The Little Car Enthusiast – Every Neighborhood Should Have One!

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Late one Friday afternoon, at the end of a particularly exhausting week filled with two cantankerous toddlers, fully engrossed in phases of the psychosocial crisis that throw entire families into upheaval for at least three years, I pull my car into the driveway and sit in the driver’s seat, staring blankly at the garage door.   I am feeling exactly ninety six and one half years old, and at least five hundred and ninety six and one half pounds.  Therefore, instead of moving, I sit and fantasize about sleeping in my car and easier ways to make a living.  I wonder if I might enjoy selling shoes? The hum of a small engine interrupts my rumination, just as I am conjuring a vision of measuring the cast of “Duck Dynasty’s” naked, hairy feet (thank God).

A tiny motorized vehicle enters my driveway and parks behind my car.  I know this child.  His house sits across the caul de sac, directly opposite mine.  I frequently see his parents sitting in beach chairs on the front lawn, as their son drives his little truck around the circle, greeting people as they return home from work.  He is a smart little fellow, about four years of age, but with a vocabulary larger than many adults I know.  Somewhere near the top of this chap’s talents, is his ability to identify the make, model and approximate year of every car on the road.  During this particular time, his parents are in the process of purchasing a new van, so his vehicle fetish is at an all time high.  He now greets neighbors, not by name, but by car make and model.  So, in my case, it’s…”Hi Nanny, you have a Toyota Camry LE, four door.  Is it a four, or six cylinder?”

I am not sure what a cylinder is…much less how many I own.  In fact, today, I’m not sure I know my own name.  I step out of the car and stutter a bit.

“I am…I don’t…”

Thankfully, the tot’s father interrupts the painful moment.  “Why don’t you say goodnight to Nanny.” He says to the boy.

“Goodnight.” He says casually, as he backs his truck easily out of the driveway with one hand.

Suddenly he stops the miniature vehicle.  He slides his “Lightning McQueen” sunglasses down his nose, points at me with his forefinger and says…”You got a nice tail pipe.”

With that, the tot returns his sunglasses to their correct position, and pulls forward with a jump and a slight squeal of miniature tires.  I believe he even sprays me with a pebble or two, leaving me in a mini dust cloud with my mouth still hanging slightly open.  This, I have learned since, Is a toddler peel out…and he does it with style.

Yes…he has style.  I, however…I’ve got a nice tail pipe!  A bright smile spreads across my face.  I suddenly feel so light and energetic!  “So, I’ve been thrown up on twice today.  Who cares if I have peas in my hair and poop on my shirt.  I’ve got a nice tail pipe!  I swing my nice pipe around and swish it toward the house with great enthusiasm.

“Hey kid!”  I shout, turning to look at the tot.  I pull my sunglasses down, looking over them,  and strike my coolest movie star pose.  He stops the car and awaits my response.  “Catch ya on the flip side.” I quip, holding one thumb up, seventies style.

“Huh?” he asks with a wrinkled nose, clearly confused.

I sigh, my movie star moment lost on youth…”Never mind, see you tomorrow cutie.”

“See ya.” He says, steering his truck with one hand, waving with the other.  How is it that this kid is so much cooler than I, and a better driver?

I decide, I don’t have to be cool…I’ve got a nice tail pipe.  Again I smile, swinging and bouncing my nice tail pipe into the house, hoping as many neighbors as possible had the chance to witness the scenery for themselves.  I love that kid.  I love my job.  What a great day!

By the way…I apparently own six cylinders.  The cool kid must have done some research.  He informed me during a later encounter.

Mr. Big Foot

[PHOTOGRAPH WITHHELD DUE TO INTESTINAL DISCOMFORT]

The most prominent spot on the front of the refrigerator in my employer’s home…the very spot reserved for exclusive preschool art projects…is the permanent home of the most repulsive photograph ever taken in the history of mankind.  It would have been destroyed long ago, had it not been such a source of pride and personal achievement for one of my young charges, a tender four years of age, at the time of the dreadful incident in question.  The spindly 24 pound boy spends many hours recounting the story, carefully saving the big “wow moment” of the visual aid for very last.  The retelling never fails to produce just the right mixture of choke, gasp and strangle, that fills my young charge with utter triumph, and inflates his esteem, until it is in danger of rupturing.

It all started, as I remember it, in a small, odiferous bathroom, standing in front of the toilet, flanked on either side by my two, pint-sized charges (ages two and four).  The three of us, wordlessly staring down into the porcelain abyss with wrinkled noses, lost in individual thought.  My own sounding something like this…”Yes Mr. King, I too had a dream.  I was going to save the world…holding an extremely high level position in ‘Worldwide Health Initiative,’ or some other fabulously influential, humanitarian organization.  Wearing a stunningly professional, yet feminine suit with tasteful heels, saving the world from disease, hunger and social injustice, without ever mussing my hair.

But alas…it is not meant to be.  For here I stand…a fabulously un-influential, Professional Nanny, wearing jean shorts and a white t-shirt, with splatters of chocolate milk bedazzling the front, staring down into a toilet, wondering where on earth my life went wrong.  The shivering four year old boy breaks my trance, as he carefully slips his thin hand into mine.  “What are we going to do with it, Nanny?” He asks, in a shaky voice.

The “it” causing all of the befuddlement, is a solid pile of waste matter, comparable both in size and odor, to one that might be expelled by an elderly, male rhinoceros.  This particular mass, however, has miraculously escaped from the body of the scrawny four year old boy, standing at my right.  The child is looking from the heap, to my face, trying to decide whether or not he should be afraid.  The boy’s sister (age two), standing on my left, IS frightened, as she stares at the smoldering pile with wide eyes, repeating an elongated form of the word “wwwhhhoooaaaaa,”  over and over again.

I must admit to being thoroughly perplexed by the thing, having never witnessed such a voluminous expulsion in my life…with the possible exception of the zoo.  However, it is not merely the size of the beast that is so mystifying.  It is the fact that it is one, uninterrupted, extremely elongated mass, coiled like a thick, brown snake at the bottom of the bowl.  I look down at the hideous mound and back to the spindly boy.  Physiologically impossible!

“Let’s flush.”  I announce cheerfully, after what seems an eternity of contemplation.  I do so.  The thing remains motionless.  Both children look from the sitting mass, then up to me.  “Oh Crap!”  I think.  Literally!  The three of us gaze down into the bowl at the monstrosity until the water stills.

A stinky silence hangs in the air.

“Let’s flush again.”  I offer, a little less confident this time.  I do so.  The gigantic “it” moves approximately 1/8 millimeter, then is once again motionless.  My thoughts begin to shift at this point, as I am now faced with what to do with this mutant.  Does one shove it down?  Does one break it into more manageable pieces?  And more importantly, with what object would one accomplish such a task?  Is there a specific product already in existence…The Poo Poker 2000, only $9.95 plus shipping and handling?

“Nanny?”  The four year old whispers in a quivery voice.

“Don’t worry, Sweetheart.”  I say, comforting the lanky tot.  “It’s no big deal.  Nanny will fix it.”  However, as I say these words, I notice a huge smile, slowly spreading across his face.

“But Nanny,”  He says, pride now twinkling in his eyes.  “THIS IS THE BIGGEST POO IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!”

“I think you’re right, Bud.”  I reply.

“I want to take a picture to show Mommy and Daddy!”  He shouts excitedly, running to grab the camera.  He hands me the camera and I shoot a picture of the putrid mass, stubbornly stuck to the bottom of the bowl.

“I will name him, “MR. BIG FOOT,” he proudly announces, arms spread wide, as if introducing the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Mr. Big Foot…wwwhhhoooaaaaaa!”  whispers the two year old.

Without going into further detail, let’s just say that it takes roughly 15-20 flushes (without the use of the Poo Poker 2000), to dislodge a glued mound of waste matter, approximately the size of a loaf of sandwich bread, from the bottom of a porcelain bowl.  This allows a good bit of time for reflection.  What are they feeding this child at night…Elmer’s Glue?  Should we cut back on the child’s fiber intake?  Is this a hereditary trait?  If so, it must come from the father’s side.

I thought, perhaps the photo would work as a nice appetite suppressant in it’s spot, front and center, on the refrigerator.  Sadly, I can now eat a large bowl of chocolate ice cream while staring at it, without so much as flinching.  In the end, I suppose it matters not where we acquire our sense of self worth…even if it is just a big load of crap.  What matters is that we build and maintain a big and healthy one.  Let us all take a lesson from our shorter, and less polished counterparts, and celebrate more of our personal victories in life…no matter how unpalatable.  I would, however, suggest that the photographs remain private.

The “L” Word

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In the weeks following Christmas, I generally find myself confined indoors with my small, frisky charges due to arctic weather, and whichever horrific strain of Bovine Projectile Diarrhea Virus that happens to be plaguing our small corner of the world each year.  Just when you think you’ve had everything…there is always something new and exciting to catch, and no better incubators on earth, than our darling, little walking petri dishes.

On one such frigid January day several years ago, my charge, the disturbingly bright 2 1/2 year old daughter of a prominent Gastrointinestinologist, is stuck inside with her blissfully average Nanny (me).  Together, we have been reading age-appropriate books regarding the upcoming birth of her baby brother.  Preparation for the impending arrival has been ongoing for months, and as we finish the final book, the tot looks at me thoughtfully, and says, “You know Nanny, this book is wrong.  Mommy doesn’t have a baby in her tummy.”

“She doesn’t?” I ask, a little confused.

“No, she says.  He’s in her UTERUS!”

“Well,” I say, making wide, sweeping gestures in the front of my body.  “He’s in her general tummy area, right?”

“Wrong!”  She states, pointedly.  “Food goes in your tummy.  Babies go in your uterus.”

I sigh loudly.  Working with the offspring of Physicians can sometimes pose interesting challenges.  This child does not appreciate the infantile explanation of child birth offered by the age appropriate book, and I did not come prepared today with a powerpoint presentation:  The Anatomy and Physiology of Pregnancy and Birth.  It is clearly time to move on to another activity.  Something physical sounds good, as it affords fewer opportunities for argument.  I quickly locate her parent’s large exercise ball, and begin to roll and bounce the child on top of it, in as many positions as we can imagine.  She stands, kneels and lays across the wildly bouncing ball.  Since she is only 2, we are also using the activity to learn the names of more obscure body parts (ear lobes, elbows, wrists, eyelids, ankles, etc.).  For example, I might say, “lie down and put your left ear lobe on the ball.”  Then, she would have to figure out the correct part and way to position herself before bouncing.  The exercise is a big hit.  She spends nearly an hour screeching and giggling between breathless cries of “More, Nanny!  More!”

I place her on the ground to catch her breath, and ask, “What part of your body would you like to bounce on the ball next?”  She thinks for a moment, and then pats the top of the big ball with her tiny, cherub-like hand, and says, “I would like to put my Labia up here.”  However, she is 2 1/2, so the words actually come out:  “I would wike to put my wabia up here.”

I am not exactly sure I have heard her correctly.  In fact, I am praying I have not heard her correctly.  Being blissfully average, I ask her to clarify.  “Excuse me?” I ask.  She is annoyed, as evidenced by her hands-on-hips, eye-rolling stance.

“I said, I would wike my WABIA up her PWEASE!”  No mistaking her this time.

“Don’t react,” I tell myself, as I place her in a sitting position atop the ball.  I slowly begin to bounce her, as she happily sings a song she has made up:  “I wike to bounce, I wike to bounce, I wike to bounce on my wabia.”  My Knees buckle a bit and my head is feeling dizzy.  I desperately need my happy place.  It is then I realize, I have never heard the word “Labia” spoken aloud, even from my Gynecologist.  How is it, that I have made it all the way into my forties, without ever having heard this word spoken aloud?  Hearing it pronounced as loudly and casually as the word “cheeseburger,” and by a tiny person who resembles a beautiful garden fairy, renders even the mouthiest among us completely speechless.

“NANNY!”

Her shouts wake me from my self-induced coma.  I have stopped bouncing.  How long have I been standing here, eyes staring blankly, mouth slightly agape?  She is annoyed again.  “Are you going to bounce me or not?”  I’m thinking as fast as I can, and lightly suggest another activity…ANY other activity.  “I know,” she shouts happily, hopping off the ball and bounding down the stairs.  “Play-Doh!  Mommy showed me how to make a wot of weally neat, new fings!”

“Oh great,”  I say under my breath.  “Thanks a bunch, Mommy.”  I have a sneaking suspicion that I might be in trouble with this next activity as well and would just like to state for the record…There is absolutely no way I am spending the next hour making a Play-Doh wabia!

Glory to WHO in the Highest?

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We are all painfully aware that children between the ages of two and seven are sweepingly egocentric.  This, of course is through no fault of their own.  It is one of many super-fun stages of human development in which your small, mouthy, offspring, has absolutely no ability to view any situation from any point-of-view, other than his/her own.  The other nifty little fact for folks of this tender age, is the absolute belief that the sun, moon and stars, rise, set and revolve around just one individual…themselves, of course.  The rest of us poor saps were put upon this earth to serve, and it’s clear by the number of temper tantrums, that SOME of us could use more training.  However, one must admit, observing total egocentrism busting out of a tiny package can be pretty darn comical.

I remember one such incident following a Preschool Christmas Program.  This was a Church Preschool and the program was a musical reenactment of the birth of Baby Jesus.  As usual, the children had been practicing for weeks.  The production was completed without a hitch and family members went into the children’s classroom for a celebration.  During this celebration, parents were given a handmade gift…a round piece of wood with their child’s footprint representing the manger scene (see picture above).

My charge and I sat on the couch later that day, admiring his work.  I, of course, wanted to see how much attention he had been paying to the 30 minute Christmas Program he had just performed.  The one he had been practicing for the past month.  The one the teachers had been reading books about all month, etc., etc.

“You really did a nice job on this,  I told the boy.  Who is this baby?”

“Oh, that’s just me,” he said, casually.

“I see…and what’s this big thing in the sky?”  I asked, as I pointed to the Star of Bethlehem.

“That’s the sun shining down on me so I’ll stay warm.”  He said, nodding enthusiastically.

“Well that was lucky for you, huh?  So, what’s this round thing over your head?”  I’m almost afraid to ask.

He wrinkled his forehead, thinking.  “You know how sometimes in books, when people have something to say, words will come out of their mouths inside a circle? He asked.  This circle is here in case I have something to say.  That way, people will see the circle and will know they need to listen.”

I’m playing along now.  “Well, we all know we need to listen when you have something to say.  But weren’t there three wise men who brought the baby gifts?  Who were they and what did they bring?”

“That’s Daddy, Grandaddy and Papa.  They gave me dinosaurs cause they are my favorite.”

“Well, thank you for teaching me about the true meaning of Christmas,”  I said, giving him a little hug.

“I know a lot more than you, cause I go to school every day,” he answered, hopping down and running to play with his dinosaurs.

This is the only time in life that being a total narcissist is even remotely cute.

He Who is Always With Us

Every year I attend the Christmas programs of my charges, and this year was no exception.  Yesterday I sat through a beautifully preformed holiday musical event that left every adult eye tearful, and every heart properly full of Christmas cheer.  I too, was honking loudly into a tissue, less than three minutes into the program.  However, at any such production, I am plagued with an involuntary, neurotic eyelid twitch, coupled with an itching anxiety…and these things are attributable to one tiny, two year old boy, who was my charge many Christmases ago.

It was the day of the Christmas Sing-along for my charge’s two-year-old preschool class, and since both of his parents had to work that day, I would be attending, and filming their son in action.  It was the tot’s very first performance, and family members from all over the country were anticipating the arrival of my video…No pressure, though.

I arrived early and secured a prime spot for filming on the floor, directly in front of the seating area.  When the children were marched on stage in three rows, I was happy to discover that my charge was placed front and center.  Everything was perfect.  The lights dimmed, Christmas music began to play and a spotlight shone directly on the happy children, who all began to sing “Jingle Bells”… with the exception of one…my charge.

It appeared as though my charge had discovered his “Special Friend” with his right hand.  For this purpose, we will call him, “He who is always with us.”  Not only had my charge discovered the presence of “He who is always with us,” he had determined there were many interesting and pleasurable ways in which to manipulate him.

As I turned several different shades of red, a murmur rippled through the crowd.  It was difficult to decipher…was it a snicker, or a gasp?  I tried to make visual contact with my charge in an attempt to interrupt the innocent, yet lascivious activity.  He finally looked at me near the end of “Jingle Bells.”  Using all of the expression I could muster, I mouthed the word “S-I-N-G,” flapping my hands in encouragement.  He awakened from his trance and joined the group in singing, “Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.”

Although I was thankful he was singing, and his eyes were focused on the crowd, as opposed to “He who is always with us,” I was still not able to raise the camera and film the child for his adoring family.  This was due to the fact that my charge chose to pluck at “He who is always with us” in time with the music, as though it were some type of attached string instrument, while he sang along with great enthusiasm.

The song ended and my charge smiled proudly, clearly enjoying the applause.  The music for “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” began, and the children sang, and acted-out the much loved classic.  Again, there was one exception…my charge.  He was once again “strumming” his new-found instrument and singing along with great gusto.  I noticed he was even tapping his foot along in time with the music.  I can say this for him…he has rhythm.

By this time, the murmurs have turned into outright snickers and giggles.  Cameras clicked all around me, and I noticed more than one aimed directly at my charge.  I put my forehead in my hand and waited for the song to end.  When it finally did, my charge, once again, bowed proudly, waving his hands in the air, as though he had just won American Idol.

Thankfully, the two-year-old class sang only two songs and exited immediately, which was extremely fortunate, because by this time, I appeared to a have severe  and unmedicated case of Tourettes syndrome.  I was twitching away, while shouting out small words and phrases that I tried to cleverly disguise as coughs or sneezes…”Stopdoingthat” and “Letgoofyourdinky!”  This was not one of my better ideas and very clearly did not produce the desired outcome.

I felt exhausted after the program and had no idea how to answer to blissful child who asked with pure excitement… “Did you see me, Nanny?  How did I do?”

I continued to twitch and stutter, searching desperately for positive verbiage.  “You have really great rhythm, honey,”  I said, knowing he had no idea what rhythm was.

“I know, he continued, I’ve been practicing EVERY DAY at school.” He said with a toothy grin.

“Wow…every day…I’m sure that was a lot of fun.”  I answered.

Driving the boy home, I was consumed with how to tell his family that I was unable to video even a moment of his very first Christmas program, while the tot cheerfully kicked the back of my car seat, humming “Jingle Bells.”  I settled on a condensed version of the story, apologized profusely and made up some excuse about the large crowd and complete lack of sight-lines.  The family was, of course, disappointed, but given the alternative…?

As luck would have it, a note arrive at the house from the preschool three days later, announcing the sale of Christmas program video tapes.  The child’s mother was absolutely elated and rushed to order three copies…one for the nuclear family, and one for each set of grandparents.  Again, I put my forehead in my hand and rubbed away the oncoming tension headache.  My eye began to twitch.  It was time to call the dreaded meeting.

The parents sat silently through our meeting, vacillating frequently between amusement and utter horror.  The videos arrived in a plain brown rapper, which I thought appropriate, given its X-rated content.  Two of the tapes were immediately destroyed,  one was locked away in the family safe for future viewing (and probably blackmail).  The grandparents were none the wiser, but among preschool parents and staff, my charge will forever be known as, “The Little Minstrel.”

The Unequaled Influence of the Freaky Little Elf on the Shelf

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With Christmas just around the corner, we have been reading the story of “The Elf on the Shelf,” which comes with a toy version of the elf.  Ours is called “Chippy”.  A name as irritating as his smirk.  Chippy sits quietly in various places around the house with that screwy smile on his face, and gathers counterintelligence for Santa. He then allegedly reports said intelligence to Santa personally, on a nightly basis by way of magical flight.  The point of this is quite clear, to influence behavior, turning naughty into nice out of concern for gift reduction.

In years past, I haven’t found Chippy to be particularly effective.  However, this year, my two charges (ages five and three), have stumbled upon a feature length, made-for-TV move about Chippy, Santa’s eavesdropping elf.  After the show, the five year old looked worriedly at our little elf, who sat leering down at us from a bookshelf, and then looked at me.  Wide eyed, he whispered, “Nanny…he’s really real!  I thought he was just a book!”

“He’s Weal.” whispered the three year old conspiratorially.

“That’s right, I said.  And he’s talking to Santa every single day, to let him know if you are being naughty or nice.”  Might as well ride this pony as far as it will go, I figured.

The tots looked anxious as they silently recounted their crimes for the day.  But lunchtime came, and their personal transgressions were quickly replaced by chicken nuggets…the absolute nectar of toddler-gods everywhere.

Immediately following lunch, as I bent over to pick up a dropped spoon, I spotted something strange under the table.  Sitting in an oddly perfect line, directly under the table leg, were a good number of carrots, two petrified meatballs and one mushy tomato.

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I understood the strange scenario immediately.  “Sweetheart,” I said to the five year old boy.  Have you been hiding your food under the table?”

He smiled briefly, aware that he had been caught.  Then said, as if to ease my mind, “Don’t worry, Nanny.  I don’t hide the good stuff, only the icky stuff.  Besides, Mommy and Daddy don’t know I am hiding my food, so I still get a treat every day!”

“Ah-hah, I see…good plan, good plan.”  I say, nodding my head in agreement.  “But…what about Chippy?  He knows you are doing it, so that means Santa knows.”

He freezes, drops his dinosaur and sprints to the bookshelf where Chippy sits watching.  He is panicked and breathing hard, which gives me a moment to sneak up behind him with my phone and film the desperate plea for atonement that went something like this:  “I’m sorry I was naughty.  I really want dinosaurs for Christmas.  PLEASE tell Santa to put me back on the good list.”

Okay Chipster…I’ll give it to you.  Satisfactory work, given the circumstances.  However, those of us who slave away every  day, shaping the behavior of our world’s youth, cannot afford the luxury of doing so a measly 2-3 weeks a year.  No Sir!  No more seasonal work for little Mr. Chippy!  Our house elf will sport bunny ears, turkey feathers, a tooth collection bag, and he will spy for every gift giving figure known to modern man!

Then…and only then, you might begin to earn that wildly abrasive sneer you wear upon your little plastic face.

Eat Your Greens

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Well, it’s Thanksgiving again, and my four year old charge is celebrating with out-of-town family members and friends.  The house is full of hungry people and buzzing with lively activity.  Proud Grandparents are doting on expectant children, and the enthusiastic tots screech and clamor for their attention.

My charge, who has been bellowing like some sort of injured animal, while simultaneously banging his older cousin over the head with a cardboard paper towel tube, suddenly stops in the center of the activity and begins to thoughtfully and aggressively excavate the contents of his nose.  After a good deal of burrowing, clawing and dredging, he locates a hidden treasure and holds it proudly upon his forefinger for all to admire.

At this point, there are clearly only two choices available to any four year old boy on earth:

1)  Eat it.

2)  Wipe it on one’s neighbor.

He is undoubtedly weighing his options as he looks back and forth from the gelatinous glob, to the back of his little sister’s holiday sweater.  However, number one most assuredly wins out, being the more tasty and most popular choice among most red blooded, American boys between the ages of two and ninety-six.

He slowly consumes the gooey treat right in front of the frozen, gaping group of family and friends.  The child’s achingly proper, southern grandmother clutches her chest in horror.  “Sweetheart!”  She gasps, “Don’t do that!”

He looks at her, a little startled by her dramatic reaction, and very calmly notes, “Nanny says if I want to grow big and strong, I have to eat all my green stuff.”

And there you have it…Another case of:  Right rule — slight miscalculation in the application thereof.

The Generational Gap

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I know I said I would update on a bi-weekly basis, but occasionally, a little something happens that warrants sharing.  A few days ago, I was preparing my five year old charge for preschool.  Upon removing his pajamas, I made the same discovery I had been making the past month or so…a sagging 12lb ‘Pull-Up’ (‘Pull-Up’: proper noun/ disposable training pants for toddlers, that pull up and down like regular underwear).  This was most definitely not this child’s prior norm, so I decided to approach the subject with him…AGAIN!

“Uhm…Sweetheart?  I began.  I see that your ‘Pull-Up’ is really full of pee pee again this morning.”

“Uhm-hum,” he grunted in response, absently pressing icons on his iPad.

“Well…I went on.  Don’t you feel it when your pee pee needs to come out at night?”

“Uhm-hum,” he grunted again without removing his eyes from his beloved iPad.

“Okay…well…remember when you feel like your pee pee needs to come out, that means it’s time to get up and go to the potty.  Then you won’t need these ‘Pull-Ups’ at night any more, and…”

Here he interrupts my speech by turning from his iPad and facing me with a huge sigh and roll of his eyes.  He is clearly emotionally exhausted by the entire conversation as he silently pleads with me, hands extended in front of him, palms up.  Very dramatic.

“Look Nanny, he almost moans.  When it’s nighttime, I’m tired.  I really can’t be bothered with all the hustle and bustle.”

With that, he turned back to his iPad.  Conversation over.

“All the hustle and bustle?  Really?”

Okay, I get the whole generational gap here, and understand that there are a good number of things that I am not hip enough to grasp.  But, could someone please tell me when emptying one’s bladder became such a fatiguing affair?

Lastly, I think someone out there ought to get busy inventing ‘Pull-Ups’ for teenagers, because this one might just refuse the “hustle and bustle” for a long time to come.

Anatomically Correct Primate Genitalia

IMG_3255Today the children and I are visiting the zoo, and as luck would have it, the temperature is a brisk 96 degrees in the shade, with 87% humidity. The children love the zoo, and we visit often. Oddly enough, some of their favorite attractions are the many life sized bronze animal statues that are scattered around the park. These seem to have more of a draw than the actual live animals. Children climb and play on the statues, and there is quite a bit of whining and complaining when it is suggested that we move forward.

Unfortunately, I find myself in a repeated sticky situation when we go to the zoo, and it begins on the thickly forested path called “Primate Pass.” This winding path leads directly to the newly redone chimpanzee habitat, and is lined with several life-size bronze chimpanzee statues in various natural poses. It wasn’t until I walked along “Primate Pass” for the first time, that I realized a full grown, male chimpanzee, in a standing position, is approximately the size of a human adult. The statues are (of course) anatomically correct, and there is one particularly large male statue, posed in a very manly stance, directly at the path’s edge.

The two children in my charge at this time, are drawn to this strapping fellow like a magnet to metal. They cannot help themselves. They run straight for the giant pendulous testicular area, which happens to be directly at face level for small children. They fondle, hang from, and poke at the thing with sticks, while people walk by, and either comment to one another, or avoid eye contact, rushing past as quickly as possible. On this particular day, I am dealing with the situation by standing on the opposite side of the path, directly across from the children, studying a nearby plant with great intensity. I try to notice every minute detail. It’s so…green and…leafy. I’m thinking this might make people believe the children belong with somebody else.

“Nanny!” shout’s the four year old. People on the path look around to see who he is calling.

Rats! I’ve been outed.  “Yes, what is it?” I ask.

“Look at this!” he shouts, at a decibel high enough to cover the entirety of “Primate Pass.” “This monkey’s berries are SO much bigger than daddy’s!”

I instantly close my eyes and say a small prayer, “Dear God, I would appreciate it if you would turn me into a small birdie immediately. And, by the way…isn’t it time for cross continental migration?” I peek with one eye. Not only has the prayer not worked, the entire exchange has been overheard by everyone on the path. A few folks are giggling behind their hands, several have shocked looks on their faces, and one elderly woman sitting on a bench, clutches her handbag in horror and utters, “My Word!”

I am aware that I am sweating profusely as I make a curt “let’s go” gesture with my hand and turn to leave the area, hoping just this once, the two tots will follow, no questions asked. As if on cue, the two year old hits the ground and let’s go with an ear splitting, snot slinging temper tantrum. So much for skulking out quietly. As usual, I must pick up and carry the kicking, spitting child from the area. I (very firmly) instruct her elder sibling to follow silently. Also, as per usual, the two year old is not going without a fight. Today she grabs the huge, pendulous “monkey berries” with a death grip, and we have a short game of tug-of-war before I am able to pry her little hands from the bronze genitalia. The crowd stares on, frozen in amazement, or is it amusement?

It is a 25 minute hike back to the parking lot (even when achieved in double time). We exit the zoo like an enraged marching band. People move aside and gawk at us as we stomp by, the two year old slung over my shoulder military style, still kicking and screaming, and the four year old, now screaming from behind. I, however, have the slightest grin on my sweaty face, and as I buckle the four year old into his car seat, I say, “I can’t wait to tell your daddy about today. He will be so pleased and proud.”