Nanny in NYC

A modern day Mary Poppins

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Holy Week

I regularly do blog searches for simple terms such as "nanny" or "mommy" or "stop the screaming" to see what other child care givers are writing about and every once and a while I come up with a rather interesting post, or better yet, someone who actually is writing interesting things on a regular basis about their adventures in Munchkinland. (All to often I find angry right-wingers from all over the world who are writing about their respective "Nanny-States", but that's been kind of informative in a different way.)

Today I found Mommy Life in which a "montessori megamom serves up smorgasbord of parenting, cultural, political, and spiritual wisdom. Because she can." Frankly, this site is considerably more religion than parenting, so I'm not sure that I will stop back all that frequently, but I thought it was somewhat poignant for this rather religious week.

Religion can be a tricky issue with nannies and the families they work for, largely because religion can be just plain tricky in general. First of all, it seems rare that two people, regardless of how much they may love each other, rarely have matching religious views, so families frequently start out with friction in this area. It often happens that mom & dad settle their own differences just in time to begin to educate (or not) their children and the arrival of a new person on the scene with potentially alternate beliefs can be disconcerting.

I feel pretty lucky, then, not to be a crazy prostletizing nanny. It would be much harder to get a job. For the most part I am fascinated by the way other people celebrate their religion--especially the things they do in their homes, which is what you really don't get to witness as a member of a different faith. I have no qualms with helping to raise children in any religion (ok, within reason--I have some problems with human sacrifice) and I would never want to distract from a parent's determined effort to raise their children both in the religion they've chosen and the way they've chosen to teach it.

So what do I do when my (Jewish) charge asks (Christian) me to dye eggs with her? Well, I'm not sure what the "perfect Annie" would do, but here's what the real Annie did. First, obfuscate. I said, "Ummmm . . . eggs are very expensive these days. We'll have to see." And then I went right to the source: mom.

Really, this isn't such a big deal, and Mrs. G. didn't find it one, for the most part. But the trappings of our religion, even the fairly commercial aspects, are symbols, and inherently problematic because kids pick up on the fact that eggs and bunnies or matzah and wine mean more than meets they eye, but beyond that they're a bit of a mystery (intentionally). I don't want to be in the position of holding up my symbols and asserting that they're better--but let's be honest, Christian symbols seem pretty much designed to be more appealing to children than their counterparts in any of the other major religions.

Am I just feeling the guilt associated with being a member of the majority? I must admit that if our roles were reversed, I'd have no problem with Mrs. G. teaching my kids (when they choose to exist) to play dradle. So what's my real problem? I'm not sure, and I'm late for dinner. More on this later.


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