Hmm. I sat down thinking “I’m going to write a blog post today!” but now that I’m faced with a blank box to fill I’m not sure what I’m going to write about. Let’s see what happens.
Tonight I did my first genuine sole-charge babysitting. Daughter One had a concert which her mum went along to, which started sufficiently early that they were both gone by 4.15 (in fact Daughter One just didn’t come home from school). I collected the younger girls from school accompanied by Baby Girl and Sole Boy – there were some unusual tears from Daughter Two as she had been expecting her mum and some sweets, but they were managable. Daughter Two is always much more reasonable emotionally – if we have a tantrum from her it is very rare and usually for an understandable reason (total exhaustion, illness, hunger), and rather than getting angry she just cries for a few minutes and is then prepared to be talked round. In contrast to Daughter Three who can be impossible to quiet… but that’s a post for another day. And after all she is almost two years younger.
Anyway, we got back fairly easily after looking at the trams, the moss on the wall, the lady picking up rubbish, every road sign ever, the cobblestones around the trees, a garden tree hung about with plastic toys… you get the idea. Daughter Three is always fascinated by this sort of thing and Daughter Two has a very scientific, enquiring sort of mind which I just love. I think fetching them from school with the baby in the pushchair is one of my favourite parts of this job, especially if the weather isn’t too appalling.
When we got back Daughter Two had an english tutorial (they are at a French school but I think their parents are keen for them to keep up with their “native” tongue) so Baby Girl, Daughter Three and I played a little. Then I managed to get everyone bathed and into nightgarb and back downstairs with ease. I was amazed; every single other night we have had tantrums and meltdowns and power struggles, and that is with their mum there. In fact that might be the problem – because their mum is there, there may be a general sense that they don’t have to listen to me because I’m not at the head of the pecking order. Tonight I put into practice the advice she had been giving me and it worked! I was pretty pleased.
Then the housekeeper and her husband, who both ate with us, left and I ferried them all up to bed. That was painless too – not even a big struggle over teeth-cleaning, which I insisted Daughter Three did twice to prove to me she had actually done it. I read a few stories (another lovely part of the job is rediscovering all those books I read as a child) and then everyone was asleep.
Today hasn’t all be childcare though, despite the fact that it sort of felt like it since I worked a bit at midday and then late afternoon and evening. I also had my intensive french grammar lesson and discovered an entire tense that I didn’t know existed – the passé simple (which apparently is just a slightly posher version of the passé compose). I can’t believe no one mentioned its existence to me in the fifteen years I have been studying languages. Crazy times.
Tomorrow I’m off to the English shop to buy some things for a Burns Supper they’re giving in the evening (I’m semi-babysitting, which I guess is mostly just responding to baby cries to leave the parents free to hurly and whirl to their hearts’ content), and I might go skating if it isn’t too cold. I have been meaning to go ever since I got here but somehow never quite made it. I will definitely go soon!
It may sound as though I’m busy all the time but I’ve been doing a fair bit of reading too. Browsing the family’s bookshelves I discovered a copy of Victoria Glendinning’s biography of Vita Sackville-West (for those of you not quite as infatuated with Bloomsbury as I am, she was one of Virginia Woolf’s lovers and the inspiration for Orlando) and the second volume of Virginia’s letters so I’m reading the former now and hoping to find the first volume of the latter. I discovered that Shakespeare & Co has an entire section on the Woolfs and their friends so I can see where my wages are going to be going… At least if I ever go on Mastermind I’ll have an obvious choice of speciality.
Now everyone is home and for some reason the housekeeper and her husband have returned – possibly for drinks or something? They lived here up until the day after I arrived (the first night I slept in the office since they hadn’t moved out yet) so they are presumably good friends of the parents.