February 17, 2012

The Nanny Files: The Computer Crazies

Besides actor, singer, performer, dancer, wife, DIYer, one of the many hats I wear in life is nanny.

No, not that kind of nanny. More of the jeans and t-shirt wearing-homework helping-housework doing-laundry collecting-dinner cooking-rule enforcing-football playing-Barbie dressing-Lego building-grounding if needing-parental stand in kind. I don't know about you, but I don't remember any pigskin being tossed around by the stiletto teetering Ms. Fine (then again, I don't recall any of those kids exactly being the physical type...).

The long and the short of it is I love it. Although not a parent yet myself, I love kids. It's kind of amazing what they are capable of, whether it be academically or just things that come out of an afternoon of playing house. In the past few years I've been fortunate enough to work closely with kids and just can't get enough. There's nothing quite like the laughs and smiles being around kids can cause.

However, as the parents out there do know, all too well, sometimes the lows in a day can outnumber the highs and there are more sneers and screams than smiles. As a nanny, those lows can be pretty tricky waters to navigate through.

The hardest part about being in my position is I'm not the parent, and although sometimes I wish I could convince the kids otherwise, I can't. Yes, they've had nannies in the past, so I'm nothing new, but sometimes it seems like the concept is. Their parents (who, btw, are awesome), have reiterated many times that when I'm there I am acting for them, and therefore, should be treated as if I'm one of them. My goodness I hope they don't treat them the way they have me at times. One of the trickier things is when you have the parent and me involved in the same situation and one of the kids, well, let's just say, isn't necessarily putting their best foot forward.

Today is actually a great example of such a time. I like to call what happened today the Computer Crazies. Now, this strange phenomenon is not strictly limited to computers, but is easily applied to any device with a screen. Computers, televisions, iPods/Pads, Gameboys (which apparently are old school... who knew?), etc., can cause a bad case of the crazies.

To protect the innocent (and at times, not so innocent) I'll just refer to them as G(girl), B(boy), Mom and Dad. Now that we have that all cleared up, on with the story.

G and I were playing on a website her teacher had told the kids about and were having a great time. As someone who is a huge advocate for edu-tainment, I couldn't get over how great it was that the site perfectly integrated the curriculum into the games. While we were playing, Mom came into the room to see what we were up to and to ask G if she wanted to order anything for dinner (it was a night off for cooking for me, yay!). Instead of responding with even something as simple as yes or no, G continued with the game. Mom repeated the question, but still received no response. After the second request I chimed in with "G, your mom just asked you a question," to which the response was something along the lines of a whiny "yeah yeah."

That was when the crazies began to creep out. I said again, more firmly that her mom asked her a question and she should answer her. Once again (not surprisingly) I was ignored as G kept her eyes glued to the screen and her hand firmly on the mouse. Seriously?!?! I thought. What kid does that? My mom certainly wouldn't have allowed that to happen, let alone TWICE.

After the final request I said "you're done with the computer," took the mouse out of her hand, not without difficulty (little girls are freakishly strong when they are angry) and sent her to her room. There was at least one or two "you're mean" and "I hate yous" tossed in there as well from her end, but when something like this happens, I just ignore such outbursts. I honestly still can't believe how she treated her mom and me. She spent the next 15 minutes alone in her room.

Now, as I'm sure we are all terribly aware, being sent to a room now a days just isn't a threat. That's where the toys and games are, so it's not really a punishment being forced to stay in there. However, it seems to be somewhat effective, so I'm sticking with it.

After the 15 minutes went by, I went to G's room and asked if she knew why she had been sent to her room. She had calmed down and actually responded pleasantly, much to my surprise (this kid can hold a grudge with the best of them, so I was actually quite shocked by the quick turn around). I asked how she should behave if her mom or I or anyone approaches her while on the computer or watching a show or playing a game and asks a question. Again, correct answer in a non-snappy or attitude filled tone. Score one for Team Nanny.

So, the rest of the evening continued uneventfully on. Then, came time for me to leave. Ok, well there was a little snafu right before, which probably just added fuel to the smoldering fire, but it definitely doesn't give an excuse. As always, I make a point to say goodbye to the kiddoes before leaving for the weekend. I was downstairs with G after cleaning up the kitchen area and she was just watching tv. I put on my jacket, grabbed my purse and said "all righty ok?"


"G, did you hear me?"

Again, nothing.

At this point I felt as if we had rewound ourselves back a couple of hours. I stood directly in front of her, between her and the tv, and got a response. Of course it wasn't any sort of civil response, more of the whiny, screamy one I expected and prepared myself for. I reminded her of the situation earlier that evening, to which she seemed to have completely forgotten. After a few more whines and me telling her repeatedly to go to her room she got up and ran towards the stairs saying "you're mean, I'm telling mommy you're being mean."

Oh boy. Did I mention G is eight years old? More like eight going on 18 at times, and others it feels like I'm back with a group of toddlers. This situation brought out the latter. Yeah... definitely not the sort of behavior I was expecting in the slightest.

Of course, I followed her up stairs where I heard her crying to her mom about how mean I was. And Moms response? Surprise G, Mom and I are in agreement and batting for the same team. Score (again) for Team Nanny and parenting.

The three of us had a brief conversation, decided G didn't need any more tv, or computer or games for the rest of the night and left it at that. And in the back of my mind decided tonight would be a great pizza and beer  sort of evening. And to be thankful my only children are four legged and furry.

I know these are just bad habits (similar to not cleaning up after themselves and in general being personally responsible), but my goodness they are hard to break. Maybe the next one to be conquered is getting her to close the cabinets or flushing the toilet. Yeah... we're working on that one, too.

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