The Nightmare of Nannying
It’s the perfect gig for anyone looking to completely lose their patience.
By Sara Marie Seidel, University of Colorado at Boulder
It started like this: I was sixteen, newly licensed and could drive anywhere.
But, I needed money, and if you don’t want a real job, then there’s only two ways to have an income—you can either beg your parents until they pay you to stop, or you can babysit. My begging abilities aren’t keen, so I accepted a babysitting job.
I landed my first nanny job the summer after my freshman year of college. I watched two elementary school girls Monday through Friday from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon. A majority of that summer was spent being dunked in a pool and tying water balloons that would later be chucked at me.
I can’t say I had a lot of fun, but by the end of the summer I had a nice tan and my bank account had been nursed back to health. I could also add “great fistfight mediator” to my resume.
The first fight between the girls was mild enough (the older girl spit into her hand, then rubbed said spit-hand on the younger girl’s face), but things only got worse.
As the summer went on the girls grew more and more comfortable around me, gradually letting go of their inhibitions, fighting with each other more and treating me with less respect.
After the summer ended, I moved back to my college town and had my sanity restored. I picked up a job in a healthy food joint, far from childcare. I learned quickly that the only thing I hate more than babysitting is dealing with quinoa and kale-loving moms.
As they yelled at employees for messing up their salad, I always wondered what their kids were like. My questions were answered the beginning of my junior year of college, when I went back into childcare and became a part-time nanny for a quinoa and kale-loving family. But trust me, I didn’t go looking for another nanny job. It found me.
I agreed to the position because my class schedule was weirder than usual, making it very difficult to find an employer that was willing to work with the strange hours.
When I was first offered the nanny position I was hesitant, considering my track record of being a nanny for crazy kids. Soon I accepted it though, and now I nanny for a family with two elementary-aged kids, the older a girl and the younger a boy.
When I mention to people that I nanny, not a single person has failed to say, “Oh that’s super nice, that’s such an easy job!” To this, I roll my eyes.
The kids quickly became comfortable with me, which made them exponentially crazier, and if you haven’t spent a chunk of your life dealing with other peoples’ kids in exchange for money, then you’d have no idea how weird kids can be and how much they can suck.
Sure it’s easy not having to deal with angry customers, but it’s not easy dealing with a seven-year-old screaming at you for making him do his homework.
Here are some of my experiences that showcase how “easy” this job is:
Fourth grade is around the time that kids start questioning Santa and his antics. Luckily for me, the older of the two kids I nanny is in fourth grade, so she knows what’s up. Unluckily for me, I was there when she ruined it for her younger brother, a diehard Santa believer.We were playing hide and seek in the basement when the boy crawled out of a spare room, holding a roll of Christmas wrapping paper. He whispered incredulously, “This is the same paper that Santa used…” Before I could intervene, his sister had confirmed his worst fears.
Once, the girl I babysit told me that I “smell like [her] grandma, but in the best way.” She then ran her sticky hands through my hair.Incidentally I’ve also been assigned the nickname “Chubby” because of my round cheeks. Nothing is better for your self-esteem than being called Chubby and poked in the cheek every five seconds. Compliments from kids can be really backhanded.
Whenever we go to the park I always ask if anyone has to go to the bathroom before we leave. They always say “no,” but they’re literally 100 percent lying. I found this out when the little boy pooped in someone’s backyard on the walk to the park.
The answer to everything the kids ask is “yes,” even if I say otherwise. “No” means “yes” when they want to unpack your wallet, go through every compartment of your car, dump the entire bag of trail mix on the floor and brush your hair with the ice scraper when you’re driving. This list is endless.The opposite is also true. If the kids say they don’t have homework, they really do. If they say they ate their entire snack in the back seat, they didn’t. I wish I had known about this inverted reality before I found a stale bread roll smashed into one of my cup holders.
The kids fight daily over everything. They literally fight over who got a bigger handful of crackers. Unfortunately, cracker disputes aren’t the only daily fight they get in.The little boy is a “snatcher,” as in he grabs stuff out of his sister’s hands without asking. His kleptomania prompts pretty much all their fights. The worst one was in a drum shop, around a lot of expensive instruments, in which drumsticks were used as weapons.
By far the easiest part of being a nanny is when the kids call me the “family’s servant” in front of other adults. I specifically remember a day at the park when the girl kicked her shoes off while on the swing, then told me to go get them and put them back on her feet.I said no, because she has legs and can do it herself. The girl responded, “You’re my nanny. My family pays you, so you’re supposed to do everything I say. You’re our servant.”
It could just be the unfortunate behavior of the kids I nanny, but I’ve completely overdone working in childcare. From all my random jobs with kids, I’ve learned that keeping your cool when someone puts jelly in your hair, throws a softball at your head, screams “I hate you” in a public place, calls you fat and doesn’t listen to a thing you say, is extremely hard. Hats off to moms and dads for dealing with this daily.