General

The nanny's smile lasted until the door closed behind the executive parents. She knew what her job really was, “make the house perfect and don't kill the kids.” She put the TV on and sat junior down while she set to work on the bathrooms and bedrooms. Then she sat him in the car seat and went to the store, buying expensive cuts of meat and fresh vegetables - no carbs, the employers didn't eat them. Once home she gave him a tidy lunch of cheese cubes and bagel, put the same video on and prepared dinner. Then she cleaned the kitchen and vacuumed. At five thirty she poured cold glasses of white wine and set them at the table. Five minutes later Junior was dressed in a fresh pressed outfit and ready to greet his parents. By six thirty he'd eaten and was in bed. She was the best nanny they'd ever had and they gave her a five star rating with the agency.

General

The nanny had started out as an idealist. She had showered the kids with attention and taught them Spanish. They had danced to music and played at the park. She had only texted her friends at nap time. But every day the parents would find fault. She hadn't stacked the dishwasher right, dinner wasn't made, the bookshelf was messy, the stairs needed vacuuming. When she challenged them they said “Of course the kids came first, but...” The first day she shouted at the kids she thought her heart would rip in two, that wasn't who she was, who she was meant to be. The house was cleaner and still they found new problems. The first day she felt like hitting one of the kids she handed her notice in. They looked at her like she was a criminal, “We trusted you, we thought you loved the kids.” She did love them, very much, but there weren't enough hours in the day to be the housemaid too.

General

The nanny loved latin music, black coffee and spicy food. After three years in employment the “family' knew none of this, but she was to know their every whim and preference. She was a writer of fiction and made apps in her spare time, taking these jobs to meet new people and travel to new places. It would be time to move on soon, before she became too jaded about people. Perhaps her next job should be for some non-profit to balance up her experiences. She didn't want to be a bitter author. She checked her phone, messages from all three boyfriends, all available tonight. She bit her lip, it was always a tough choice, but Kyle knew how to party and she'd had it with being “mumsy” all day. Time to get out there and play with a grown-up.

General

In her country the children were treated like children. The adults joked with them, smiled at them, doted on them. They were tickled, chased and bear hugged. The nanny looked around her new home, new family. Even the decor was cold, washed out creams and pale blues. The kid sat watching the TV, eating a cookie. She recalled the hiring instructions: no television, no junk food, trips every day, all educational interactions, sing songs in both languages. She was to be the ideal parent while they did what was easy? She went forward to say “Hello” to the boy. His mother stuck out her hand. “Oh, no, don't do that. He'll scream the place down.” The nanny smiled and said all the right things, it was a one year contract. One year. It was going to feel like a lot longer than that.

General

The nanny's face had been locked in a scowl all day. Her boyfriend had dumped her and her mother was sick, the playgroup had been cancelled this week and the house wasn't getting any bigger. Toys were everywhere and the three kids had been hyper. Her head hurt. The mother wanted a clean house, the shopping done, three happy clean kids and a meal on the table. She was worse than some 1950's husband. Her room was small and without a bathroom, and so even on her days off she couldn't really withdraw from the household unless she physically left. It was three o'clock. Two hours to do everything. There was a tug at her pants, it was the toddler. His face was covered in cake frosting, as were his clothes, hands and the wall from the kitchen to the front room window...

General

The nanny was ignored at the park while the mothers talked. With her race different from her charges they had guessed long ago that she was the hired help. They gossiped and checked their phones while she played with the twins. Getting out in the fresh air was so good for all of them. A day in those four walls with nothing but kids television and play-doh and she'd be ready to eat her own knuckles. Then one day one of the women looked her way and spoke, in her surprise she didn't catch their words. Then it dawned on her that they wanted her to watch their kids too. What was she now, the group slave? She shook her head. Now was not the time to let on how good her English was.

General

The nanny turned on the TV and pulled up her sandwich. One o'clock was nap time, the baby was still crying, settling down. She took a bite, selected her favourite sitcom and settled back into the couch. The baby got louder. She turned up the volume and took a swig of coffee. All went quiet, she smiled. As she raised her sandwich a cry ripped the air. She dropped her food, now crushed. Damn kid. She choose subtitles, sound off. Anyone at the door would think the baby was being murdered and she needed this job. As she ran up the stairs she felt her body flush hot in a way that would only be healthy of you were about to fight a larger opponent. Too angry to make eye contact, she lifted him out and carried him like a sack of potatoes down the stairs. She felt his fingers grip at her and to her horror all she wanted to do was put him in his bouncy chair and walk away. “It must take a mother's love to cope,” she thought, but she wasn't even related. This was minimum wage plus food.

General

The mother, Kate, just wasn't getting it. She thought the kid was pretty cute; she liked her. She even loved her in a shallow sort of way, but this was a paid gig. No, as nanny, she didn't want to work the weekend for free, not for “just a couple of hours” unless there was overtime pay. Of course Grace needed someone to watch her, but how was that her problem? She wasn't her mother, aunt or big sister. Somehow Kate translated all this to mean that she wasn't a good nanny, that she should love Grace so much that she should see more hours as a gift of sorts. If that was the case why didn't Kate see it that way? Oh yes, that was right, she was an important person with an important life, the nanny was expected to pour out unconditional love and sacrifice her life for minimum wage.