As a kid, I was convinced that I was weird. I had a massive Jew-fro, wore a lot of tie-dye and capri pants (often times paired with matching hair bandannas) and was painfully shy. I preferred books to friends (or family, sorry guys), and allowed myself to be stepped on by anyone and everyone. I didn’t believe in myself and was happy to sit on the sidelines of life and just let the world pass me by.
As a nanny, I do everything I can to ensure the kids I look after know better. I do my best to contribute to them being strong, confident, self-assured and active members of society. Last week was my last week working as a nanny. Over the past few years I’ve been nanny to some of the most incredible kids in the world, and I truly believe that each and every one of them (even the most unruly) have the brightest of futures ahead of them and I sincerely hope to remain a part of their lives to see those futures become reality. As I head off on my next big adventure, I want to leave you (them) with these reminders. All the things I wish someone would’ve burned into my mind when I was their age. My love letter to all of the children I’ve had the honor of taking care of.
Things I want you to always remember:
- You are stronger than you believe. A cliche for sure, but all cliche’s DO originate from the truth. Your mind will at times attempt to convince you that you are not capable of all you wish to achieve. That is a blatant lie. You can do absolutely anything you set your mind to – there’s always a way, it’s simply a matter of finding it.
- You and your opinions MATTER. There will be those who try to silence you; out of fear or intimidation, lack of knowledge or respect. But even if your opinion is WRONG (and sometimes it will be) you still have a right to hold that opinion. Speak up, don’t allow yourself to be trampled by bullies.
- Stand up for your rights. Your right to free speech, to equality, to be YOURSELF and more than that, stand up for the rights of those who can’t speak for themselves. Be an advocate of equal rights for all.
- Read books, of all different genres, all different lengths and styles, read all the books your heart desires, but ALWAYS remember – Harry Potter is now, and will forever remain, the most important book you will ever read. Read the series in it’s entirety, watch the movies, dress up and go to Harry Potter parties and ignore any muggle who dare mock you.
- You are not weird. You are uniquely you and that is something to be admired, not ashamed of. Dress as you please (especially if that means wearing striped shorts with polka-dotted leg warmers), sing weird songs out loud (ABBA, always ABBA), and dance like NO ONE is watching (Irish jig to your hearts content). Be yourself and if anyone tries to call you weird – sucker punch em right in the nose (OK, don’t really – but DO tattle on them).
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Your parents aren’t just making that up. Also, eat your oatmeal – it really WILL put hairs on your chest.
- Set goals for yourself. No goal is unrealistic – you can BE and DO whatever your heart desires. Astronaut, firefighter, Ghostbuster, author, wizard, professional athlete, ruler of the world (I’m looking at you Violet) – you are capable of anything. However, these things won’t come easily. Work hard and don’t expect opportunities and good fortune to simply fall into your lap. You must FIGHT for your future. So always put in the extra effort – it will go a long way towards helping you reach your goals.
- Never settle for what is easy and comfortable – there is an entire world to explore and it’s calling your name. Travel and explore and push yourself further out of your comfort zone than you’d like. Maintain your sense of wonder and never stop exploring. Lose yourself in India, ride a horse across Mongolia, go visit all the weird and wondrous sights this world has to offer BUT always remember to send postcards back home. Don’t worry your parents.
- Smile at strangers on the street, thank your bus driver, and ALWAYS offer your seat to the elderly (but if they’re borderline elderly, don’t offer it unless they ask – no one wants to offend a prematurely aged woman by assuming she can’t comfortably stand on the train). The smallest act of kindness can make the biggest difference in someones day. Be inherently good to everyone you cross paths with and the world will be inherently good to you.
- Life isn’t perfect – there will be bumps along the way; times when you feel as though the whole world is conspiring against you, days when the future seems bleak and you feel weak and under-valued and woefully forgotten and unimportant. Drag yourself out of bed and go to the ocean. Close your eyes and let the sound of the tide rush over you, listening to the steady beat of your heart “I am, I am, I am” (and then when you get home read ‘The Bell Jar’ by Sylvia Plath). Repeat these words to yourself over and over until they stick:
“I am Strong, I am Smart, I am Brave.”
Then repeat them 10x over just to be absolutely sure they are forever ingrained in your mind.
- Most importantly, and you must pinky-promise to never EVER forget this one – You are NEVER alone. Throughout your life, you will meet many people – some will stay, some will leave but rest assured, I will always be here for you. For the times you need advice on all sorts of matters, for the times you need to get lipstick off your collar without your parents finding out, for the times you have one too many drinks at a party and need a safe ride home, for the times you need some mindlessly cliche words of inspiration to get you through a rough day, for the times you need a study buddy or someone to help hide a bad mark from your parents, for the times you need a credit card to purchase a plane ticket, for the times you need a shoulder to cry on and for the times you just need a hug. And while I expect you all to remain law-abiding citizens throughout the entirety of your lives, I WILL bail you out of jail should the occasion arise…but will most definitely be tattling on that one. I will be there for it all. As you grow older, your troubles will seem to grow bigger. Just remember – you don’t need to tackle the world on your own. Don’t keep your troubles to yourself – your parents will ALWAYS love you, they will ALWAYS be there to comfort and support you. Turn to them first. But should you desire a second opinion, I will always be here for you.
With that my darlings, I wish everyone a Happy First Day of School! To all the parents and caregivers out there – congratulations! YOU SURVIVED SUMMER VACATION! To all my nanny kids – I love you with all my heart and can’t wait to see what adventures you get up to this year.
Forever yours (and for one last time),
Maymay (The Chinese Panda)