Nanny in NYC

A modern day Mary Poppins

Friday, September 29, 2006

I Saw Your Nanny

Last week I stopped to get coffee before Luke's music class. Next to the register in the little shop we frequent there is a display of Slim Jims which I don't believe I've ever given much thought at all. Luke, on the other hand, has apparently been giving them some thought, or at least decided to that day, because he looked up at me, pointed clearly at the Slim Jims and said, "Lukey like dat!". To which I immediately replied, "No you don't, you've never had one," and I proceeded to purchase my coffee--as if that was the end of the conversation.

But, of course, Luke was not so easily persuaded. He stood up in the stroller and began chanting "Lukey want dat! Lukey like dose!" He went to that critical point of shrill hysteria almost immediately. I stood there in the store thinking. I knew he had to be making it up. There was no way his parents had ever bought him a Slim Jim. Truckers eat Slim Jims, not proper little boys. But, after tears and a near tantrum, I gave in! I felt defeated and like a terrible nanny, but I just couldn't handle the tirade that day.

As we left the store, with Luke sucking happily on a chemical treated stick made from god knows what animal byproducts, I was terribly frightened that someone would see me. Who wants to be that nanny? The meat byproduct nanny? Not me, that's for sure!

And now, thanks to a recent article in the New York Times about conflicts between nannies and parents over the feeding of children, I am too well aware that Big Brother is watching. In my case, Big Brother is the website I Saw Your Nanny. On it you will find people reporting every imaginable nanny offense, but the majority go something like this one:
White, brunette nanny with very bothered disposition who took two children about 2 & 4 into starbucks so she could get a coffee at a kind of busy time. Nanny also selected some sort of bread type pastry and waited for a seat. The children had nothing, not even water. The nanny sat and had her coffee and pastry and kept correcting the children who were not content to sit still in a coffee shop on a busy Saturday morning. (Why were they even asked to?). The boy was blonde (and needed a haircut unless he is trying out to play a younger brother on The Suite life) and his name was Daniel. He called the nanny "Em" ( I think). I wanted to tell the nanny to take the kids to the park and plop her butt on a bench so that the kids could at least run around! It is a beautiful day outside. And no, taking a break at Starbucks is not a bad thing, but it seemed rather obnoxious for the children to sit there with nothing!
Without going to the archives I counted 7 postings that all involved the, apparently shocking, offense of drinking while caring for children, and yes, that's drinking coffee!!

I can't really work myself up to be outraged over the site, though. Reading all the various posts was good fun, and the comments seem to be frequently written by people who are sane and realize that frequently caffeine is a large part of enthusiastically caring for children. Plus, I will admit that I've seen behavior (by nannies and mothers) in the parks that is abhorrent to me. Perhaps I'll become a contributor . . .

Technorati Tags: , , Whistle Blowers, Slim Jims

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Because I Haven't Mentioned Breasts in a While

This month Toys R Us employees at the Times Square flagship store made a big mistake. They allegedly harassed a mother who had stepped into an "out of the way" place in the store to breastfeed her 7-month-old son. Unfortunately for them, Chelsi Meyerson, the mother, is the daughter of a "'high-ranking official' in La Leche League". It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Meanwhile . . .

Here are a few of my most favorite pieces of public art. Notice a theme?

Eyeballs or Breasts?

This is a sculpture by Louise Bourgeois on the lawn in Wagner Park. It's entitled "Eyes" but, I must say, I see something entirely different, especially since I've never known a pair of eyes to have raised pupils. Also, in researching her work I found this passage:
Deeply symbolic, her work uses her relationship with her parents and the role sexuality played in her early family life as a vocabulary in which to understand and remake that history. The anthropomorphic shapes her pieces take--—the female and male bodies are continually referenced and remade--are charged with sexuality and innocence and the interplay between the two.
which makes me quite believe that my interpretation of her art holds some authority.

Pink Nude

I snapped this photo during one of Luke and my jaunts to DUMBO. I haven't yet discovered the artist's name, but I love that it's pink and so wonderfully proportioned as to make me feel that my waistline isn't quite so much in need of slimming as I often fear it is.

And finally . . .

Statue in SoHo

As my friend DJ says, "If one glass of red wine is good for you, well, then a bottle must be even better!", so if one set of breasts is good, then a set of 8 must be very useful indeed. This statue would come in handy for nex year's Nurse-In.

Technorati Tags: , , Public Art, La Leche League, Toys R Us

Monday, September 25, 2006

Shameless Self Promotion

Mary Tsoa of Mom Writes recently published a posting on Blogher entitled Nanny Blogs: Thoughts from a Village for Hire in which she mentions yours truly. She's wonderfully complimentary, and I'd like to stroke my ego some more by quoting her at length:
And as childcare professionals and early childhood education specialists, most nannies also provide insight to dealing with "problem" kids and challenging situations. Oh, and problem parents, too! Besides learning about kids, I usually learn something about myself when I read a nanny blog.

Mary mentions some great nanny blogs that I'm a fan of, including Pragmatic Chaos, Adventures of a Nanny and Chronicles of Nanny-a. She also points out two new nannies that I'm not familiar with: Gnarly Nanny who blogs at A Nanny's Diary and Mary P. who blogs at It's Not All Marry Poppins as well as being a contributor to Partners in Parenting and In the Trenches: Life with the Challenging Child. I'm adding both Gnarly & Mary P. to my must read list.

Technorati Tags: , , Blogher, Childcare, Nanny

The Axis of Utility and Transit

This morning Luke and I witnessed an event which only very rarely occurs in the life of a toddler obsessed with various forms of transportation, especially trucks. We went to visit the Fire Trucks, which is something we like to do frequently. The firemen are very nice and occasionally they'll let Luke basically disappear into one of those huge boots they wear.

Today, just as we arrived to gape at the big red engine, a big red ambulance pulled up right outside the fire house.

And, as if that wasn't enough transportation excitement, a moment later the big trash truck came rumbling by followed closely behind by a school bus.

I felt very glad that a helicopter did not choose to zoom by overhead, because had it, the poor kid's head might have exploded from excitement.

Technorati Tags: , , Ambulance, Transportation, Utility Vehicles

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Teardrop Park

The weather has been so beautiful this week it has made me lament that summer really is over. Most of the fountains in the parks don't work any longer (although some do, despite the fact that Labor Day has come and gone) but the ice cream trucks are reliable, they don't respond to a calendar date and you can pretty much count on them to stick around through October.

Luke, Drew and I spent about 3 hours this morning playing at the Teardrop Park. I love this tiny little place! It's truly a perfect spot with so many little nooks and crannies for exploring, and yet only 1.9 acres completely surrounded by high rise apartment buildings.

despite the fact that we've been going to The Teardrop Park for two summers now, we discovered a little path that we'd not ever noticed before. It is right off the North Lawn and the path is almost completely obscured by bushes. I only saw it because I went to retrieve the ball from where Drew had thrown it, into said bushes.

When we followed the little flagstone path it led down dramatically, and the bushes close in around you until, especially if you're four feet tall or shorter, you feel completely surrounded by wildlife. I, all 5'5" of me, even felt for a moment as if I'd been transplanted into some forest far away from Manhattan.

There's a big long log (which, obviously didn't fall there, but it's a great touch regardless) where I sat down while the boys dug deeper into the shrubbery. There are big boulders to climb up on, and delicate little flowers hidden in the shadows.

If there were a perfect little stream with minnows and a few salamanders running through this tiny hidden path, I'd have to vote it my most favorite spot in the entire city. But as it is, it's pretty high in the rankings without it.

There's a great article from the New York Times that was in the paper around the time that the park opened. You can read about it here (it's the second story on the page). The arcitechts of the park really understood that monkey bars, swings and slides are great, but that kids really love a place that they can play secret games, imagine that they are in far away places, and escape from the city for a bit--just like us grown ups want to every now and again.

Technorati Tags: , , Tribeca, Teardrop Park

Monday, September 18, 2006

More on Head Lice or Yes, I Have a Crush on John Hodgeman

Back in June I told you about the fact that head lice are now resistant to 80% of over the counter remedies, but luckily The Daily Show's John Hodgeman addressed the issue of getting rid of the lousy things on last Wednesday's show.

So, go ahead and wake your children up and put them in front of the television . . . er, I mean computer.

I hope none of you actually took me seriously, just the submarine imagine freaks me out, and that's about the tamest thing he suggested.

Technorati Tags: , , The Daily Show

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Preparing for Winter

The weather was beautiful today! I actually needed a sweater for all but a few hours, and that felt so wonderful. I do love summer, but it has nothing on Autumn. I love pretty much everything about the fall.

Luke, Drew and I had occasion to be in Washington Square Park this afternoon (largely due to the Cold Stone Creamery addiction I picked up while on vacation (the stuff is worse than crack, promise me you'll never touch it!). We found ourselves fascinated with these huge holes that were scattered all over the place.

It seems hard to believe, but they were dug by squirrels! We watched as one very industrious little guy enlarged and deepened one of his holes and then chucked at least 25 acorns down it.

If you are used to suburban or rural squirrels, you might as well consider urban squirrels a completely different animal. New York City squirrels know no fear. They will come right up to you and if you happen to have food that they think looks good, they will not be shy about requesting that you give them some NOW! I get very nervous around squirrels like these, mainly because when I was growing up my father told me repeatedly about a little girl he'd watched get her finger bitten clean off by a squarely. One of the last things I ever want to do is have to call Mrs. G. and report that I'm in the emergency room because Drew's finger is in need of reattaching.

Luckily, that was not an issue today, perhaps because the ground is littered with "food" so the little guys don't think they need to pester us for our ice cream (not really a squarely delicacy anyway) or bite off our digits. They seemed perfectly content to let us watch them as they worked to get ready for winter. It's probably just a formality for them anyway, the park is as full of discarded food in January as it is in August, I would imagine.

Then again, I'm not a squarely, so what do I know?

Technorati Tags: , , Squirels

Monday, September 11, 2006

In Memoriam

This article hangs in the hallway of Drew's school. The first time I read it, years ago, I cried. I think that was the one and only time I allowed myself tears over the events of September 11, 2001.

This day is a confusing one for me. I did not lose anyone on 9/11, nor did anyone whom I am close to. Also, I love the neighborhood I work in and it exists as it does today in large part because of the attacks. I did not have a personal relationship with the towers. At face value I have nothing to mourn. And yet I cried when I read about the Washington Market children and thought of them in the weeks and months following that day, so I know that I do mourn, in my own way.

I mourn the loss of innocence, from the children, my city and my country. Once gone, it is something you can never regain.

Weekend Update or What I Stole From the Emergency Room

Somewhat (although not exactly) like a mother, a nanny's work is never done. That is especially true when the nanny in question has friends prone to odd medical conditions. This Saturday, instead of lounging in some beautiful cafe having brunch with a wildly attractive, incredibly intelligent man (or 3 close girlfriends, but hey, a girl can dream, right?) I spent seven hours in Bellevue's Emergency Room.

Really, though, I cannot complain. It was exciting, there was medical drama, (mildly--not wildly) attractive interns, relatively decent vending machines, and all around good people. Shout outs to Miriam and Raoul, the best orderlies we could ever hope to be wheeled around on a gurney by. (Although, since Hannah and I just assigned Raoul the name Raoul because we never asked his name, he's not going to know that it's him. Sorry Raoul--we think you're cool whatever your name is.)

I attempted to document the entire process with my camera, however, two large police men were sent over to Hannah and I around hour number two to tell us that, "Everyone knows you can't take pictures in the Emergency Room." I meekly put my camera away and decided not to quibble with them, despite the fact that, clearly, not everyone knows that. Before my journalistic efforts were shot down I did get a few good ones.

Here are Hannah and Raoul right before Raoul wheeled her up for her (completely unnecessary) chest x-ray. Doesn't look like Raoul knows you can't take pictures in the Emergency Room either.

Here's a close up of Hannah's arm where the poor intern assigned to her tried desperately to find a vein. Notice that Hannah is about the whitest person alive. She doesn't have veins apparently.

This is bad Hospital art.

I know this picture is a bit fuzzy, but it's a rubber glove dispenser. Everyone at Bellevue wears the coolest purple rubber gloves. I fell in love with them immediately and I managed to smuggle 3 pairs out in my bag! I have no clue what I'm going to do with them, but they are purple, they are awesome and they are mine.

Hannah is much better now, and the crack team at Bellevue, led by Dr. Goldfrank (exactly what you'd want in a Chief of Staff, he could join the cast of Grey's Anatomy in a heart beat), diagnosed the cause of the intense pain that sent us to them in the first place: massive gallstones. We saw them clear as day on the ultrasound (run by Bernard, a radiologist who was very cute and declined to give us his last name) like two little golf balls rattling around inside Hannah's apparently unvital organ. It seems that her gallbladder will soon be coming out. I'll keep you up to date on what she does with it once it's liberated. It's bound to be good, whatever she does.

Technorati Tags: , , Emergency Room, Bellevue

Friday, September 08, 2006

Kiki Strike and the Shadow City

I recently finished reading Kiki Strike and the Shadow City, the debut novel of Kirsten Miller, a Manhattan Ad Exec turned young adult writer. I had anticipated the release of the book after reading this article in the May/June issue of TONY Kids, about Miller and her characters who are anything but girly-girls. It was fitting that I discovered that particular TONY Kids issue while waiting for a pedicure with Phoebe (one of my old charges, now 10). Her mother and I got pedicures that day, but Phoebe refused, because only girly-girls paint their nails and she has made a life choice not to give in to the lure of nail polish and all it's attendant evils.

The book is a fun read, although it's a little difficult (as an adult, at least) to suspend disbelief about some of the activities the 5 "delinquent Girl Scouts" engage in. This includes climbing down through sewers and secret passages into an underground "city" below New York, making millions of dollars through the sale of a rodent deterrent device, opening their own businesses, planting various IEDs (that's improvised explosive device, for those of you who's friends don't make them watch CNN constantly) and showing absolutely no respect for their curfews. Ok, I guess there's no suspension of disbelief needed for that last one.

Kirsten Miller knows that "ya gotta get a gimmick," so each chapter ends with how-to spy and detective tips such as "How to Catch a Liar", "How to Follow Someone Undetected" and my personal favorite "How to Take Advantage of Being a Girl". Let's just say that it on some level I was kind of sad that I didn't have some secret Manhattan mystery to solve, otherwise I might have grabbed dark glasses and a trench coat and been off on an adventure.

It is, however, a first novel, and it shows--most obviously in the dialog and the slow start. I still enjoyed it, and as most 9-13 year-olds aren't quite as critical as myself, I wholeheartedly recommend it. It would be an excellent read to prepare for a trip to the city. The epilogue details real "secret" spots in the city, such as "Lost" Cemeteries, Hidden Houses and Castles.

Special thanks to Liz B. at A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy for giving me a great shortcut to the links above.

Technorati Tags: , , Young Adult Fiction, Kiki Strike, Kirsten Miller

Now I Hear This Sound in My Sleep

What kid in America doesn't have a book about baby animals? Luke has 30, easily, and he'd like me to read them all to him one after the other in quick succession until I'm so hoarse he can pretend he doesn't hear me when I yell for him to stop flushing the toilet repeatedly. Luckily we've gotten to the point that I no longer have to "read" the books anymore. All I have to do is point and say "What's that?" and he says "Cow" or "Duck" or what have you. Then I ask, "And what does it say?" To which he replies "Moo" or "Quack", etc.

In the past, when we've gotten to the bunny rabbit page, instead of asking the second question I'd say, "Bunny rabbits don't make a sound."

But, apparently that's a lie!

Not only do they make a sound, they make a horrific sound, one that I curse Heather B. Armstrong for introducing into my life. Now I dread going to sleep for fear of dreaming of all the irate rabbits who I may or may not have done unkind things to while they were my pets.

Technorati Tags: , , Animal Sounds

Thursday, September 07, 2006

A Walk With Luke or Why I Need a Drink Tonight

One of the things you learn early on with children, especially those under three years of age, is that a walk, despite whatever purpose you might think it has, is a purpose unto itself. Unfortunately for the kids I work with I've been a New York walker long before I was an actual New Yorker. I walk fast. I walk fast to work. I walk fast on pleasant Sunday afternoon strolls. It's not uncommon for my friends to physically restrain me in an effort to get me to walk at a normal pace.

When I walk with Luke I know that if I let him out of the stroller to walk along beside me it's quite possible that a 5 minute trip will turn into 55 minutes as he examines every cigarette butt and fire hydrant intensely. These are the times when I call him puppy (and no, his mother doesn't know about that nickname). So, when we left the house to go and pick up Sam & Jill from school today, even though I can push the stroller there in 22 minutes door-to-door, I left an hour and a half early.

It's a very good thing I did.

At the corner of Spring and Greenwich, beside the bar that's beside the The Ear Inn (I can't remember it's name) there was an old foosball table. This thing had seen better days, but I thought Luke might enjoy the little men spinning around on their posts, so I held him up to see. I spun one of the bars to make them spin. I pushed the handles back and forth to show him how each row could move. Then I put him down and thought we'd continue on our merry way, and perhaps we'd have a chance to stop for a little snack at the Chocolate Shop. Luke, however, had other plans.

THIRTY-TWO MINUTES is exactly how long it took me to decide that violence was the only way this situation was going to resolve itself. I pleaded, I cajoled, I pointed out, now that I wasn't holding him up, he couldn't see the little men. None of it mattered. That table had poles that could me moved in and out, they could be twisted, the could be pulled quickly toward one's head (conveniently at the same level as the poles) so that it bashed against one's skull and needed kissing.

Luke had never known greater fun than this old, dirty foosball table and I was the mean ogre who wanted to take him away from it simply because the waiters inside the bar were starting to look at me standing there talking to what they could only assume was myself because Luke, the foosball fanatic, wasn't visible from the other side of the table.

So finally, I grabbed him. He screamed and kicked and generally acted as if I was the scary-abductor person with candy they warn you about in 3rd Grade assemblies. I've gotten pretty good at holding him down in the stroller with one hand while I buckle the straps with the other, so in a few minutes we were finally back on our way, headed towards school. Luke screamed the entire way and I only got him to stop by getting him a lollipop.

I comfort myself by remembering that feeling one is a complete and total failure at one's job is a sign of sanity.

Technorati Tags: , , Temper Tantrums Downtown New York

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Blogging from the Floor While Curled Up in the Fetal Position

Thanks to A Little Pregnant for the heads up about a London newspaper article which reported yesterday that the first womb transplant is expected to occur within the next two years.

Apparently IVF is not an option for a woman who's uterus has been damaged because of injury or disease, so womb transplant would give hope to many women who wish to carry their own biological child. The article was difficult for me to get through, just because the idea makes me kind of want to double over and protect all of my vital organs, not that I think they'd take my womb--the operation uses an organ from a dead donor--but just because the idea is so very . . . ick! I don't feel that way about the concept of heart or liver or kidney transplants. I wouldn't want to watch one of those operations, but I'm fine reading about them. Something about the idea of scalpels around that particular part of my body just strikes my roll-into-a-ball reflex. I don't like thinking about Caesarean sections either (the only delivery choice, apparently, if you have a womb transplant).

But, now that I've unfurled myself enough to reach the keyboard, I have to say that I really don't like the idea of this operation becoming widespread. I understand that I have not gone through the traumatic experience of trying and failing over and over to conceive a child. I know that the instinct to pass on one's own genetic material is quite strong. I know that I cannot stand back in judgment of what others choose to do with their bodies. I know all these things. But, I also know that for every mother who cannot conceive there are hundreds of children who need homes and parents and love. These are children who already exist. Children who don't require costly operations, drugs, hormones, injections, scars and pain.

I wouldn't want to be the one who stands in the way of science (especially since it's impossible for me to stand in the way of science--I'm not that big) but I hope that before this incredibly expensive operation is ever performed the doctors do their best to present all of the options, especially the non-medical ones.

Oh, and is it just me, or is this picture WAY creepy:

Technorati Tags: , , Adoption

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Years ago when Staples began it's tradition of truly exceptional Back to School commercials, my mother simply could not get enough of their "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" ad. You remember the one, an ecstatic father glides up and down the Staples' aisles gathering notebooks, pencils and pens, while his poor children trudge behind him as if they are prisoners on their way to the gas chamber. The commercial has no dialog, just the joyous strains of that beloved and oft used Christmas tune.

I always found it a bit odd that my mother thought the commercial was so hysterically funny. Usually that kind of thing fits into the "it's funny because it's true" category, but in our household the Back to School season was anticipated by all members, not just my parents. In fact, my mother dreaded Back to School night and the other duties associated with her children's return to school, while my sisters and I loved shopping for school supplies and clothes.

Notoriously I would only want to buy sweaters, wool skirts and warm tights when my mother finally got around to the task of school shopping. Oh, and saddle shoes, I couldn't get enough of saddle shoes even though they were dreadfully out of style. I don't think any of my peers really appreciated my sense of truly classic style . . . but I digress. Inevitably I'd dress for my first day as if it was November 31st, despite my mother's warnings, and by mid morning I'd be wishing I still had my bathing suit handy.

It makes me rather sad that the G. children don't go school shopping with their mother. They don't really do much shopping at all with their mother, and believe me, I don't blame Mrs. G. for that at all, kids are nightmares in stores more often than not. But school shopping seems like such an institution to me that I was really surprised to find not every family feels the same way. Clearly, though, Staples seems to being doing well, and still pushing it's wares this time of year, so many American families must still cart everyone to the store to partake of this cherished (by me, anyway) ritual. And although their ads may never again top the beauty and simplicity of that first one, they still seem to be cranking out noteworthy commercials, at least according to my mother.

Technorati Tags: , , Advertising, Shopping

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Be Back Soon

Hello everyone!

If you're a regular reader, or just plain observant, you've noticed that I haven't written recently. Hopefully, as it's prime vacation season you've been understanding and not deleted me from your blog-consciousness. I'm on various vacations, my own and those belonging to others. I'll be back on the 5th, just in time for Back to School!.

In the meantime, I hope you all have a wonderfule weekend!