Our Noisy Nanny by
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Our Noisy Nanny

When my maternity leave came to an end and I was ready to go back to my teaching job, we knew we needed a nanny for our toddler.

Mary R  had cleaned house for us weekly for years and we asked if she could care for Noah while I was at school.  Mary loved kids,  she was a grandmother herself,  and had a very sweet and bubbly personality.  When she was in the apartment Noah often followed her around as she cleaned.  She called him Chicky and often sang to him to his great delight.

So when she said yes we were delighted and Danny and I went off to work every day knowing that Noah was in good hands.  In fact I soon began to rely on Mary for her advice on what to feed him,  how to set bedtime routines,  potty training and the like.  Although we loved our pediatrician Dr S,  if his advice differed from Mary’s,  I always took hers.

When I’d come home from school Mary would  sit me down with a ready cup of tea,  ask about my day,  and tell me about her day with Noah.

Mary liked to cook and offered to make us dinner on occasion.   And so I’d often come home to the smell of onions frying or a fragrant soup bubbling up.  But one day I opened the door to a deafening noise coming from the kitchen.

We had a portable dishwasher then which had to be wheeled over and attached to the sink.   The top was butcher block which served as a cutting board and the sound I heard was Mary pounding chicken breasts with a kitchen mallet. The unstable dishwasher rattled and banged beneath her as she pounded.

“Oh dear, “ I cried, “what a noise!”

”Yes“,   she laughed,  “and Chicky loves it.”

And I turned to see Noah in his highchair with two wooden spoons in his little fists.  Each time Mary raised the mallet,  he raised the spoons and then down they came on the highchair tray.

Mary and I laughed,  but that night I lay awake worrying.  Could such loud noises harm my child’s ear drums?  Might he be driven deaf by those pounded chicken breasts?

The next day I tried to test his hearing. I crept up behind him and called his name.   Half the time it seemed he DIDN’T hear me  … or was it just toddler obstinance ?

But I guess I soon forgot about it.  Then a week or so later I was sitting with Mary over tea when she told me that her women’s bowling league,  which had been meeting one night a week,  had decided to play during the day instead.

“Oh Mary, I know you love bowling… I’m so sorry you’ll have to miss the games!”,   I said.

“Oh no “ she said,  “it’s fine!  We went this morning and Chicky was my lucky charm – I never bowled a better game!”

”You mean you took Noah to the bowling alley?”, I said in disbelief.

”Yes,  and he loved it, “ Mary said, “every time a bowling ball hit the pins he clapped his hands, and all the ladies fussed over him so!”

The next day I took Noah to Dr S and told him about Mary and the chicken breasts, and how she had taken him to the bowling alley. The doctor listened patiently to my tale,  and then he tested Noah’s hearing.

”His hearing is fine,”  he said,  “and it sounds like Mary is a wonderful nanny.   And since Noah loves to make noise,  perhaps he’ll grow up to be a drummer.”

And guess what dear reader,  he did!

Dana Susan Lehrman 

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Parenting, Babysitters


  1. Laurie Levy says:

    I love this story, Dana. Mary sounds great and I diagnose Noah’s condition as Mommy Deafness.

  2. Marian says:

    This is a fun story, Dana, and it’s wonderful that the nanny found something that “resonated” with Noah.

  3. Suzy says:

    Wow, Dana, another hilarious story. You are just making my day with all these great tales about Noah and his adventures with nannies and babysitters. Also, love your Jane Austen-style final sentence. But what on earth is the picture you used as your Featured Image?

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    Wonderful story, Dana. I had a cleaning lady we dearly loved, who followed us through several moves from the city into the suburbs (thank goodness for public transportation). She was wonderful with David, gave me all sorts of wisdom, baby sat during the day in a pinch, but never full-time and left when Hurricane Hugo devastated her hometown. She went back and cared for family there. Many years later, she called to say that she had returned to the Boston area. She was living with a sister. I put her on my holiday card list. She never answers, but the card hasn’t been returned for a bad address either, so maybe she still knows what my family is doing.

    • It’s a shame she didn’t reconnect with you Betsy, but it sounds like she was there when you needed her!
      We lost touch with Mary Rambatt when we moved from New Rochelle where my story takes place to the city. I’m so sorry about that, Mary was such a wonderful soul!

  5. Another wonderful ending…and kind of the literary (non-snarky) equivalent to a rimshot at that.

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