Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nanny McPHEW!

Helpers from Hell, is an article written by Ladylou who’s a friend from college where she recounts her horrible experiences with her house helps in such a great style and hilarious manner. Those who’ve had similar experiences would be laughing at the same time feeling her anger and frustration. I laughed. I got angry. I laughed again. Then I got inspired to write about my house helps as well.

Unlike Ladylou who was not blessed with a good helper, I had a share of both helpers from heaven and from hell.

From the ring of fire

Nanny # 1 was an 18-year-old who came from a province 5 hours away from our city recommended by my aunt’s friend. She wanted to save money to be able to go to school thus she applied to be a house help/nanny. She arrived just a week after I gave birth. Her main tasks were simple household chores like washing dishes, doing the laundry, making sure the house was extra tidy since we had a newborn, and the likes. I or my husband cooked the viands, she cooked rice. I emphasized cleanliness. I stressed that she’s a part of the family so everything we eat, she eats, we eat together. She nodded and I was pretty sure she understood. 

The next day I was left in total disbelief when I called her and said “pag hukad na kay mamahaw na ta” to which she replied “human na man ko kaon te”.  The nerve! I felt like my operation had been slashed open! 

Cleanliness didn’t seem to sink in as well. Once, I asked her to sterilize my son’s feeding bottles. Just as I was about to go to the toilet I saw her coming out of it bringing with her a dipper full of water. “Para unsa na?” I asked. “Para sa beberon te.” WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!!! I so wanted to pour hot water on her head! Where was she when God sprinkled ‘common sense’ on earth? I couldn’t do anything but try to bear with her stupidly ignorant presence as it was difficult to look for house helps and I couldn’t do household chores and take care of my newborn at the same time. 

It seemed like she was born to a rich family for she was simply inexperienced when it comes to basic chores. Dishes were still greasy, laundry smelled detergent if not white stuff became coloured, sunny side up eggs became scrambled eggs, fried fish became fish fillet because she kept turning it. My newly bought non-stick pans were scratched with steel wool. She simply didn’t remember repeated instructions on how to wash such pans.  Worse, when asked to dish out the soup, she placed it on a plastic container used for raw fish in the freezer. Worst, she vanishes without permission only to find out that she goes out with other house helps in the neighbourhood. That’s when I took a nap in the afternoon, leaving all the doors open and I was like a fool calling out her name in the quiet streets of the subdivision. Duh!

Corrections and reprimands were nicely given but her gray matter seemed to be too small to absorb them. She lasted a month. I was relieved she left.

Nanny # 2 was from the same province, a 17-year-old with kilay five-thousand! She was active and did quite well in the household chores. She was just a “balye girl”. I discovered it when on her 2nd day at home, she immediately commented, “te ing-ani gyud diri? Alas-syete pa mingaw na dalan?” Haleeeeer as if the place she came from was bustling with city life! I said, “ngano, sa inyo diay bibo?”. “O te, kay mamayle bya me”, she responded.

TV was on the whole day and chores were delayed because she would simply say, “kadali te ha, tan-aw sa ko” lying down on the couch with her legs calmly nestled on the edge.  

Two weeks later she asked to be sent home because she was bored. Reluctance was not in my vocabulary that moment.

Nannies with Hallows 

Nanny #3 was from the outskirts of the same province as the two previous ones. She was too big for a 16-year-old. She only finished elementary and had to work early for her parents were mere tenants of a small farm. My sister brought her and the moment she arrived I discerned she was good because she immediately helped despite her long travel and despite our insistence that she rest first.

She was a jolly lass. She woke up early. She always found something to do. House was speck and span, laundry was fragrant and neatly folded, and she was good in putting my son to sleep humming along with his nursery rhymes. Her days off, Sundays, were still spent at home because she didn’t want to go to malls. “Kalas ra na kuarta te, tigom ra ko kay padala kang mama.” She only spent money for her cellphone load as she enjoyed texting her textmates and then giggled every time she shared her text adventures to us.

We offered to enrol her to school the following school year. We simply waited for her birth certificate and other documents. Almost a year after however, she tearfully decided to go home. Her mom continuously asked her to be home. I didn’t want to let her go but neither can I ask her to stay. She cried bidding my son goodbye. I hid my tears. She remained in contact with us a few months after, constantly asking how my son was.
I learned she went back to school in their barrio. I was happy for her.

Nanny #4 was a fashionable 21 year-old single mom from Bohol brought to us by my husband’s cousin. It was her second time in CDO. The first was with her sister at a hardware shop.

Like the previous help, she was simply a veteran with house chores. There was no need to instruct her on what to do. She asked questions if she was uncertain of some stuff. She was so good with my then almost two-year old son keeping him well-fed and clean while I was at work. There was nothing else I could say. She was heaven-sent as we've been struggling for months without a nanny.

Her days off were spent with her sister window shopping or roaming around the city. A couple of times she brought her cousins to our place for a visit. At first we were apprehensive because these were strangers but they were okay. She went home for New Year and we gave her some stuff, some hand-me-down clothes for her little boy and toys as well.

We were jubilant that she came back. Our jubilation was cut short however because we had to let her go home barely a month later since we had to fly here already. If only I could bring her here. She cried when she sent us off. My husband’s family met her a couple of months later when they went to Bohol for vacation. We had a chance to video-chat. She shed a tear when my son was happily yelling her name.

In this place where house helps are not in and nannies are plainly expensive I often remember the very good nannies I had and laughed about the dim-witted ones.

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