I’m back at work! And so where are the kids you might ask?
We have a fantastic live-in-nanny. She came to us from Hong Kong in September and helped out while I was off so that we could have a 1:1 ratio with the kids when they were little. Now that I am back at work, she is at home with them. She is outstanding. She is great with the kids and they adore her.
Before we got a nanny, I couldn’t stop thinking about Caroline, or Change. Though it takes place 50 years ago, the issues surrounding having ‘hired help’ are the same – How do you structure the employee/employer relationship? How do issues of class and ethnicity come into play when you employ a worker from oversees in a live-in-caregiver role? What is it like for someone to spend their day caring for your child when they are miles away from their own children (our nanny doesn’t have children, but most that we interviewed did)? Will your child end up smoking cigarettes in the basement while the nanny does the laundry? (Ok… I wasn’t really concerned about that last one, but my musical theatre brain likes to picture it while the sexy Dryer sings a high A).
In the end we got very lucky with the person we hired. We have adapted very well to having an extra person living in our house and I believe we have found a good balance of friendship and employer/employee relations (a line that can get murky when someone is living under your roof). We clearly have ‘work time’ and we are very careful not to exceed the contracted hours, and in ‘social time’ (for example meals) we do not expect her to be working as a live-in-caregiver – just to join us as a member of the household. But I do hear lots of stories about other nannies whose employers work them far beyond the contracted hours and treat them more like the 1963 maids that we see in Caroline.
After 50 years you would think that the world would have changed, and the race/class divide that existed in 1963 between employers and caregivers would have shifted somewhat. But has it? Could someone write a new Caroline, or Change and set it today?