Received Thursday, October 25, 2007- Perspective & Opinion
Dear I Saw Your Nanny,
I love this site, but I have a little something to say about the parents and people who comment and stereotype "every" nanny that exists. This may be long, but I feel that it is important in a world whose talk show hosts and newspapers scare them into believing something that is not true. I really wish they would focus on telling parents how to spot a good one, not just how to spot a bad one. Thanks!
First of all, a good nanny works really hard. Not to get her paycheck, not to make sure her hours aren't cut, and certainly not only when the parents are there standing in front of her and the children. She works hard because she genuinely loves your family and especially your children. Almost as much as you, she wants to see them flourish in an environment that is full of wonders and possibilities and imagination.
A good nanny wakes up in the morning excited to go to work. She might arrive in a t-shirt and jeans with holes in the knees, but trust me, she is excited to be there for the day. She will sometimes drink coffee with you before you whirl out the door for the day, and this is good downtime for both the nanny and the parent. You see, a good "nanny family" gets to know their nanny as a friend and as a person. A good family knows that their nanny is very valuable in the hearts of their children (and likely, themselves), and wants to know this person that makes their children laugh and smile all day long; she is not, and never has been a simple employee to this family.
During the day, the nanny will engage, excite, teach, learn, laugh, walk, and play with your children. She knows that it is much more to teach and learn throughout the day by play, and that plopping the children in front of the TV is not an option. In fact, she feels guilty when either the child is sick and is limited by parents to sit in front of movie after movie, or when she arrives to work and the child is sitting in front of the TV, again, for the fifth day in a row. She also manages this situation with grace and without judgement, and whisks the child off to help prepare breakfast together.
Throughout the daylong adventure, her jeans are torn in the knees even more from crawling around on the floor, playing with the children. Her arms and shirt are splashed with paint, and a grime of colored playdoh builds up under her fingernails. She takes the children to local parks daily, to museums, attractions, community events, nature hikes, and playgroups, as well as the music and gym classes you picked out together with her. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new, to be something great, and she tries to teach this to your child through their actions.
A good nanny doesn't yell at your child needlessly, out of frustration, out of anger or hurt. She may yell "NO!" when a small child runs into the middle of the street. but the loud voices stop there. As soon as the child is safely back in her arms, she hugs them and explains to them why she loves them so much, and why certain things in this world are extremely dangerous. She is wise enough, and has enough intuition to know that her message has gotten past small, wide eyes, because she knows your child inside and out, and understands them completely. She knows when to kiss an owie, and knows when to tell a child "Shake off the dust, and keep playing!", she knows when they are sick and need to have a slow day, and when they are just feeling extra snugly one morning and need one on one quiet time.
At the end of the day, when the busy parent walks in, the child and nanny are all smiles. The good nanny does not judge a mother and father who have chosen to work outside the home all day, she appreciates what they do, and is excited to tell them all about the fun day. A good family will listen, and comment, and excitedly ask the child what he or she thought about everything they did. A good parent will come up with suggestions for another adventure and the good nanny will think of something in her mind to do for the next day as it is a privilege to take someone else's child out of their home, and into the big world, to show them something wonderful. After talking about the day, nanny waves goodbye to the little ones, and goes home or to class. She is content with the day, and though exhausted, is ready for a new fun-filled day tomorrow. After she washes her favorite pair of "nanny pants" with the holes in the knees that is, so she can wear them again tomorrow.
All you parents out there with nannies, if you have a good one, keep her. Talk to her, and don't try to be her best friend, but do try to see who she is as a person, not as an employee. If you come home for lunch, don't turn your back on the nanny, feed your child Coca Cola and Popems donuts and then leave, and come home surprised that your child has been cranky. Don't randomly decide to quit your job, still need your nanny, and then sleep until 2 in the afternoon. If you have a good nanny, the chances are that you are a good "nanny family" too, and keep on doing what you are doing. Smile and talk with her, come up with constructive ideas about what you can do with the child together, and genuinely listen to her when she has confidence that your child can do one thing or the next. She will genuinely listen to you, too.
And all you parents out there, or just people out there, with no nanny... get over it. The relationship between a working parent and their nanny is almost sacred if it is good. No amount of parent-bashing will force someone to see things your way. If you don't like it, then choose not to do it yourself, and respect those people who made another decision for the fact that they do it in spite of mockery and downright meanness.
And lastly, for all you nannies, if you are with a good family, don't abuse it. Likely you are not, but as you can see in this blog, some are obviously not cut out for our job. Strive to be one of the good sightings, let's show our little world that most nannies are actually good ones. Report the bad ones you see, and not just online, but to the parent of the children. It is so important for little ones to have every opportunity in this world, why would we try and cut them short, and take away better chances for them? As much as it is the parents' job to protect their children, it is our job too, whether or not we are getting paid to watch them.
Count your blessings,
A Good Nanny, who has worked for both very good families, and unfortunately, very bad ones.