Sunday, March 6, 2011

final nanny moments.

On one of my last days as a nanny I took the girls to the museum, where we spent what seemed like seven billion hours looking at stuffed animals and arguing about whether or not they could have an ice cream (I wouldn't let them, partly because I was vindictive but mostly because they were fat). It was school holidays and I was doing twelve hour days- starting at half seven, when I usually entered the house to someone crying, the television blaring and Dad complaining that his shirt was not well ironed. I'd then make boiled eggs with soldiers for A and yogurt with nuts and fruit for K, before I embarked on masses of housework while trying to entertain them. It was a difficult balancing act- if I took the girls out and entertained them, Dad would be upset that the house wasn't clean enough. If I cleaned the house, he'd complain that I was entertaining the girls. If I took them to the park, he'd find out they weren't wearing skivvies, or went too close to a homeless/coloured/poor person, or that I fell over and said fucksticks.

Dad was in the middle of a messy lawsuit and was more cantankerous and unreasonable then normal. He'd call me up to yell at me for whatever trivial thing I'd buggered up, at any time he felt like it. He often reduced me to tears, and sometimes in front of the girls. This was difficult- they would cry too and K would yell at Dad, defending my nanny honour with all the zest and verbosity of an eight year old. I couldn't realistically reach his ridiculous standards and hated going to work but I loved those plump little nuggets of children.

There were also some lovely moments. I introduced the girls to the Sound of Music, and we'd dance around the house singing The Lonely Goatherd at the top of our voices. We'd play red light green light on scooters in the front yard while we made up stories about what the cat did when he disappeared during the day (what he really did was slaughter birds and bring them to the side door, but for the sake of their naivety he was a talented painter). The girls were difficult and spoiled, but they had a remarkable ability to remove themselves from their fraught and narrow upbringing.

It had been a long day at the museum and the girls begged to see one last exhibition. I took them to the Indigenous artifacts room, thinking they'd be bored out of their brains and beg to go home. They surprised me. We spent fifteen minutes looking at a cloak made out of forty possums and discussed what it might of been like to be a member of the stolen generation. A smacked K in the back of her head and was called a bitch head, something I dealt with by laughing. They fell asleep in the car home, before we cooked okonomiyaki for dinner and read from an Emily Rodda mystery. Dad came home to two tired, bathed, fed and content girls and yelled at me for ten minutes because there was grease on a marble bench top and I hadn't mopped the front porch.

I was fired because of an un-ironed shirt, probably in combination with my communist left wing views and my reluctance to maintain a hospital grade environment in the presence of two children and a molting, vomity cat. Dad called one Sunday afternoon and told me not to come in the next day. He'd had enough, and thankfully so had I.

The trouble was, there was no farewell. I had left that Friday to K bawling her eyes out because we didn't get time to make a chocolate cake (Dad had asked me to clean the oven, which took an hour and two caustic burns). I only got a farewell hug and an 'I love you' from A. It had been a long day, with two bored girls who needed an active carer, not a nanny chained to domestic duties. Two bored girls who cried when I left and called me mummy. And then I was gone.

Apart from pictures of taxidermy and a few shots of the girls at the zoo, I have nothing to represent the experience, save a mounting library fine (I had to join on behalf of the girls, who had never been to a public library. Dad never returned the books we borrowed) and a scar from the oven cleaner. It was a strange insight into a world I'd never like to be a part of, one that privileged status and assets over kindness and authenticity. But I miss those girls, and I worry for them. I hope they can overcome their prison of privilege. I hope they become kind and thoughtful adults. I'm not sure they will, given the circumstances. If nothing else, I adored them. And delighted in their bad artwork. And ate all the tiny teddies and told them it was their Dad.

Love Nanny Nancy x

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

my swelling heart

This week has been a difficult one in my small world of nannying. The first hurdle has been recognising that I love these pampered donuts of girls. I can no longer claim a benign tolerance to them- they've weaseled their ways into my heart like two chubby little arterial clogging tumours. The second has been their ridiculous father who has reduced me to tears with his psychotic nit-pickery. I've gotten into strife this week for inadequate ironing (an ongoing saga), failing to refrigerate avocados, and taking the children to a public toilet. Because (and I quote) 'those places might be ok for you but they're far too filthy for the girls'. I forgot that I was in some kind of lesser species with a higher tolerance to bacteria.

The third has been the realisation that these little girls are teetering on the tentative boundary between being relatively functional humans and neurotic control freaks. They will likely fall starboard into the desperately malcontent ocean their father flounders in. There is nothing I can do about it. I am far from an upstanding role model, being uncouth and ridiculous as I am- but I've found myself trying to impart some kind of ethical thought in them beyond what they've been provided.

There are hopeful moments. We went to the cinemas and there was a teenager sobbing his adolescent guts out in the food court. It was heart wrenching stuff- the kind of tears that shook his whole frame and crushed his face into a wet mess. I went over to him with tissues and asked him if I could call anybody for him. The girls followed behind me, and K tugged at my skirt and stage whispered- 'Why are you talking to him?' I pulled them aside and told them that I thought you should help anyone who might be in trouble when you can, because sometimes people feel sad and need comfort.

A walked over and wrapped her chubby little six year old arms around his neck. 'It's ok.' she said. 'Don't cry.'

Another came at the museum, where I took them to see the Bunjilaka exhibition. It was relatively deserted, most adults hauling children were trapped somewhere between dinosaur bones and the Titanic exhibition. I expected them to caterwaul their boredom, and I was utterly wrong. They delighted in the art and the artefacts, and spent ten minutes in awe over a cloak made out of forty possums and carved with the stories of its owner. The last part of the exhibition reflected on land rights, and I asked them what they thought of what had happened when the settlers came and declared the land Terra Nullius.

The six year old shrugged and said she needed to pee. K furrowed her brow and said- 'I think they should have divided up the land. Like, we have Sydney, you have Melbourne, and then if people wanted to share parts they could. And then everyone could open up their doors and cook dinner for everybody else. And we should share everything- like food, and television, and signals for phones, and the internet. And there should be free houses with beds for poor people with food.'

I stopped and gave her an enormous hug. Jesus, my heart swelled with pride. It must be what parents feel when their coordination-impaired child scores a goal in Saturday morning soccer. She then asked if she could have an ice cream. I said no, and she started to cry and said that she never got anything she wanted. There's hope yet.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

forget about your worries and your strife

One of my favourite films when I was a kid was the Disney adaptation of Kipling's The Jungle Book. I adored Baloo the bear, and I often sing 'The Bare Necessities' with the two girls. Baloo was the big brother I never had- charming, relaxed, and probably smoking truck loads of jungle marijuana off camera. I loved him as only children can love a two dimensional talking ursine cartoon.

And now his brother watches me as I put away my bosses impeccably ironed shirts. I think he's there roaring to scare me away from storing creases. He's also probably presenting me with my only option in life to make love on a bear skin rug, although I think the man I'm seeing might have a problem with sex in the home of a madman atop a beloved children's character. There goes that dream.

black and white horse marching among us

A zebra is a remarkable beast. They sleep standing up, form harems of seven women to one man, and the mothers care for their children for a year until they are strong enough to march into the wild.

They also look really amazing in front of bar heaters facing the ceiling. This fellow spends its days staring at the roof, thinking- 'Fuck dude, I'm covered in stripes which confuse predators with an optical illusion that I grew myself. You could have at least mounted me to the wall.'

a lesson in getting stuffed

After numerous requests (well, three in total- but with a handful of followers that counts for some kind of majority) for a pictorial demonstration of just how much the house is a preserved zoological extravaganza, I've decided to treat you all to a little tasty taxidermy.

Yes, that's a panda. It's also a rug. I suppose there's only one thing better than saving a species that boasts around 2000 members left in the wild, and that's squeezing out its internal organs and granting it some glass eyes so you can stomp all over its endangered back with your polished shoes. Bamboo has nothing on inner city splendour, and I keep the enormous thing well vacuumed, so I suppose that's some consolation.

Monday, September 13, 2010

the secret diary of a six year old

I don't think this needs much commentary, except for the worrying feeling that I should contact child protection.

a guide to hungover nannying

It's school holidays, which means ten hour-ish shifts with the two girls, who are easily bored and prone to epic tantrums over crisis inducing events like not being able to find the pair of pink tights you want to wear. Today I was horribly hung over (this is a worryingly common phenomena) after spending an alcoholics weekend with the new man in my life, which fortunately has brought about a lovely goofiness to my general state of being and a consequently high ability to tolerate the mindless blather of children. I was also unshowered and smelled like it. That nanny of the year award should be arriving any day now.

As always, the house was in shambles after the weekend and my boss accosted me with a list of the things that were wrong. I'd failed to adequately iron a shirt, I was keeping the fruit the girls left in their school lunchboxes, and so on. The man has a pathological fear (among multiple other mental defects) of germs and has an array of anti-bacterial cleaning products that would rape the immune systems of a small country. Luckily my sparkly lovebird state meant I just smiled and nodded as the two girls clung to my waist and called me mummy while Dad railed about the importance of Fabulon while ironing. I'd told the girls we'd go to the museum but a movie seemed more attractive as I could put on 3D glasses and nap (I have a remarkable ability to sleep during blockbusters) so I cajoled them with the promise of popcorn and choc-tops (oh the beauty of overweight children and their relationships with food).

The cinemas are about five minutes from the house so I took the long way. The way that takes forty five minutes with the radio up so I can't hear the children.

I took them to Smiggle and was almost violently ill from the smell of scented rubbers and the sight of harsh primary colours. Who the fuck thought scenting a rubber was a good idea? They were like frenzied kittens at a fish festival. Between them they bought ten inanely shaped erasers and I developed a blinding headache.

I then pretended to have to go to the toilet during the film and went to McDonalds for a Filet o Fish meal. When the girls smelt it on me and demanded their own I told them they were imagining things and made them eat sushi for lunch. When I accept my nanny of the year trophy I'm going to thank Jesus, television, fast food and whiskey. The latter of which I had a secret swig of during the ironing at four in the afternoon. Nothing like hair of the dog while the children eat Shapes in front of the telly. Clearly I'll be mother of the year one day, too.