Rebecca Nelson Lubin
My boyfriend has an affinity for those competition based reality television shows where they make you eat really gross things and do really strange challenges while the clock ticks. Sunday nights this past fall he would muse while we watched “The Amazing Race” that we could totally compete as a couple, and we, The Carpenter and The Nanny, would surely kick ass all over the planet, and I would think, Yes, perhaps, if the challenges involved herding toddlers through a crowded grocery store with a debit card with a set limit, rules that you could only purchase what was on the list no matter the pleadings for surgery items placed at four year old eye level and only twenty minutes to get in and out the door. Oh, and you would get points removed from your total score for each item any child knocked onto the floor. I would dominate on that sort of challenge.
The first time that I thought my work life was exactly like a reality TV challenge was the day that I forgot to order the pizzas for the forth grade end of school party. I realized that I had totally spaced ordering the pizzas (and arranging their delivery) when my Mom Boss called me to thank me for ordering the pizzas. I said,
“Yes. It is good that I remembered to do that.”
I was driving girl baby to pick up boy baby at preschool with the swim bag to meet Mom Boss at her office to hand over the toddlers so she could take them to swim class. I had to meet her in a half hour. And I had to rustle up two pizzas, deposit them at the forth grade class and then proceed with the rest of our set plans in our set time limit. I whipped out my phone and dialed 411 for the phone number for the closest pizza joint at the first red light. Ear buds in place, I sweetly asked for curbside delivery and gave my credit card information over the phone. The girl baby and I smiled flirtatiously at the large man with the grease-stained apron who handed the pizza boxes through my passenger window and thanked him profusely. We pulled into the school parking lot and I then carefully balanced the baby on my hip, the pizza boxes flat on the palm of my opposite hand and walked slowly to the school gate where I was confronted by the keypad. Dammit! I turned to the baby and said,
She gurgled, made a grab for the pizza boxes and then pulled off my sunglasses.
The clock was ticking. I had to get this done. I leaned towards the keypad and pressed the proper unlocking sequence with the tip of my nose. I entered the fourth grade classroom celebrant, pizza boxes held aloft to cheers of small children. Everyone else got delivered on time. Rebecca Nelson Lubin, you are the first team to cross the finish line!
Seriously, care giving for small children is like a wacky game show where all the contestants are equally egocentric and demanding, albeit really short. The two babies and I were in the market two days ago and it was like negotiating one of those “Survivor” mazes that they string up on one of those exotic locations with Jeff Probst shouting through a bullhorn as the clock ticks your remaining time away and you try frantically to find your way to the finish line. No one wanted to ride in the cart, which would have cut a good seven minutes off of my overall time. Both children demanded soup samples. The soup was hot and drippy. We left carrots and bits of rice in our wake. We had six minutes to get checked out, buckle everyone in the car and pick up the oldest child. I imagined Jeff yelling, “Clean up on aisle four! That’s gonna cost you points!”
I remembered I needed to bring back coffees. The man at the coffee stand took a look at my sticky, drippy crew, grocery laden cart and said laughing as he handed me two hot coffees on a tray,
“That looks like quite a challenge.”
I smiled at him, and at my small charges and said truthfully,
“I love this challenge.”
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/