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Friday, October 31, 2014


Remember the very first time your kids really went trick or treating?  You know, as opposed to the times when you would dress them as a bumble bee and carry them door to door.  For us, the year was 2006.  Christian was 6, he dressed up as Buzz Lightyear.  Michael was 3 and still wearing the Bumble Bee costume (hey, don’t judge, that thing was expensive).  Christian and his neighborhood buddies walked up and down the carefully plotted streets and really felt like they worked for that candy.  He was so proud.  Which was why it was so devastating when he woke up the next morning and found his plastic pumpkin filled with empty candy wrappers.  What the ((CENSORED))??  We suspected our Nanny had a food problem but we had no idea it would come to this.

We briefly had a nanny/ mother’s helper who lived with us Monday to Friday and went back to an apartment she shared with a bunch of other girls from Ireland on the weekends.   We will call her “Jasmine” (What?  I like Disney princesses, you knew that).
I’m not sure where it all went wrong but. as with most things, it all started as a generalized feeling that things weren’t going in the Mary Poppins-like direction you had intended.  You know that feeling when you can’t wait for Friday – well, in our case we REALLY couldn’t wait for Friday, so we could have the house back to ourselves.  (We have since had au pairs that we have loved and stayed with us for years, but that’s another Blog for another day).

We also began picking up clues about Jasmine’s food issues as we looked around the kitchen.  It started with conversations that went like this:
- “Jasmine, I had two boxes or Oreo cookies, do you know where they are?”
- “No, Mum,” she would say, “I don’t.”  But, you know, the black cookie crumbs on her clothes would say otherwise.

        Then we realized food was disappearing.  Rapidly.  As in, I would make a Crockpot of stew in the morning and nothing would be left by the time I got home from work.  Or I would make lunch for my husband the night before and it would be gone by the next morning.
Listen, if you’re hungry, that’s one thing.  I get it, really.  My brother had been on the Wrestling team from junior high to senior year of Varsity,  I get that some people need more fuel than others.  But Jasmine ate 3 meals with several helpings and then ate just about everything in sight.  The groceries bill doubled.

But she had so many good qualities.  A lovely singing voice.   A wonderful ability to tell children’s stories.  And she was teaching Christian to play ice hockey and Irish rubgy, as she had been a nationally ranked player in her native land.  On a men's team.  She was probably 6’ tall and 250 lbs.  It’s where Christian first learned to tackle.   What can I say, Jasmine was a multi-faceted person.

Then came what is commonly referred to in our household as the “Halloween Candy Massacre”.  Imagine your little boy waking up, all excited, and running downstairs to take a look at the Plastic pumpkin filled with the fruits (or sweets) of his labor.  At first we couldn’t find the pumpkin.  Then we found it pushed in the back of the coat closet.  Not empty.  Nope, it was filled with the empty candy bar wrappers.  Who does that?

We finally confirmed it was Jasmine.  (Our dog  – briefly --  was the other suspect -- but if he had hidden opposable thumbs and the ability to tear wrappers off I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this Blog right now).   We broke the news to Christian.  At first he was uncomprehending.  Then his lip started to quiver.  He was 6, it was a big deal.  But up til that point, he had not really faced down any adversity so why not turn it into a teachable moment?

“Son,” we started out, “you know that different people have different challenges, you know some people are scared of heights ….”

“I get it, Mommy,” said our 6 year old.  “But there’s also right and wrong and eating candy you didn’t earn is wrong.  She could have gotten a pumpkin and gone door to door like I did.”  The kid had a point there.

We setup some household rules that Jasmine decided she couldn’t live with.  Like the only snacks between meals would be from the fruit bowl, the veggie tray or granola bars.  Once I stopped buying cookies, bread and baked goods, Jasmine decided she was going to try to get a job closer to her home in NYC.  We did stay in touch for quite a while via the computer.

What did we learn from our time with Jasmine?  Well, the world is full of different and interesting people.  And a good leader (yes, parents are leaders) will learn to get along with all different types of people.  And some people come to the table (slight pun) with more challenges than others.  You can still embrace them and all their flaws and quirkiness, and teach your kids to do the same.  But, you know, you can do it via email or Skype, that’s OK too.

        Oh, and how to kick a rugby ball, we learned that too.

Enjoy your hard earned Halloween candy, everyone and, as always, remember to Count Your Blessings! <3 Mrs. Lo (Photo from Halloween 2007)