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

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