I Want the Baby BackAs I sit here typing this the little boy I nanny is running around with his Superman costume on, hands in a flying position and singing the theme song at the top of his lungs. I can't help but want to cry at how he has grown in our time together and how little time we have left with each other.
I began this job when he was eight months old. This was supposed to be something to pass the time before I got a “real” job after leaving college and coming back home. On the interview the mom left us alone in the living room where we could interact with one another and she could see if I was cut out for this job, I was close to 22 years old with no children of my own but had been around plenty and child development was my major at a point in college. I sat on the floor and helped build blocks with him, squeeze the little toys for him and play the little xylophone. We immediately connected. I picked him up for the first time and within minutes he was asleep, awakening only when I tried to lay him on the floor. We played some more, I changed a diaper or two and I got him to sleep one more time. We were meant to find one another and play a vital role in each other's lives. I began work the next day.
We'd sit outside on their porch in the mornings and he'd soak in the sun, the breeze, the birds, all things around him. He'd coo and smile. We'd go inside and I'd show him colors, animals and we'd sit there for hours while he giggled and touched and learned all new things. He hated baby food, well the vegetables. I'd trick him by putting the vegetable puree at the back of the spoon and some sweet potatoes or bananas on the front so he'd still get all the nutrition he needed. That is when I started calling him "sweet 'tater". Every day I could see a change, a growth and I was excited to see more. When the time came for his nine month old shots, I went with the mom and in his picture where he's looking up and smiling that's me he's looking at because I'm singing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” to him. The bathtub shot where's he giggling trying to catch a bubble, I'm blowing the bubbles for him to play. The time flew by. Before long he was walking, I was there when he took his first steps. His first word, he spoke it to me. His first birthday, he wore a little white turtleneck and tan corduroy pants and he got chocolate icing all down the front.
He was a demon when he turned two. After I would get off work I'd call my momma and apologize for anything I ever did when I was young. He would test every boundary given to him and he'd test your willpower to see if you'd let him slide just one time. His sweetest moments came when he was asleep. That is when you could count the little tan freckles he had started to get on his nose. I couldn't wait for him to grow out of this phase where I could have my sweet 'tater once again.
His third birthday comes and goes, Thomas the Tank Engine theme. The mother and I decided it would be best to put him in school once a day where he could get used to other people and interact with other children. I picked him up from school and he'd run into my arms. He'd show me the artwork he made and he'd chat about his teachers and all his friends. His “girlfriend” was Chloe. His “boyfriend” was Jesse. He became obsessed with the Wiggles. We listened to their music every time we got in the car. We'd do the dances and sing the songs. I'd get down in the floor to play with him and he'd say “no I need space”. I'd say to him “What? You always want me to play with you.” His response was “I'm gonna be a big boy when I'm four, don't need you to play.” My heart began to crush but this is what I asked for, this is what I was so excited to see. I wanted to watch him grow and he's beginning to grow out of me. I didn't think about that part.
He turned four in January. He tells me now, “I'm going to be five soon and I'll be a huge big boy and go to school at my sister's school.” I smile with a tear and say “yes you will but you're still my lil' sweet 'tater”. He laughs and says “I can't be your little sweet 'tater if I'm a big boy.” I tell him how when he starts school we won't see each other as much and he says “that's okay you're a big girl.” No it's not okay. He went on his pre-K interview today, which he passed with flying colors. I look at him every day and fight back tears, tears that are falling on the keys as I type this out. I want that baby back who depended on me every moment of his life. He hasn't looked back since he's been growing up but I haven't been able to look away.