By Scott Nickley
Henry is 3, Ava is 1, and I am now 25. Like most days in San Diego, the park is packed with kids, moms, female nannies, sometimes dads, never other male nannies. My presence at the park never causes too much trouble. Just a young dad, people usually assume, and I never correct them. It’s never a problem until a very cranky Henry gets mad for one of the few thousand reasons toddlers get pissy, starts crying, and screams, “I want mommy and daddy.”
All eyes on me.
Do I just leave the park? No, that’s way weird and suspicious. I think for a second that I should just tell Henry that I am his dad. What is wrong with me? That’s one hundred percent weirder, plus then Henry will probably yell that I am not his dad, inciting more interest from all my onlookers.
Goddamnit, I am this kid’s nanny and I am good at it.
The answer, of course, is to comfort him. I kneel down to give him a hug. No such luck. He pulls away. For some reason, Henry has now decided to direct his anger at me, and the crowd watches as I smile desperately. Please believe I am supposed to be taking care of these children. I can’t blame them for wondering whether they should intervene.
The baby! Pick up the baby! I pick up Ava. She is always happy to see me. She laughs as I run over to a bench with her. I dig through the diaper bag, find fruit snacks for Henry, and squash his temper tantrum with the almighty power of My Little Pony gummies. Crisis averted. My audience of toddlers and their mothers’ continue to play, and, most likely, never noticed Henry’s fit of rage in the first place. And the irony of me being mistaken for a child-snatcher and luring Henry back to calmness by using candy is not lost on me.
Scott Nickley is an actor and writer based in southern California. Follow him on Twitter @scottnickley.