When the nanny leaves

Elementary logic tells me that because Stan and I are moving to another country, we are going to have to leave our current jobs. This is going to be hard for me. Actually it already is, even though I have two weeks left to work.

I’ve been taking care of Goober & Goobrette since they were four months old. They’re turning three next month; this has been the longest I’ve stayed with one family. We actually haven’t started transitioning the kids much — that starts next week — because right now their sense of time comes down to “yesterday,” “now,” and “later.” We figure two weeks’ worth of “soon” and “in a bit” and “in a few days” should do the trick. But it’s definitely something that’s been on my mind.


My first nanny gig was just a temporary arrangement, covering the first half of a summer during my university years. The family in question already had a nanny who had been with them since the birth of their first child, nearly five years at that point. She had been live-in for most of that time, but now had her own place and was being “transitioned out” — to use the mother’s words. Flora* was still working a few days a week, but I was also working a few days a week. After about a month of this the family was going to France for a vacation, and when they came back, abracadabra: no more Flora and no more me.

The thing that made this arrangement exquisitely uncomfortable was that the parents had not bothered to tell Flora that she was been “transitioned out”. The writing was on the wall, of course, and she knew as well as I did what the deal was — in fact, we talked about it more than once. But it was an exceedingly poor way to handle that transition, for Flora and for the children. The parents didn’t seem to want to risk Flora accepting another job before they had gotten all of their desired use out of her; I believe the plan was to give her notice once they were actually in France. Too, they hadn’t told the children anything about Flora leaving, or about why I was there. The youngest had told me many times and in no uncertain terms that “I want Flooooora” — and this is while we were both in the house, often at the same time. I can only imagine what it would have been like once she’d disappeared entirely.

I think I have more experience with transitions that were handled poorly than the reverse.


The tricky thing with this job is that you always know that it’s going to end, but you attach anyway. You have to attach to the children if you’re going to be caring for them effectively. You just do. But there’s a constant tension there, because the job will end: you’ll move or have a child of your own, or they’ll move or decide they’d rather use a daycare, or at the very least, eventually the children will grow up a bit and be in school full-time. That’s the reality of the job. It just is.

A quick google seach on “how to prepare children for the nanny leaving,” however, tells me that while nannies always know this, parents sometimes don’t. The articles I find have three dominant tones. First, there are the preventative articles: How to Keep Your Nanny Forever in Ten Easy Steps. Then there are a few fairly balanced pieces acknowledging that yes, these transitions are hard for everyone involved.

And then there are my favourites: the articles that sound something like this:

“Waaaaah! My nanny is leaving and my life will be sooooooo hard now! Why is she soooooooo selfish? Why me? What have I done to deserve this? I can’t believe she wants to [take a better job / move / go back to school / have a baby / insert other extraordinary self-centred reason here] — the cow!!”

Amazingly, this attitude can also be found off the internet. My mother told her of a family she knows of whose nanny just left. There are two children, ages eight and ten. The parents have had to hire people to do the laundry and cut the grass and such, because they just! can’t! keep up! without the nanny. (My question: why aren’t your capable older children being taught how to do the laundry? My brother and I started washing the dishes every night when we were younger than that.)


In two weeks, my job ends. A few days after that, Goober and Goobrette and their parents are going on an extended vacation to the prairies and then (funnily enough) France. We’re moving away in the month after they get back, and they’ll actually be moving not long after that. So it will work out conveniently enough for everyone involved. But this time, we’re going to do transition right. This time, there will be no abracadabra-the-nanny-is-gone.

This time, there will be a chance to say goodbye.


This weekend Goober & Goobrette’s parents took off for a few days, leaving Stan and I in charge of two almost-three-year-olds and the cat. They got home sometime in the small hours this morning; when I woke up at five to six I checked to see that their car was indeed in the driveway, and then gathered my things and snuck out of the house like an escaping convict.

Not that it went poorly. It was fun. We took the kids to church yesterday, where they were extremely well behaved and had fun (“My play toys!”) — although I note that receiving a blessing at communion did not go down so well: “My scared of the man,” Goobrette confessed on the way home. And as someone at church told us, “I don’t know how you got your instant family there, but I like it.”

Heck, I like it too. Turns out I especially like having another adult with me the whole time — yesterday I was able to just go upstairs and take a nap without worrying that it was five pm, or that the kids were up and about, or that technically they’re paying me to be awake during the day. Stan was awake, so all was well. And then I napped, and there was much rejoicing.

All the same, I was pretty eager to come home this morning. I live just fifteen minutes away on foot,
and so by twenty after six I was in my own bed, which, for the record, is way more comfortable than what they’ve got going on over there. I got to see Stan before he left for work, and eat my own food for breakfast.

I do have to get back there for eleven — but I’m glad to be here, now.

I bring greetings from the land of the weird

Every day that I work with the toddlers I become more convinced that they come from another planet — perhaps Neptune. Here are some recent snapshots of my days:


Goober and Goobrette are pushing three now, which means that they’re very interactive and will play imaginative games with each other. Yesterday’s jeu-de-choix consisted of them yelling “Funny game! Funny game! Funny game!” at each other, over… and over… and over.

As far as I can tell, that was the entire game.

In the “Hygiene? What’s that?” department, a short series of events this afternoon:
1. Goober sits down on the potty for a pee. He’s not paying attention so it runs off to the side and down his leg.
2. I point out that there’s pipi on the floor. “Pipi on the floor,” I advise, “don’t put your foot in it!” Goober puts his foot in it.
3. I dive behind him for a spare cloth diaper hanging around for mop-up needs. Goober wipes his foot off on his hand. 
4. “Don’t wipe the pipi on your hand!” I cry. Goober promptly wipes his hand off… on his face.
Incidental to the above, some of you may be under the impression that it’s only little boys that you have to teach to aim. You’d be surprised.
Twice now, Goobrette has urgently called me into the bathroom, where I’ve found her on the big potty with a lap full of pee.
“Pipi up!” she’d wail, “Pipi up!”
I still have no idea how that happens.
The three of us were sitting at the table the other day, eating lunch and minding our own business, when suddenly Goobrette’s arms started flailing and she started yelling. 
“AAAARRRWOOOAAAAAA!! Me Goobrette, very loud!”
A+ for observational skills.

I'm so glad we had this little chat

A conversation at work today:

Goober: Dis airplane. Airplane waaaaay up.
Me: Airplanes do go way up. That’s a helicopter, though.
Goober: [blank stare]
Me: You’ve got a helicopter.
Goober: No Dora careful, no Dora careful, no body careful. Rocket ship, rocket ship, rocket ship, rocket ship, rocket ship down, rocket ship down, rocket ship, rocket ship, rocket ship, rocket ship up, rocket ship up, rocket ship down. 
[wanders off] 

Don't worry, I confiscated their MDMA

My family still does Christmas stockings, and while the contents tend to run more and more to edibles lately, Vater always manages to stick in a little toy or two. Among this year’s pickings were glowsticks, and I collected mine and Stan’s and took them with me when I went back to work yesterday.

After sunset — call it around 4:30 or so — I took the twins upstairs and told them I had something special to show them. We closed the door of their room and turned off the lights, and I cracked the glowsticks for them. They were a hit, and we spent a while seeing in how many different directions we could wave them.

The novelty of this wore off a lot sooner for me than it did for them, of course, so I started to look for a way to make it more interesting. Their parents had left the ipod upstairs, so I plugged it into the stereo and started pumping out some Raffi. Dancing naturally followed.

About ten minutes later I realised this:

  1. It was dark
  2. We were dancing
  3. We had glowsticks
  4. There was loud music playing
  5. People were spinning around until they fell down
  6. Two-thirds of those present were not wearing pants
Though it would have been more (in)appropriate if I had first gotten them all hyped up on apple juice, I’m pretty sure that I just hosted a toddler rave.