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“Oh, You Are A Babysitter”

Matilda (Bluefairy Sarang)

I finally had a chance to finish reading “The Nanny Diaries” and watched the movie.  Despite some negative reviews, I found the movie reflects some views that are factual. I don’t mean those views are true. What I am saying is that they are based on someone’s experience, and are as valid as mine, even though my Nanny career is completely not like the one in the book/movie.

It can be frustrating sometimes to deal with people’s reaction when I say “I am a Professional Nanny”, and they respond, “Oh, you’re a babysitter.” (Didn’t I just say “Professional Nanny?”). After I clarify that a Nanny is not a Babysitter, I then get this long “Ohhhhh” with a particular facial expression, followed by “So that’s like a babysitter who gets a lot of perks, right?”

It really makes me laugh how people could not hear the difference between these two words, “Nanny” and “Babysitter”–they don’t even spell the same, or sound the same!!

If it is going to be up to someone to transform the view of what a Nanny is, it would be up to me, or us, the Nannies. Some of us do see being a Nanny as a job, rather than a career. A job that you would do before you land a career. And, there are people like me who are serious about being a Nanny. So serious that I feel the need to put a word “professional” in front of the word, “nanny”, hoping that people would respect for what I do. After all, title is quite important, right?

My dear husband said to me after watching the movie, “You should share your Nanny experience, so people know not all nanny-employer relationships are like that.”  True, not all are the same. I am not sure, however, if I write a book about my experience of being a Nanny, it would be “sellable”. It seems to me that people are drawn to dramas, rants, complaints, other than inspiration, or say, the good news.

I was interviewed by an ABC News 20/20 Primetime producer. She was working on a project that involves nannies and their relationship with employers. When she asked me how the conflicts were usually resolved between me and my employer given that I was raised, and came from another culture, I said, “If I experience any conflict, I always ask myself what am I reacting to. It is not my place to judge how my employers raise their children. Part of my job as a Nanny is to listen and carry out what is important to the family. If I don’t agree their parenting style, I would communicate that and not let it be a conflict between us. The conflict happens when I am being righteous about how they should raise their children. This doesn’t allow any room for dialogues or conversations.”  She said, “Oh. Huh, let me call you back.”  I have not heard from her since.

Maybe she got too busy and forgot to call me back. Maybe my story is too good to be true. It’s just not juicy enough to sell.

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A Tiny-Weeny Teaspoon And That Giant Iceberg

I thought I was clear.

Clear about what my life purpose is. Clear about what I could give back to community, and the differences I have been making. But, as I listened to and moved by Mr. Gordon Starr, who was one of many involved in The Hunger Project thirty something years ago, shared how his life has been impacted since he created a promise for the world, I began to hear myself saying “What you have been doing is not enough… You better go out there and “make” something happen soon.”

It was like Mr. Gordon’s differences-making is Golden-Platinum level, so-and-so’s is Sliver, and that person is Coper, and this person is Bronze. Mine? Under the microscope of comparison, mine ended up to be something like “Paper”, or “Cotton”.

Surprisingly, I found out I was not the only one felt “not-enough-and-I-better-do-more” in the audience. In the mindset of “not-enough-and-better-do-more”, making a difference becomes a competition, result driven; rather than simply an inspiration.

A friend of mine once used an analogy of a teaspoon and an iceberg for what making a difference could be. “There you are, all you have is a teaspoon to chip away a giant iceberg. Day after day. Week after week. It doesn’t look like you are ever going to level that iceberg. And you know you probably won’t. The worst part is, you won’t even see it leveled in your life time. Still, you wake up in the morning, have your teaspoon ready, and off you go. Chipping away that iceberg.”

It is logical to give up, and move on to a seemingly smaller iceberg. Though, what matters might not be the size of the task. It is the commitment that one chooses to honor regardless of how it is going, or how it “should” look.

Ah-ha, there it is. The “should” creeps in when I least suspect. As a Professional Nanny, I thought the laughers, the kisses, the hugs, the “I miss you last night after you went home, Hsiao-Ling” are just too small of an iceberg to believe I am making a difference in the world of a child. If I were to make THE difference, I “should” do something BIG, right? But, I am, after all, JUST a Nanny. How am I going to make THE difference anyway?

Gee, no one is going to win in this not me, not enough, can’t do monologue.

I teared up, again, watching Jamie Oliver’s reality show, “Food Revolution”. When the DJ finally admitted, “It is not about Jamie Oliver. It’s about us. It’s about he health of our town.” I realized, it is not who is digging down the iceberg. Of course, you think being Jamie Oliver would make the task easier; though, he has been meeting many obstacles that I wonder if it is even possible to transform the status quo.

As Jerome Downes, a Landmark Forum Leader, once said (excerpted from the Bangkok Landmark Forum, November 2009):

“It is really possible to create your life, and have a magical life. When I die, I won’t die having a reputation associated with money because my life is not about that. Landmark [Education] is not about that. I like money. I know how to make money. It’s not a big enough game for me.

Contributing, finding something to contribute, being able to contribute transformation for people is what inspires me. We, the Landmark Forum
Leaders, don’t want to be known as good speakers – we want to be known as people who can contribute something that makes a difference for people.

If you have a chance to look back on your life, you’ve got to ask this
question: “What difference have I made? Was my life just about what I wanted,
or did I contribute and make a difference to others?

I’m going to tell you the secret pathway to happiness. Find something you
can contribute. While the world may tell you that money is going to make
you happy or material possessions are going to make you happy, do not be
fooled. Whatever it is to contribute, to make a difference – that can make a
difference in your life.

Here is your homework assignment. Go make the world work. Get your
family to work. Get your company to work. Get your community to work. Get
your country to work.

If it’s not you, who is it going to be? If this is not it, when is it going to be it?

I invite you to sort out your life right now. Choose what your life is going to be about. Who you are is a huge opportunity to make a difference.”

Have you got your teaspoon ready?

This Is What Makes My Heart Sing

I was in a training course this past weekend, called “Power and Contribution”.  It is one of the Landmark Education training courses that looks at what each person’s unique contribution is, and designs a step-by-step action plan, measures, and strategies to realize the person’s vision on a global level.  

On my flight home, I became aware that there were hundreds of passengers on board with me, and I knew none of them. I could not help but sense the impossibility of having a vision that could impact 7 billion people’s lives…“ME? Who am I kidding? Who is going to listen to what I have to say? I am just a Nanny.”  

“I am really not the one,” I said to myself. I felt this uneasiness, and suddenly I had a flash back of a little girl standing in a murky room.

I was six years old, standing in a room filled up with boxes of old newspaper, and magazines that my father had purposely put away. My attention was caught on a magazine article with a picture of a well groomed handsome man. I heard my father and other adults mention his name during many gatherings in the house, but they would never explain what happened to him when I asked. Imagine how nervous and excited I was. I thought I had found the answer to my wonder. Not knowing what I would discover, I started to read about him. 

The man was an attorney who defended someone that was imprisoned due to political opposition. He was warned many times concerning his and his family’s safety. One afternoon, while he was arrested in his office, his mother and twin daughters were brutally killed. His wife and his older daughter were severely injured. The man was not permitted to attend his own mother’s funeral. He was then sentenced to jail for 30 years, and was not allowed to have any visitors. 

I could not believe what I read.

I was sickened.

Horrified.

How could the world let this happen to a man who stood for human rights?  To a little six-year-old, the world was no longer a safe place for self-expression and for seeking truth.

Suddenly, I realized what my life is for. The seed was planted the day I read that article. It was a dream of a six-year-old girl that all she wanted is for people to be free to speak and free to be, that people are known and honored for their passion and self-expression, that people are profoundly related and connected regardless how different we appear to be. 

Could this be something too big to dream? No. Could it be too big to make happen? It would if I was a little six-year-old girl.

Someone once said to me, “What if being a leader is answering the knock from the Eternal? Like you are stepping out to answer it, and being led by what makes your heart sing?”

I am willing to be the one that follows what makes my heart sing!! 

Now, it’s your turn to answer the knock….  What makes your heart sing?

An AcKnowledgement

It has been brought to my attention by a fellow Nanny that a few sentences on my blog are exactly as the same as someone’s written statements. I am acknowledging that I have never seen, or read this person’s blog till this past Monday, and I did not plagiarise her work.  In fact, I am delighted to discover someone who is as committed, and passionate about being a Nanny, and follow what our heart calls to us. 

You can read about her vision as a Professional Nanny here…. http://cincynanny.blogspot.com/2009/07/what-is-nanny.html

Debunk The Myth Of The “Terrible Twos”

You might think this is about dealing with a toddler’s temper tantrums.

I am a Professional Nanny after all, right?!

No. This is not about how to prevent or intervene with temper tantrums. This is not even about how to make those full-tilt shrieking fits go away so you will now have a perfect, little angelic child that will never misbehave.

Nope.  In fact, I used that title just to catch your attention (and it works!!).

A few months back, Southwest Airlines put a mother and her child off the plane since the little one was inconsolable on board. Later, the airline compensated the mother with $300 and an apology.  Whether people agreed or disagreed with the airline’s decision, through all the comments from the media, I noticed two obvious groups here–the “anti-kids/kid haters” group, and the “if-you-don’t-like-my-child’s-kicking-and-screamings-then-go-somewhere-else” group.  Either way, not much middle ground here. But like Southwest Airlines, I do not have an answer for it. I am not writing this because I have THE answer. What I do have is observations about temper tantrums.

Observation#1: It happens to everyone: Most of us would like to think we are immune from it, but throwing a fit is not an all-right-reserved behavior to a toddler or a teenager. Have you ever seen a full-blown adult throwing a fit? It can be quite “stylish.”

Observation #2: Temper tantrums seem to trigger something in us. Don’t think so?  Next time, notice your body sensations and your attitudes when you encounter an overexcited child in a store. Though, you don’t need to go far to test out my observation–tomorrow, you might find your colleague throws one at work. Whatever those physical sensations/attitudes are, they are so automatic that you won’t even notice they are there. This leads to observation #3.

Observation #3: React to reaction is the dance we do: It seems we don’t deal with the tantrums, we REACT to tantrums. Simply said, we don’t respond to what is happening NOW, instead, we respond to our reactions to a reaction (temper tantrum that is). Just take a trip down your memory lane….. Think of someone that was kicking and screaming, what were your “reactions”– blood rushing through your body? Pit in your stomach? Racing heart beats? The frustration, the “whys”–why are you doing this to me/why can’t you do what I ask you to do/why can’t you cooperate, the “Not again,” and, of course, the embarrassment, and onlookers’ reactions and judgments. You thought your mission was to cease the behavior. Well, think twice. Whatever you come up with, time-out or spanking, giving choices or the attempt to reason with someone who is throwing a fit, you are dealing with your reactions, not what is happening NOW. This observation is not THE key to the kingdom of tantrum-free land (that is a fantasy, really!!). But there might be something else other than reacting, reacting, reacting (that’s like waiting for a bomb to drop, or busy putting out fire).  

Observation #4: The “should” and the “should not”. Have you ever noticed before the outburst “officially” starts, the thought of “It shouldn’t be” or “It should be” comes across your mind? I use the word, “officially” since the battle doesn’t usually start until the thought of “it should/shouldn’t” starts. It’s like an expectation is thwarted. It could be as simple this scenario: “It’s time to eat. Let’s wash your hand.” (the adult’s expectation) “No.” “You need to wash your hands before you eat.” “No, I don’t want to. I am playing” (the child’s expectation). The battle begins–you coax the unwilling child, and the rest is history. 

By now, you might be wondering “Where is she going with this?” Yes, you are looking for answers about a human behavior, called, “Temper tantrums”.

Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy answer. It seems temper tantrums are one of the most talked about parenting topics. There are workshops, books, even TV shows (Super Nanny, Nanny 911, Nanny Emma, Manny Nanny, just to name a few) about preventing IT from happening as if temper tantrums were some kind of disease. Well, it sure is dis-ease!!  But, what if tantrum is just one of those moments in life that disrupts the “should be”?  What if we give up our view of “It should be” (or “It shouldn’t be”)?  I am not saying this is THE answer. No. But, what would, or could happen when we give up the “should” and the “should not”? 

As I was enjoying my breakfast with a cup of coffee this morning, howling blasts mixed with yelling came though our wall from upstairs. It had been for more than 10 minutes. “Honey, should we call the police?” I said to my husband. “The kid is crying because her mommy is telling her no. That’s all. She is not abusing her child.” Oh. See how fast I react to my morning episode. I gave my husband a laugher of recognition.

Maybe, it might give us an opportunity to relate to, and allow us to discover something other than the “terrible twos.”

One Chicken, Or Two?

 

My grandmother passed away two days ago. “She left with peace, Ah-Ling,” my mother said to me on the phone. “No regrets, just like how she has lived.”  

When I was about eight years old, I asked my grandmother, “Why do you like boys more than girls?”  She looked at me with disbelieve, “Why did you ask such question?”  “Well, you gave Auntie Mei one chicken after she had a baby girl, but you gave Auntie Lui two chickens after she had a baby boy.”* My grandmother shook her head with a smile, “No, I love them equally. It’s just how things get done here in our family.”  Not a tradition again, I said to myself. I did not stop there. I was going to proof she was wrong for playing favor. “Ah-Ma (“Grandmother” in Taiwanese), you do like boys more than girls. You gave my Mom one chicken when she had me, and gave her two when she had my brothers. Why don’t you just admit that you like boys more than girls?”  She raised her hand up (I thought, “She is gonna smack me. I am in trouble again for talking back at an adult,”) and gently rested her palm against my cheek, “Chan-Rai (my father, her son-in-law, was sitting next to her), you have raised this girl to be out spoken, haven’t you?” 

My grandmother might be right about how my father has raised me. But what she did not know is that never-surrender-to-status-quo and the unstoppable-ness of me are really her—she has weaved that part of her into my heart and my soul.  

My grandmother was the only woman in her village refused to marry to a man she had never met. Are you kidding—she could have been shamed, and disowned by her father, and her community.  She managed to let her voice heard—“I told my father, ‘Over my dead body should you force me to marry to that man.’ ”—and married to my grandfather. I asked her, “So you and grandfather actually dated a few times before you got married?”  She laughed, “No, of course not. People didn’t date back then.” “So you and grandfather’s marriage is an arranged marriage after all?” I was disappointed since I thought my grandmother was a “feminist” in her time. “I had seen your grandfather a few times around town, but didn’t know him well. At least, I got to say who I want to marry, and being responsible for what I chose.”  That is another part of her that she weaved into my being. 

I love you, Ah-Ma, for you had taught me living a life fully, and to be true to one’s commitment. Your love forever moving on this planet, and the love that I will weave and generate into the future.  Just like the song, “Breaths,” sung by Sweet Honey in the Rock…… (Thanks, Jerrie, for sharing this with me)  

Those who have died have never never left
The dead have a pact with the living
They are in the woman’s breast
They are in the wailing child
They are with us in the home
They are with us in the crowd
The dead have a pact with the living…
 

‘Tis the ancestors’ breath
In the voice of the waters

*As one of the Taiwanese traditions, “Drunken chicken” is cooked for and served to a new mother to help breast milk production. In my grandmother’s family, the amount of chicken given is determined by the sex of the baby. Say if you have a baby boy, then you get two chickens, if you have a baby girl, you get one chicken.

Welcome to “All Things Considered: Nanny Edition”!!!!

Hello World!!! I am Hsiao-Ling Dawson.                   

Thanks for visiting All Things Considered: Nanny Edition.

 I am a Nanny and a Coach. You might be wondering, “A Nanny, and a Coach?”  Yes, there is a resemblance, and this is what being a Nanny and a Coach is for me: 

I am a Professional. I am part of a family team. I am one of many people that take part in the lives of families and children. I am committed in ongoing growth and development. My contributions are unique. I practice bringing integrity, play, ease, and exploration to everything I do. I am a leader empowering bold expressions of love and joy in the world. I am a champion for all people creating a global community where all expressions are welcomed, nurtured, and served. This is what makes my heart sing.

I am sure THAT is not what you would hear about what a “Nanny” is, so be ready for many surprises along the way as you join the ride with me!!

After watched the movies, “Julie & Julia,” I was inspired to write again. I used to write. I even got paid freelancing for a couple of newspaper in my country (Taiwan) before I came to the United States. 

I have always been interested in what makes human ticks (so I did a Masters Degree in Human Development and Family Studies); making a difference (I have started a few community projects), human potential and personal development (I have worked as a coach, and done courses with Landmark Education). I am not saying I have the answers, but I want to give something back, and I hope this site will offer you something of value.

I am creating this blog to journal, share, and inspire. I truly believe we are all capable of so much in life, often a lot more than what we think. Ultimately, this site is where you discover UNLIMITED expressions, and authenticities, whether they are inspiring, or thought-provoking (and some you might not agree with), the space is created for open dialogues that all people experience being known and honored.

I am Looking forward to sharing the journey with you!

Hsiao-Ling