Monday, 14 September 2009

Nannies in the Colonial World

The typical expericance with nannies in former colonies can be described as follows:

1. Move into house. Say hello to the cook, the gardiner, the chauffeur and the nanny. They come with the house. You cannot fire them. (Well, you could try, but it would be hard and you would be in the bad books of half the local families, so not worth the risk). Welcome to your household for the next five years.

2. Hand the baby over to the nanny.

3. Kiss your baby good-bye.

4. Expect to see your baby again when he is five years old, unless you ask nanny before then if you might be permitted to, er, maybe hold or even (gasp!) feed the baby.

5. Expect nanny to take offence when you ask her this. After all, who are you to interfere with her job of raising your child. Go and find some other colonial mothers to play cards with!

6. Expect the baby to be speaking nanny's dialect better than your language by the time baby is two years old.

This is the scenario that people had warned me about and sure enough, our nanny, who has just started today (she didn't come with the house) seems kind of surprised that I, er, still expect to be with my 4 month old baby quite a bit and that (gasp!) she can't feed him (he's "still" breastfed, as she noted.)

"And when will he start to drink milk from a bottle?", she asked me.

"Never", I replied.

I think she realised then that I wouldn't be a typical neo-colonial mom.


SilverJewelOman said...

Oh! I absolutely love the way you have written this...

being an expat mum I have had this exact experience! AND Gasp...yes I too still breastfeed my baby. However...I am lucky enough to have a great nanny...BUT this is our third one!