04 August 2008

Moments in time

"I love having you stay here - you're so fun."

As Nicole says this and hugs me goodnight, my heart melts and the frustrations that had built up this evening don't seem so important. Semi-nannying for a ten year-old is mostly easy: she is pretty self-sufficient, and my job mostly consists of making sure she eats dinner and goes to bed at a reasonable hour. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult. Tonight, she wasn't hungry, and I was exhausted (having danced for four nights and three days straight). My patience was at its limit, toward the 'you know, I don't even care' end. I finally got her to eat some scrambled eggs and a cup-o-noodles. *cringe* Being a traditionalist, I hate that that could be considered a 'dinner.' By that point it was nine-thirty. I told her she could relax for an hour, then lights out at ten-thirty. Ten-thirty hits, and she has ten minutes left in the movie she was watching, so I let her finish, then said, 'okay, bedtime.' But she asks to call her mom to say goodnight, and of course I have to let her. She talks to her mom for about fifteen minutes, then asks if she can take a bath. Sometimes I have trouble getting her to take a shower or bath, so I say all right - somewhat frustrated at how late it's getting, but also glad that this one was voluntary. Twenty minutes in the bath - it is now eleven-fifteen. Then she disappears into the other bathroom. I think she is changing, brushing out her hair, &c. Fifteen minutes. "Nicole, what are you doing in there?" She opens the door, holding a bottle of mouthwash and her mouth full. I nearly roll my eyes. Now I know she is just begging for more time awake, she just doesn't want to go to bed. This is the child who regularly complains about having to brush her teeth. "Bed time. It's really late." She apologizes, says she 'wanted her teeth to feel good.' As the daughter of a dental assistant, I have the immediate supportive reaction to that, but again, I am frustrated that she is stalling. I'm tired - I barely slept this weekend, and I need to go to bed as well! (although, as you can see, I haven't yet...) I've almost snapped. She asks if it's okay with me that she has music on at night (she has taken to sleeping with her radio on. I understand - I went through that phase when I was about her age, too.) and I say yes, but it is a bit loud, and maybe she could turn it down some. And then the hug, and those dear words: "I love having you stay here - you're so fun."

I feel in a tricky position sometimes. I am technically in charge when her mom is gone, but she calls and appeals to her mom a lot. I will say "bed at ten." Mom will drop by around nine forty-five and tell me that she's going to let her read until ten-thirty. I say bed at ten, and then she still has to brush her teeth, call mom, take a bath. I know I need to talk to her, explain to her that bed at ten means taking care of these things before ten, but it is so hard, especially when she says something like, "I love having you stay here - you're so fun."

It is moments like that, a short moment in time, a moment in the middle of all of the frustration and exhaustion, that make me glad that I took this position, that makes it so that I love staying here, too.

Blessings on your travels,

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