Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Play Nice, Kids

I snagged a job! I work at a local, family run garden center. Not exactly wielding the communication degree, but I get to play in the dirt and learn about plants. Minus a day of rage pulling apart tomato cages (a task that can also be found in the 5th circle of hell), and a nasty encounter with a termite colony– it has been swell. 

This week-end, I was in prime form with a happy meeting of two worlds– plants and children. We had a special Mother's Day event, the greenhouse was filled up with little ones planting flowers for the occasion. I love working with the little ones. Co-workers and friends always encourage me, "Emily-- you have a great way with kids!"

I appreciate that feedback– but little do they know. 

 Let me take you back to my first job as nanny. It was with a large family, boys making the majority. Getting to know each kid– their different temperaments (and tempers)– it was wonderful, and challenging. I had some unforgettable experiences. Here is one of the first. 

The first month I worked there, I quickly learned how easily one of the younger boys would get frustrated. He would storm around outside, throwing things and hollering.. a small human volcano letting off pre-explosion steam. 

One day he really popped (bad homework experience), and ran away. Mom recruited me to be the search and rescue team– I, in turn, recruited his siblings to help me track him down. We scoured the development, hollered and bribed– finally found him. 

It was flustering– he wasn't impressed with my nanny authority at all. Nevertheless, we managed to coax him to his driveway. Then he tried to re-run away. I knew (with all my 17 year old conviction) that the best thing to do was to force this wayward child into my will... so I directed his siblings into a scissor formation. Closed him in, cut him off. 

It worked. He tried to scamper out, but his sister was too fast and got a hold of his T-shirt. 

I ran up for the assist, but not before the screaming started. The kind that makes the grass shiver, without wind. 

The escapee's teeth were sunk into his sister's arm. The rest of the siblings started bellowing/ bawling out of sympathy. Confusion reigned.

It was my time to shine: as a nanny. As an authority figure. As an adult. As a black belt in karate. I was ready. 

So when the mom stepped out onto her front porch– doubtless drawn out by all the commotion (along with the rest of the neighborhood)– here is what she saw:

Kids screaming.

 Her eldest daughter weeping. 

The newly hired babysitter, pinning her bellowing, flailing son to the ground, in a combo head lock/ scissor move.

The mom simply, mildly asked, "Emily.. what are you doing?"

I burst into tears. 

Emily and kids. It was a rough start. But, years later, I'm still close with that family. Today, there is no way I could hold that boy down; not unless I started eating more pizza. Lots more. 

My favorite days, since I've moved home from college, have been when they go hiking with me, or throw a frisbee for a few hours. They have forgiven me the knocks accumulated during the learning process.  I enjoy the plants, but I love the relationships that forgive a rough start. The ones that give you a chance to live and learn, together. At the end of the day, I think it's more accurate to say that the kids are good to me. 

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