Are you happy with your family?
In January 2012, I (!!!!hooray!!!!) became a full-time stay-at-home mom. We had to say good-bye to our wonderful nanny, Lynette, who had made it possible for me to go back to
hell my job for 4 months. I’ll never be able to thank her enough for her loving care of my sweet baby. My mother also returned to the Pocono Mountains, so come the following Monday morning when D left for work, there we were, just the two of us. Alone.
I wanted to get F (7-months old) involved in some play groups or enroll him in some baby/toddler classes. Fortunately we were on the Upper West Side of Manhattan where people invented having babies. Oh, you don’t believe me? Ask any parent passing by on West End Avenue–they’ll tell you there were no babies until he or she started having babies. But because the UWS is pretty much the suburbs of Manhattan, there really are so many wonderful things for parents and babies to do all within a block or two.
One of the coolest places is the Hippo playground at Riverside Park. In the summer, water shoots out of the hippos’ mouths turning the whole park into a giant sprinkler! I swear until I had F I had no idea such fun existed in NYC. You aren’t allowed in playgrounds in the city without a child, so I guess that explains why I spent most of my child-free years in bars. Yeh.
We had a mild winter in 2012, so soon F and I were able to venture out to the Hippo park. There was no water yet, of course, but the swings, slides, and sandbox were all up and running. F was not yet walking, but I could put him in the sandbox and sit on the edge with the other adults and enjoy the freakishly warm January weather for a few minutes. I smiled timidly around the circle immediately judging each face I saw. Nanny, nanny, nanny, mommy, nanny, nanny, oh daddy, nanny, nanny, mommy….etc.
Even though he wasn’t walking yet, F was still a bundle of raw energy, so I didn’t get to sit still for long. He wiggled and wormed and crawled all over that sandbox, and I spent most of the time picking him up and turning him around or finding a new open space where he wouldn’t get trampled by the older kids who were playing with trucks and shovels. I once saw a parent throw a stuffed Elmo doll in this very sandbox, and it was as if he threw a raw steak into a ring full of pit bulls. So, you have to keep a very sharp eye on the littler babies at the sandbox.
And then it happened for the first time. I sat down and the young woman next to me smiled and said very quietly to me, “Are you happy with your family?”
For one split second I thought, “Wow, what a deep and interesting question.” I was just about to start babbling out my story of late-in-life love and late-in-life parenthood when I realized what she meant. She had sized me up age-wise and decided that I was F’s nanny! And she was attempting to Nanny Poach me!
I didn’t want to embarrass the poor woman too much, so I said, “Yes, very happy, thank you,” and then I said to F, “Come on sweetie, Mommy wants to take you home.” I didn’t look back to see if she was shocked or embarrassed. I realized it actually was a compliment on my mommy skills. This young woman was actually taking an enormous risk, too. Nanny poaching is a high crime on the UWS. And let’s be honest, hadn’t I just done the same thing as I looked around at the other adults? I classified each one of them as a mommy, daddy, or nanny.
Next time: We join New York Kids Club!
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