What Not To Tell The Nanny
I’m in the process of writing a novel. I hadn’t meant to. I just meant to jot down a few notes for the nanny we hired to care for the children while we’re away, but like Topsy, it just grew.
I’m a little nervous about leaving on such a long trip right now. I wasn’t at first; not until I started writing down a few suggestions for the nanny to follow, only to discover that some things just can’t be communicated by words alone.
I mean, how can you write specific instructions on how to work a washing machine that you’ve lived with intimately for eleven years and still don’t completely understand? You know that when it makes that funny grinding noise you have to push the little doohickey on the bottom panel and give it a sharp bang on top, but would a perfect stranger believe it? Some things come intuitively with long experience and can’t be explained by logic alone.
It’s the same thing with my children, who are even more neurotic than my appliances. If a sweater is put in the second drawer of the dresser instead of the third, they become frantic. A wrinkle in the bedspread is enough to bring on complete hysteria. Merely getting them to bed at night involves participation in a ritual that would try the patience of a head nurse.
It took me three pages just to list the vegetables they won’t eat. Then I started on the things they’re not allowed to do, but after I’d covered several chapters, I realized that a twelve-volume encyclopedia would hardly do justice to the subject. The trouble is, that I can’t think of what to forbid them to do until after they’ve done it, and they, like lightning, never strike twice. I simply haven’t the imaginative powers necessary to anticipate disaster.
For instance, they’ve all been given a list of instructions: “Don’t finger paint in the living room”, and “Don’t eat ice cream bars before breakfast.” But who in her right mind would think to tell them, “Don’t take all the shoe laces out of the shoes and flush them down the toilet”?
That bathroom bowl is the focal point of most of my difficulties. You’d be amazed at the number of ordinary household objects that can be flushed down it. The baby is the worst offender, which makes me a little bitter, since he’s still not toilet trained. I suppose he knows that something is expected of him in that department, and since he can’t or won’t oblige, he feels he must offer a reasonable substitute.
And their gourmet demands at mealtime—I simply can’t go on. I’m going to abandon all thought of leaving instructions for the nanny. There’s no point in building up her prejudices before she’s even in the door. We’ll be gone two weeks—ample time in which to discover their little peccadilloes all by herself.