After multiple attempts and piecing together 15-20 minutes at a time, I finally finished watching The Nanny Dairies in its entirety. If you’re not familiar with the book or movie, it’s a young woman’s account of her experience working as the nanny to an accessory (6 year old child, actually) of a Manhattan socialite. Having read the book several years ago and hating the premise of finding humor in cast-off children, I am at a loss to explain my perseverance in completing the movie viewing. That said, I did enjoy the movie, especially the ending which I won’t ruin for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. In fact, it was a scene at the end that inspired my particular train of thought for this post.
During a “conversation” with the parents, the nanny tells them that their son doesn’t care what they buy him, what he wears, what school he gets into, that he just wants them there. He’s not going to love them unconditionally much longer. It made me think about my own child as well as other young children. As infants, they depend on us for everything. As they grow bigger and into their toddler years, they become more independent but we’re still the majority of their world. Our actions and reactions shape their actions and reactions. We can make or break a moment simply by the nature of our response. A failure to acknowledge something that seems trivial to us but monumental to them can break a spirit, even if it’s only temporarily broken. Likewise, praise or recognition brings such joy to a child. The visible pride on their little faces shines as if they’ve just conquered Mount Everest.
The years of unconditional acceptance by our children are so few. Our children grow and their opinions and preferences are subject to outside influence. Although hopefully we want independence for our children, it is so important to develop a relationship that allows us to maintain the connection with them. A bond that continues after the unconditional acceptance has waned is a gift. So are all the little moments we are privileged to experience along the way.