Chuck e Cheese – Where a Kid Can Be a Kid…and a Parent Can Be in Hell!


I hadn’t patronized one of these exhilarating establishments in the past 10 years…until yesterday, when a group of parents and I had the bright idea to take nine, end-of-summer crazed preschoolers.  The next bit of dim-wittedness that somehow emerged from the minds of the adults, was for each of us to use a coupon to purchase 100 game tokens for a mere $20…might as well get a good deal while you are there, right?

It was about two hours later that I decided the air must be slightly spiked with nitrous oxide, otherwise there would be no way four intelligent women would purchase 100 game tokens each, knowing that preschoolers not only need assistance at every game, but take twice as long playing them.

There are a few other exciting things that occur while visiting this enchanting joint.

– A giant rat will appear at some point during your visit, causing some children to scream uncontrollably.


– There will be actual extreme toddler cage fighting…without the cage.


– The pizza will be extra greasy and cold, although your children will devour it as though you have not fed them in three days.


– The salad bar resembles a high school science project, and should be renamed:  Hepatitis Bar.


– Someone in your group will likely throw-up.  The longer you stay…the higher the likelihood.


– Adults exit with a migraine, and a heightened risk of seizure activity, looking something like this:


– Children exit jacked-up on high fructose corn syrup and adrenalin, looking something like this:


Well fear not Chuck e Cheese, for I have a plan.  Kids can still be kids…but parents no longer have to be suicidal.  A few simple changes and we are on our way to peace and harmony for young and old alike.  Let me introduce my brilliant plan in hopes that someone in the upper echelon of the Chuck e Cheese Corporation catches wind and wants to hire me on the spot for my boundless gift.

Chuck e Cheese, Gourmet Coffee, Wine and Pasta Bar:  where a kid can be a kid and a parent can be blissful

How it works:

Staffing:  This establishment should hire one referee per 15 square feet.  These persons should appear slightly intimidating and should be paid on a commission basis per fight intervention in order to maintain high motivation.



A nurse should be on staff to care for the injured.  Ten teenagers should be hired to assist younger children with game playing.  The teens are to be paid in pizza and iTunes cards.

The Adult Section:


The Gourmet coffee, wine, pasta bar should be located on the same property, although in a separate room.  Parents should be able to see their children playing through a two-way mirror, although volume and lighting should be GREATLY reduced.  Each seat should be equipped with a microphone through which every parent would be able to yell at his/her child over a loud-speaker without leaving ones seated position.

Throw in some fancy coffee drinks, free wifi, comfy chairs, drinkable wine and I guarantee a full house.  I hate to be boastful ladies and gentlemen…but this idea is absolute genius!  Who’s with me?

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End of the Innocence: The Children’s Disturbing Discovery of Mommy and Daddy’s Vibrating, Marital Enhancement Device


In an attempt to prevent my current employers from entering a Witness Protection Program, let it be known that this post does not represent my present placement.  All names have been either omitted or changed to protect the innocent.  Attempts to uncover the the specific family by way of bribery will be highly frowned upon, unless or until the payoff exceeds my ten year salary amount…including bonuses.

I suppose something of this nature is bound to happen when one works for so many years in peoples’ private living spaces. One does their very best to avoid areas that might contain adult or intimate paraphernalia, such as unmarked boxes in the master bedroom, drawers or closets in the master bathroom and one of the most suspicious locations of all…bedside tables.

In general, I find that the “Don’t Peek, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy works pretty well under most circumstances. However…TODDLER’S HAPPEN…and when they “happen” there are a few things you can count on:

     1.  The result will not be pretty

     2.  There will be casualties

     3.  Clean-up and recovery will be long and arduous

The day begins innocently…almost too predictably.  I should be suspicious.  In this particular home, I have two charges, a three year-old precocious tomboy, and her 18 month-old, slobber covered brother.  We are settling into an after breakfast playdate with two neighborhood delinquents, ages three and four.  As usual, I am multi-tasking…folding clothes while watching the older children squabble over who gets to be Batman, and who has to endure the humiliation of being the scrawny sidekick, Robin.

There are three older children, one coveted Batman costume, one fairly acceptable Spiderman costume whose mask makes the younger sibling scream…added bonus.  Then there is the “dumb” Robin suit, who nobody wants to wear because “Robin doesn’t do anything cool.”  Due to the ongoing battle, there is a chart on the wall which indicates who wore which costume last.  One would think this is the type of forward thinking that would terminate a fray before it even gets started.  However, in toddler-land…one would be sorely mistaken.  The children are all shouting at once, sounding like a gaggle  of short, angry stock brokers.

My charge, the squatty, red-faced damsel in distress rushes me, until her nose is an inch away from my own.  “Nanny, it’s my turn to be Batman!”  She shouts.  “Clancy ALWAYS thinks it’s his turn, but it’s not!  I can remember whose turn it is to be Batman, cause I’m the biggest.  First it was Eddie’s turn, next it was Clancy’s, and now it’s mine.  I ALWAYS remember cause I’m the biggest!”

Having starred in this psycho-drama a hundred times, I sigh and rise calmly from the table where I am folding what seems to be a mountain of underwear and socks.  “Let’s all take a look at the chart and buy a vowel, shall we?”  I say, swishing dramatically toward the wall, doing my very best ‘Vanna White’ impression.  Three sets of watery eyes stare at me, while Eddie stuffs a finger as far up his nose as it will go.  They don’t get it…and it was a really good ‘Vanna White’, I must say.

At the chart, the three tots are jockeying for front row positions, but as usual, my charge makes sure she is front and center.  “It’s MY house, so I get to be in front!”  She shouts at the two cowering boys.

“Well Miss Sassy Pants!”  I announce.  “It seems as though you don’t ALWAYS remember whose turn it is to be Batman, because it’s not your turn.  It’s actually Eddie’s.”  Her face is frozen in utter shock.  “Oh, and by the way…you are a big girl, but Clancy is just a little bigger than you are right now.  So…how about it?  Think we can be a little nicer to our friends so they will want to come over and play with us again?”

Her bottom lip quivers.  Betrayed by her own Nanny.  Now she’s really mad.  “Come on!”  She commands, saving face.  “I want to play cars and trucks, not dumb ol’ Batman.  The two boys silently obey and follow the surly toddler down the hall.

Her perpetually slobber covered 18 month-old brother, who has been rummaging through the dress-up cabinet throughout this scene, emerges in what appears to be some sort of Ninja-Butterfly-Drag Queen outfit , and waddles down the hall to join the cheerful three, blowing bubbles in his own ooze.

I sit back down and continue to fold clothes where I have a full view of the hallway and bedrooms.  The children’s conversation turns from contentious to cooperative soon after the toys emerge, and peace reigns supreme.

There is nothing more satisfying than achieving a successful period of toddler play that is not interrupted by mental breakdown or bodily injury.  With the exception of the earlier emotional collapse, this playdate is a winner.  I can’t believe how much I am accomplishing and how happy everyone is.  Yet…as I am emptying the dishwasher, something begins to bother me…a slight buzzing noise in my ears.  It’s sporadic and annoying.  I shake my head, trying to make it go away, and then walk from room to room, in an attempt to locate the source.  Entering the master bedroom, I find the children in a circle on the floor, surrounded by cars and trucks.  My three-year old charge jumps to her feet, and holds an object up to my face for inspection.

“Look wat we found under Mommy and Daddy’s bed, Nanny!”  She shouts, as she thrusts a battery operated, intimate activity aide a little too close to my face for comfort.  I notice the buzzing has stopped.  “What is it?”  She asks.

Taking one small step backward, I stumble loudly into the bedroom door, holding tightly to the knob for support.  I hear myself trying to speak, but only a strange combination of bodily noises escape, as I clutch my chest…”Squeak, Grunt, Gasp…”  Someone grab the paddles, I may go down.

“It’s a hot dog.”  Says Clancy, ignoring my cardiac event.

“Why do Mommy and Daddy get to eat in their room and I don’t?”  Miss Large-and-in-Charge is mad again.

“I wonder if my Mommy and Daddy have one pink hot dog under their bed in case they get hungry at night?”  Eddie speculates thoughtfully.

“They musta already ate the bun.”  Clancy guess, as the grabs at the naughty item.

As the older children clamor for the pornographic accessory, the tiny motor roars to life once again, filling the large room with a mosquito-like buzzing.  They all stop and stare at the vibrating pink hot dog.

“See?”  Says my tyrannical charge, snatching the indecent object from the hands of her friend.  “I told you it wasn’t a hot dog.  Hot dogs don’t make that noise.  It’s a toy car, but it’s broke.  The wheels fell off.  I got lotsa cars that make noise like that.”

She tosses the kinky paraphernalia aside and it lands directly in front of the slime covered 18 month-old, who instantly picks it up, and as if in slow motion, opens his gaping maw in an attempt to do the unthinkable…the unfathomable.  For me, the world goes dark, with the exception of an X-rated car without wheels, slowly moving toward the face of an extremely sticky, oddly dressed cherub.

This cannot happen on my watch.  My myocardial infarction will have to wait.  Springing into action, I dive toward the toddler like a crazed Ninja-Nanny, flying through the air, screaming “NNNNNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” and manage to snatch the offensive object away from the tot’s mouth at the very last moment, making him cry hysterically.

“NANNY!”  Shouts the tot’s older sister in surprise, not having seen her chubby Nanny do a great many action movie stunts like the one she just witnessed.  “Why can’t he have that broken car?”

I stand on shaky legs…hair cockeyed, and try to come up with a reasonable explanation.  “Uhm…I can’t…you don’t…let’s not play with that, okay?  It’ uhm…dirty.

“Why?”  Asks Eddie.

“Because…it’s…well, it’s poop.”  I say, settling on the #1 icky item understood by toddlers around the world.

“But why’s it pink?”  My charge asks suspiciously.

I begin to sweat as their small eyes bore holes of doubt into my explanation…I’m losing them.  I have to think faster…why would poop be pink?  Desperately searching the room, I spot a new photo of the family dressed in their Easter best, taken only a few weeks prior, and the answer simply falls out…

“It’s Easter Bunny poop.”

That does it.  The four children circle me firing staccato questions, while jumping up at the perverted thing that I am now holding above my head.  I catch a quick glimpse of the scene in the dresser mirror.  If there is such a thing as Nanny PTSD, this is where it is born.

“Why doesn’t it smell like poop?”

“Why is it so big and bunnies are so small?”

“Why is it under Mommy and Daddy’s bed?”

“Why does it make that noise?”

“Okay, Okay!”  I shout over terrible the din.  “I will answer all of your questions, but first let’s get out of Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom.  I know they usually let you play in here, but today we are going to stay in our own space.  Amazingly, the children agree without argument, and as they wait for me in the playroom, I am left with another dilemma…what to do with “it.”  Should I fling it upon the mound of decorative pillows?  Place it in the bathroom sink?  Toss it into the dog house…the possibilities are infinite.

“NANNY?!”  My demanding charge summons me.  I toss it under the bed and and run from the area, wiping my hands vigorously  on my clothes.

“Tell me about the Easter Bunny poop.”  requests my charge, before I have even entered the room.

I take a deep breath and enter the room with confidence.  “Okay, look…I will tell you about this quickly and then we are going to move on to something else because it’s really not a big deal and I, for one, would like to have some fun today.  Easter Bunny poop doesn’t really smell bad because, well…it’s the Easter Bunny, not a big, stinky rhinoceros.  The poop is big because the Easter Bunny is big.  How else do you think he can carry enough Easter eggs and candy for everyone in the whole world?  Big bunny = big poop.  It’s in Mommy and Daddy’s room because they probably forgot to clean it up after Easter.  The Easter Bunny is mostly house-broken, but he sometimes has accidents while delivering goodies.  Because his poop is magic, it makes that noise so that you can find it the day after Easter and clean it up……………………..Now, who wants to make cookies?”

“Me…Me…I do…I do!”  They all shout, jumping up and down excitedly.

I tried that day.  God knows I did everything humanly possible to induce amnesia.  This event occurred after breakfast, and I had the rest of the day to pack full of activities in hopes that the unfortunate event of the morning would get lost in the sheer volume of details.  We baked, and intricately decorated sugar cookies.  We made sock puppets, wrote, and performed a full-length, version of “The Princess and the Pea.”  We made kites and went to the park to fly them.  We even made up a new sport called “Waterfall Kickball,” which is kickball with the use of sprinklers and a slip-n-slide.  At the end of the day, the neighbors stumbled home with eyes at half-mast.  My two charges could barely hold up their heads.  I am cautiously optimistic…We might just get away with this, without mentally scarring anyone.

We might get away with this, without mentally scarring anyone, if it were not for one small factor…these are toddlers.  I realize that even if I took the children on a Disney Cruise following this incident, the outcome has “disaster” written all over it.

Mommy and Daddy arrive home from a busy day at work at approximately the same time, and greet their exhausted children with hugs and kisses.  “What did you do today?”  Mommy inquires.  The children are quiet for a moment…maybe they forgot.  Perhaps they will talk about the cookies…the kites, puppets, or waterfall kickball.

“We had a busy day.”  I interject hopefully.

But just as my hope reaches its peak, the eldest answers without looking up from her coloring book.  “Nanny wouldn’t let us play in your room today because you forgot to clean up the Easter Bunny poop that was under your bed.  How come I have to clean up my room and you don’t?”  Both parent’s look at her, then to me, completely confused.  Then…God help me…she continues, “Clancy thought it was a hot dog, but I said it wasn’t because hot dogs don’t make that funny buzzy noise.”

That was the light bulb moment.  Both parents looked at one another red-faced, and with open accusation in their eyes which clearly read:  “I can’t believe you left it under the bed, you idiot!”

“Why don’t you two go pick up your toys in the playroom while we finish talking to Nanny.”  The children’s mother said to the tots.

“I don’t know why we have to clean up.”  The elder groused.  “We don’t have poop in our playroom.”

“GO!”  Shouts Mommy, a little too harshly, causing both of the children to jump.

Alone in the kitchen with the parents, I busy myself picking up crayons.  The children’s father seems intently focused on clearing his vest of invisible lint and the mother is vigorously massaging her temples in silence.  When I think I will explode from the mortifying awkwardness, I face both parents squarely and say, “I have a great idea. Let’s just…NOT.  Everything is okay, although the two of you might want to find a more child-proof hiding spot.”

A teary mother hugs me and apologizes profusely, as a shaky father slaps me on the shoulder and quickly pours himself a double whisky.  These employers and I never really discuss this incident further during my placement with them.  However, eight months later, I receive a small Christmas package in the mail.  It is a beautifully wrapped box, although I cannot imagine why the family didn’t give it to me at work.  Inside the box is a toy car whose wheels have been removed and a card which reads:  “Thank you for NOT.”

I remain friends with this family, and think of them as every Easter passes, and of the magical Easter Bunny poop.  I can’t help but think of them at Christmas as well, when I must resist the yearly urge to send them the gift of one pink hot dog.  I’m sure, when they read this post, I will receive a note in the mail which will once again read:  “Dear Nanny, Thank you for NOT!”

Toddlers, butt-cracks and bosoms

Wrong!  They are mushrooms.

Wrong! They are mushrooms.

Working late one evening, two sleepy toddlers snuggled against my chest, as I read our fourth bedtime story.  At the end of the story, the three of us sat in a moment of rare silence.  Suddenly, the eldest, a curious fellow of four, leaned back, took both of my breasts in his hands, gave them a considerable ‘honk’, and said…

“Nanny, what do you call these big things?”

Here we go.

“These are Nanny’s fluffy bits.” I said casually, removing his hands and snuggling him again.

“Mommy says they are for feeding tiny babies.  You don’t have any tiny babies.  So, what do you use your fluffy bits for?” he inquired.

Smart toddlers…can’t live with them.  Can’t use dog crates and duct tape.

“You’re right, smart boy.  I explained.  Mine are built-in safety devices.  You see, if I fall forward, I would bounce right back up without hurting myself.  When I go swimming, I never have to remember floaties…mine are attached!  When I’m not falling or floating, I can use them as pillows for people I love.”

“That’s neat!”  He said.

This prompted the boy’s younger sister to grab the top of my shirt with both hands, pulling it roughly away from my body to inspect what was hidden beneath.  She sucked in her breath sharply.

“Nanny…why is your bottom way up here?”  She shrieked, as she stuck one tiny finger directly into my cleavage.

At first I didn’t understand what she meant….

Note:  These are not mine...unfortunately

Note: These are not mine…unfortunately

Note:  neither of these are mine...fortunately

Note: neither of these are mine…fortunately

But now her point has become crystal clear.

This conversation has undeniably headed south, from “Goodnight Moon” to cleavage and butt-cracks at an alarming rate, which is a clear indicator of immediate bedtime.  However, when I kissed the four-year-old goodnight, he appeared to have one last comment…

“Nanny, when I grow up, I want to have great big fluffy bits just like you.” he says with a yawn.

Oh crap…here we go again.

“Well, honey…Boy’s don’t usually grow great big fluffy bits.” His eyes filled with tears and he began to sob uncontrollably.

“It’s not fair…I want big fluffy bits too!” He wailed.

I sat next to him on the bed, and in a hushed tone, said “But I didn’t tell you the worst part of having big fluffy bits yet.  I thought your little sister might be afraid.” He immediately stopped crying, excited that he might harbor secret information before his little sister.

“What is it, Nanny?”  He asked, eyes wide.

“It’s the horrible contraption we have to wear every single day to tie them down and keep them out of the way.  It’s called…

“The Over-the-Shoulder-Fluffy-Bit-Holder”:


“It’s made of rubber bands, rope, nails, wire, hot glue and poison ivy.”

“Can I see it, Nanny?”  he asked.

“No, sweetheart.  But ask your Mommy tomorrow, and maybe she will show you hers.”

“I don’t want to wear one of those.”  he said, before rolling over to go to sleep.

“Me either, Bud.”

He seems to have accepted this unfair difference between the sexes and no longer laments his woeful lack of large fluffy bits.  A few days later, he created this moving portrait of he and I together, which now lives on my refrigerator.

It is entitled:


notice that I am not smiling


Nanny Goes Green


It is a glorious spring day, and I am taking my two charges, ages two and four, to a nearby strawberry farm where the general public can hand-pick and purchase their own berries by the bucket.  I’m not sure why I think this is a good idea, as I am generally a person who swats wildly at bees, and screams like a child at the sight of a spider.  However, I recognize the educational value, put aside my irrational fear, and follow through with the activity.  I have wisely chosen an organic strawberry farm, knowing that the children will eat buckets of berries before I have a chance to wash them.

It’s about an hours drive to the strawberry farm, and as usual, by the time we arrive, both children are hollering “I GOTTA POTTY, NANNY!”  Always prepared, I have looked up the farm online, and know that there are facilities on site.  I wrestle the two tots out of the car, and we run to the only building on the grounds to find the bathroom.  Seeing no sign, I seek out the only employee I can find on the premises.    He is a dreadlock topped, Birkenstock footed teenager, with a name tag that reads “River”.  River simply points to a tiny pup tent about 40 feet from the building.  “No,” I say, assuming he has misunderstood my question, “the bathroom!”

“Follow me,” River says with a sigh.

“I gotta poop, Nanny,” the two-year old whines.

We follow the casually sauntering teen to the pup tent.


This can’t be right, although there is a sign outside that reads:



“Here you go,” River says, pulling aside one of the flaps of the tiny tent.  Inside, I see a plastic five gallon bucket, with an old wooden toilet seat perched on top.


This is very poor design, which leaves me wondering…who was the engineer on this project, and did he miss the discussion in school about how large on top, and small on bottom, leads to balance problems?  There is another five gallon bucket next to the first, filled with something that looks like tiny brown packing peanuts, and a scoop.

“Look, Babbling Brook…”

“River,” he says.

“So sorry, River.  Look, we are about to have a toddler potty emergency here.  Do you have a bathroom somewhere that is a little less…ah…organic?”

“No Ma’am, this is it.  Isn’t it great?”

“Well Ocean…”  Now I’m really irritated – he’s calling me Ma’am.


“Whatever…it may be “great”, but I don’t even know what the hell (whoopsie) — heck a composting toilet is, much less how one would use such a thing.”

“Easy…make your deposit,” he says, pointing to the bucket with the toilet seat.  “Wipe with recycled paper…one square for a small job, three for a large job.  Cover your pee or poo with a few scoops of rice husks and feel good about giving back to our Mother Earth.”

I am staring at this boy thinking, “Stagnant Pond, you are a complete idiot…I wouldn’t use this thing if I had amoebic dysentery and this was the only toilet within a 20 mile radius,” when more whining from the two-year old breaks my angry trance.  “Thanks, we’re good here,” I say, pulling the two tots into the tiny tent and closing the flap behind me.  “Idiot!”  I say again, under my breath.

It is stifling in the tent and the three of us become sticky with sweat within seconds.  “No Nanny…I need a REAL potty!” The four-year old complains, obviously unimpressed.

“This IS the potty,” I say, trying to sound cheerful, as I scrub the seat with several antibacterial wipes.

“No it’s not!  It doesn’t even flush!”  He starts to cry and the two-year old quickly follows suit.

“It’s just fine you two…really.  All you have to do is sit on this thing, and go potty.  Easy-Peasy!”

“You go first, Nanny!” The four-year old demands.

My encouraging smile fades and is replaced by a look of utter horror.  “Me?”  I croak.

“YOU GO FIRST!”  He demands again.

Sometimes I hate my life.  I am in a tiny pup tent, trying my best to hover over a five gallon bucket, with a two-year old watching on my right, and a four-year old watching on my left.  Maybe I can fake it.

“I can’t hear your pee pee,” announces the two-year old.  My muscles are tired.  I cannot maintain a squatting position for this long.  Am I actually going to have to touch this thing with my body?  My legs begin to shake…should have done more of those damn lunges!  “Well, if I didn’t have amoebic dysentery before, I have it now,” I think, as I rest my bum on the seat.  The contraption is even more wobbly than I expected, and I nearly end up with my feet in the air, and my pants around my ankles at least six times before getting the hang of it.

I leave my deposit, wipe with one square, scoop and smile weakly at the children.  “See?  Easy-Peasy!” I say, struggling to pull my pants over my sweaty hips.  Following my cheerful demonstration, both toddlers relent, and use the poorly designed contraption, holding tightly to me for dear life.  When we finally emerge from the tiny tent, we are all sweating like farm animals, and have somehow forgotten the part where we are supposed to feel good about giving back to Mother Earth.  I use an entire container of antibacterial wipes on our hands before we commence berry picking, a little more subdued then when we began this grand, green adventure.

We have gone berry picking since this incident.  However, I must have inadvertently misplaced the name and address of this particular strawberry farm, because we have not returned.  I have to admit, pesticides on my strawberries bother me a great deal less than sitting on a bucket in a pup tent, with a toddler on each side listening for my pee pee.  In fact, I rather prefer the flavor.

A Hairy Glob of…What?

I am ashamed to say that the coming of spring at my house, is marked by the annual “Shaving of the Entire Leg” event…as opposed to only the lower half.  Sitting on the edge of the bathtub, with one leg painfully stretched high above me, resting on the shower wall, I curse the societal demand for, and torturous methods of female hair removal.  Spring and summer mean months of this nightmarish, weekly torture drill:  wax, shave, pluck.  Wax, shave, pluck.  Yank, scrape, rip…repeat.

It is for this reason alone that I hate summer.  I am a snow bunny.  Keep it all covered up.  Define it as a “warming layer.”  Refer to it as insulation.  But I don’t.  I yank, scrape, rip and repeat.  Toweling off in front of the mirror, I check the result.  Front side…not bad…only four open wounds.  Back side…about average, I’d say.  From the very edge of my buns, all the way down to the back of my knees, I am a solid mass of festering red bumps…ready for booty shorts.

Believe it or not, this nasty regimen reminds me of a rather interesting account not so long ago with two mischievous little fellows of the frisky age of five.  One of the boys was my charge, and the other, his best friend in preschool.  Each of the boys has a younger sibling, so Friday afternoons are spent enjoying a loud, energetic, three-hour playdate.

This playdate took place in the home of our preschool friend.  After breaking up a particularly brutal plastic baseball bat beating between the two younger siblings, I became aware of the hair-raising silence that signifies only one thing to parents and caregivers across the world:


The two elder boys are MIA and a heavy stillness fills the room.  Even the two younger children know that there is serious tomfoolery afoot.  I tie the two younger children into highchairs with a cup of milk, a few crackers, an episode of Barney, and begin to swiftly track the small outlaws.  Time is of the essence here.  These boys must be found before the smell of smoke can be detected or water begins to trickle down the carpeted stairway.

I’ve gotten really good at this “hot pursuit” stuff over the years.  Learned the fine art of scanning the horizon for clues, sniffing the air, cocking my head to catch minute noises, all while moving at a rather impressive clip for a chubby chick.  I notice that the baby gate blocking the stairway is open…the boys are upstairs.

I move like the wind up the staircase and stop to sniff and listen at the top, where I can hear whispers coming from the parent’s room…a really bad sign, since the children know this area is off limits.  Peeking around the corner, I realize the whispers are coming from the master bathroom, so I creep to the bathroom door in time to hear some of their conversation.

“…and look, it’s got some little hairs in it.”  One of the boys is saying.

“Eeewww…why?”  asks the other, whose voice I recognize as my charge.

“I don’t know.  Go ahead…touch it.”  Urges the friend.

“You touch it.”  Says my charge.  “It smells funny.”

“I already have.  It’s all dried up and hard now…”

I know not what is happening, but I know this…it must be stopped.  Immediately.   “WHAT ARE YOU TWO JUVENILE DELINQUENTS DOING IN HERE?”  I shout, way too loudly for the small space.

The two-five year old boys nearly jump a foot off of the ground and turn, red faced and shaking.  “Nothing,” they say in unison, although they are clearly attempting to hide whatever dried up, stinky item with little hairs in it, lurks in mommy and daddy’s bathroom.

The boys look terrified.  However, I must admit…I am terrified.  I believe wholeheartedly that we do not need to know what other human adults harbor in their bathrooms…especially those that may smell odd, or contain any type of unattached hairs.  But I have come this far, so I press forward.

“You know you’re not supposed to be playing in here.  You could get in big trouble.”  I say sternly.  “Now why don’t you tell me what’s going on, and we will talk about what we should do about it.”

The mere possibility of getting into big trouble works like a charm on my small charge and he sings like a canary.  “I’m sorry, Nanny.”  He blurts out.  “He wanted me to see his mommy’s collection, that’s all.”

“His mommy’s collection of what?”  I ask, although I am afraid of the answer.

“Ear wax.”  He answers quietly, his head held down in shame.

Perhaps I need to clean out my own, because I am sure I have not heard him correctly…”Excuse me?  Her what?”

My charge’s friend steps aside to reveal the hidden treasure:


It is a small waxing pot with a wooden stick solidly frozen in the middle.  He sucks in deeply and says all in one breath, “my mommy collects her ear wax in this little bucket and now she has a big glob of it.  Daddy says if I am bad, I’m gonna have to eat it!”

“Eeewww!”  says my charge, recoiling from the glob.

I stifle a snicker.  “Well then…if I were you two, I would get downstairs pronto, unless you are hungry for peanut butter and ear wax sandwiches!

The boys spring into action, bounding down the stairs and washing their sticky hands for lunch.  As I follow behind, I witness one of the younger siblings throw a cracker directly at the forehead of his older brother, a move that would normally illicit a karate chop to the neck.  However, today, the older brother simply picks up the cracker, places it on the tot’s tray and says, “that wasn’t a very nice thing to do.”

All I can think is…A hairy glob of ear wax…Bravo, Daddy!  Bravo!

At home I own my own glob of hairy ear wax.  I believe I will bring it to work with me.  It appears to work wonders!

The Little Car Enthusiast – Every Neighborhood Should Have One!


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


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


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.


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?


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.”