Let me start by saying that hiring our ‘Manny’ was hands down the best decision I’ve made all summer. Seriously. I wasn’t aware at the time that having a manny was actually sort of trendy. (Though I do try to keep up to date with all the trends in mom fashion. I have a pair of yoga pants for everyday of the week and am going to my first Lularoe pop-up this weekend.) I wasn’t aware of the New York Times article and though I’m sure I saw the episode, I had forgotten about Murphy Brown’s manny. Freddie Prinze Jr. also played a manny on Friends, apparently. Is Friends on Netflix?
I don’t live in New York City; I don’t even know anyone who has a nanny. For me, I identified a problem and came up with what I thought was a truly original and genius solution: I needed a dude to play with my son in the afternoon & wear him out. For so long I took for granted those two, sometimes THREE hour naps in the afternoon. The period of transition out of daily naps is always a dark time for a parent.
And this kid, his energy… I began to question if he was even my child. I have never, ever, for one minute in one day, had the kind of energy he does. Honestly. Even as a child, all I ever did was play school and sit on the floor with my barbies. I was quiet. I liked alone time. I liked my playroom. Bryan is my opposite in so many ways.
So there were his needs- Bryan needed to play, run, be loud and enjoy the summer outdoors. There were my needs- I needed to sit for a moment, quietly, in the air conditioned indoors and NOT hear my name 12 times a minute. Then there was Annie Girl- she is a baby and needs a post-lunch nap. A long one. And she needs to not be woken up by her brother running around the house like a herd of elephants on fire.
So, why a male sitter? For me, it was more why not? A young, energetic and athletic guy was just what the job called for. Bryan has some really exceptional male role models in his life; his father is very active with him, participating in his weekly soccer practices, camping out with him in a tent in the yard on the weekends, building legos and playing video games. And then there is Pop- my father, Bryan’s best friend. They get up to all kinds of mischief together. So a manny wasn’t needed to fill any voids in his life, but a void in his daily routine.
Jon had a bit of a problem with the idea at first. Because he is also a parent and dads can feel guilt too, he saw this as his failure to do… enough, I guess. Isn’t that always it? We are never enough. But I reassured him he does exactly what the kids need him to do during the daytime: earn a living to put a roof over our head and food in our bodies. Jon eventually agreed, with one stipulation: we couldn’t call him our manny.
I posted an ‘ad’ in our local university message center and Coach Matt’s mother responded. Boy, did we hit the jackpot with this guy! He is a recent high school graduate, where he was captain of three sports, and will be going off to college in the Fall to play Division 1 lacrosse. On top of that, he does private lessons/coaching for young athletes and has worked for years with his mother at the basketball camps/clinics she runs for kids. He is polite, punctual and great with Bryan. He has his own transportation, a flexible enough schedule and he was happy to work for $10 an hour. A damn bargain I say!
Coach Matt came three days a week for most of the summer. Bryan wanted him to come everyday. They played soccer, hide & seek , ‘criss cross applesauce’ (lacrosse) and drew on the sidewalk with chalk. Bryan told him stories & learned how to tell knock, knock jokes. On days that Matt came, Bryan laid down afterwards for ‘quiet time’ (usually in my bed w/ his tablet or watching a movie) for at least an hour. I was free to do some work or clean the house, in peace. Mission accomplished!
When it comes time for a parent/parents to start looking for a babysitter, my guess is that their first thoughts are ‘Who do we know who has a teenage daughter?’ or ‘Do we know any teenage girls at church, etc?’. That’s totally okay! Teenager girls are probably more inclined to look for babysitting work. I completed a babysitting course offered by the Red Cross when I was in my early teens. BUT, I think we are doing a disservice to the young males in our community who could greatly benefit from experience working with children.
When we began this adventure, someone commented to me that we would need to be ‘extra’ cautious and talk to Bryan about appropriate vs. inappropriate behavior, talk & touching. My opinion is that we try to be ‘extra’ cautious about that always. It is a concern now, always has been and always will be- even when the children are being cared for by people whom we consider ‘safe’. I’ve seen one too many episodes of Intervention to NOT be concerned about this.
Now, I was home everyday when Coach Matt came to play, so this was a little different situation than traditional babysitting. We have been really fortunate that my parents live close and have been able to watch the kids pretty much whenever we needed but I would definitely consider a male babysitter in the future. This guy was exceptional and already had a ton more experience working with kids than the average highschool-aged male, but I’d like to think that his summer with Bryan taught him something too that will benefit him later in life, be it as a middle school gym teacher, a Pediatrician or parent.
(Coach Matt, if you are reading this… we never actually called you our ‘Manny’. Well, I did… once, but Jon put the stop to that right away.)