Tuesday, 22 May 2012

The Old Au Pair Family

Right, I've got so much blogging to catch up on that for my own peace of  mind, I've decided to go through the last couple of weeks very methodically, so that I don't miss anything. Don't worry, I'm not literally going to blog about every single thing that has happened to me in the last couple of weeks...

Woke up and lay in bed. Heard my alarm but didn't move. Woke up again and heard my alarm. Didn't move again. Thought about what I would call my cat if I had one. Thought about how the type of cat would affect what name I gave it. Decided if it was grey cat I would call it Storm. When I get my cloak and I am a superhero Storm the cat would be a good side kick but if it was a ginger cat I would call it Amber or Orange Blossom. Realised I was going to be late for work so jumped out of bed and put some leggings on. They had a big hole in and a silvery stain near the knee, I thought it was probably moisturiser so I put them on anyway and then had to sit down- I felt a bit sick because I had jumped out of bed so fast.

No. I'm just going to stick to the Key Events which, as I lead quite a dull life, unfortunately aren't particularly Key. For example, I'm going to start by telling you about lunch with my old au pair family, or as I used to call them, Family Decent.

If you didn't read my blog last year, I called them Family Decent because the family I was working for before them- Family Thrift- used to feed me grated carrot for dinner and they paid me forty euros a week... The less said about them the better.

Sometimes I really miss the kids from Family Decent... All right, so there were times when I would be sat in the kitchen, shaking with anger or frustration, thinking to myself 'I will NEVER be an au pair again' because they were all watching cartoons instead of eating their dinner or getting in the shower and the mum would be coming home any minute; but it's easy to forget the bad times when you're no longer in the middle of a situation. Now I mostly remember how me and the five year old used to go to museums together and he used to be really Keen and Interested in everything: I used to point things out to him and then look around smugly as if to say: 'Look! What a lovely, fun yet education-focused nanny I am.'

However, whilst I do remember that the kids could be Little Shits sometimes, I had completely forgotten  how insanely complicated my job was last year, thanks to the mum being so busy and communicating with me mostly through incomprehensible notes and text messages. I was reminded of this as soon as I got to their building, on the Sunday I went for lunch with them. (We're going back a few weeks now, because it was the Sunday Hollande won the election.) I sent the mum a text to ask her what the code was and she text me back saying:

LBM, I am on the little place

The little place? As in the place du marché ? Or as in, literally, a little place somewhere? (Also, she didn't call me LBM. Obviously she called me by my real name which is a Top Secret and Mystery.)

Ok, I texted her back, Shall I wait for you here?

In the house where Juliette had dance come to me

As I puzzled over her second text, I realised she meant the roundabout at the end of the road, where there is a little culture centre. (By the way I've used a fake name, but Juliette refers to the nine year old that last year I always referred to as 'the eight year old' [because it was a year ago and she was a year younger. Nine minus one year is eight... Do I really have to explain all this to you?])

Once I got there I couldn't see the mum anywhere, so I texted her to say I was at the 'little house' She told me to:

Go in the dancing room.

It was like some elaborate treasure hunt, devised by a man so his girlfriend can find him stood on the balcony, holding an engagement ring and surrounded by rose-scented candles. Or perhaps just lying naked on a bed, handcuffed to the bedposts and wearing a gimp mask. Depends on the man, I suppose.

I went into the room where Juliette used to have dance and realised that it was being used as a polling station. It looked exactly like an English polling station, except everyone was wearing scarves- it being a mild day in early Spring, anyone without a scarf was obviously in danger of Death by Slight Chill, whereas if it had been a warmish May day in England... let's just say there would have been a lot of goose-pimpled flesh on view.

The mum was posting her ballot when I spotted her, she had the five year old with her. His little face lit up when he saw me and when he smiled I could see that he's lost his two front teeth. Altogether now: Awww! He was wearing the same brown velvet blazer with a brown polo neck underneath that he used to wear last year and which earnt him the name 'Seventies Boy' amongst my (mean) friends at the park.

 We went to the market to get 'something hot' to eat and the whole way there the five year old was chatting away to me, telling me about his new school and what he got for Christmas... I asked him if he remembered going to the market with me on a Wednesday morning and he nodded, but I'm pretty sure he was just humoring me. I remember it though. He used to ask for things for me and get really excited about buying courgettes and sweet potatoes and then cry hysterically when we got home and he realised I'd bought them for our lunch and he had to actually eat them.

They didn't have any hot chickens left so the mum bought paella instead which I couldn't understand because it was TWENTY FIVE EUROS and her kids won't even eat spaghetti bolognaise, never mind something that has squid tentacles in it. I remembered how last year she used to tell me 'Oh my kids just love raw radishes! They eat them like sweets!' or something ridiculous like that, so I would cook whatever she had suggested, thinking the kids would be really pleased and then they'd go mad when they saw it on the table, yelling 'We HATE this! We NEVER EAT this!'

I don't know if the mum is optimistic, deluded, or just a really good actor.

Anyway, after promising not to tell you everything single boring thing that has happened to me in the last few weeks, I've just gone and described going to the market in epically dull detail, so I might rush through the rest of my account of having lunch with my old au pair family:

The girls were happy to see me, they jumped on me in exactly the same manner they jumped on Super Au Pair last year, when I got Well Jel because at the time they barely spoke to me some days. The eight year old brought out the birthday card I gave her last year and embarrassingly, it had fairies drawn all over the inside, but I mean I'd really drawn them, you could tell I'd tried really hard. A little bit cringe.

They told me how Swedish Au Pair, the girl who replaced me and who I've been imagining all this time to be some sort of multi-tasking, kind-hearted Bond Girl, was actually a Massive Weirdo. The eleven year old told me Swedish Au Pair never washed (I smirked to myself at this because I'm not exactly known for my OCD washing habits... ha ha.) and she was horrible to them. The mum was a bit more diplomatic and told me that Swedish Au Pair didn't like Paris because she wasn't used to big cities, and she also didn't make any friends so she had no social life. She said Swedish Au Pair's parents came to visit and when she asked to meet them, Swedish Au Pair said she didn't want them to. The mum of Family Decent kept telling her to think about going home, as she could tell she wasn't happy here and when her parents came, Swedish Au Pair finally admitted that she wanted to leave.

After her they got another Swedish au pair, who they really like and funnily enough was in a similar position to me, she was already working as an au pair in Paris but didn't want to stay with her original family as they lived too far out of Paris. The mum said that Second Swedish Au Pair is thinking of staying for another year BUT she also asked me if I would like to be their au pair next year...

I'm not going to gloat but I will say this: You don't miss your water 'til the well runs dry.


I might not be Super Au Pair but I've figured out what I am... I'm Better The Devil You Know Au Pair. All these (two) families begging (not really) asking me to work for them next year... it's not because I'm not shit, it's just because know exactly how shit I am. The great fear of the unknown is getting me job offers.

I politely declined without using the word no, because I might have missed those kids but that job was Hard Work, especially compared with this year. Also, if I stay on as an au pair for another year, it will be so I can pursue other opportunities (such as writing and drama teaching), but Family Decent need someone who can work thirty five hours a week.

Sadly, the mum told me her dad died earlier this year. I'm really surprised because he didn't seem that old, but her mum was quite fragile and poorly all the time. They lived in a HUGE apartment (it had a tree in one of the rooms) and used to always give me chocolate and sweets when I went round with the kids. I liked the grandparents. The mum said that because she was so sad, she didn't want to go on holiday, but she didn't see why the kids should miss out on a holiday, so the two girls and their dad went on a last-minute, all-inclusive vacation in the Caribbean... It's funny because compared with my new au pair family, Family Decent seem really normal and middle class, but they are actually ridiculously rich as well. They just work hard for their money and they're not as flashy with it. I told the mum of Family Decent that the eleven year old in my new family has her own Mac book and goes on Facebook all the time and she was shocked. I also told her that the baby can use an iPad and won't eat his dinner without it and she gasped. (I hope the two families never meet at a party and discover I have been a two-faced Bitchy McGee.)

It was weird being back in their apartment. I still think it's a gorgeous apartment, but it's so small compared to my new family's house. (I need a nickname for them actually, I might call them Family Cool because they listen to hip hop and dress their toddler in Converse and a Ramones t-shirt.)

When I was talking to the mum in the kitchen, I looked at the little table and remembered my first ever day working for them. We sat at the little table and played Monopoly and I just kept looking around and smiling because I couldn't believe the difference between Family Decent and Family Thrift, whose kitchen was falling apart and everything was covered in a fine, brown dust because there were workmen there everyday.

(I know I'm sounding like a money-driven bitch- in reality I don't care if people are rich or poor- but Family Thrift were obviously having Money Troubles and they just couldn't afford an au pair.)

So. That just about sums up my lunch with Family Decent. Now I have to go and sort my nails out before work, I've just bought that Magnetix nail varnish from Claire's Accessories, the one where you apply it and then use a magnet to make patterns in the metallic paint. I was in Claire's buying the eight year old- of Family Cool- a birthday present by the way, I haven't suddenly started wearing florescent green leg warmers and feather boas.


  1. Love your posts - interesting and funny. I read them in work, so it is extra nice, being a bit naughty. When I leave at the end of July I will have to read them in my own time! (But I still will I hasten to add, ha ha!) GM x

    1. Ha ha maybe you won't find them so interesting and funny once you leave work and don't need them to distract you from work-related things! Thanks for reading anyway, I hope you do carry on after you leave work! x

  2. I feel like the Anonymous above me is my doppleganger... I'm slightly frightened.

    1. Maybe she is your doppleganger, don't be scared, embrace it!