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.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

wags and dags

Pick up time at the girl's school feels a little like a prize cattle show. The women collecting their children must spend hours prior adorning their waif-thin bodies with designer gear and painting their spray-tanned faces. They're all immaculate- in stark contrast to the nannies, a motley crew clad largely in tracksuits and ponytails. Gym gear is often featured (largely Stella McCartney for Adidas) so the other wives are aware of just how rigorously they work out to keep their wealthy husbands from philandering. Hair is always perfectly coiffed and shining and I've never seen so many diamonds outside of the window at Michael Hills. I'd guess at least half of them have had a wee bit of slicing and dicing, judging by the amazingly enormous breasts that jut out of their tiny frames and their collective, ever-surprised expressions.

Dear reader, I have a wee bit of junk in my trunk. I exercise regularly but enjoy beer and chocolate and pub food far too much to ever be a size six. My nanny wear consists largely of threadbare leggings (yes, I wear them as pants, and a few of them have holes near my nether-regions), men's shirts (best to hide my assets as my boss apparently wants these padded bones) and old sneakers (don't feel anything nicer is necessary when vacuuming and running around after children). My hair is usually in an unkempt bun and I am often bare faced.

These women do not speak to me. It's as if I don't exist. Thank goodness, because I have absolutely nothing to contribute to a conversation about the chef at a resort in the Maldives (yesterday's hot topic, and apparently a contentious one- the menu doesn't feature that many gluten free options. Sweet Jesus.)

Although this job is difficult and I endure almost daily tirades from my crazy boss and have to do some ridiculous things (dusting a three metre replica of a Spanish ship with a baby toothbrush was fun, it only took two hours) I am grateful for lessons learned. I don't need to be wealthy, and if my eventually lawyerhood means I am, I will use the money in useful ways and not be trapped by the vacuous absurdities of wealth.

My children will go to public schools. They will enjoy holes in their uniforms and get dirty as they like. They can climb trees and run around barefoot and roll in the mud. Everything they wear will be unironed. And I will love them unabashedly, and not complain when they come running out of school to hug me widely because I'm wearing a Prada dress. Yes, this happened on Tuesday. This mother held her six year old at arms length and reprimanded her recklessness- I will be throwing mine on my shoulders, unkempt and, I expect, ever more happy.