Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Everything Changes, Everything Stays the Same

When I lived here in Connecticut, I had system for traveling to and from Kansas City. Midwest direct flight in, cheap shuttle to Grand Central, train into town. Usually the trusty nanny minivan was waiting for me at the station. This time I flew through Atlanta, got stuck in the friendly skies in a holding pattern above DC when the weather forced LaGuardia to close (Isn't the weather always forcing LaGuardia to close?), had a brief touchdown in Philly when the plane got too low on fuel to stay in the holding pattern any longer, and finally landed at LaGuardia after six hours on a flight that was supposed to take two and a half. I still caught the cheap shuttle and the train, but there was no minivan waiting for me, only a cab whose driver was on his first day and forgot to turn on the meter. I have no idea how much cab prices have gone up in the past ten and a half months, so when he told me to "just pay what you normally pay," I had no idea what to do. I handed him a wad of bills and hoped it was enough.

The house was quiet when I came in, the family still driving back from the Jersey shore and the dogs boarded for the weekend. I didn't know where to put my bags, but I did know how to make a cup of tea. I settled in with my book until everyone got home. And then it was like old times, mostly, except for the height of the girl who got out of the back seat (F is gaining on me; I expect to be overtaken within a year) and the bulk of A, who had filled out nicely after being such a skinny little guy for so long. I was invited to stay in my old room, which was a relief. While the new guest room is beautiful, there is comfort in the familiar, even if my very own lamps no longer grace the side tables. (There is also comfort in the quiet; the nanny suite is removed from the other bedrooms by the space of a large family room and its own set of stairs.)

It has been a good visit so far, with all of the fun and very little of the responsibility that I had when I was nanny here. I get to be Fun Mary most of the time; if I have to ask someone to do something they do not want to do, I am just the messenger, not the taskmaster. I spoil the kids a little bit, too. A and I got enormous ice creams last night, after which I indulged him by participating in scooter races on the elaborate courses he set up in the driveway and garage. Once we were exhausted, we rounded out the evening by drinking lemonade and watching SpongeBob. I didn't make him go to bed, even though I figured he was supposed to, because this time around it's not my job. With Frank, all that was required was a Starbucks run and an open ear. I let her get a venti drink and an enormous sugar cookie, then listened to her tell stories about her travels and her friends and the Jonas Brothers. Last year A would have wanted to play wall ball as well, and F would have talked about Hannah Montana instead of the Jonas Brothers, but other than that, they are still the same in the most ways. A still resists reading and math time, F still manages to make everyone late to nearly everything by brushing her hair over and over and over, and both of them still show their affection for me in the same manner they always did. F gives frequent hugs and puts her arm around me, and A still ducks his head and smiles when I tell him how pleased I am to be hanging out with him. I am so very glad to be here as an old friend, not the nanny.

There have been other good things, too. I've seen a lot of people I know, even gotten a big hug and an, "Oh, we've been thinking about you so much, Cath and I, and hoping things were going really well for you" from one of my favorite people in town, hung out at a picnic table by the beach with an iced coffee, and slept hard every night on an excellent mattress. While I wasn't really thinking of this as a vacation, per se, it is turning out to be an excellent break from the norm.

Now if only I can figure out how to slip away for a pedicure, I'll really be all set.