I realized today that I am the personal assistant to a diva celebrity, without any of the implied benefits. I don't get hand-me-down designer handbags, a big bonus at Christmas or the chance to tag along on fancy vacations because she has a movie to promote. I don't get to sleep in my own private living quarters, or take advantage of her personal chauffeur or private chef.
I am the personal chauffeur. I am the private chef. I am the vacation. I. Am. Christmas.
My mornings all begin the same way. We wake at 7 a.m., no later and sometimes much earlier if she's "in a mood." She usually wants homemade pumpkin pancakes, but you can't use eggs because those are "yucky," so we sub in some applesauce ("only with cinnamon, not plain!"), and while she catches up on what the kids at Ever After High are wearing, I make sure the pancakes are irresistibly crisped at the edges, not burnt but not too soft either. They should appear like they have been glanced by a flame, but not really because she doesn't like any fire source near her. In her rider, she has clearly stated that she can't stand cigarette smoke, doesn't like fire drills and prefers to take the stairs instead of the elevator "just in case." We do not talk about fire. It's like Fight Club, people.
After she has eaten a few bites of her breakfast, more like a caterpillar might eat a few dots out of a leaf, we begin the process of picking her clothes for the day's events.
Like many other personal assistants, I have tried to curtail this whole dramatic process by setting up various costume changes the night before. I lay them out meticulously. I offer options. There are wardrobe concepts for both cold and warm weather, indoor and outdoor play, school and home.
Typically, though, after picking at her homemade breakfast, she looks at all I've come up with and, if she's feeling generous, she might say, "Oh, I like this one," and simply put it on. If she's feeling less than generous (most days), she will scream and kick and start ripping clothes from her closet and drawers with a fever I have not seen since the Velveteen Rabbit took one for the team.
Once she's officially dressed, we're ready for transport.
It starts as a slow whine: "Where are my blue kitty cat shoes? I can't find my blue kitty cat shoes."
This whine begins to build: "I said I wanted the blue kitty cat shoes! No, not the pink shoes. Blue shoes. Blue shoes! Noooooot pink-ah!"
Whining gives way to higher-pitched screeching, with or without intentional spitting: "Blue shoes! I want the blue shoes!" There is further enunciation of the words, "Kit. Eeeeee. Cat!" as though she thinks I am stupid or suddenly only speak Italian.
Sometimes, even when the blue kitty cat shoes have been located, she decides at the last minute that really the pink ones were the right choice to begin with and will match the tutu and leggings combo she's chosen much better. So, there we are, on our way to some event and she stops in the doorframe to collapse with grief: "No, I want pink shoes instead. I want the pink shoes now. I don't want these anymore. Take them! Take them a-waaaaay!""
I have read memoirs about people who have lived this life. But most of them were paid lots of money to do it. Most of them sometimes found themselves mistakenly photographed by the paparazzi. Some of them even had illicit affairs with their charge's leading men. But I digress...
This is my life as the personal assistant to a kindergartner.
Did I mention that I am also her handler? I handle her backpack, her coat and her lunch.
It usually goes like this: She does not want to walk. No, she actually thinks her legs have forgotten how to walk. They cannot physically get from point A to point B, even though she has barely moved them so far this morning. She is already tired. Scratch that. "Completely exhausted!" She needs a break. This will all be OK if I can just carry her the whole way there.
Sometimes I have a lot of bags to carry. I might even have my own purse to contend with. Oh, and did I mention she has a younger sister whom I sometimes bring along to my job as her personal assistant? During these high-stress times, carrying her seems like a last resort. Often it is the only resort, though.
So, I carry her, I push her sister in the stroller (or sometimes I will carry her sister and push her in the stroller), and we begin our route to her first appointment, school.
The whole way to school she is usually telling me that she's uncomfortable with something. Her tights hurt. Her shoe is itchy. Her hairband is scratching her head. Any number of things could be the dilemma, and so we stop whatever we are doing to attend to her imminent need.
We are always late. No matter how hard I try to do my job, we are always running about five to 10 minutes behind schedule. I am somehow always to blame for this. Everything is my fault. The weather. The itchy sweater. The fact that she has to pee.
Somewhere in the midst of all of this, she will proclaim she is hungry. No, "starved." I will rifle through her lunch box for an appropriate snack, and here she will sneak in the reminder that she hates everything I've packed for her to eat.
I'm usually sweating as we near her school. We dodge the paparazzi crew that's inevitably waiting outside, barrel through the front door of the building and rush up the stairs.
We finally get to the door of her classroom. I am panting now, as her teacher greets us. Without missing a beat, my little starlet of a child, the diva, turns on a zillion-watt smile, practically dances into her classroom and says in a singsong-y tone, "Good morning Ms. Sarah!"
This is when I collapse and begin to look for my other child, the second child, who is probably fending for herself near the water fountains and trash cans.
This is my job. Perks or not, I am a personal assistant to a kindergartner. Five-year-olds, they're just like us!