The Nanny started last week, in preparation for The Big Return to Work. Having staff is a whole new experience for me; I find it difficult even to ask the window cleaner to do the pane he has missed, or to suggest to the builders that a three hour tea break may be a little excessive. After all, they’re working so hard… However, we have now joined the ranks of the middle-classes by hiring a nanny, whose previous charges were called Cosmo and Araminta. Of course.
Whilst working on her contract I came across all sorts of helpful sites about the relationship between you and your nanny. One suggested a variety of concerns I may have; from whether or not she is stretching the children (developmentally, as opposed to physically, which would clearly be unacceptable. Unless you have particularly short children), to whether she is forming sound local links within the childcare community. Noble concerns, however I was more worried about whether a) she would look down her nose at our far-from-being-a-mansion house (it’s a development, actually, not an estate), b) she would fancy my husband, or c) she would find my vibrator under the bed, and tell the town I am a sex-starved nymphomaniac. Perhaps they already know that, I’m not sure.
During her interview I recalled explaining that “basically I’m looking for someone to do what I do”. I should, of course, have added, “… only better”. Because frankly the last thing I want is someone who stays in her pyjamas till noon, doesn’t load the dishwasher till the only remaining place to put the dirty plates is the floor, and turns the childrens’ socks inside out so they’ll do another day. So on the nanny’s first day I determined to start as I meant her to go on; as the doorbell rang at 7am (prompt) I was already showered and dressed, the children sitting meekly in the playroom, drinking their milk. I had had the foresight to administer a ‘just in case’ dose of Medised at a quarter to, which had taken effect nicely.
Throughout the day I continued the Stepford routine, setting an excellent example to the nanny, who was dutifully making notes. The children seemed somewhat confused at being handed regular nutritious snacks and drinks, instead of having to grub around themselves in the kitchen cupboards, in the hope of finding some rice cakes amongst the bottles of bleach, but they played along admirably. Remarkably, they didn’t appear to notice the absence of the playroom television (secreted in the understairs cupboard at the eleventh hour – television? no, my children scarcely know what a television is…) although they were slightly stunned by the array of craft materials I laid out on the table, following my trip to Hobbycraft the previous day.
Once the children had gone down for their lunchtime nap, the nanny took the clean laundry out of the washing machine and asked me if there was a special way I would like it folded. I’m sorry – there are special ways of folding washing? You mean there are other ways apart from ‘dump it all in the washing basket, leave it on the landing for three days while you gradually pick out clothes to wear, then fill it full of dirty washing and start again’? I burst out laughing and instantly regretted it, turning it into a sort of sneeze. Maybe I should have a special clothes folding technique; it would become my sort of ‘signature crease’, making my children instantly recognisable at toddler groups. Parents and nannies across the country would discuss its merits; Anthea Turner might even want to learn it. On second thoughts…
The laundry done, we still had over an hour to kill before the children were due to get up. “What do you normally do now?” the nanny dutifully asked. Er, scoff two dozen biscuits, watch crap day-time TV and surf the internet, usually. “Well”, I began, despite a sense of impending doom, “I do some batch cooking for the freezer, then once that’s in the oven I start the housework”. And so off we went, scrubbing the kitchen floor for the first time since we moved in, cleaning the fridge (ditto), and moving all the toys in the playroom to give the skirting boards a “jolly good clean”. As I took the four Shepherd’s pie’s from the oven I heard the first of the children’s dulcet tones from upstairs, and knew with a sinking feeling that my lunch-break was over. I have never worked so hard, or been so exhausted in my life. I can’t wait to start work.
Photo credit: Express Monorail