Usually when I get to work, I walk in and put my things away and go to the kitchen to speak with the children's mother for a moment, take over the baby, and meet "my" 5-year-old (5YO) at the breakfast table. Not this morning. This morning when I got to work (5YO's house), she met on the garage steps into the house vibrating with excitement. "Nanny!! It's OUUUURR Christmas today!! (She knows I won't be back at her house until next Tuesday.) "Nanny!! I have presents for you!! She whispers "presents" in that wide-eyed, fake, overly enthusiastic way that Mom's and Nanny's always do to make gifts seem more exciting. Guilty. She mimics very well, as all 5-year-olds can.
She knows she is not often allowed to pounce Nanny at the door. After all, this is the beginning of my work day. I arrive 10 minutes early most days for the luxury of putting my things away and prepping the morning activities. I'm certain that this is another reason she's whispering, mother is still "on-duty" and will remind her quickly that she must wait for me at the breakfast table. But today, I walk in the door, 5YO trailing me in quicksteps, herding me toward my table where I put my things down, Mother sees, but smiles and turns a blind eye. I reach my table, in view of the gifts she has left for me and begin removing my coat in slow motion, taking extra time to adjust my hair and clothing, zipping my purse up and setting it in the drawer, then forgetting something and going back for it.
She is dancing in that spastic way kids move; like a cartoon character who sticks their fork in a light socket, chattering, "Nanny, come and see the gifts on the table. Do you like the paper? I made that." I'm ignoring her, but turn to her finally and say, "I'll meet you at the breakfast table." She grins and takes off like a jack-rabbit to her place setting. I detour to her Christmas tree, where I've had gifts for her wrapped since last week. Gather them up and walk to the dining area and set them on the table. There are 3, and we are both well aware that they contain her very FAVORITE thing in the. entire. world. Books.