My Year as a Nanny: Tending Mary Jane
“Looks like they had a good time last night,” I thought to myself, pushing the pipe, bag of buds, and lighter behind a lamp in an effort to conceal them from the children’s view.
The last thing I needed in my job as a nanny was the task of explaining to my charges, “When Mommy has a PhD, and Daddy is an executive in a big building downtown, life can get very stressful. Sometimes, at the end of a long day, they just need to tuck you guys in and then kick back with some reefer. Repeat after me: reeeeee-ferrrrr.”
As much as I didn’t care one way or another how the adults who wrote me a cheque for $200 each week–$155 after taxes (Incidentally, that came to $5 large American dollars for each hour of watching their two children–the going rate in 1989 to have a private liberal arts college graduate wipe magna cum laude from one’s children’s behinds)–spent their evenings, I also didn’t feel comfortable picking up their paraphernalia and stuffing it more completely out of sight. If I did that, then I’d have to explain, in code, at the end of the day, “Hi, welcome home from work. Kevin took a short afternoon nap, so he’ll probably go down early, and Lila sang out loud during her entire hour of quiet time; it was adorable. She made up some hilarious lyrics to ‘I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.’ Oh, and by the way: I ook-tay our-yay ipe-pay and aggie-bay of ot-pay and put it in the ashing-way achine-may.”
So I merely tucked the items out of view and then fired up the television so the kids and I could enjoy our allowed half-hour of screen time that day in the form of our favorite pre-8 a.m. program: Maya the Bee.
(A stunned-looking Maya wonders where her pot went. Best guesses have it that her pal Willy the Bee had himself a big smoke in the hive.)
A half hour later, we turned off the tv and headed upstairs to blow bubbles, make towers of blocks, play an interminable game of Chutes & Ladders, read four books, and walk up and down the block.
That got us to 8:11 a.m.
Truly, hours with small kids can move at a glacial pace, making the brain space out and drift aimlessly. The highlight of the whole thing is snack time.
Pretty much, taking care of young ‘uns is like being stoned without having to inhale, really.
At the end of that day, ten hours after I shoved the weed behind the lamp in the basement, I headed home, eager to make some Ramen and collapse in front of the television with my roommates, rule-free, for however long we chose. In contrast to the daytime, those evening hours flew by.
The next morning, when I let myself into the house where I nannied, the mother caught me for a quick minute in the kitchen. Sheepishly, she alternately rushed and stuttered,
“So…yesterday…we…left…some…thingsyoufound…in…thebasementwhichwasawhoopsie…and…well…ifthat’saproblemjustsayso…we…don’t…want…any…issues…so, um, sorry about that. Are we okay?”
My answer came easily, “We’re totally okay. As far as I’m concerned, your kids are well loved, your lives are awesome, you guys are great, so nothing beyond that is my business. No problem.”
Relief spread across her face, but she remained silent for a beat. And then:
“Oh, good. I’m so glad. Uh, actually, as long as we’re on the subject, uh, we’ve been having trouble lately finding a supply. Our former source dried up.”
Taking a deep breath, the PhD-mother-of-two who wrote me a cheque for $200 every week braved the true question:
“So, I don’t suppose you know anyone who would be able to help us out with that? We were thinking at your age that you might know someone who could keep us supplied?”
In response, I murmured something about asking around and seeing if anyone knew anyone. Then I watched her drive off to her job as a psychologist, and my hands went to work warming up Eggo waffles for the kids, but
my brain spent the next hour marveling that
the person who cares for the kids makes less than
the person who peddles the pot.