Stories from June 2011

The Nanny from Heck

Becca Sanders

Today was our new summer nanny’s first day on the job. I woke up at 4AM and willed myself back to sleep, only to awaken again an hour later after a bad dream. I got out of bed and finished writing my rather copious notes on the care and feeding of H., detailing his eating and toileting routines, the things he likes to do, and the things to watch out for—including his habit of bolting into lakes and other bodies of water.

Flashback to last summer: I’d hired a different nanny, a young woman who was studying special education in college. Her older brother had Asperger’s; she had classroom experience with kids with disabilities; she had good references. Dreamy, right? But she turned out to be (cue eerie music) THE NANNY FROM HECK.

I spent quite a bit of time with L., introducing her to H., printing out maps of our neighborhood and lists of activities, and giving her this little talk:

“Now, if you take H. down to the park by the lake, you really have to watch him. He doesn’t care if it’s cold or if he doesn’t have a suit on. He will want to go swimming. Be prepared to grab him!”

Only the week before, at the school picnic, one of H.’s classroom aides and I had been pushing H. in the swing, not far from the beach. We were chatting about this and that, enjoying the warm sunlight and the breeze off the lake, the rhythm of the swing and H.’s happy sounds, when suddenly he leaped out of the swing and bolted toward the water. (Read more…)

Relax—No Really!

Linda Kennard

My sister Bobby doesn’t wear a watch, but not because she doesn’t care if she’s late. When Bobby’s late, she freaks out, just like me, particularly if being late means missing a flight. Now if she doesn’t know she’s late, well, that’s a different story.

Bobby and I were taking a 6:50am flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The airport is 45-60 minutes from her home, so I thought we’d scheduled the taxi for 4:30am to leave a comfortable cushion before flight time.

At 4:35am, Bobby knocks on my door. I stumble into the bathroom, see the time and, since I think we’re late, throw on my clothes, wash my face, brush my teeth and rush downstairs. I wait, and I wait. Bobby waltzes down the stairs just shy of 5am. She smiles and says something along the lines of, “Well look at you all ready to go!”

We load our bags, buckle up, and now it’s 5:10am. I would be worried except that Bobby is chatting away, looking notably relaxed, so I figure maybe I’ve got the flight time wrong because one thing I know: if we had anything to worry about, Bobby’s face would give it away. Under stress, her brows tighten subtly but unmistakably.

It’s 6:00am when we reach the airport, but it’s crowded and the international terminal is at the far end, so by the time we pull our bags and pay the fare, it’s 6:15am. As Bobby rummages around her purse for cash to pay the driver, he asks me our flight time. “I think it’s 6:50am,” I say. He raises a brow and gives me a good-luck-with-that look, and I think, “I know, right?!” Still, Bobby looks calm, cool. Sighing and smiling, she grabs her carry on, and off we go.

At the self-serve kiosk, we print our boarding passes, after which Bobby says, “Let’s get coffee!” It’s 6:25am. (Read more…)

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This Weeks Tip

You would think at our age that we wouldn’t have to worry about these things. But, as Kate will attest, even at *ahem* 27, untimely breakouts can (and will) happen. What to do? Apply an ice cube for 30 second. Then soak a cotton ball in eye drops and press it to the “spot” for 3 minutes. The theory is that the ice and drop combination will cause blood vessels below the surface to contract—leaving you looking, well, a little less like Rudolph.