Thursday, 20 December 2012


Sasha and Ezra's dad is a nice guy. He always says thank you very sincerely when I leave for the evening. He's patient but firm with Sasha, which I've been trying to emulate more lately because she seems to respond so well to it. He's generous about money, offering to pay me extra when he gets home late (or early) and making it clear that if there are any supplies I buy for doing activities with Sasha he will reimburse me.

But in a lot of ways I feel like we don't really connect. Perhaps part of it is that we're farther apart generationally than I am with Sasha's mom (or Athena's parents). Perhaps part of it is that we have some different approaches to indulging Sasha's very frequent demands to spend as much of her time as possible staring at a screen. Perhaps part of it is that we just don't chat much when I hand the kids off to him and so we don't really know much about each other's lives.

But I think another reason I feel like we're operating on different wavelengths is because I suspect he had very little involvement in the nanny hiring process. I don't think he knows how I advertised myself.

This family and I connected through one of those online caretaking directories, and there were a few things I made clear in my profile about myself that I hoped would be attractive to the right families: one is that I value diversity education and cultural competency (which is all liberal-code for "I am queer," or at least "I'm supportive of queer folks," if you didn't know). Sasha's mom totally got this, but Sasha's dad is a different story. Another thing I made clear is that I am deliberately car-free and prefer not to drive clients' kids around. I have my license and could do it in an emergency, but the main reason I was so clear about this on my profile was less about liability and more about my comfort level with driving. I literally cannot picture myself ever owning a car, much less using one as my primary mode of transportation. Car-free families exist, and our city is particularly bike-friendly; lots of car-free families live here. (The family HB nannies for is car-free; she bikes the kids around on their massive family bike, which has two toddler seats mounted to it.) This not-driving-your-kids-around thing was so important to me that I made sure to reiterate it in every interview I had with families.

This week when we got home from taking the bus to the science museum, I told Sasha's dad as I handed the kids off to him that Sasha had a great time riding the bus and that she was a champ walking to and from the bus stops, which were each about half a mile from our destinations. He nodded and then started going on about how the bus is inefficient and the city is really "spread out and designed for cars," which I personally believe, as a person who has commuted all over the city exclusively by public transportation and bicycle for a year and a half, is total bullshit. He pointed out that he doesn't want the kids in the house all day when summer vacation gets here (which I totally agree with) and then suggested getting me a zip-car membership, or leaving one of their cars for me. I get that he wants me to take the kids to the pool, to a nature reserve, to the park, to a community center, to the children's theater, but those are all places we could get to by bike if we had the proper equipment, or by bus if we have a little more patience.

When I got home, frustrated and unsettled by the conversation, I basically sniffled and sighed to HB about how I wish we had our own kids so we could really do things our way. Nannying someone else's kids, in someone else's house, and trying to meet someone else's expectations, is sometimes challenging and unfulfilling.

At least summer vacation is a good six months away, so I don't have to deal with working around the driving thing quite yet.


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