Upon picking up my two charges from school one hot spring day, I arrive to find the younger child looking as though she has been dragged through the school yard by a team of raging buffalo. A mere seven hours earlier, I drop off the sparkling child at the very same location with perfectly symmetrical pigtails, a cleanly scrubbed face, freshly pressed clothing, well fed and ready to face the day. At 3:00pm, however, I barely recognize the dirt encrusted, tornado blown dreary creature that is delivered back to me.
As I am buckling the child into her carseat, we have the following conversation:
Child: “Nanny, is this the day that means we don’t have to come back to this place tomorrow?”
Nanny: “Do you mean Friday? No, sweetheart. Today is just Tuesday.”
Child: “Well how many more days until the day when we don’t have to come back here tomorrow?”
Nanny: “Three more days.”
Child: (Sighing loudly) “That’s a lot of days, Nanny.”
Nanny: “I hear you!” I say conspiratorially. “Did you have a bad day in Pre-K?”
Child: “No, not really.”
Nanny: (gesturing wildly around the child’s head) “What exactly happened in this area?” Expecting to hear that she has been dragged by the hair around the jungle gym by a hulking first grader, known only as ‘Brutus.
The real story is even more disturbing.
Child: “Well I was pooping and EVERYTHING just fell out. But don’t worry, I fixed it myself.”
Nanny: (Embracing the “Don’t ask – Don’t tell” policy) “I see – It sounds like you really did have a tough day. I completely understand.”
Just then the child’s much older brother, who is already in Kindergarten breaks in with his perspective:
Brother: “No Nanny, you don’t understand. Big people don’t get it because they don’t have to go to school all day. They just get to sit around and do whatever they want.”
Nanny: (Making the big mistake of trying to use reality on the child) “Big people have to go to work every single day. Isn’t that the same thing?”
Brother: “It’s not the same. At school we have people bossing us around all the time. Big people never get bossed around. This life is just not fair.”
Nanny: “Wow! This is worse than I thought. We better go home and have a double apple juice on-the-rocks.
Child: “Nanny, do you think I could have a cookie with that?”
Brother: “Yeah Nanny, cause sometimes apple juice all by itself, just isn’t enough.”