I Did Not Love You Before

 My first nanny position was with a family with three children: a five-year-old, a two-year-old, and an infant. To be honest, I was in over my head and didn’t really know what I was doing, but I worked hard to get the hang of things quickly. I had a background in preschool, so I was able to connect with Five on things like Star Wars. The baby was also easy to connect with, since dry diapers, full bottles, and cuddles go a long way.

The middle child was another story. Two wasn’t interested in playing with me or connecting with me in any way. In his eyes, I made his parents leave in the morning and woke him up from nap when he was cozy in bed and forced him out into the cold (we had to pick up Five at preschool). To make matters worse, poor Two got a nasty ear infection right after I started, so in his eyes I represented everything that was wrong in his world.

I kept trying to win him over, but I also had to care for his siblings, and this was my first nanny job. I was just trying to survive until 6pm every day. He wasn’t interested in anything but silently glaring at me with his big, expressive brown eyes.

Weeks passed, and I just tried to tread water. The family’s school and nap schedules slightly shifted. Between the baby’s naps and Five’s school pick-up, Two and I had a 30-minute quiet time together most days. I had come to terms with the fact he just might never like me. Instead, I just made sure he stayed safe during my days with him. We had to stay quiet while the baby napped, but I let him play with his favorite thing - puzzles - while I ate my snack. I stopped pushing. I let him do his thing, I let him play with what he wanted during that time - which included stealing my carrot sticks while I pretended to be utterly shocked when he ate my snack. I didn’t push. If he wanted to talk, we’d talk. But most afternoons, we’d sit silently. He had his puzzles, I’d do a crossword, while we shared some carrots.

We had a nice routine. Then one day he sat back on the couch after finishing a puzzle. “Melissa,” he said while eating a carrot stick, “I did not love you before. But I love you now.”

And that’s it. That’s the moment I do this for. That’s why I love being a nanny.

boy playing puzzle