Friday, January 30, 2009

And they're off

So our nanny, after just one week, dumped us. I'd like to paint a picture (for literary purposes) of us being nightmare parents making impossible demands, but alas it's a lot less dramatic than that. She was doing part time work at a nursery, desperately short on staff they asked her to work full time, she decided the kids there needed her more, and the money (being more hours) was better.

All perfectly understandable and noble reasons.

I would have liked some notice though. Other than, say, a text message on the morning she's supposed to come to work, followed by an email. But what can you do? I'm glad it was only after one week and then we were away for a week on holiday, so Julia didn't really have time to get attached to her. Had that been the case I probably would have been a lot less forgiving of what was in effect an utterly shit position to put someone in.

This means going back to working at night and on weekends in order to deliver to my clients on time. I probably shouldn't have taken on the extra work, but then, foolish me, I thought I had a part-time nanny secured.

To make matters worse I'm ill, but walking wounded. Julia is also on the mend, following two nights in a French hospital while we were on hols, but that's an other story entirely.

I keep trying to write about it, but find it so utterly upsetting to revisit that experience. I will however say I have only praise for the French hospital in Solange that we found ourselves in. Clean, a lovely paediatric ward, fantastic nurses and doctors, and a hot chocolate with french bread, butter and jam (on the side) for the mum's who stayed over night with their little ones, for breakfast. And this was a government hospital. I know right?

When your child gets sick it is very worrying. When your child is so sick that he or she needs to go to the hospital and actually gets booked in, it's gut churning nausea-inducing worrying. Like discovering that it was you who accidentally left the office unlocked the night before it gets robbed, and knowing that you've got to tell your boss/or get found out. That kind of feeling times 100, because in this case the person you love more than life itself is so very vulnerable and you are completely at the mercy of other people to make them better. It is for those control freaks among us, an utterly anxiety-provoking situation to be in.

But yes, she is a lot better, despite a very runny nose that drips into the back of her throat and makes her cough. Thanks to everyone who wrote emails and Facebooked us their good wishes.

So aside from the emotional and worrying experience of Julia getting ill, we had a good holiday. I actually managed three days of skiing, but a lot of it wasn't pretty. I'm not pretty when I ski. In my fantasy I'm attired in a svelte figure hugging all in one with fur-trimmed hat a-la Bond girls, but in reality I wear every conceivable safety device available, making me look like one of those people they use to train attack dogs on. And if they were to do the equivalent of training wheels attached to ski's I'd probably buy those too.

I think a very good psychological profile could be developed by watching people's approach to skiing, specifically people who are relatively new to it. Mine would read something like this:
You are cautious to the extreme. You are afraid of trying things that are outside of your comfort zone. You anticipate the worst. The Kennedy who died skiing, did so trying to catch a football while skiing backwards. This is unlikely to happen to you as you haven't even mastered skiing forwards. And you are crap at catching balls. So stop worrying about it. You would ski better after an alcoholic drink.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


My 1984 Barbie arrived in the post yesterday, in, to the eBay sellers credit, pristine condition. Actually it's even better than that, she's in her original box and it's unopened - the flaps still glued shut. How the hell, I wonder, does anyone have the self restraint to not open a toy for 25 years? Oh god, 25 years ago, that's roughly when I got my original Peaches n Cream Barbie. It makes me feel old.

Moving swiftly along.

I met the nanny who had the affair with Jude Law the other day. Remember her? Daisy something. I mean, Daisy is not a name you hear every day right? So there I am, what is it, three years after the fact? sitting in the community center with Julia, and this young woman starts chatting to me. She tells me she is there watching someones child for them, and is a former nanny but now has her own nanny and maternity nurse agency. Hmmm, the things tell-all interviews with Sunday rags can buy you. Anyhow, so I'm chatting to this woman and she looks very familiar. I have a bizarre photographic memory - like the time we wondered the length and breadth of Venice without a map, left my mobile phone in a random restaurant, and I was able to navigate us back to the exact same restaurant via the shops I had seen on the way. And if you know Venice, you'll appreciate how tough this is considering how many shops sell the exact same bloody Venetian masks. But enough bragging.

So I never forget a face or a Venetian mask shop, and coupled with an unusual name like Daisy, something in my head nagged me for days after that initial meeting. Then, about a week later, I'm about to watch the new Bond flick and my mind begins to piece things together and Ping! I suddenly remember where I saw that face before. Now to illustrate just how fascinating and ingenious the subconscious is, this is how I connected the dots:

Daniel Craig, aka 007, acted in Layer Cake with Sienna Miller, who of course was dating Jude Law at the time of nanny-gate.

I didn't see Daisy at the community center again, which is a shame really. I mean, I had a lot of questions.

We attended our friend Anna's baby shower today. She is due her baby in three weeks time. She looks fantastic. Seriously, most women that close to giving birth have an exhausted 'git this baby the hell out of me already' look to their faces. But Anna is glowing and looking beautiful and seems genuinely happy. I don't think I left the sofa in the last month of my pregnancy.

We are off on a ski trip this month. I'm between minds as to whether or not I will ski, or simply make the most of the coffee shops, catch up on my reading, and introduce Julia to snow. But as I'm going to purchase some ski underwear tomorrow, I'll probably have to justify the cost of my purchase by doing at least one day of skiing.

Yes, skiing. How I wish I'd learnt when I was a kid. Instead I took it up in my late 20's, with a vast knowledge of just how many ways I could injure and kill myself on the icy slopes. I hate that about being an adult. As a kid you hop on any old horse and hold onto its neck as it gallops off with you, thinking this is the most fun you've ever had in your life. Or walk up to random dogs without any fear that they might actually tear the hand you are about to scratch them with, off. At some point you get older and begin to over think everything. Far worse than wrinkles in my opinion.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Nanny

So, after much anxiety-fueled internal debate, I finally relented and agreed to get a part-time nanny for Julia. It's such an easy decision for so many people, and why shouldn't it be? As strange as it is to believe, there are people, other than oneself, that are perfectly capable of taking good care of one's children, and more so, doing a great job of it. But no, I had to play over every possible worst-case scenario in my head, practically giving myself nightmares and full-blown anxiety, before I finally calmed the hell down and saw sense.

None of this was helped by my mother who is fond of relaying things she has seen on shows like Oprah and Dr Phil, that involve hidden cameras and evil nannies dragging children around by their hair. While I don't doubt that things like this happen, I do wonder why, if you have any doubt at all about the person that is going to take care of your children, even going so far as to install hidden cameras, you would entrust them with your children in the first place? But that's by the by.

Also, I find it surprising that my mother is so paranoid about this sort of thing. I mean, this is the same person that delivered me to Mrs Hall (my home room teacher) on my first ever day of school (aged five) saying, 'This is Lucille, feel free to smack her if she is naughty.' Again, I need to remind you that my mother thinks everyone sees the world the same way that she does, so it wouldn't even occur to her that my teacher may have taken this as license to beat the crap out of me. A smack, in her opinion, is a whack across the bottom with the flat of the hand right? I mean, surely everyone knows this?

Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately as you will discover, Mrs Hall didn't need to do any smacking or beating the crap out of anyone. She had a secret weapon that soon meant my entire class was doing their utmost to avoid any kind of close-encounter confrontation with her. You see, Mrs Hall suffered from a case of lethal halitosis. It smelt as though some long suffering gravely ill creature had crawled into the cave that was her mouth, to die a very slow death in there. Its corpse gradually decomposing over time amidst her brownish neglected dental wreckage.

I'm not kidding. Even at the age of five I was aware that something was very very wrong there, and I'd often suffer through my letters with a broken pencil, or some boy at my table being obnoxious, in silence. Anything, anything, but calling her over and being engulfed by that breath. Good god, surely there were breath mints in those days?

I love being with Julia - we do stuff, we have our little coffee shop thing going, we play, we read, we hang out. But in and among all of this, I don't really have any time for myself to do things that I need to do. I get up at 7am, sometimes 6am with her, and it's all guns ablaze until 7pm when she goes to sleep at night. So aside from a couple of naps during the day (one of which is usually en route from an outing), time I use to shower, dress, maybe send an email or two, I'm not really in a position to do much. This is compounded by the fact that she is toddling now, so I can't just let her play on her own or watch television. I have to watch her all the time because she's into everything, has no real concept of danger, and she's not yet 100% steady on her feet.

She's far too young for daycare. I'm saying this as someone who knows my child - her capacity for the company of other children (around 45 minutes), her need for physical contact and comfort, her enjoyment of a quite space to play uninterrupted etc, rather than having an opinion on what the right age per se is for enrolling ones children in daycare. I'm also well aware that for many people this happens earlier than they would ordinarily choose due to circumstances of having to get back to work etc.

So my mother's voice in my head, chiming in with my own paranoid concerns aside, we've found someone we've very fond of, who is experienced, calm, and kind, and I think she's going to be a very good nanny to Julia and a contributor to my continued sanity.

I'm looking forward to having four hours a day where I have an extra pair of hands at my disposal. I can write, go to the loo, make an uninterrupted personal phone call, sort out my taxes, pop out for a haircut - you know the kinds of things you do at work - and still be around for my daughter should she need me.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

New Year and all that jazz

Happy New Year everyone!

So I won the Barbie doll on eBay. Those other bidders didn't know who they were messing with. You cannot put a price on nostalgia. OK, well, actually you can. It cost me, postage included, about 40 pounds. Which, my sister tells me, is a pretty good deal for a 'vintage barbie'. She reckons some of the new ones in the shops are that and more these days. My sister knows about things like this.

I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do with it when it arrives. Hardened collectors don't even take their dolls out of the boxes I'm told. But I'm not a collector. I'm just a sad woman with unresolved childhood issues, clearly. What is certain is that Peaches n 'Cream Barbie circa 1984 is not going anywhere near Julia. She is fond of putting things in her mouth and rubbing bits of food into said items, and I'd quite like Barbie to keep her beautiful blond perfect curls, well, blond and perfect. Especially after what I did to my original one's bountiful synthetic mane. We won't go there.

So New Year's. Well, it was good. We had a few friends round and we had a few drinks and the sun went down and came up the following day. I don't know, this year it didn't feel like a big deal to me, just another day. Elizabeth, who is visiting, says as you get older things like Christmas and New Year's tend to be that way. I remember as a kid allocating some kind of magical significance to the new year; planning what kind of personality I was going to affect at school that year, thinking up new ways to torture my siblings, that sort of thing. This year the only planning I did was limiting myself to 2 glasses of champagne (babies tend to wake up every day at 6 or 7am requiring care and attention irrespective of any hangover you might be courting), and tidying up after the party to reduce the amount of potential choking hazards on the floor.

And yes, it hasn't escaped me that the amount of alcohol I consumed may have something to do with my lackluster attitude to this oft celebrated holiday.

I am reading Barack Obama's 'Dreams from my father' which I am thoroughly enjoying. I am a sucker for autobiographical writing, and when it also happens to be educating (I don't count Jordan's books about her boob jobs and sex life that, although they are entertaining), it's a bonus. As a full-time parent you don't get a load of intellectual stimulation, so finding time to read, is for me at least, a rare and treasured indulgence.

No real resolutions this year. It would however be good to run into my neighbor and find a way of dropping into the conversation the fact that my mother has some problems with reality. Totally untrue of course, but rather he thinks she's loopy than I'm an alcoholic. No?