Contributed by Chioma Sylvie Mgbaramuko
After experiencing four unsuccessful attempts at hiring a good Nanny in less than a year, I have drawn a conclusion, one big enough like a teacher’s drawing on the board for her students to see and not give an excuse why they didn’t draw or why they drew something else.
This drawing is not a perfect drawing, more like a guiding instruction. Wondering what I am on about? Catch up with my earlier chronicle, and the nightmare mothers are going through to secure nannies to help with caring for their children especially in a city like Lagos. As if the whole bustle of life in the city with a family and a career to keep is not enough, Mothers also have to walk the tightrope of managing this special group of ‘her excellencies’ called nannies.
So I was talking about reaching conclusions. Here they are:
1. Nannies from agents are from a particular geographical location hence similar mannerism and behavioural patterns. They have one relative who is in charge of their salaries and their relationships with these relatives are never straight forward. It’s either she’s a distant relation or somebody from their village that stays in Lagos. One thing is constant though, this relative cannot train them but gets to keep their salaries.
I don’t know who to blame here: the agent who is after money alone and just picks whatever is available or the madam who is desperate for a Nanny and relies completely on the agent’s expertise. There is an unanswered question here, the type you see in exams and you know the teacher is crazy because he too doesn’t know the answer or he never taught you, so you ignore it.
2. If you want a well behaved Nanny, then you are probably looking at a relative of yours or one that came with a high recommendation from someone whose opinion you can trust, “I know her very well. Her uncle’s father was the pastor of our church when I was a child. Her family is well- behaved.” Here, all I can say is, tomorrow is a promise no one has made you. It is like unwrapping unmarked parcels. What you see, you get. It’s a 50:50 situation, or more realistically, let’s say 70:30. The higher ratio of course goes to picking a complete headache.
You remember Patience right? She had only just arrived as at the time I served you the first part of this chronicle. Well, let’s just say our patience, didn’t last for so long. The first hit was like the red light from a clicker, pointing out several signals. It was her third night or so and I had just finished eating and taken the leftover to the kitchen. All the while I noticed her eyes were following my every move. I had barely returned to where I was sitting when Patience dashed to the kitchen like she was being chased by a madman. I followed her few minutes later out of curiosity to see what was wrong and I saw her stuffing the leftover down her throat. At first I felt pity, perhaps it was hunger but then I thought again, she had just had dinner herself and her share was quite a heap. I knew immediately that there was something wrong. She confirmed it a week later. Patience had long-throat, an irredeemable one, and it was the root source of every other bad habit she exhibited.
Her core apart from her incurable long-throat was lying. She lied such that you felt embarrassed on her behalf. She just made you look like a fool. And even when it’s so glaring that she’s been made, she would rather die than own up. One would wonder if she swore an oath to the goddess of falsehood if one existed. Patience lied about almost everything, that when she eventually tells the truth (if ever she does), you are likely to dismiss it as a lie “as usual.”
I realised that some of them regardless of how you treat them, already have their minds made up with a dark agenda. They make you look wicked, cause you end up always shouting like you are some demented woman, and so when you come out the neighbours give you this “na wa o” look, that piercing look that gets you to reevaluate: ” am I really being wicked? What have I not done for her? Should I talk to her maybe she would change? Should I just leave her to do what she wants?” the questions just keep coming and you can’t find answers because you are actually the victim here.
The last straw with Patience was when she was asked to buy water. She kept the money and went to fetch dirty water from a broken pipe puddle down the road for free. One look at the water and it was obvious. We all interrogated her but she maintained she bought the water. And when we insisted she should take us there, hoping she will now own up, she boldly took us outside and maintained she bought the water there and yet there was no splash of water on the floor not, even a drop to indicate someone had gotten water from the tap.
Hence my final conclusion:
3. If you ever hire a Patience or any of the other three nannies. Don’t bother re-evaluating yourself; you are not wicked, you are not a witch, and you are not a frustrated wife/mother. All you need to do is wait patiently for morning and quietly let her go. Don’t even bother trying to endure like a woman in an abusive relationship. You only asked for help.