August 12, 2019
This morning, while getting the boys ready for the day, A was stalling as usual. I had gotten Baby R cleaned up and dressed after breakfast, while A was supposed to be picking out his clothes for the day. It’s part of our normal routine — I take care of baby; A picks out his clothes, then we move into A’s room for the dressing part and brushing of the teeth and hair.
After dressing R, I carry him across the hall into A’s room. I’m not surprised by the fact that A hasn’t started changing or even picked out his clothes. I don’t know what he’d been doing that whole time, but I know what he wasn’t doing.
“A,” I say, “It’s time to pick out your clothes so that we have time for a walk before school.”
He’s started to gain a little more momentum in the world of stalling. He’s not paying attention.
“Am I going to pick out your clothes, then?”
Finally, he pulls open his drawers and throws out underwear, a shirt, and shorts onto the ground behind him. He dresses…slowly.
Then, we go into the bathroom so I can brush his hair while he brushes his teeth. We barely make it across the bathroom threshold when he says, very nonchalantly, “F*** isn’t a bad word.”
I had a good idea where this came from. I saw the book on his shelf while cleaning up a while back — “Go The F*** to Sleep.” Although I never read it to him (and his parents never actually said the word), I knew that someday this book would cause problems; I just didn’t realize it would be today.
A casual statement such as A’s is what happens when your four-year-old nanny kid teaches himself how to read.
In the disarray of trying to get dressed and losing time with each stall tactic, I say to him, “We are not talking about that right now. It’s time to brush your teeth.”
That was the end of that.
I debated whether or not to share this story considering the sensitive subject, but decided that if I sensor my posts I’m not staying true to the realities of nannying, which is the whole point of my blog. With that in mind, all of us who have worked with kids on an intimate level can agree things like this happen. And they happen without warning.
The F-word was a first for me, but I’ve had kids say other adult words, or talk about alcohol. None of them are really all that different in terms of how you handle it. With anything, the more you forbid it, the more they want it. I’ve learned that saying things like, “Don’t ever say that again!,” or putting them in a time-out doesn’t help the situation. If anything, it makes it worse. That’s why I felt so lucky to have had an easy distraction the moment A said it. I didn’t even think; I just responded. Immediately after, I let out a deep breath, grateful we had dodged a bullet.
I do like to come back to the topic later if I think it’s necessary. I may bring it up at lunch or before nap. Usually I will say something like, “I want to talk about that word you said earlier. Where did you hear it?” It’s important not to make a big deal about it, but it’s also important to have the conversation if it’s something that could be a problem again. I find that casually talking about it and why it’s not an appropriate thing to say usually solves the problem. It also opens the door for discussions about other things since kids always have questions. At some point those questions become a bit more intense, so allowing them to feel safe bringing their concerns to you is always a good idea! Personally, I would rather be the one to answer their questions instead of a friend or classmate.
I’m curious to know how you other nannies handle these sorts of things, and what other incidents you’ve had, especially if you have older nanny-kids. Leave a comment below!