By Feature Writer Rebecca Nelson Lubin
Last week, in a giddy haze of PMS, I took my three-year-old charge out on errands on a gloomy, rainy, cold, Northern California afternoon. We were at Lucky Pharmacy to purchase some Gas-X - the cook had a tummy ache – when the cashier said sweetly to me as I handed her my household credit card,
“Your baby has your eyes.”
It was with nothing less than a total bitchy tone (PMS, it makes me evil) that I replied,
“No he does not. He is not my baby. I am his Nanny. And we do not look alike.”
The three year old that I held in my arms began to laugh.
“I have brown eyes.” He said. “My Nanny has blue eyes.”
I decided to take my attitude down a tone.
“Thank you.” I said, “I should take it as a compliment. This child is a beautiful boy.”
As I walked myself, my charge and the Gas-X to my car I wondered why - PMS notwithstanding - I took it as an offense to be told I resembled the child I take care of and love so deeply. It happens a lot – I have always been told that the children I care for look just like me. And I always have the same icky, stinky, bad attitude reaction. No matter what time of the month it is.
The day before I had been at La Petite Baleen with both the babies – the three year old and his fifteen month old sister. Girl baby and I were in the water together while Boy baby was in the lane adjacent to us with his class. Girl baby was learning how to be dunked. Every time she went under she came up with an absolute squeal of delight and wrapped her chubby little arms around my neck and laughed. Seriously, I was in heaven. I later told her mother that it was the most fun I had ever had in water – and I meant it. And then, a mother in the class treaded water over, holding her baby and said with a big smile,
“She looks just like you.”
“She’s not mine,” I said, “I’m her Nanny.”
She did a double take. She reiterated.
“She. Looks. Just. Like. You.”
I said, kindly, as the full effects of PMS would not set in for another 24 hours,
“Actually, she is the spitting image of both her parents. I love her, but I did not make her.”
I looked at the beautiful Girl baby, with her wonderful huge brown eyes and dark hair and olive colored skin and contemplated my own looks – thin, blue eyes, light freckled skin, and light brown hair and realized in one of those rare moments of absolute clarity, that it was regret I always felt when people told me that my charges looked like me because the curse of infertility meant that I would never hold a baby that really looked just like me. Even though every single child I had ever taken care of had been mistaken for my own child. My ex- boyfriend’s sister had once run into me outside Peets while I wheeled around a set of twins. She had looked at the girl twin and said in shock,
“Oh my God! She could be yours!”
For the record, she had white blond hair.
The adopted bi-racial little one I took care of for a year was always mistaken for mine. And she was half African American. But she was fine featured like me.
Perhaps loving children, the way you look at them with total adoration, and the way that they look back at you with love, makes you look like family. I’ve decided to embrace it, and from now on respond to compliments with a simple “Thank you.”
No matter what time of the month it is.
Rebecca Nelson Lubin is a writer and Nanny who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. You may read more of her articles at http://www.abandofwives.ning.com/