to eat, but that's a different story.

You really made me laugh here though and I wish you could have potty trained my girls. :) Lolo was done at 2 1/2 but Linds was close to five I think, or maybe she was 16. I can't really remember but she was a lazy toddler and that much hasn't changed. Oh my. Luckily I adore her.

I would lose my everloving mind with all the repeating. It does make me wonder if he's going to have some developmental delays? You know what I mean?
They are lucky to have you.

Charlie said...

Love it! The weirdo parent stories are back! William is probably a good example of nature vs nurture. With a more ‘normal’ family he probably would have been fine and thriving, but with the slightly ‘odd’ parenting he hasn’t progressed quite as much. Coach is right when he says you’re the best thing to happen to him. Keep em coming Ernie

Ernie said...

Kara - Really not intending to potty-shame anyone. My point is simply that this goof dad acts like his kid is breaking records by using words at over 2 years of age. Um, he's not exactly out pacing his peers dude. Have you not noticed the non-answering aspect of his speech? He simply repeats words. Hmm.

I was partly motivated to potty train in a jiff because I often had 2 kids who could've been in diapers at once. AND Coach and I were scraping to get by, so it was much cheaper to get it DONE.

Ernie said...

Eli - Please read my reply above - no potty shaming here. Everyone has their own circumstances. I was hell bent on it. I also admit that I WAS TRAINED, meaning my kid was not so much trained but would go on command. I was on them like white on rice. I had a TON of potty training experience from when I nannied for the fam with 8 kids in high school and college. The folks would go out of the country for 2 weeks and I would train a kid while they were gone. They added a nice bonus to my already very generous pay when they got back and a kid greeted them without a bulky diaper.

Ernie said...

Suz - The screen time thing: shocking. Particularly before the pandemic, I couldn't listen to the news without listening to a segment about how bad screen time was for kids. Ahem, hello pandemic. Thanks! But these folks were way in over their heads well before ole Rona gave us so few options.

The older brother is an odd duck. Like in the extreme. Mini babysat for a family around the corner in the summer and she'd bring them here to play. William's older brother came here a handful of times because his summer camp was shut down. The boy Mini was watching is in W's brother's class at school. Lightyears apart socially. Mini's charge was like WHY DO YOU ONLY TALK ABOUT VIDEO GAMES? Hmm, I'll take WHAT DAMAGE DO VIDEO GAMES CAUSE FOR $500, Alex.

I'm cracking up at wishing you had William's 'but i don't like to eat' issue. It was bazaar, but apparently with all the food allergies that have cropped up - it's more common.

I admit to having a potty training mentality - I blame my years working for the family with 8 kids in high school and college. I trained LOTS of kids and I had it down to a science. It also helped us to save that diaper money knowing someday our children would eat us out of house and home.

The repeating IS. DRIVING. ME. MAD. And when I try to tell him to say it one time and then you're done. He just repeats the word DONE till I search my home for the hidden camera. This cannot be really happening, right? Someone is recording this to trick me.

I do wonder if he is going to have a delay, or maybe a delay plus a Rain Man gift. He loves to count shit and tell you the colors of everything he touches. I'll have to ask the mom is he prefers to buy his diapers from K-Mart.

Honestly, she's very nice, but I don't get the parenting style. Her kids are 5 years apart. She has 2. She is loaded. Figure something out here without always taking the easy way out.

Ernie said...

Charlie - Oh, I could go on. There is so much here. I've already thought of another post with all of my babysitter hacks. I use terms for things to get some of these kids to do stuff like to stop repeating something 100x. My kids now use the same verbiage if they feel a sibling has reached a limit for how many times they are going to ask something. It is pretty funny.

When will I ditch my possibly boring memoir and write a parenting/babysitter guide book? No time soon, I tell you. Of course my memoir isn't boring in my eyes but that's the fear. That it will never be published and it will be outshined by stupid crappy parenting and the stories that my babysitting generated.

Glad you enjoyed. My kids sometimes do the 'remember this kid' or 'remember this parent' and there are lots of tales to tell.

Ally Bean said...

I remember when parents were warned that allowing a child to watch TV would turn the kid into a "vidiot." [video + idiot] Now kids get big screen TVs & streaming services and parents think they're doing the child good. I dunno. Both ideas seem extreme to me, there must be a happy medium, right?

Ernie said...

Ally - My kids watched Sesame Street back in the day. Kids today don't even know that show. What am I even saving my Halloween costumes for? Sigh. They got a video game system eventually and when people didn't do what they were told we took it away for awhile. I hated it when the school gave my kids laptops. Limits and boundaries: good things.

Kari said...

OMG, you're making me laugh. OKAY, WHO TAUGHT WILLIAM TO TALK?? Now you need to teach him to swear. I SAID NOTHING. Auntie Bitches would be teaching William lots of vocab.

My girls potty trained at respectable ages, I guess. I don't remember now. I think like 3-4? Although it felt like what Suz said. I think I felt like they would be going to prom wearing diapers. It's so funny how it feels at the time but now you look back and think, whoa. Where did it all go. Of course, it is different when you are babysitting. ;)

Ernie said...

Kari - When I told the kids 6 years ago that I was going to start babysitting in our house, a very wise 10 year old Mini looked at me dead serious and said: YOU KNOW MOMMY, THAT MEANS YOU CAN'T SAY BAD WORDS ANYMORE. I was trying to fix the little floor piece of the tower on the castle with slide enormous toy in our basement last week and it was impossible. Without the floor, you can't climb up in the tower and look out over the whole basement. I eventually got it back in the little grooves without breaking any bones in my hand, but yowza it took all the self control I could must not to drop a few F-bombs with my little buddies staring at me.