When herself was born, we were living abroad. This meant that there were usually no family members about to mind our children, so we entrusted them to a range of strangers, broadly successfully. However, I have been trying to make a list of all the people who have minded my children but I just can’t remember, which is something of a failure, I concede.
Herself was only minded by family (mostly her parents) until she went to the creche at about six months at which point the lovely Rachida minded her but then she progressed to Maëlle and then went upstairs to the big children and didn’t have anyone in particular that I can remember.
We also entrusted her for a weekend to Genia our Polish cleaner just before the boys were born. We escaped to Paris. When we came back herself could sing Frère Jacques in Polish.
When the boys were born we hired Charity to mind them. We entered into an immensely and, in retrospect, unnecessary rigmarole where they went to the crèche a couple of days a week and were minded by Charity on other days. I have, sadly, no real memory of who minded the boys in the crèche. Herself, as a big 2 and a half year old, had already started school at this point (Madame Marie, Madame Tatiane, Madame Valerie and Madame Christine in that order). Charity, from the Philippines, was organised and sensible and kept our flat immaculate – although there was an awkward conversation about long distance phone calls at one point – but the children weren’t particularly fond of her, I feel. We had two other Filipina babysitters for odd evenings or emergencies and they were both much more popular. Maybe it’s easier to be popular, if you’re not doing the day in/day out work.
It was around this time that we got an evening babysitter who came every Saturday. This was Katja who was a lovely, gentle French girl from Collioure, studying art but comic book art. Welcome to Belgium. When she left, we nearly cried and she gave us a couple of bottles of wine from her brother’s vineyard.
When we came back to Ireland, I decided that we would try to get French babysitters to mind the children to keep up their French. This has been somewhat mocked but I think it has worked quite well, though I would concede that turnover has been an issue.
The boys started in a crèche chosen by their grandparents and they really liked it. In fact they still speak nostalgically about it occasionally especially the morning that the electricity went down and they had croissants for breakfast. They were minded there by a terrifying Romanian woman called Monica whom they adored.
For picking up from school/creche duty, we started with three students who shared the job between them. Not maybe a great model and not terrifically successful. I can’t quite remember their names off-hand which is never good. Then we had Florence for about a year. I quite liked her though she always seemed a bit tired – she had another job in the mornings. I think it was on her watch that Michael was snatched from under an approaching tram. An event so exciting that all three children recounted it to me in technicolour detail. She handed over to Melanie. Melanie was terrific. She was a brilliant cook and always doing things with the children. And she was in Ireland for the foreseeable future. But then her boyfriend lost his job and they decided to go back to France. Alas. Then there was Odile who was practical but they did not love her. And then she left for France early for reasons I cannot now recall and we had Magali for 6 weeks whom they all cordially loathed. Around this time we had Julia doing our evening babysitting and she was very beloved and she loved them. But yes, she went back to France – actually to Berlin to be with her boyfriend but it was all the one to us.
From September 2011 to June 2012 we had Lauriane and she was terrific. When reminded of her existence recently, Daniel cried [not welcome, as such, obviously, but just shows how much they liked her]. Flexible, obliging, reliable, punctual, quite strict, very dutiful and much loved by the children. And, as a bonus, she made them speak French. Friday 29 June 2012 was her last day. Sad sigh. On the plus side, barring disaster, our evening babysitter, C, will not be returning to France as she has made her home here.
For the first time, from September 2012 to June 2013, we had a man, Thomas. He was amazingly good at folding clothes. Also, they all really liked him and he was obliging and conscientious. Another one that we are sad to see go. The children are becoming annoyed about turnover. I did hope that Thomas might come back to us in September but alas, it turned out that he had to eat and he found another job.
So we started with Ana in September. So far so good. She has another job in the morning and she sometimes looks exhausted when we get home. She is half Spanish and rather warmer or different I suppose to our usual cohort. The Princess is exhausted by Ana’s interest in her doings (“She’s always asking me, how was my day in school, what am I reading?”) having grown used to a different cultural regime.
I’ve just realised, that I’ve done all this before. I’m pleased to see that I am reasonably consistent. Although I did completely forget Aliette who was rather good.