I sleep fitfully and wake around 4:00 am with a killer migraine. I stumble to my portion of the closet in the dark and manage to find my Imitrex. I find my way back to bed and fall asleep after more than an hour. The next thing I know it’s 7:20 and I hear Mrs. G’s daughter’s high pitched screaming. Mrs. G’s daughter has brain damage so she can’t toilet on her own or speak, so she communicates by screaming. I figure I’d better get up to see what Mrs. S. has in store for me. I walk downstairs in my pajama pants and get an up and down look of disaproval from both Mrs. S. and Mrs. G. They look at me as if I’m naked and I am uncomfortable. Mrs. G. informs me that she needs me to be dressed and downstairs by 7:00 am and ready to feed the children breakfast. I look around and see none of her children. I only see Mrs. G’s two girls. Does she mean I am to be a nanny to the children of houseguests as well? I nod and obediently go upstairs to get dressed.
When I return Mrs. S. is frowning at the coffee pot. Somehow the coffee never got made. She tells me I must be sure to make her coffee every morning because she “simply must have” her coffee as soon as she gets up. I wonder if she is somehow physically unable to use the coffeemaker. I nod again and begin making her coffee. Mrs. S. and Mrs. G. sit at the dining table and discuss plans for the day. They talk about how “simply devine” their store-bought breakfast is and compare local food markets in the Hamptons.
There is supposed to be another nanny arriving today. Mrs. S. has told me that this woman is “illegal” and cannot drive. This is one of the reasons why Mrs. S. has hired the two of us. Where does she want me to drive to? And, up to this point, Mrs. S. has not once offered to reinburse me for the two tanks of gas I used to make my trip to the Hamptons. At this rate half my salary will go towards gas.
Mrs. G. goes to the grocery store to buy some food and is gone for awhile. She’s kind enough to take her two girls with her. In the meantime Mrs. S. tells me she “abhors” it when her kitchen counters are not spotless. I take it that she would like me to tidy them up. I start the dishwasher and clean the counters where the entire S. and G. families have deposited their chewed up leftovers and dirty dishes. Apparently no one has any idea where they’ve left the trash can.
I’m still wondering when I am to have interaction with the children as any good nanny is supposed to. So far I have only done housework. Mrs. S. has an odd habit of putting everything in Ziplock bags. Not just leftovers, but anything else that will fit. I make the unforgivable mistake of attempting to put one used bag in the trash can that I had no trouble finding. Mrs. S. swoops down and tears it from my hands. She tells me to rinse it out and deposit it in the priceless vase she has placed near the sink. Apparently she recycles Ziplock bags. Penny wise and dollar foolish I muse.
I am in the middle of my kitchen chores when Mrs. S. calls me over to a living room cupboard. She tells me that she’s organized the children’s art supplies according to “green, yellow and red zones”. Playdough, markers and paint are all defintely red zone items and should only be used in the basement with the children covered from head to toe with smocks. Pencils, crayons and paper are yellow zone items and can be used upstairs. Apparently only imaginery supplies are considered green zone because she never does tell me what they are or where they can be used. I nod and promise never to allow red zone activities anywhere other than the basement.
Mrs. G. returns with some real food and the kids are thrilled. Apparently Mrs. S. has found some quack to diagnose every one of her children with some sort of food allergy along with ADHD and ADD. She keeps only gluten, sugar and salt free foods in the house. It all tastes disgusting and I’ve never observed the children eating it. Mrs. G. is so happy that the children are enjoying her purchases. When she’s out of earshot Mrs. S. comes up to me and says “I can’t believe Mrs. G. bought all that garbage. I wouldn’t feed that stuff to my dog”. I’m speechless that an employer would confess something like that to an employee about a lifelong friend. I stand there and try not to breath too deeply. Mrs. S’s breath always smells like salami. I make a mental note to maintain a safe distance from her mouth.
Mrs. G. asks me sweetly if I’d mind watching her little one as she gets into everything and cannot be left alone for a minute. “No, I do not want to keep an eye on your child”, I think. But instead I nod and begin chasing the child around the house trying to minimize as much damage as possible. At one point Mrs. G. cannot immediately see her daughter and stomps after me. “I told you to watch her every minute! You cannot leave her alone!”, she scolds. I wonder when Mrs. G. intends to pay me for watching her children. She huffs away and she whispers something to Mrs. S. who nods in agreement. Apparently they think I’ve suddenly lost my hearing and eyesight.
The doorbell rings and a young girl enters the home. It’s Melinda. She who tutors Mrs. S’s youngest son while they are in Scarsdale. I’m confused as to why Melinda is here. She informs Mrs. S. that she can only stay two days as she has plans for the rest of the week. Mrs. S. makes her usual pinched face expression, but says that it is okay. Melinda goes upstairs to unpack and change into her bathing suit. The children seem to like Melinda and are happy to have her here. I am beginning to feel like a neglected puppy.
Mrs. G and Mrs. S have come to the conclusion that we will all go to the private beach. After much planning and debating we are to leave by 4:00 pm. I am asked to “take a poll” and find out what type of sandwiches the children would like for the outing and then I make their requested sandwiches. Melinda returns just in time to pack all the food I’ve prepared into the beach cooler and takes the credit for my work. I want to give her a painful wedgie with her skimpy bikini bottom. I lug the three LL Bean beach bags out to the garage with the S. and G. families ahead of me. It takes both mothers several minutes to decide the seating arrangement in Mrs. S’s SUV. For some reason Mrs. S. has all her children ride in carseats. The oldest child is ten. Perhaps they’ve been diagnosed with toppleover syndrome and cannot sit independently. It is finally decided that Mrs. G. absolutely must take her BMW because there is simply no room in the SUV. Mrs. G. follows us and manages to get lost along the way. Mrs. S. talks to her on her cell phone, rolling her eyes and making exasperated expressions, but continues to speak sweetly to Mrs. G. We finally get on track and park in the beach lot. I lug the beach bags down to the water’s edge with the rest of the group happily romping ahead of me.
I am asked by Mrs. G. if I’d mind watching her little one while she’s in the water. She doesn’t wait for an answer and swims away. Melinda is standing on the shore in her tiny string bikini while every middle-aged man on the beach is tripping over himself to catch a glimpse. I’m still unsure why Melinda is here. So far she’s done nothing productive. I chase the toddler back and forth in the water and get my shorts wet. I don’t like the water. I look around and notice all the other beach goers and their nannys. Most of the other nannys are Jamaican and most likely illegal. None of the mothers appear to have any interaction with their children, preferring to talk to each other. I wonder why these women even chose to have children.
Melinda hands out the sandwiches and calls all the children “hun” and “babe”. I am beginning to hate Melinda. She makes it known that she has a Master’s Degree. I’m not sure in what, but Mrs. G. and Mrs. S. seem to accept her as one of their own. I have a high school diploma and am obviously not on the same social level. We are told that our outing is almost coming to a close so we will be allowed one more frolic in the water. The children ignore their mother and continue to frolic. Mrs. S. starts her counting. 1,2,3. Somewhere around 105 the blue-lipped children emerge from the water and we get ready to leave. Again I lug the bags. We pick up the other nanny from the train station and I want to mouth help me or save yourself to her. Instead I say hello and try to breathe while stuck between two carseats.
When we return we must hose the children off before allowing them inside the house. Every grain of sand between their toes must be removed and Mrs. S. inspects. They are sand free and can now go inside. I am stuck in my wet shorts while I help Mrs. G. with her toddler. I struggle to get her Pamper on while she screeches. Mrs. G. makes no attempt to help. I’m finally done dressing the screaming toddler and go inside to change, but first I want to call my daughter to see how she is. I tell Mrs. S. I’m making a phone call on my cell. Mrs. S. tells me she’d prefer I didn’t make phone calls at such a hectic time. I look around and see no children so I’m not sure why it’s a hectic time. But I nod and postpone my phone call.
Mrs. S. hands me a fancy silver timer and tells me to take it into the den where the children are at the computer. She instructs me to set it for thirty minutes because that’s the amount of computer time the children are allotted. I do as I’m told and then finally go remove my wet shorts which by now stink of salt water. I return to the den and take note that the timer has five minutes left so I sit and observe the children. It becomes apparent that the ten year old is in charge. She calls her brother stupid and repeatedly yells at him everytime he attempts to speak. She informs me of how intelligent she is, that she’s skipped a grade because she’s “precocious”. I didn’t know ten year olds used words like precocious. I suspect she’s parroting something Mrs. S. has said. I suppose the child has been diagnosed as a prodigy. I’m not sure why because she doesn’t seem smarter than any other ten year old I’ve met. The timer goes off and the children ignore my reminders that their mother said thirty minutes and nothing more. I give up and leave the room. Who cares. It’s not as though they’re surfing porn. These kids aren’t even allowed to say “poop” and are made to ask if it’s okay if they can “make a nasty”. I hardly think they’ll be doing any questionable web searching.
I return downstairs and Mrs. S. tells me to start laundering the wet towels and bathing suits. She tells me to be sure to pre-treat everything because she hates it when the towels get that used look. The last nanny was so insensitive about Mrs. S’s towels that she actually forgot to pre-treat them. Simply unforgivable. While I gather up all the discarded wet towels from the floor, Mrs. S. stands in the middle of the living room and survey’s the “destruction” the children have left in their wake. I look around and see some books and a couple of toys. Mrs. S. is furious however and begins tugging her hair outward making her look like a deranged clown. She tugs it out and then smoothes it down repeatedly. I hurry around the room picking up the few books and toys and deposit them where I assume they should go. This seems to have a calming affect on Mrs. S. and she resumes talking to Mrs. G.
I supervise the children’s toothbrushing and pajama dressing and then send them off to Mrs. S’s room for “snuggle time”. Snuggle time consists of just enough time to read a book and then shoo the children off to bed. I clean the kitchen, empty the dishwasher and go up to take a shower. It’s already 9:00 pm and I’m exhausted. I had worked fourteen straight hours with no break and my little bed in the corner of the boys room sounds almost appealing. I’m too tired to call my kids and worry they’ll think Mrs. S. has locked in me in the basement and made me sleep on an empty mattress. Again I have trouble falling asleep. The stupid nightlight is shining in my eyes.