No one ever tells you about the weird stuff before you start working with kids. No one tells you about the multiple bodily fluids (not yours) that will be shared either consciously (the dogs) or unconsciously (the kids). No one tells you about the bruises with no discernable origin that will surface on your skin by the end of the week, or about the questions you will have to answer, like, “why is that tree the height that it is?”, “why can’t I eat my poo?”, or “do rocks have feelings?”.
“You’re a nanny? How nice!” they say, and to a point it is nice. No running coffees, no cleaning the men’s toilets at the cinema after The Official Metallica Fan Club of Australia has just left the building. What is not so nice, though, is a bruised bajingo. Yep. Had I known this morning that a six year old would bash his head with considerable force against my lady parts, causing me to swear loudly and double over, perhaps I would have worn a precautionary codpiece. But I didn’t know, and now, I am paying for it. To be fair, he was demonstrating the exact process of a charging African warthog, and really, it all could have been worse if I possessed testicles. But nevertheless, I now have a definite bruise in my pants and the inexplicable need to share this bizarre injury with the world. Sitting on a couch while a two year old alternates between kicking you in your left breast and using your arm as a tissue does, at times, make you think wistfully of the days when you had to wear a name-badge and sweep popcorn off the floor for hours. And it does make you value the childless student house you will go home to at the end of it all. But none of that matters presently because you’ve just discovered that there was avocado in your hair all day and someone has drawn in pink texta on your shopping list obscuring everything after the word ‘eggplant’.
It isn’t easy being a nanny. You lie in the grey area between mother and big sister, which is why you just smile when the toddler yanks down your top and yells “Boobies!” like she has discovered some lost treasure. And why you forgive the little warthog and explain to him about ‘sensitive areas’. It’s also why, when the twins won’t stop playing with their ‘tentacles’ in the bath, you stifle your giggles, and hand them a towel. You are a cuddle toy and a punching bag, comforter and negotiator extraordinaire, a bringer of fruit and applier of sunscreen. You are chauffeur and diplomat, teacher and tutor, distributor of lunchboxes and enforcer of the rules. You are not their mum. But what you are is important. And, just maybe, that’s worth the bruise on your beaver.