Thursday, June 12, 2008

The "Why"ner and the Whack-her

The brilliant and advanced 3 year old I care for has already started the "why" phase of childhood, and I am eventually going to run out of answers. Recently, I actually found myself begging her for 5 minutes with no questions. Add the "Why?" issue to her already drifty attention span and apparent inability to listen and focus, and I feel like I am constantly yammering at her. I am trying to think back to other 3 year olds I have known, and remember what I did to survive this stage, but so far, all I can think is "Why? WHY? WHY have we hit this stage already???"

Meanwhile, Miss Charming 16 month old is in her scientific experiement stage. Her current favorite test subject is big sister. Here's how I imagine Buttercup's inner dialogue would sound if she could talk:

"Hmmm....sister is sitting and playing. That means I can reach her hair! Wonder what will happen when I pull her hair really hard? (hair pulling commences) Oh WOW! That was GREAT! Definitely a 4.5 on the screech scale. I bet I can do better than that though. I wonder if she'll be louder when I whack her on the head with this handy naked Barbie doll ?(whack whack whack) Oooooo...that was my best work of the day! An 8 on the screech scale and a scream! Uh-oh, wait a second. My nanny is headed this way. I better wail and seem like I was just hurt. That'll throw her off my trail!"

At least I can still surprise a 16 month old. She's beginging to experience the (occasionally overused) phemomenon of "Time Out". Her first spell in the chair surprised her, so we'll see what happens when she knows what "Time Out" actually means. Of course, I also tell her what she did wrong and what she must do instead. Then I send her over to Beanie to appologize, and Buttercup jabbers something before offering a kiss on big sister's boo-boo. Completely cute.

All this serves as an illustration of my point, which is that patience is not only a virtue, it's practially a pre-requisite for nannies. If you can't keep your cool while answering "Why?" for the 648th time at 2 pm, and you can't repeat yourself over. And Over. And OVER. while being stared at blankly, you won't make it in my job.

Don't get me wrong. I am certainly not a saint, and neither are the nannies I know. I do lose my patience, and occasionally raise my voice.

The real issue for me is that at any given minute I can be prepared to discipline and then I get caught off guard by an awesome display of cuteness or silliness, and I lose my "stern voice" to a horrible case of giggles.

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