I cannot believe that my children are in school. The whole situation snowballed so fast. We had been contentedly leaving Avery and Lily with a nanny a few days a week so that I can go to work and actually accomplish something. I was pretty thrilled with our set up. Instead of one nanny, we had a mother (around 50 years old) and her daughter (around 25 years old). They’d both come to my house, take care of the girls, clean the house, and do all of our laundry. It was pretty close to heaven, for a while.
The first hint of trouble happened around the holidays. Lidia, the mother, informed me that Avery had been cursed with the evil eye, or el ojo. The belief in the evil eye is not part of my paradigm of superstitions, but I will try to explain it as best as I understand it. Basically, a person can put sort of a curse on another person, particularly babies or kids, by staring at them out of envy. So, Avery woke up one morning, and her cheek was red. I dismissed it as her having slept on that cheek. Well, clearly I was wrong. Upon arriving home after work, Lidia cheerfully told me that Avery’s red cheek and subsequent lethargy, which I did not witness, were the result of el ojo. Better yet, she had cured Avery by rubbing an egg all over her. To me, it all sounded very bizarre, but I try to respect others’ cultures. As long as Avery was cured of her curse, I figured no damage was done. Noel’s reaction was that they better quit wasting our eggs.
A tide of uneasiness began building when I realized that Rosa, Lidia’s daughter, was feeding the kids all day. I’m all for Avery and Lily eating as much as they need, but round the clock grazing is not my style. Plus I realized she was feeding them junk, and even polluting the healthy food I bought for them. The day I saw her pour pancake syrup into their greek yogurt, I intervened. I explained my guidelines for the girl’s diet and that it didn’t include syrup-laden yogurt. I thought I’d been clear, but then Rosa began bringing her own yogurt that was flavored with coconut and chocolate syrup! I prayed that she was the one eating it, but sadly she was shoveling it down Avery and Lily’s all too eager throats.
The situation amped up a whole order of magnitude at the end of February. Lidia has worked as a pastry chef. She’s decorated cakes for my girls’ birthdays and shown me many photos of other cakes she has done. They were all gorgeous and decorated to perfection. I asked her to decorate a cake for a baby shower that I was helping with.
Seriously, Rosa drops this cake off at my house less than an hour before I needed to be at the shower. I kept staring at it and walking away, muttering to myself, “I cannot believe this.” Noel would circle it over and over again, trying to find some redeeming quality. Luckily, I had two cans of plain white frosting and several packages of strawberries. Noel sliced berries, while I scraped the cake clean and re-iced it. Then we spread the berries on top and were satisfied. No one at the shower was subjected to the monstrous lamb cake.
It all boiled over last Wednesday. Purely by the grace of God, my aunt Julie drove down my block right as my two year olds were being loaded into Lidia’s car, which has no car seats. When she texted me later that evening, Julie thought I must’ve known that the girls were leaving the house . Needless to say, I was shocked by the news. We had never so much as discussed the idea of my girls being taken out of the house, and clearly we would never permit them in a vehicle without car seats. It was completely unnerving, and the endless possible scenarios unfolded in our minds. To top it all off, the previous week, Rosa had made a joking comment to me that Avery is so friendly that someone is going to steal her. Obviously, we were no long able to continue in that situation.
So, last Friday morning, I called Miss Anna, the director of the Children’s Cottage. It’s a Montessori Preschool within 5 minutes from my home that has been open at least 40 years old. My older brothers and cousins were students there back in the 70s. I happened to run into a mom in the neighborhood whose little boy is currently a student, so I was glad to hear that everything is still going well there. Miss Anna cheerfully returned my call and invited me to come by for a tour that same day. As it turned out, she was the director of the school back when my brothers attended, and, even more coincidentally, she was my dad’s neighbor when he was a child! Dropping the girls off yesterday for their first day of school was harder on Noel and me than them. We’re so proud of what big girls they have become but then look around in wonder at where our babies have gone. We blinked our eyes, and they went from preemies to preschoolers. I cherish every memory of the past 26 months as much as I eagerly look forward to the future of our family.