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 two-year old.
Mary Rambatt 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 Shulklapper, 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 a two-year-old’s ear drums? Would my child be deaf because of those 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 Terrible Twos 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 Shulklapper and told him about Mary and the chicken breasts, and then 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,” Dr Shulkapper 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
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!