Why I Love My Deadbeat Nanny
Back when we began sending our daughter to daycare, we would occasionally notice – though barely register – a quiet part-timer squatting on the carpet playing trucks or puzzles with the incoming children. We never thought much of it, or her, until she’d lost the job.
“She really lacked any sort of motivation,” said the head of the crèche, “so we thought we’d give her the opportunity to go back to school and finish her degree.” A few weeks later, she’d dropped out of college.
“Score!” I thought after word had made its way around the mommy circuit and back to me.
At the time we had another baby on the way and I was looking for someone young, flexible and uncomplicated to help with the children when I couldn’t manage on my own. This one was as uncomplicated as they come. I put her on payroll.
While other parents diligently check credentials, interview references and smell for cigarette odor, I appreciate in our nanny the things that make her unemployable in the real world. She has little ambition and no real understanding of the world outside the four blocks separating our house from hers, where she lives with (read: off) her parents. She’s had a string of boyfriends I’ve never met because they probably don’t care enough to come visit her on the job, poor thing. She plays no team sports, dislikes travel, doesn’t drive and her social life starts after most mothers have long since rejected their husbands’ advances and rolled over for the night.
All that says Nanny of the Year in our household. She has always been available when we’ve called, even at the last minute – so she’s not all deadbeat. She accepted our first wage offer without negotiation and hasn’t asked us to raise it since. Those nights she has plans she comes to babysit anyway until we roll home exhausted at 11 p.m., at which time she emerges from the bathroom fully made up and smelling of hairspray, ready to catch up with her friends.
Have I mentioned she’s a whiz with fish sticks and canned corn, watches cartoons like they’re sustenance and relishes children’s games (and my children themselves) as if they’re the friends she never had? Which is why the girls love her like a (slightly wayward) sister.
Some mothers rely on their nannies to keep them tethered to the adult world when loneliness of mothering threatens to drag their minds into the abyss. I used to think I needed that, too. Until I realized I was really just looking for a friendly face and an IQ of 100 or so – high enough to keep the children off the streets and out of the oven but not so high as to appreciate that we’re probably not the best gig in town.
I like to think we’re in this together, at challenging stages in our lives when we’ve just got to cling to something. One day soon I’ll be less desperate and she’ll be more employable. But until that day comes I’ll say this: ignorance is bliss.