Something I hear on a regular basis is, “No way, I thought you were only fifteen or sixteen years old.” I am usually in no way offended by this compliment because, as everyone says, “I will be glad when I’m forty.” I have never had an issue with looking younger until I started my job. I am a nanny who looks after three beautiful girls that mean the world to me. I spend at least thirty-five hours a week with the girls and my job is full of pressures and responsibilities. If I mess up my job, I could impact one or all of their lives in a negative way and that is something that I would never be able to bare.
My girls have a hard life and they truck through it the best that they can. Their mother was diagnosed with the awful illness ALS and it takes a toll on her and them every day. Their father has a hard, full-time job an hour away from home and cannot be there within five minutes if he needs to be. Their grandmother is here visiting from Poland and they find it difficult to communicate with her; although, they are picking up on the new language. They have seven to ten people in and out of the house throughout the week who are either family or people to help out the family. Some times they sense craziness or confusion because they, at seven, five, and three years old, need to really step up and explain or help out these people who are so much older than themselves. These children have a hard life and I am proud of them for the way they handle everything so well.
I am twenty-one, living fifteen hours from my friends and family, and figuring out that bills are not always the easiest to pay. I am a big family and friends person and miss the people I grew up with every day. I work my hardest to keep myself busy and to pay for the things we are privileged to have. No matter how hard I try to make life smooth and have no hiccups, there are always surprises. Surprises are not always the easiest (or cheapest) to bounce back from so I work harder. When I cannot find a way to make things work my parents are always gracious to help out and be supportive in any way they can. It’s hard to ask for things whether it is, “Can I borrow some money until my next pay check?” or “Could you please do the dishes again?” when you don’t get to spend the time with them to show how grateful you are for the things they have done for you.
Some days are hard. Some days the girls and I don’t connect or like each other all that much. Some days letting them cry it out is exactly what they need. Some days we try our hardest, but don’t succeed. Some days we fail.
I am okay with failure because it is how you learn and it is how you become stronger. What I’m not okay with is people stepping in on how I handle the girls. I can’t count the number of time people have stepped in and said something about what I’m doing. It’s incredibly hurtful to hear, “you really shouldn’t let her do that, what if she falls?” “People that age shouldn’t be having kids, they don’t even know how to make meals at that age anymore.” “You’re not handling this the right way.” “When people have children at your age, they’re not even really sure on what to do so it’s okay that you made a mistake.” It’s so degrading. I know the girls’ limits. I know what they can and cannot do and what they are very close to accomplishing. I know when to step in and I know the right way of doing so. I may not know how to make the best gourmet meal, but I know my girls. My girls and I have a strong relationship. We trust each other, we challenge each other, and we love each other.
What happened to a world where people step in and help instead of judge so quickly? I don’t need another remark on how I’m doing everything wrong because my years of experience with children, two years of ECE education, and year of being with this family will quickly prove you wrong. I don’t even need a compliment (although they are nice and get me through the extremely rude comments), but how about some understanding? What child is perfect 24/7? None, so remember how embarrassed you felt when your child dropped to the floor, screaming because you wouldn’t buy them yet another toy. Remember that feeling when you see a young child throwing a tantrum in public. Instead of thinking “Shame on her, she can’t even control her own kids.” Walk by and say, “You got this. This is only temporary.”
“Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12 NLT