Received Monday, April 13, 2009 - Guest Column by Joshua Lapin-Bertone
My name is Joshua and I’m a male working in childcare. Some people prefer to call me a “Manny”, but that sometimes confuses things more for people who don’t know what I’m talking about. Even though we live in a world where things are changing and gender roles are constantly being questioned, I still have many odd looks when I tell people of my career. Just recently, I was having a fun day at a theme park with some people my own age (something which is rare when you work in childcare). I was talking to one of the girls, and she asked me what I did for a career. When I told her, she had the most confused look on her face. “Why do you do that?” “Why would parents want some man to watch their children”. I gave her the same answers that I’ve given a million times. The thought does occur to me sometimes, why should I have to defend what I do? I do my job well and I am proud of it.
One of the first things I constantly have to do is show people that I am not just some guy who decided to watch kids. I tell perspective employers of my CPR certifications, Red Cross training, and my official required state licensing. I couple these with my big resume and excellent references, but still find myself turned down from jobs in favor of people with a third of my experience. Some employers are polite and others are more honest saying “It just doesn’t feel right with a male”. I don’t want to make it sound like my experiences have mostly been negative. Male nannies do have our hardships, but I’ve also had experiences I wouldn’t trade for the world. I’ve worked with people who I’ve become close enough with to consider family. I’ve formed relationships that I’ll never forget. While my friends have been flipping burgers, bagging groceries and sitting at desks as jobs, I’ve been going swimming, playing laser tag and being “a big brother”. I try to be a good role model and a “big brother” figure to the children who I watch. As long as I stick by that mission statement, I haven’t failed yet. Will I do this work forever? I’m not sure, but I am enjoying it now, having the time of my life and will never forget my days as a “manny”.
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