We’re almost to the other side of the mountain. After nearly a month without a full time Weekday Nanny (hereafter known as Nanny #1v.2.0), I’m on the home stretch. It hasn’t been all that bad. I’ve actually enjoyed my time with the girls. Thank God for Nanny #2 on the weekends though, who’s allowed me to get just enough work done to make up for my seriously stunted productivity Monday through Friday. And we’ve had some great visits with all the grandparents, which has been helpful. To a point. One thing has become glaringly obvious to my over the last few weeks: if there was ever a contest called “Professional Nanny v The Grandma,” Nannies would win, hands down. Grandmas just don’t make very good Nannies, it turns out. Not only do they not do as they are told and have the audacity to talk back, but the rest of my life seems to fall inexplicably apart, all while my blood pressure creeps steadily higher.
Elaborate? Why sure.
Nannies get special degrees at Nanny School on separating whites from darks.
When a Grandma shrinks your favorite wool sweater, you smile and say, “Oh yes, I did just buy that for one of the girls. Oh, of course a plunging neckline is totally appropriate for a toddler.
When your Nanny can’t understand your rubbish/recycling system and puts food waste in with your diet Coke cans, you are allowed to call her—half jokingly—a moron.
When a Grandma tries to throw out dirty nappies with the cardboard, she’s a foreigner and you must say so with understanding and compassion. And quietly pull all the poopy Pampers out of the recycling bin.
When a Nanny takes them out for ice cream, “it was organic and they loved it!”
Grandma? “What the hell? Are your kids too good for that mall soft-serve crap I fed you people? They turned their noses right up at it. You’re raising some snotty little kids, aren’t you?“ (Well actually, Mom, we are The Fancies.)
I tell a Nanny that dummies and blankies are for bedtime only, and I find them in the cot every evening, neatly laid out and waiting for the Minis.
When Grandma is in charge, the children stroll brazenly around the house, blankie covered in marmalade, dummy hanging stupidly out of the corner of their mouths, grandparent standing silently by, willing them on, daring me to intervene.
The kids go to the sandbox with a Nanny, the pram gets a good vacuuming at the end of the day.
A trip to the park with Grandma? Yes, that would be Mrs. Fancy, lying on all fours, hoovering out the bottom of her Fancy Pram and quietly muttering unfortunate four-letter words.
And the worst of it all?
MY OWN GUILT.
When the Nanny is in charge, I say, “Okay, see you at 6. Got a lot on my plate today.” And usually I do. But if I don’t, well, I go get a pedicure. Or join them at the park. My choice.
But Grandma? Here’s me: “Could I please go to the gym for maybe a half hour? I could even take one of the kids with me if it makes it easier for you. Actually, why don’t I just take them for a jog? You have a rest.”
A good Nanny cares deeply for your children but it is, after all, a job. A Grandma will give anything and do anything to spend a minute with her grandbabies. Even as she pops arthritis pills and stops every few minutes to catch her breath. God forbid I drive a Nanny to an early grave. But if I did, well she wasn’t really up to the job, was she? But to kill a Grandma? That would kind of ruin Christmas, now wouldn’t it?
So I've decided that while visits with Grandma are special and wonderful times, it's not a substitute for decent childcare. Some things are just better left to the professionals. Who would I call, for example, if my toilet exploded? H? Or my plumber?