"Pick up your things, and then we will go have tea in the kitchens," I told Boromir, who was sitting in the midst of a scatter of toys.
"I don't want to clean up," Boromir said, frowning at me. "I want to go to the kitchens right now."
"We cannot go until all your toys are put away," I said. "Set them back on the shelves or in the box, and then we will go see what is happening downstairs."
"I don't want to," Boromir declared flatly, throwing the horse in his hand to the ground. "I don't want to clean it up --you do it. The nanny is supposed to do everything!"
I wondered who he had been talking to. "Why should I pick up all these toys?" I asked, raising my eyebrows. "I may be the nanny, but I am not the one who dumped them all over the floor, Boromir. You did that -- and you will be the one to put them all away. You are old enough to pick up your own mess."
"I.Will. Not!" Boromir yelled, making me jump in surprise. "I don't want to, I don't want to!"
"Then we are not going to the kitchens," I shrugged, hoping he was not going to launch into a full-fledged tantrum. "And if you continue to shout so at me, you will not go to the kitchens even when you do put your things away."
It was, of course, too much to hope for. At these words, Boromir let out an angry screech and did not stop. He tilted his head back and began screaming at the ceiling, as if I were beating him with a switch.
I groaned to myself. Lately, he had begun truly testing me with these explosions of temper. If he had been asserting his independence, I would have had some patience with him. But this was simply an tantrum because he was not getting his way.
So I proceeded to ignore him, sitting down and pretending to read a book. It was difficult at first -- Boromir could be louder than any child I'd ever met, even when he was playing happily. But I had much experience in ignoring such fits, thanks to my younger siblings, and after several moments, it was just background noise, effortlessly shut out.
I did keep a watch on him from the corner of my eye, wincing when he threw himself backwards onto the rug and began kicking his legs. With some amusement, I wondered how long he could keep this up - he would bellow for an impossibly long time, suck in a deep, angry breath, then begin again.
The door burst open, and I looked up as one of the guards entered. "Miss, is everything all right?" He was older than I, and he stared at Boromir with wide eyes. Boromir kept roaring at an ear-piercing volume as I went to speak to the guard.
"Everything is fine," I assured him, not glancing in Boromir's direction. "He is only angry because he cannot have want he wants."
I was taken aback when the guard half-smiled. "Aye, my youngest boy tried such tactics," he nodded. "Never did him a bit of good, either."
"I don't like you anymore!" Boromir shrieked suddenly, hurling a block in my general direction. "You are mean and you go away and get out of my room!"
I took a deep breath, clenching my teeth, and was preparing to confront Boromir when the guard surprised me yet again. "I'll stand here," he said, almost grinning. "You go catch your breath out in the corridor."
I gaped at him for a moment, then managed to say, "Thank you." And with that, I strode out the door. I stood in the hallway for a moment, regaining my composure, then realized I had best let the kitchen know that we would be taking tea in the nursery. I found a kitchen-girl who was delivering a tray to the Steward, gave her the message, then I returned.
The room was quiet except for Boromir's sobs. They were not feigned, but genuine, and I was a bit startled to see that Boromir was picking up his toys and setting them back on the shelves. The guard -- I remembered suddenly that his name was Balrant - was standing exactly where I'd left him, doing a poor job at hiding a smile. "He stopped the second you left the room," he said in an undertone. "Then he went to crying like that."
I nodded my understanding. "Thank you," I said again, "I am much calmer now."
He winked at me, which would have made me uncomfortable, if he had been nearer to my age. "I'd better get back," he said. "Hirvegil will be wondering where I've gotten to."
Boromir looked up as the door shut behind Balrant and tore across the room to me. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he exclaimed, voice quavering. He buried his face in my skirts. "I didn't mean it, Nanny, it was an accident."
I sat down on the floor and he climbed into my lap, still crying. "I'm picking up my toys," he said with a hiccup. "See, I picked them up."
I smoothed his hair. "Yes, I see you are cleaning up," I said, "and that pleases me, Boromir. It is not such a hard task, is it?"
He shook his head and looked up at me, wiping at his face with both hands. "Are you mad?" he asked, chin trembling.
"I am not happy with your behaviour," I told him gently. "You know better than to act like that! You threw a block at me, Boromir, and you were shouting at me. That makes me very unhappy."
He gave a shuddery sigh. "I'm sorry, Nanny," he said again in a pitiful little voice. "But you made me mad."
"Being mad is not an excuse to throw things and behave like a dreadful little monster!" I said, not wanting to be harsh, but unwilling to be too easy on him. If I did not scold him, he would be more inclined to do such a thing again. Boromir hung his head, and I felt a whisper of guilt. "You are not a dreadful little monster, duckling," I went on, and he relaxed a bit. "You are a very sweet boy, but you need to learn to better control your temper. You can be angry with me, but when you scream and throw things, I will not listen nor talk to you. What if that block had hit me? Do you like it when your playmates throw toys?"
He bit his lip. "No," he said, shaking his head. "No, it hurts to get hit by a block."
A certain lord's son had done that very thing just this week, and Boromir had wailed as if the White Tower had fallen on his head. I wondered if that child had told Boromir that nannies were supposed to "do everything".
"Yes, it does hurt," I agreed. "It is also rude to try and get your way by harming people. That is unacceptable behaviour, and if you do such a thing again, you will be in great deal of trouble, understand?"
"Understand," Boromir repeated, solemnly laying his hand on my wrist. He knew that a "great deal of trouble" involved a confrontation with both his parents, and revocation of any and all privileges for several days. It was not often a necessary course of action, but it was a very effective way to ensure his good behaviour.
"And Boromir?" He looked at me again, and his eyes were seconds from overflowing. "I am not angry now, but it made me sad when you said you did not like me anymore. If you do not like what I am saying, then tell me that instead. If you shout at me, you cannot expect me to want to stay in the same room with you."
Now he was sobbing again. ""I do still like you, Nanny," he said, hugging my neck tightly. "Don't go away again - I didn't mean it."
I held him close. "I know you didn't," I assured him. "But you should try and say only things you mean, Boromir. It is not nice to hurt people's feelings, just because you are angry with them."
There was a knock at the door, and one of the maids came in with our tray. She set it down on the table and left hastily, casting one curious glance over her shoulder. I hoped that Balrant had not already told the entire Citadel of Boromir's tantrum.
"Can we….can we go to the kitchens tomorrow?" Boromir was hesitant. "If I don't act like a dreadful little monster?"
"Yes," I said, smiling as I kissed his forehead. "I am happy to let you have special treats, little one, when you behave as nicely as I know you can."
His smile wavered somewhat. "I will behave nicely," he promised, sniffing.
That was all could I ask of him. Of course he would have more tantrums - he was only three, after all -- but hopefully, none would be quite this bad.
"Now, you still have toys out," I said, "please put the rest away, and I will set out our tea while you are doing that."
Now ungrumbling, he went to finish his task, as I turned to mine. I saw that Mag had sent honey-bread that was still warm, and smiled.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.