Opinion: One proud man-nanny

Seth Cohen

Seth Cohen

Seth Cohen is a junior electronic media production major and a columnist at the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

For the past two and a half years, I’ve had the privilege of working one of the most interesting jobs I’ve ever done here in Kent. I am a nanny, no; I’m a “manny” for a 1-year-old foster girl. Now, for her privacy, I cannot reveal her name, so for her sake, I’ll just refer to her as Baby M.

During my sophomore year, I needed a job because I had to pay my bills, as well as buy gas to get me back home, so I saw an ad at the Cohn Student Jewish Center asking for anyone with any experience with newborns. At the time, I didn’t have much experience. Even my recommendation told the foster parents I had little to none, but, for some reason, they gave me a chance. We were all pretty much in one mind-set at the time. Foster parents Melissa and Ellen Carvill-Ziemer, Baby M and I didn’t really know what to expect because for the next few weeks, I was holding a newborn baby in my arms. Me, a Jewish frat boy, changing the diapers of someone so vulnerable, so fragile that I was wondering if I was actually the right person for the job, and the truth is: I was.

Steve Burns, the man who played Steve in “Blue’s Clues,” did a storytelling performance with a non-profit organization called The Moth and talked about his experience of being Steve on the show, as well as connecting with millions of children wondering if he was actually the right person for the job.

“These children chose me, like, me, that’s what they want, and I’m not sure what me is me,” Burns said. “Am I Steve Burns, am I Steve with the shirt, who’s me? I don’t know which one it is, but that helped me realize that whether I wanted it to be true or not, whether I expected it to be true or not, the answer is both, and that was plenty cool enough for me.”

Over time, taking care of Baby M wasn’t new to me, but I wanted to try some new, fun activities that would make her happy as well as give me the gratitude of putting a smile on her face, so, at first, for jokes, I would Skype with some friends, who didn’t know I was a manny at the time, and tell them it was my kid. It was a fun game I liked to play because looking at them trying not to judge is priceless. As years went by, her foster parents and I would teach her sign language as well as how to talk. She loves saying “cookie!” like the Cookie Monster from “Sesame Street.” I would take her out for walks when it was nice out, go see my friends, take her to sorority houses and even Chipotle. She blew a kiss to one of the cooks, which gave me $2 off my burrito.

As much as I’ve taught her, she has taught me more than I can comprehend. At the same time, she calls me “mommy.” I’ve learned that is plenty good enough for me.