But. I am a nice person. I’m OK; I was brought up to be honest and sensitive to other people’s feelings. Our home is a bit haphazard and the walls are decorated with felt tips, glitter and stickers, there’s all manner of treasures down the back of the sofas and the TV has two black lines on it where Tilly pushed an over enthusiastic finger at Peppa Pig. But the fridge is always full (and sometimes the food’s even in date), there’s a brilliantly stocked goodies cupboard and he bathrooms always clean. Normal right?
When I went back to work we decided to try an au pair. My hours mean childminders and nannies can be tricky, and the girls are at pre-school much of the time anyway. To be clear this doesn’t make me Victoria Beckham, nor does it mean I off load my kids on the au pair when I’m not working (“ooh must see my colour therapist – would you mind having the little princesses for a couple of hours?”), if anything having an au pair is like having another dependent.
So we had a lovely girl who came last year and left us recently, she went home to work in a nursery in a beam of smiles and kind words about us and our children – him indoors and I are ‘amazing’ people (we are also ‘amazing’ actors). We then got another lovely girl. A Spanish nurse as it happens who had done nannying. Perfect? Not quite. Being able to ask for “dos cerveza por favor” is all well and good when you’re on a 2 week package to Spain but not so good when you’re trying to communicate about potty training or feeding the children. Suffice it to say despite everything (including many English lessons) she felt it wasn’t going to work out.
I can see her point. My kids, no doubt all kids, talk a lot when they are little. They are learning to communicate and express themselves and they get frustrated when they can’t make themselves understood. I get frustrated when I can’t make myself understood but I’m a grown up so I probably shouldn’t. But Eliza asks questions like “Why do we have eyes on the front of our faces?” and “how does the microwave make my milk hot?” it takes a bit of creativity to come up with an answer she’ll be able to relate to (which is why I normally say we’ll wait till Daddy gets home, he’s the teacher).
When you consider this, it was never going to work out with our lovely Spanish au pair. So it wasn’t something I said, or the drawing on the walls or even our mangy old cat Mabel that has landed me in the position of trying to sort our childcare situation again. It was just one of those things. So here I go again, back to the world of Skype interviews whilst trying to keep the glass of wine out of shot.
Wish me luck….