Pre-emptive Nostalgia

Yesterday I was setting the table ready for supper, a horde of children bustling round the room and the Housekeeper cooking mussels in the kitchen (big hit round here), when The Mother anounced she was off to the tram station to pick someone up for a job interview.

My shock must have been visible, although I think she misinterpreted it – she was quick to assure me she was interviewing someone, not being interviewed herself.

It wasn’t the thought of a sudden career change that surprised me though. It was the fact that a) it was obvious she was interviewing for my replacement, which brought it home with a thump that I really am leaving, really soon, and b) she hadn’t mentioned it earlier.

It shouldn’t really have surprised me. This is a busy household and in general information is dolled out on a need-to-know basis, often at the last minute. It certainly isn’t rudeness; perhaps it is a bit thoughtless at times but we get along fairly well, since the rest of us communicate quite effectively even with the language barrier. (And if all else fails, there’s always the whiteboard in the kitchen where we leave each other helpful notes and Daughter One often writes happy, inspiring quotes to make us smile. When she isn’t being Teenagery she is a joy to be around.)

But I was thrown a little. I had been feeling guilty at leaving them in the lurch, because I had got the impression that she’d had some difficulty finding me and not had a lot of responses back then. Now it is even more short notice (thinking about it, actually, that’s not true – I saw the advert on December 20th and was here by January 8th) and not the best time of year to be looking.

So I was feeling guilty. And I suppose a bit unsettled, because with a precipitated end-point in view I feel as though I’m sort of hanging in limbo, and have suspected a slight change in the type of things I’m being asked to do at the moment: more tidying and cleaning, less playing or spending time with the kids. I’ve been left alone in the house twice while The Mother takes the children somewhere, which has never happened before.

Anyway, all this is a long lead-up to the point of this story, which I have now forgotten. So much for that idea! Sometimes life is like that.*

I think I was going to say something about Baby Girl, although I have absolutely no idea how it was connected to all that interview-communication griping. I’ve just been reading one of my favourite child-care related blogs and something in an old post made me ponder. I’ve not met many infants, and my idea of what is a “normal” developmental milestone is based entirely on the six under-7s I have worked with (I’m not counting church creche babies, because as cute as they are, I only saw them for 30 minutes a month).

Baby Girl is a fantastic walker. She started at thirteen months (on my birthday!) and today she positively ran across the room to me when I walked in this morning. She still wobbles on uneven surfaces and falls down with a bump ever so often, but on the whole she’s doing great. Her climbing is impressive, and often terrifying. She is pretty good at problem-solving: today she was trying to get at a pen which was in the bottom of the pushchair’s basket. Reaching from the side resulted in her head squashed against the frame. Reaching from the back was impeded by the rainhood, so she lifted it up with one hand whilst reaching with the other. That’s impressive in my book.

She still isn’t speaking though. We get mama, dada, nana, luhluh (an approximation of both the dog’s name, and one of her sister’s), baba, guhguh (which means “good girl”, and she definitely knows what it means). I am hoping against hope that some miracle will occur and she’ll suddenly use a sentence in the next thirteen days but it seems unlikely at this stage.

I guess I’ll just have to acquire some kids of my own and wait for them to start talking. Right now it feels like these are the only babies in the world, but give me a few years and the fulfillment of my home nursery ambition and they’ll just be a happy memory on the road of experience.

* And I’ve just remembered what the connection was – when The Mother was introducing Potential Replacement Me to the children, she couldn’t remember how old Baby Girl was. I was pretty sure it was sixteen months, but actually it’s fifteen months tomorrow – handily her birthday is the first day of the year (and oddly so is one of her sister’s).

Totally unrelated to babies, which I’m sure many of you will be glad about; is anyone watching Waterloo Road? I can’t wait for next week’s season finale! Thank goodness for flagrantly illegal YouTube uploading, it’s the cruellest thing in the world to leave an entire series on iPlayer until five days before I return to a country where I can actually watch it!

Weird to think what life is going to be like when I go back. I’m back to planning to do almost exactly the same things I was planning in November – Paris will be like it never even happened. Some day I’ll be saying “oh, I was an au pair for a couple of months, it was fun”. How weird.

I’m in a musing sort of mood tonight, but I have to be up in less than seven hours. Lately I’ve been getting eleven to twelve hours of sleep a night, so after last night’s coughing-induced insomnia and tonight’s YouTube-distraction-induced lateness I might have some trouble coping… I foresee a nap between dropping the kids at school and picking them up for lunch (and maybe another between taking them back and bringing them home in the afternoon!).


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