We are in the middle of figuring out what to do for after-school childcare for Charley, Wes, and James in the fall. The afterschool program was fine for one kid and Not Fine for another and based on the conversations I had, there was really no way to work that out without crushing someone's spirit. SO! That leaves us to find another nanny to do school pickup. This is, all around, a great solution for us anyway. We tried to do it for a year after Miss N moved and it was fine, but I really missed having the kids be at home after school where they would not get in trouble for things like speaking and needing to go to the restroom.
So the other day when a college student posted on our neighborhood webpage that she was looking for part time nanny work in the fall I immediately messaged her and called DIBBS. She came over for dinner last night to talk 1) after I had to reschedule twice and 2) had two wrap two naked couch cushions in a quilt and force them into their spots on the couch because the covers need to be, ahem, dry cleaned after this week's stomach virus.
I had arranged for my neighbor to pick Charley up from camp, tidied the downstairs, and started cooking dinner. She was due to arrive at five o'clock.
At four-fifty there were hamburgers on the stove, fries in the oven, two children screaming at each other in the back yard, and our new potential nanny pulling up on the street in front of our house. Wes screamed "SHE'S HERE!" and immediately ran to answer the door as I poked my head into the back yard to find and eliminate the source of the screaming.
Which is how I met our new nanny. She was standing in my driveway, having been greeted at the door by a feral seven year old (who then disappeared for several minutes). I was walking a sniffling neighbor child through the side yard back to his house while calling over my shoulder to the other neighbor child that "Sorry, honey, we have a guest and will have to play some more tomorrow! Thanks for coming!"
She was dressed nicely and wearing makeup. I was sweaty and barefoot and surrounded by 50% more children than I had told her about in our correspondence.
I shook her hand and introduced myself, then put her at ease by noticing aloud that the top button of my shirt had undone itself and that everyone could see my bra. Mary wandered out the open front door, hair askew, face sticky with strawberry juice. I introduced her as she coiled her arms around my leg like a boa constrictor.
I introduced James and then had him walk his two friends home, which he did, walking carefully across the hot street barefoot (does anyone in this house wear shoes??).
And then we went inside where I suddenly remembered that I was COOKING HAMBURGERS.
I cheerfully chatted about her college and her major and where she was from as I put the finishing touches on the (thankfully not burned) hamburgers and put out strawberries and tomato slices and ketchup and mustard (she helped with these jobs, which was very nice), while simultaneously breaking up the loud fight James and Wes (who had reappeared as if by apparition by this time) were having in the backyard. After the third time I had to yell out the door to KNOCKITOFF (!!!) James came inside and Wes spitefully let all the air out of the wading pool.
By dinner it was like a switch had flipped and the fighting stopped and everyone turned into Stepford versions of themselves.
"Wes, would you please pass the ketchup?" James trilled, while literally batting his eyelashes. "Here you go, James!" Wes said, passing the ketchup around the table instead of lobbing it directly to James like a Hail Mary pass. Mary asked "Can I have the strawberries pweese?" and then daintily scooped some out using the serving spoon. They were smiley and polite and--it was WEIRD, you guys. Our new friend commented "Wow, everyone is so well-behaved!" as Mary gazed at her beatifically.
With impeccable comedic timing, Charley came in, fresh from camp (and by fresh I mean sweaty and dirty and loveable). "Hi guys!" he called out cheerfully from the kitchen door, before wedging himself between James and Mary at the table and DEMOLISHING a hamburger in about five bites, answering questions with head nods and grunts and minimal eye contact. When he was done he spent some time retelling the Legend of the Snake in the Lake, complete with details like "it had red eyes and algae on its back" and reminding all of us (including Wes) that he was the one who yelled "SNAKE!" and made everyone get out of the lake before finishing up by asking if our new friend would like to hold one of his frogs.
I wondered if she was thinking about her career goal to "work with children with autism" because I certainly was.
And then I made one too many beer jokes in a misguided attempt to be cool and also spent an awkward amount of time talking about Miss N in a "maybe you're not ready for a new relationship" kind of way. She asked if we knew who Duran Duran were and then waved her hand and said "Maybe you're too young. My parents are into them." Blink blink.
Mary began eating strawberries directly from the bowl with her hands. When I asked her to please use the spoon, she began licking the serving spoon extravagantly.
All the kids asked to be excused (!!) and ran out to play. While Charley talked to her about frogs I communicated with Ryan via facial expressions and gestures "What do you think?" "Good!" "OK!". We talked through the details about what I need help with in the fall (basically, rides home and a warm body to be there while they have free time with possibly some light dinner prep and maybe homework help if someone is being punished). She commented again about how well-behaved they are. I tried not to giggle too much.
When I left to go to a class Charley was leading her by the hand to the hole in the ground where he finds all the frogs and James was showing her how he rides a two-wheeler. I think she will be great.