They come from all over. From Poland to Korea. From Jamaica to Jamaica Queens. And they're paid very well (plus holidays and health benefits) to take care of the darling offspring of busy New York professionals. But no matter where they're from, they can spot another Nanny from a mile away. And when they come together in the playground, a park or a bookstore, they are a force to be reckoned with.
Last year, in the dead of winter, when it was too cold to take the Bean to the playground, or walk around town, I strolled into Barnes and Noble on 17th Street and headed for the children's section. A perfect idea for me and the Bean. Unfortunately, it was a perfect idea for every Nanny in town. And they made it very clear to anybody who was an outsider that they owned this town. This was their turf. Like outlaw bikers line up their customized, (flames up the sides) Harley's outside a saloon to secure their area, the Hell's Nanny's had blockaded their area off from outsiders with a stylish line of $799 day glow-colored strollers. Me and the Bean parked outside their perimeter and peaked in. Under the hanging cardboard monkeys and rabbits we envied the Winnie the Pooh and Pipi Long Stocking lap readings going on. But there was no way to get it in. It was too scary. Women with big arms and red sweaters bottle-feeding their boss' children tucked in their buxom bosoms, the overflowing diaper bags, and little babies feet squirming in the air from being changed. All to a soundtrack of Nannie chitchat and never-end crying.
The Nannies had taken over the wooden step, under the fake tree with the cartoon mural of a squirrel. The invisible sign read: IF YOU'RE NOT A NANNY, YOU'RE NOT GETTING IN BUDDY. So I just observed them like they were a Nanny Exhibit in a zoo. Interesting species. Dr. Seuss, Curious George books were scattered across the floor and Elmo parafanelia (talking La, la, lala) stuffed animals were everywhere. There were babies being burped and bottle fed and eating the heads off the little gold fish. But don't be fooled by the world-class daycare they were providing. It wasn't all about the children. The Nannies were huddled together with other nannies probably talking about other Nannies behind their backs. And some were texting, other countries even. And some were playing games on their Iphones and Blackberries that their child's parents provided them with so they could reach them at the office in case of emergency.
So there we were, getting tired, getting antsy about being outside of the club. I wanted to enter so badly but I had everything working against me. First off, my stroller only cost $220 bucks, (even though it kicks ass. I'd drag race any bugaboo anytime, anyplace) I was a dad, and I was a man. No mammary glands here. But on the positive, I did have the cutest kid. And she knew it. So she nodded, "Dad let's do it. “So with the Bean in my left hand I pried my way through the crayola-colored wall of Bugaboos and ran to the wooden step. It was packed. "Shoot, nowhere to sit," So I plopped down on the floor, stripped the Bean of her pink bear suit, and placed her on my lap.
I picked up a book nearby, and kept my eyes to myself and the Bean. But I felt the stares. They were all over me and my stay-at-home dad aroma. Especially when I looked up and a Nanny was looking right at me because we happened to pick up a stupid pop-up cartoon giraffe book that her child had been reading and eating just moments before we had gotten there. "Oh great way to get in the club, Bruce." So I grabbed a few other books and tried to read them to the Bean, but that wasn't happening. She was trying to tear the pages. Since my daughter wasn't crawling yet, she just kicked it back, sucking her butterfly-designed pacifier trying to touch everything. Including the other alien-looking kids.I was scared Bean was going to scratch some kids eye out and I'd get sued, but that didn't happen. What did happen was rather nice.
A little, bug-eyed alien kid came over to Bean and started sticking his fingers in her nose and Bean didn't seem to mind, so I didn't seem to mind, and the Nanny who arrived on the scene seconds later didn't seem to mind, so we just sat back talking diaper-changing small talk. Her name was Beatrice (Nah, I'm just kidding. I have no idea what her name was) turned out to be really nice. She was a Nanny rookie so we bonded. She seemed to genuinely love this child, Henry, (again, no idea what his name is) as much as his parents did. It turned out she had two of her own, they were older though.
About an hour or so, Bean stunk, so I changed her and I told Beatrice it was time to go. I waved good-bye with a smile, and then Beatrice looked up and said, "I'll see you here next time.” I got chills down my spine. I felt like I had kissed a girl for the first time. As I slipped Bean back into her pink bear snow suit and tucked her back into the Snap-and-Go, I smiled. I whispered to Bean, "We did it. We were members. We were part of the crew. I couldn't wait to tell Brooke. But you know what, it was one of those things, you just had to be there. You had to be a stay-at-home dad.
Hey guys, me and the Bean wish you and your Beans a happy and healthy New Year!