Today I am caring for my god daughter, who is just turning six months old, and who, reminds me what love is every time I watch her. When you’re watching a baby, everything you want to do, every plan you might have or idea you’re conjuring doesn’t matter. Babies don’t care that you want to make a pot of potato soup. Babies don’t care that you want to work on invitations. Babies don’t care that it’s rainy and you want to sit still and watch a movie on the couch. Babies just want what they want, when they want it. They want to kick their feet and laugh. They want to look at you when they’re sucking down their bottles. They want to smile when you don’t expect it. They want to cry because crying helps (kind of). They want to grasp their little doggy and put a squeaky giraffe in their mouth. That’s just how babies are. And it makes me very happy, you know? Because it reminds me that even though I want to be selfish, for her I can be selfless. It gives me hope. Today, I realize that the one thing I really have to do is just be there for her. And even though that one thing is a big job; and it isn’t easy; and it’s sometimes hard to focus on it, when she closes her eyes and I look at her, I realize nothing is more important than loving her. Babies are just like that.
And while she sleeps, I’ll take the time to do what i need to do. And I will be very quiet at it. It’s never good to wake a sleeping bear! Happy Friday all!
So caregivers, what do you do when that moment of much needed silence hits your day? When you can stop and breathe. When you can sigh and let your shoulders go. Sometimes, there are days when this childless silence is needed more than most. When your humor is going down the drain with the food children threw on the floor and the snacks they refused to eat. Sometimes it is just plain hard to do what we do. Sometimes I feel exhausted. Sometimes I doubt myself for sticking to my guns. Sometimes I wish I could be the caregiver who practiced empty threats, because then I wouldn’t have toddlers mad at me. But that’s not who I am. And that’s not who this family hired to help raise their children.
We nannies helping to raise a generation. These children will grow up someday and they will need to be equipped with the right values and lessons to survive. These babies will become their own people without our supervision. People who need to follow rules. People who need to practice kindness. People who need to earn rewards for themselves. People who need to value their words.
Sometimes that seems like an awfully big responsibility for a nanny. But it doesn’t mean I can give up or give in. What it means is that… I have to have to stick to what the rules are, I have to practice kindness (even in the face of tantrums), I have to go through with punishments and I need to value my own words by allowing my actions to match my spoken consequences; even if it isn’t fun, even if they don’t like it, even if it’s tiring and hard. Because I am raising people, strong people who need me to be strong, too.
So in this rare moment of silence, I am choosing to reflect back on my day and remind myself that even though it was hard doesn’t mean I acted wrong. My exhaustion is rooted in doing what is right for these kids. And this afternoon, when the sleeping bears wake, it will be a fresh chance for hugs and kisses, for stories and playing. Because, in my silence, I remember there is value in what I do and there is eternal love for these little chickadees; who despite the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days, always find a way to make me smile.
I firmly believe that a child’s ability to imagine sets them apart from adults.
This difference is beautiful and intriguing. And okay, if we’re being honest, sometimes this difference is hilarious, really hilarious. I mean, aren’t we all enthralled when we watch the little chickadees travel to England on a purple dinosaur to battle eleven flying monkeys by throwing waffles? (you can’t make that up, you just can’t!)
But this difference is also irreversible. And, once a child loses his imagination they in turn lose their innocence. Sadly, however, the ability to imagine is fleeting. So, we must harvest it in our little ones while we can. We must encourage it and embrace it, egg it on more than we think is necessary. We must do everything in our power as caregivers to stretch its growing season as long as we can.
So what do you do to harness your child’s imagination?
When I was living in Georgia, the girls had a dinosaur (*he lived in the backyard and to us adults he bore a strong resemblance to a fallen tree*). Bold and exotic, yet surprisingly friendly he would offer his scaly back for afternoons of climbing and adventure. Together they would ride to unknown lands until dinner was served. The dinosaur was a confidant for the girls. He allowed them to escape reality and challenge their minds. He allowed them to play, and he didn’t ask any questions. He was a welcomed member of the family, a talked about character at the dinner table, a sought refuge on boring afternoons. And years later, he is missed everyday. But more importantly, he is remembered, always.
I challenge you to look around for your children– to find a dinosaur for your own family. They’re out there, you know? You just have to use the eye of a child to find them.