I’m rolling with the punches this week.
And I feel like an idiot.
I thought nanny was modern-day Mary Poppins.
She will now be referred to as Nanny X.
How did I get it so, so, so very wrong?
Well, let me tell you.
I was rolling through Walmart at a steady clip just the other day, beads of sweat forming everywhere, and having this flashback.
“Next time you’re at the checkout and hear the beep, think of the fun you could be having on Supermarket Sweep!”
Oooh, except my version of the TV show has a special twist. Lice!
I had rushed to Walmart after Nanny X called me mid-day at work Tuesday.
It was Laila’s birthday.
“Um, I’m combing Laila’s hair, and there are maybe these white things in it, I don’t know. It might be bugs….lice, ” Nanny X informed me.
“Holy. Shiiiiit,” I whispered. “You saw what in her hair? Uhhhh. OK. OK. Let me call her doctor. Just wait there, and I’m going to head home.”
Drat. My new desk mate had heard me. Newsrooms are full of nosy people. I’m one of them, ears always perked, hawk eyes always peeled. You think we reporters are occupied with our smart phones, or lap tops, not listening? Oh, we’re listening.
“Does your daughter have gum in her hair?” my workmate asked.
“Uh…yeah, yeah, something like that,” I said, slinking away.
I headed to the lactation room, a convenient place for discreet phone calls. Plus I had to pump.
“Liccce!” I told my editor in a hushed voice, hunched over my machine, begging for discretion.
She told me to go take care of it.
On my cell, the doctor’s office told me what we needed to do. Medicated treatments are becoming less and less effective.
The answer: mayonnaise. The real stuff. You suffocate lice by smearing a giant glob of mayo on your head and putting a shower cap over it. For, like, hours.
Then you strip all bedding, put plush things in plastic bags or airtight bins and pretty much wash anything that can be washed in scalding hot water. You boil brushes and combs. Vaccumm all that can be vaccumeed. The good news is if you can just leave the house for two days all lice will die since they can’t be away from a human host for more than 48 hours.
Well this was just about the last thing I needed on my daughter’s 3rd birthday and my second week of work after four months off.
I trotted through the aisles, piling a cart high with mayo. I ripped the last remaining shower caps off a hanging display and grabbed a new hairdryer and brush while I was at it.
Oooh. Ceramic. 75 percent less frizz. Nice.
I threw in airtight bin after airtight bin, garbage bags, a giant laundry detergent, extra dish soap.
I wondered what the cashier thought I might be doing with four jugs of mayo and five shower caps.
Then, guilt sank in. Oh, gosh, this poor nanny! This poor girl probably caught lice from my daughter! She needs….a latte. A latte and extra cash for the trouble!
I raced to my bank and in my fury scraped the side of my car with an inexplicably placed bolt in a very skinny ATM lane.
“I think it’s nits, the eggs,” Nanny X said when I arrived. “I don’t know.”
I started picking through Laila’s hair. She hadn’t been itching, but who knows.
She had a few flakes. Was that dot a little tiny louse? Was that thing an egg? I really couldn’t tell. I sent Nanny X home with extra cash for her trouble, a latte for her trouble, and a jug of mayo and a shower cap to ward off lice.
Laila didn’t want mommy to pick through her hair. She wanted to play. Mark arrived home. We bribed her with chocolate. Hey, it was her birthday.
I really couldn’t see what Nanny X was talking about. I thought Laila had dry skin. I called her cell.
I thought she told me earlier she had seen things crawling. Had she? What color were they?
Her descriptions disintegrated the more I pushed for detail.
Then she quit.
My heart sank, but I remained calm.
“Uh, can you give us two weeks? You’re really leaving me in a lurch — I have no time off left. Mark’s has been told he can’t call in during state testing.”
I tried to be understanding. I know my kids, our lives, are chaotic. We’re a handful. It’s not for everyone.
I should have seen this coming.
Nanny X’s first cancellation had come after a day I had her watch the kids to get used to our routine. Laila gave her hell that day. Nanny’s perky ponytail was rather disheveled when I arrived home.
Laila’s world has been turned upside down. She’s not happy mommy’s back at work.
To make that point to me, she took off her pants, climbed into Eli’s crib like a monkey child and took a pee pee after misbehaving at dinner the other day. She threw toys at Nanny X the practice day.
Then Nanny X said she was sick that first week I needed her with walking pneumonia.
“Get some rest!” I ordered.
We patched together back-up care. Mark had to call into work to watch the kids. I had another gal come around. I called the CF clinic to make sure Nanny X would be OK to come around again after a week on antibiotics.
And now she had found lice on my daughter’s head.
“Yeah, I just feel stressed at the end of the day,” Nanny X informed me as she explained why she needed to immediately quit.
PAHA! Try one of my days on for size, sweetheart!
The least stressful part of my week entailed interviewing a rape victim. I also had to chase down some far-flung Oklahoma lawmen willing to dish to a reporter they didn’t know on a subject the law around these parts didn’t want to discuss. Why? I wanted to know more about the criminal history of a man killed by seven members of a task force in a hail of gunfire, along with his girlfriend. Still don’t know why they opened fire, but the guy liked to steal jewelry and guns.
I had nothing left to say to Nanny X so I wished her luck.
I was confounded but not mad. That’s because I spent at least a week’s worth of anger blowing up at Eli’s regular doctor’s office the day before – not the CF clinic, his pediatrician’s place.
Mommy seems to always be scrapping with someone or getting in or out of a jam. Mommy is tired.
Pam informed me I would learn to be a bitch as I navigated life with a child with cystic fibrosis, a chronic illness.
Wow, does that ever come naturally.
I was 17 minutes late for an appointment for Eli. Guilty! He was holding me hostage with a ravenous appetite and I couldn’t get out the door. The cut-off for rescheduling is 15.
The support staffers were rude and told me I could maybe come back in three weeks.
I went 50 shades of crazy, stopping just shy of staging a sit-in until I was seen.
“He has cystic fibrosis. I don’t want to drag him back to a germy-ass clinic!” I yelled at the stunned nurse. “And I know I sound crazy right now. But this is asinine!”
A random woman sitting by our confrontation turned around.
“You’re not being crazy. You’re being a good mom.”
We really should have high-fived.
Nurse was unmoved by random lovely woman backing me up.
My insanity yielded an appointment in three days rather than three weeks. Also, the immediate conclusion that I’d be switching pediatricians real soon.
There I was the next day, on the phone with Nanny X, who had just quit. I hung up the phone in disbelief.
“You know Mark, she’s going to be teaching at an urban school in the fall,” I said. “She won’t last half a morning if she can’t handle our kids for more than a day and a half.”
“Some people just can’t hack it,” he agreed.
Then the possibility that Nanny X was a big fat liar who faked a lice scare so she could get out of work occurred to me.
While that was sinking in, she sent me this weird picture of a strand of her hair with a weird thing on it that indeed looked like some kind of egg…or something.
So, that was psycho.
Maybe she had lice.
Moving on. Time eat dinner and open cake and presents!
My mind was on another planet.
Poor Laila, sweet baby.
I updated my editor – our childcare just quit. I can’t put Laila or Eli in daycare. She knows Eli’s cystic fibrosis means we need to keep him well to keep his lungs healthy. I also told her I think Nanny X lied about the walking pneumonia and maybe about the lice, just to get out of work.
I don’t even know if I can show up tomorrow, I told me editor.
“I just don’t know what to do.”
Neither did she.
“We’ll figure it out. Always do!” I said, faking optimism.
Now that we were not infested, she was released from her confidentiality agreement and told the newsroom my bizarre tale. Some of the reporters had a field day with that one. We love drama.
Mark started making calls. His friend at work – Gary, maintenance man, co-chess coach and author of a Harlequin romance — had mentioned a woman at his church who was interested in the job.
She gave us a ring right away, as we were finishing up poor Laila’s cake.
She was horrified at Nanny X’s shenanigans and could get there the next morning. She even offered to bring her resume and a background check she had to have done to work at a school.
Oklahomans are known for helping each other in times of crisis. Plenty of those to go around here.
Nanny X is from out of state. I won’t disparage the state by naming it.
That evening, I had tried hard to focus on Laila and her presents, but was pissed Nanny X had successfully messed with my daughter’s big day. Laila may not have sensed it, but the stress put a damper on the evening. I hated that.
Mark returned my Supermarket Sweep: Lice episode items to Walmart the next day.
They took everything but the mayo.
Four jugs of mayo, gone to waste.
It was a darn shame.
I texted Nanny X that she might want to go ahead and do the application of the mayo – just in case.
Frankly, whatever was in her hair looked kind of suspect in that creepy picture she texted. Maybe she did have lice. Maybe she really did see one jump off of Laila’s head. It could have been a lonely louse, for all I know. It sensed the looming presence of Walmart mayo and jumped ship.
Anything’s possible. Who knows? The human body is home to all sorts of disgusting things. She was traveling to a wedding that weekend.
Wouldn’t want to infest the bride and groom!
She never wrote back.
I deleted her number from my phone, glad to be rid of the coo coo bird.
You know, despite her schmancy early childhood education degree, Nanny X had no heart for Laila, for Eli, for us. Did she have one at all?
I felt like an idiot. I’d been blinded by Southern sunshine. Hoodwinked by pie eyes and a friendly smile. Hypnotized by a swingy ponytail. I needed someone to love my kids so I decided she must be the one. What was she, some kind of con artist? A mild-mannered sociopath?
This whole thing served as a reminder to proceed with caution when desperation is the emotion of the day. I’d projected a nanny fantasy onto this girl via desperation goggles. Should have taken a good, hard look at her before I let her in.
What was Nanny X’s problem? That’s not my problem anymore.
Who knows. Who cares.
I’d been had. Moving on.
After the deletion of Nanny X, I presented Laila with more cake and sang her “Happy Birthday” once more.
The little lady was delighted.
New new nanny does have heart. A big one. A true one. I know this because she’s already come to my house. I’ve watched her with Laila and Eli, without desperation goggles on — I swear. I’d like to write more about her, but I need to make sure that’s OK. All I can say now is that we need her, and I think she needs us, too.
Imposter modern-day Mary Poppins had to go so we could find our real Mary Poppins. The universe works in mysterious ways sometimes.
Back to the mayo — all that mayo gone to waste. Again, just a darn shame.
I worry I’ve offended the universe with my gleeful visions of Nanny X dipping her head in it.
I must make amends.
Laila and I will be taking our giant jugs of mayo to a local homeless shelter, along with some other groceries.
You know, we could all use a little more heart.
I’ll keep rolling with the punches.
Eli, meanwhile, has begun to roll.