For the past two weeks I have been nannying a 10-year old girl. That’s a lie; for the past two weeks she has been nannying me.
The first morning I was hyper. Four cups of coffee before 7am will do that. Bombarding her with questions, I asked about Benjamin Franklin, (I know this was important to the kid in “Big Daddy” so it must pertain to her), I observed her soccer gear and asked about her affinity for sports, the first tooth she lost, what the weather would be that day, if she wanted to play tic-tac-toe, (she didn’t), and basically everything except for her social security number. Finally I calmed down enough to read her facial expression that said: pump the brakes, Lady.
I dropped her off for school and thought to myself, FaithAnonymous you are such a weirdo. No doubt she was thinking the same thing.
The second morning we played basketball but the game came to an abrupt halt when I got excited, threw the ball too hard, and it landed in an algae infested river thing, or a stream of contaminated water…hard to tell. Nevertheless we got to work MacGyvering a device for “Operation Save Basketball.” This rescue mission was a pivotal point in our nanny-nanny relationship.
By the third day, we were head-banging in the kitchen, blasting Led Zeppelin on the way to school, and yelling “OH YEAAAH,” in a voice similar to the Koolaid man or a WWF wrestler. Then she had to remind me to remind her not to forget her soccer stuff. “Oh yeah, don’t forget your soccer stuff.”
The hour before school is the only time I get to spend with “Miss. Anonymous,” we’ll call her, and the block of time troubled me at first. I knew this gig would be taking precedence over my morning meetings and on days I wake hating the world, myself, and everyone involved, a dose of AA is the only restart button at my disposal. What I have learned is that this morning interaction has a new pathbreaking impact on my day.
In addition to teaching me how to shoot hoops, she has reeducated me on multiplication times tables, informed me (just in time) that olive oil is not the same as Crisco when it comes to waffle batter, and that cake is not an acceptable breakfast.
This morning as I practiced my newly acquired culinary skills, she supervised from the end of the counter. Something caught her eye right before my flawless fried egg flip.
“Woah!” She said, standing in front of the toaster, looking at her reflection in the silvery stainless steal. “I used to have to stand on my tip toes to see my reflection on here, and now I don’t have to!” She exclaimed as she looked at her own face at eye level.
Something about this moment made time stand still in a beautiful way. It was like watching life in slow motion. She was elated at her discovery on the toaster and the physical proof of growing up.
I am a “grownup” but I will never be grown up; that implies that I’ve stopped growing. Every single day there are new bits of knowledge thrown my way and I have to be open to receive. Sometimes they are something small, like how to make waffles; sometimes it’s character building, like witnessing and acknowledging a kind gesture that gives me faith. And sometimes it’s a freight train blaring across my path, screaming, you’re an alcoholic, and it’s okay to ask for help.
Maybe for a kid life is like a high-speed rail with information whizzing by so fast that they don’t even know they’re trying to catch up. If I remember correctly, 10 is the age where information slows down enough to begin processing; except I guess it’s not slowing down; it’s just the kids growing up. Catching up. Suiting up for the freight trains and knowledge bombs. I wish I could tell Miss. Anonymous that once the train starts it is full speed ahead.
Or, on a lighter note, I could tell her this.