So when The Youngest came along – about 8 weeks after he was born (he’s a Scorpio so my maternity ‘leave’ tied up nicely with a little Christmas Holiday) – I employed another woman who filled a couple of my very important criteria for a Nanny:
1. She must live within walking distance so that
a) I don’t feel guilty about making her come to work on foot or
b) have to go and fetch and drop her off with 2 children in tow, quite possibly over our nap times or
c) pay her double her salary so that she could afford what passes for public transport.
Ok – I said a couple of reasons but the truth be known this was the only criteria. You all have NO IDEA how important Nap Times are to me but I fear you might start getting an inkling as you have this glimpse into my meandering mind.
Lanie* (secret name again) fitted the bill perfectly – we lived down a servitude road on a small holding/farm – it was 330m long from the gate to our front door. Jolanie lived another 400m up the ‘main’ road. Perfect. She came highly recommended by a friend of a friend and since we’d been living in the same area for about 4 years I knew some of the women in her community and they vouched for her too. I had it all waxed! For 6 short months life was idyllic. I would walk The Eldest to school – 200m beyond Lanie’s home. She’d get their in good time and I would do a brisk walk back home, pop in to check on the little sleeping Youngest while Lanie swept my stoep and unloaded my dishwasher. And then I’d be off to work.
Lanie, when first taken into my employ, informed me that she had 2 children. 2 daughters – they, at the time, were 5 and 3 years old. It was great I would pass on the Eldest’s clothes and when we started packing to move I purged toys and games and books and puzzles straight into her very willing home. As we spoke and got to know each other it transpired that she actually had 3 children – an older son who was 7 years old. I don’t know how one forgets about these previous children but maybe she thought she wouldn’t get the job if she had more than 2 offspring. It didn’t end there though, turns out she had another son that was 15 – she didn’t seem all that forgetful while she was in my employ. maybe she thought that I was asking her how many children she had under the age of 6.
Because I would deliver bags and boxes of things to her home I saw where she lived – on the property of a man called Stromboli – I kid you not – named after the bad guy in Pinnochio who owned that Fun Fair that attracted all the naughty boys so that he could put a spell on them and turn them into donkeys! Well that’s what Lanie said his name was – who knows? That’s besides the point though, she lived in a quarter of a house. That is, it was one house that had been divided into four. Literally. They got the kitchen and a room to live in. Their neighbours had the bathroom and a room. The other two spaces were For Rent – obviously space is at a premium in my old home town. What? Who lives like this? She and her husband and her, at last count, 4 children. They’d lived there for the last 8 years and were actually paying rent that was deducted from her husbands salary – he worked for this Stromboli fellow’s construction company. What?!!! Is it any wonder I have so much White Guilt? I’m compensating for some of the bastards out there who have no compassion for a human being that is not quite, the same colour as them – I mean Stromboli, that’s Mediterranean right? Our South African Coloured Brethren are the same cappuccino hue as a blushing Italian.
Well Lanie and her brood were certainly getting their money’s worth out of these 2 rooms, her Father was also living with them and her sister had sent one of her sons to come and stay with them too. Isn’t life just like that – when you’re carrying a heavy load people think you’re pretty capable and just keep handing you more baggage.
We moved out of our Barn on the farm and I found Lanie another employer with 2 little girls (really), also within walking distance but not as convenient as our arrangement. I could recommend her very highly as a child minder – she doted over The Youngest, taught him everything he needed to know until he was 8 months old. She had a great repoir with the Eldest – knowing just what to say to a little girl that had become a little baby brother richer. I’ve lost touch with Lanie but I’ve heard of some of the sadness that continues to touch their lives – I can’t bear to go into it here, there’s enough stuff to depress one in the newspapers. And this post isn’t exactly bunnies and soft serve ice creams.
I know that she’s still employed and constantly trying to make a plan to move to a better place. Good news is that her husband sprung for a vasectomy – probably the wisest decision he has ever made!