A Childhood Dream
DSC_0141-001.jpg 124-IMG_2852.JPG IMG_2449.JPG
I was standing in the kitchen listening to five year old Freddy screaming upstairs, kicking the door, and yelling to be let out of his room. The door at the top of the steps rattled every couple seconds from his kicks. Slowly looking around the kitchen, I noticed his brother and sister sat at the table and didn’t even wince. A million questions were running through my head. Why is he so upset? Why isn’t anyone doing anything about his actions? What am I supposed to do? I finally made eye contact with his mom, she looked as though she wanted to cry, “He’s driving me nuts. I don’t know how to get him to stop this, he does it all the time. Try whatever you want.” I looked around with no idea what to do. In an unfamiliar house, with no background knowledge of their parenting style, Freddy, or even much about the family. I suddenly felt an immense amount of pressure. I felt like everyone’s eyes were on me, like they were expecting me to perform some sort of magical trick. I was put in charge of controlling Freddy’s behavior. I was thousands of miles away from my family. This was not an exciting start to the next eight weeks.

Most kids are excited about getting a puppy or buying a new bike, but when I was little, I wanted to be a nanny. Not just any nanny, a live-in nanny: one who seems like a part of the family, who is fun, energetic, caring, and always a good time. Months before the incident with Freddy, I stumbled upon a website with thousands of families looking for childcare. It became overwhelming to try and figure out exactly what I wanted to do for the summer. I couldn't help but question: Did I want to spend eight weeks in the mountains or by the ocean? With babies or with teenagers? Did I want to be in charge of all laundry and cleaning or just taking care of the kids? Did I want to be in charge all day, everyday or just a couple hours a day? There were so many different things to consider before I made my decision. The time talking to families and continually realizing what I did and didn’t want seemed to take forever. Every day was another interview and asking a million questions about the family.

When I was almost ready to give up on my childhood dream, I found the Brown's who were looking for a nanny to join their family, have fun with the kids, and spend the summer months in Cape Cod. I had never wanted something more than I wanted to spend the summer with this family. I waited to hear back from the family; every fifteen minutes I refreshed my inbox. When it was finally midnight, I decided to call it a loss. I would never be a live-in nanny. Upon waking up in the morning, there was a new email waiting for me. I had never been more excited to read an email, especially one that said the family wanted to interview me!

The next couple days went by and I talked with the mom on the phone, then skyped with the kids. I knew this was what I wanted. I had never wanted anything more in my life. I waited three days with no contact with the family. Then, I got the voicemail I had been waiting my entire life for… “Hi Alison, this is Sarah. I wanted to call and offer for you join our family for the summer. We would love to have you and think you would fit in great. Please give us a call back and let us know if you would like to accept our offer to spend the summer with us.” I felt like I had just opened the Christmas present I had waited all year for.

When the logistics of everything got worked out, I counted down the days before I flew on a plane, by myself, from Grand Rapids, MI to Boston, MA to spend eight weeks with a family I met online. June 23rd, 2012, I boarded the plane. Excited that my childhood dream was finally coming true, but scared out of my mind that I was going to end up with a crazy family for eight weeks and have a miserable summer. What if the kids were disrespectful? What if the parents had no motivation? What if their house was dirty and nasty? After hours of traveling, I waited at the airport for their flight to get in. At five o’clock their flight finally landed. I walked to where I was told to meet them, shaking as I pulled my luggage behind me. I walked out to find the family waiting outside a limo with arms open to take me in for the rest of the summer. I sat through two awkward hours riding in the limo with the family I knew very little about. When we got to the house, I had no idea what my role in the family was quite yet. Trying to find my place, I offered to help with unpacking luggage. The evening flew by as I received tours of the house and helped get the kids ready for bed. Exhausted from a long day of traveling, after the kids went to bed, I began unpacking in my room.

Upon waking up the first morning, I showered and headed downstairs for breakfast. The kids had already eaten and were outside playing. Sarah, the mom, was having coffee and reading a magazine. Everything seemed so normal, then the kids came inside. Tabi who was eight, was screaming. Freddy, the youngest, was crying, and nine year old Roger madly followed behind them. I thought it was going to be a long summer. That was when Freddy was sent to his room and the kicking, screaming, and crying started and I ended up being put in charge. The next eight weeks didn’t look promising. I headed up the stairs and slowly opened Freddy’s door. He stopped crying and looked up at me. I sat on the floor with him and asked if I could talk to him. I was still a stranger to him, but he allowed me to talk to him and hold him while he calmed down. That was the turning point, things only got better from there. I spent the summer playing outside, boating, building sandcastles, finding and learning about crabs in the ocean, fishing, going on lobster trips, and eating at fancy restaurants. It was more amazing than the summer I imagined I was going to have.

The last day of the summer was bittersweet. I wanted to go home, yet I had no idea if I was ever going to see the Brown family again. They took me to the bus station to head to the airport. As we stood in line, I looked at the family I had enjoyed spending so much time with. Tabi broke my concentration by tapping me on the arm and as she handed me a small teddy bear. “This is so you won’t forget about us,” she said. As tears filled my eyes, the line moved forward and we said our goodbyes. Everyone else on the bus seemed so happy to be heading to the airport. I sat by myself for the next hour and a half trying with all my might not to cry.

By the time I arrived home, the Brown’s had offered for the third time for me to come back the next summer. Within three months of leaving the family at the bus station, I couldn’t wait any longer or chance them looking for someone else. I confirmed spending the next summer with the Brown’s on Cape Cod.



Dream Big Leads:

When we start school around the age of five, we’re asked what we want to be when we grow up. “A firefighter, a policeman, a teacher, or a doctor.” Anything that is a familiar role to students seems to roll off their tongues. Nobody ever tells kids at that age that there’s more out there or their dreams of owning a pink dog are ridiculous. Their dreams are never challenged, questioned, or encouraged. We instill in them that all dreams are possible and we give no response to how they want their lives to end up. But as we continue to grow, slowly, society instills in us that our dreams are never going to happen. In our teen years, we’re faced with the most struggling times and most hurtful comments from our peers. Just because we don’t have the same dream as someone else, we’re told its “stupid,” or “lame.” As we approach high school, our dream is always in the back of our mind. Yet, when people ask, we tend to tell them the dream that society has created for us.

I was standing in the kitchen, listening to five year old, Freddy screaming upstairs, kicking the door, and yelling to be let out of his room. The door at the top of the steps rattled every couple seconds from his kicks. Slowly looking around the kitchen, I noticed his brother and sister sat at the table and didn’t even wince. A million questions were running through my head. Why is he so upset? Why isn’t anyone doing anything about his actions? What am I supposed to do? I finally made eye contact with his mom, she looked as though she wanted to cry, “He’s driving me nuts. I don’t know how to get him to stop this, he does it all the time. Try whatever you want.” I looked around with no idea what to do. In an unfamiliar house, with no background knowledge of the parenting style, Freddy, or even much about the family. I suddenly felt an immense amount of pressure. I was put in charge of controlling Freddy’s behavior. I was thousands of miles away from my family for the next eight weeks. I could make it miserable, or I could make it great.


Troy: I'm having a hard time conveying my excitement of this childhood dream I always had and making it seem important to my reader. Im also having a hard time deciding what exactly to include in the narrative since it was such a long period of time. What would you suggest?