Oberlin Blogs

Summer Jobs

July 31, 2011

Tess Yanisch ’13

As my mom recently pointed out to me, I've barely blogged at all this summer. It's not that I haven't been busy; rather, I have been too busy. For starters, I have my first-ever full-time job.

I've mentioned before that I'm working as a nanny, spending forty hours a week with two smart, sweet, funny little girls. Landing this job was really a piece of luck. Younger siblings are great connections when it comes to getting jobs. Blake is eleven now, so most of the kids he knows are old enough to stay at home alone for at least a little while. However, for longer periods of time, they still need supervision, especially if they also have younger siblings themselves. The two I'm nannying are eleven and nine.

But I'm not just lucky to have found a job--I'm very lucky to have gotten this job. The kids are great--and not just great kids, great people. I have no trouble spending eight hours a day with them. They each have their own interests, but there are things we can all do together too. They've taught me a new board game where you change the rules and the board each time you play. It's called Flibbix, for no apparent reason other than that it's fun to say. I've also been re-introduced to The Game of Life and have, in the recent past, been a travel agent on an $80,000 yearly salary living in a beach house, a rock star making $60,000 a year and living in a mobile home, and (after a midlife crisis) an artist making $90,000 who bought an earthquake-struck split-level. There was a very funny round in which I won a Cutest Baby Contest and, later, got a LIFE token for my lovely grandkids, despite the fact that I'd never had children.

I remember being reasonably adept at checkers when I was young. Either I've lost my touch or I was never actually that good, because Amelia wipes the floor with me every time we play.

This week, the girls had a friend staying with them for a few days. On Monday, I had virtually nothing to do: the three of them cloistered themselves in one of the bedrooms and I was temporarily demoted from "older person who is not quite a grown-up and therefore much more fun" to "not my best friend and therefore irrelevant." I read two-thirds of a novel (Infoquake, in case you want to know), made lunch for us all, and played hide and seek. Not too strenuous a workday.

Still, hide-and-seek is not to be taken lightly. They have a passion for it. I would estimate we spent nearly two hours doing it on just the one day mentioned above. I was the seeker every time. After a few rounds of repeatedly looking in the same nooks and crannies, you begin to forget where you've already searched this cycle. When dealing with particularly clever hiders, this can be a real pain! (Their fiendishly clever places of concealment include: under a coat or behind a backpack in the depths of a closet; in a desk cabinet; under the kitchen sink; in a broom closet; in a sleeping bag; under a heap of blankets.)

Another benefit of nannying is the conversations you get to have. So far we've talked, at least briefly, about swimming, endangered species, religion, giving blood (along with why it's a good thing to do and why you can't do it if you've spent a lot of time in certain countries), depression and psychotherapy, gymnastics, the ethics of a trick pulled by parents and police in a mystery book to teach some of the children a lesson, Justin Bieber, hair, what it would be like to star in a television show, whether or not it's possible to have a dolphin as a pet, whether or not cartoons are stupid (a debate in which I advocated strongly for the comedic value of Wile E. Coyote falling off a cliff and was informed by a sleepy nine-year-old that "that sounds boring"; what's happening to today's youth?), and the advisability of moving to Iran (they have dolphins there, apparently).

It's also a good job because of the time frame. I get up at 6:15 and leave the house about an hour later. I walk to and from their house--it's good exercise and there's an absolutely gorgeous view of Puget Sound on the way over, especially if it's clear and the mountains are out. I am usually off work by 3:45 and get home a little after four. Two days a week, I have a quick snack and then leave again, this time by car, to my other job.

My other job is as an office assistant to a friend of my dad's. She's a psychologist who has just moved her practice to a new building. I got her files in order for her and organized her array of psychological testing apparatuses. That was very interesting. I'm probably going to go into a very different subfield of psychology than she is in--she evaluates people who have made Social Security claims to see if they really need assistance--but if I'm doing research, someday I may administer some of these same tests, particularly the intelligence, memory, and veracity (are-they-faking-or-not) ones.

Another one of my tasks is proofreading the psychologist's reports, because she writes them up quickly and often makes typos or misplaces commas. I feel incredibly validated that my compulsive English skills are now directly helping me pay my way through college. (Granted, my ability to feed papers into a shredder is doing the same thing, but knowing that an ellipsis should be written as three dots with spaces between them is much more satisfying.)

I usually get back from this second job after eight. Then there's just time to eat, talk to my family, and maybe watch the Daily Show before I read and go to bed. That's the only drawback to this schedule--to be alert and cheerful when getting up at six, I need to be asleep before eleven.

On the days that I don't have the second job, though, I can relax. Next week's blog will be about my hobbies--things that I finally get to spend time on over the summer. (Hint: it's mostly reading, although poi and music also feature prominently. Also, my brother is a genius.)

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