I’m nannying again this summer. Working with two girls ages eight and ten, three days a week. They’re a lot of fun and the parents, thus far, have been fantastic to work with. I’ve been struck however, at the difference between my upbringing and the childhood that these girls are experiencing. I don’t just mean the stuff they own (both of them have iPod touches and are clammering for iPhones) or the fact that they don’t know what a spatula is because they never work with Mom in the kitchen.
It’s more about…who they are being brought up to be as adults that I find interesting.
When I lived with G and J this was a subject that–while not often verbalized–undergirded all of their parenting. I can remember G telling me that the reason she wanted her children to learn and memorize scripture was painfully simple: “I imagine them as missionaries one day,” she said, “and what if they’re imprisoned or something? What if they don’t have access to a Bible? Then at least they have the word memorized so they can always recall it.”
These girls’ lives revolve around sports, time with friends, grandparents and golf lessons. None of those things are wrong! It’s just that, I wonder if our lives aren’t turning into huge tracts of entertainment. These girls ask, every day after swim team, what are we doing today? They struggle to understand a day at home, chilling out, reading, relaxing on the porch swing or watching a movie while cookies bake in the oven. They want to be entertained, to be taken to the zoo, the aquarium, the movies, the six flags, they want to be kept busy.
Are they an image of our own lives? Of our American dreams for pleasure? But what pleasure is there in always going, going, going –but never stopping to enjoy a cool mist when the thunder rumbles over head or watching the sun go down while you sit with your best friend in silence because you are so overtaken by beauty?
And then you have me. Cheapscape. Easily amused. Simple. Someone who longs oonly for open space with a rocking chair or adirondack to read for hours on end while the sun slips across the sky and plays hide-and-seek with the clouds.
What do I have to offer these kids? I have sometimes wondered that in my past experiences as a nanny. Why am I here?
To be still with them.
To love and encourage them.
To offer a different perspective.
and to reassure them that life is about more than just the entertainment value of each day.