Learning and Growing

Since I have troubled you all with the nanny saga, I thought I would give you an update. The bottom line, which my husband likes to hear when I embark on my stories, is that we are working on things.

How did I go from being ready to fire her to working on things? First, I had a great coaching session with a good friend of mine who is a fabulous coach. We take turns coaching each other and if any of you ever need a coach, write me and I will put you in touch with this woman because she is fabulous!

Anyway, what I realized from the coaching session is that I have been so triggered by my nanny not doing what she said, that I have been taking it personally as a sign of disrespect towards me. I know that “being disrespected” is a trigger point for me and I was so angry about her “disrespecting” me that I couldn’t see past this to try to think of solutions. So my first “aha!” moment was that she wasn’t actually disrespecting me, she was just being herself. She was doing what she does with everybody in various parts of her life. It was not personal. This realization diffused my strong emotions about the whole situation and allowed me to start thinking about it more rationally.

My second realization was that I haven’t done everything I can to help her be successful at her job. I was too busy being mad at having to follow up to see if she did something to think of ways to follow up without having to be on top of her, which was uncomfortable for me. So in this vein, I bought a board to write notes on and now will write down what is to be done that day, everything from “use hand sanitizer at school” to “”call plumber” to “sing to Saige”. Our nanny has agreed that this would help her and that she will mark things off as she does them. (And my housekeeper will also tell me if she is doing what she marks off – checks and balances.)

I also realized that what is bothering me most is not whether our nanny does art projects with Saige but her lack of presence and lack of initiative. I went to a parents’ meeting at Saige’s little Waldorf nursery school this weekend and the topic was “Presence and Being Worthy of Imitation”, meaning that it’s often not what we do with children that matters, but the attitude with which we do it. Are we joyful? Happy to be doing what we are doing? Engrossed in our own flow and creativity? Or are we tired? Resentful? Wishing we were somewhere else?

According to Anthroposophy (the philosophy that Waldorf education is based on), our job as adults is to give kids plenty of space for their own exploration and creative play. They are much more creative if we are not directing their play. Our job is to do our own work, be it house work or something with our hands (unfortunately computer work doesn’t count), but with a gusto and attitude that is worthy of imitation. Of course we also need to let little hands help out as they are moved to do when they see our passion for our work.

After this parents meeting, I realized that I was trying to get our nanny to have an attitude of passion by asking her to do things that I thought Saige might like as opposed to asking our nanny what she might enjoy doing. She likes handicrafts. Perhaps she would like to make something for Saige while Saige plays nearby?

To make this very long story short, I talked to our nanny about all of this today. She told me that she would like to knit something for Saige but she thought that I would get mad at her for knitting rather than playing with Saige and also, what would Saige do?

“No problem”, I said. “We will leave toys out for Saige as well as balls of yarn. As she seems you knit, she will get curious and you can show her how to play with yarn and then she will play with the yarn, inventing her own games. She will also get bored and go play with other things and that’s perfectly fine. The trick is to be responsive to her needs when she expresses them while enjoying your own work.”

Our nanny seemed to really like all these ideas. She also shared with me that she is going to go get some lab work done to see if she is anemic or has thyroid problems. She herself has noticed her low levels of energy. She said that she has the ideas to do things but then feels too tired to execute. “Good noticing”, I said and encouraged her to get whatever lab work she needs.

We will see how it all works out but meanwhile, I decided to stop interviewing other candidates and give this situation a final chance but with 100% commitment to it succeeding. The girls love our nanny and I owe it to them to do everything I can to make it work. Plus, it feels good to potentially be helping our nanny work things out. I know she needs the job. Last but not least, I am learning a lot here too…

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