Admitting you are a nanny is always received with a very interesting expression on people's faces. It is as if they believe you are doing something meaningless in society. This is funny to me. So, I smile and let people think what they want to think.
Today I spent the day with the girls I have been a "nanny" for since the age of 4, they are now 8. We went to the movies and they were holding my hands and using them to cover their faces from scary parts in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. They switched sitting in my lap and wrapping my arms around them, while they each kissed the back of my hand. In that moment, I felt more proud of my work with them than anything else I have ever accomplished in my life. They look up to me. They trust me. They love me. They respect me. The fact that they know they can use my hands to protect them from something scary, or sit in my lap and have me hold them whenever they want, shows that to me. They know I will be whatever they need me to be- even the "strict" caregiver if necessary. They can count on that and even know when it's coming. They have seen me be in a bad mood, they have seen me get serious and strict, even loud a few times since I have known them. They have felt me hug, kiss, and touch them gently. We have learned, danced, laughed, pretended, jumped, tip-toed, cried, and yelled together. I have written more educational and inquiry papers about them than about any other child I have ever worked with and have therefore learned from them too. I love these girls beyond words. I have the privilege to be their role model, their friend, their guide, and their caregiver. There is no other relationship I will have like this one and that's pretty damn cool.
I am proud of the fact that I have always known how powerful my influence is in their lives.
I am reminded of this every time Ella and Cia yell at cars in jest to go somewhere when we can't find parking. I did that once, or twice. Or, when they sing, "one, two, three, I am on a mission to pee." I did that with them once or twice too. Today, when they each kissed the back of my hand while they were holding it, I remembered the first time I did that to Ella. She was 4. She was doing something graceful and interesting with her hands as children do, and I grabbed it and kissed it. My mom used to do that to me. She grabbed mine and kissed it back... and we still do that. How cool is that! There are bits and pieces of me that I can see in them and I can't explain how magical and special those glimpses are to me. While the majority of who they are is a reflection of who their wonderful parents and family are, the fact that I can see me in there too is one of the most profound accomplishments of my life and something I will cherish always.