Friday, October 22, 2010

Spoonful of Sugar

It would appear that my course has been slightly altered as I made the difficult decision to part ways with the family I worked for and lived with. To be fair, it was not a rash decision as it had been on my heart that perhaps this was not the best fit for me for some time. I sought the wisdom of my dear friends and family, spent time in prayer, and ultimately, made a somewhat unexpected decision.

I shared that there were some challenging times, but I want to clarify that I'm not opposed to pulling myself out of the valleys. Doing so was actually one of the key motivators that brought me to the Emerald Isle to begin.

Without boring you with the grainy details of my diaper-filled days, I will share that the family I lived with had a very different mentality when it came to rearing children. Now anyone that knows me know that my own furry child, Phoebe Louise, has zero rules and is told that she is perfect on a regular basis. But my puppy pedagogy is quite different than real life, and I'm a firm believer in positive discipline, boundaries, and ultimately- a respectful relationship between the authority and child.

To say that this was nonexistent would be an understatement. So as I adapted my comfort level to fit the needs of this very detail-oriented family (yes, I was required to take their temperatures four times a day, "just in case"), I found that the only constant I could rely on was a very aggressive, defiant, and obstinate child who showered me with a colorful realm of disrespect.

At first, I pulled out all the stops. I harnessed my days in the classroom, and I spent my morning off creating a colorful reward chart. You know, to intrinsically motivate this kid to behave. I placed his favorite toys strategically around the house so I could grab one to distract him when he flew into a fit of rage. I made heart shaped pancakes, smiley face fruit plates, and recited every nursery rhyme known to man. I also succumbed to the gods of bribery as I bought his favorite treats to entice him away from the dark side. All of this was intended to soothe the young boy, but ultimately, it appeared to be in vain.

Anyone who has worked with children will tell you that these are temporary fixes. Dangling a carrot in front of a child will work for a small period of time, but without proper discipline and the instilling of respect? Back to square one. And I found myself with a seemingly permanent ticket to square one.

My frustration mounted as I tried to effectively communicate my concerns, only to be told that he had "never acted this way before!" Let me tell you, that kid did not come up with that number overnight. I felt my spirt falling as I began to daydream about exactly what I would say if I had my Scarlett Johansson moment, found the hidden nanny cam, and got to candidly share my frustration. I finally came to the conclusion that the work environment wasn't conducive to neither myself nor the lad's well-being.

All in all, my quest to be Mary Poppins has been put on the back burner for now. Not only did she unfairly use magic when caring for children, but she also had the on-going support of Dick Van Dyke, and I have yet to see that one-man band!

So yet again, here I am, scratching my head, wondering what this year will bring.

But for now? I'm going to accept the generous offer of friends to use their spare bedroom, take advantage of my new neighborhood, and perhaps head to the Ring of Kerry for a hike.

Perhaps my original dream was too good to be true. But I have a feeling that the best is yet to come.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Scarlett & Caspar

Clumsy in Malahide.

Of course I brought caramel apples to Ireland. Of course he's wearing an Illini sweatshirt.

Found this hilar.
Forbidden entrance to...
Caspar the Ghost?
OJ Simpson and his damning glove?

Nanny Diaries:
Scarlett Johansson and I have next to nothing in common, except for our affinity for Ryan Reynolds. Yet, as of lately, I can't help but think that perhaps-we have more in common than I once thought. To be fair, I don't hold a candle to Scarlett...but after the past few weeks...? stories might.

Her rendition of Nanny Diaries struck chords across America as families reevaluated the way they treated the "help", and the "help" formed a union against mis-treatment. We all watched in agony as she trumped her families' controlling hold by finding the nanny cam, and er, giving it a piece of her mind.

In similar news, I recently read the book "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett, and I was mesmerized by the portrayal of African-American maids in the early 1960's. The shock, the blatant mistreatment, and direct disrespect made my heart plummet.

All this being said, I'm certainly not comparing my recent events to that of a pre-civil rights maid, but you do begin to make connections in an abstract sort of way.

The past few weeks have presented new and unforeseen challenges. So challenging, in fact, that I've considered making Nanny Diaries, Part Deux: the European Drama. To blend in to another's family can pose many obstacles, most of which are to be expected. To enter the same doors as four other people on a daily basis has been more difficult than I would have thought.

I committed to asking for guidance through this challenging time, and as I prayed fervently and specifically, I heard my coveted answer: stay and positively impact this family.

And so I will....

Monday, October 4, 2010

Candy Corn...Lots of it.

A week in photos: A very generous visit from the Halloween Fairy! Fall has officially arrived in Ireland- I'm thrilled!

Proof that I have something that resembles a teeny social life- vino over the River Liffey.

Not too shabby!

A village indeed.

I still haven't mastered the lingo, but it's forever a work in progress. Recently, I stopped by the post to mail a package. It's a tiny little building clearly marked "Poste. I patiently waited in the "queue" and as I arrived to the front, was cheerfully informed that "No no, dear, we don't do the mail here".

"Oh, so sorry- I thought I was at the post office!"- I cried as I turned a shade of crimson.

"Oh dear, you are, but we simply don't do the mail here. Good luck!" She smiled and sent me on my merry way.

So no post, at the post....such a curious thing.