As a nanny through most of my university years, I’ve seen some things. Things I can’t unsee. Between glassy-eyed mothers, balding fathers, and the war zone that is the after school pick up line, it’s safe to say parenting ain’t all that and a lunchbox-size bag of chips.
The modern world has conditioned us to think parenthood is quite the charming experience. In reality, it’s not always the walk in the park cereal companies would have us believe. Not to say it’s all bad – kids really do say the darndest things – but modern-day parenting has a dark side only visible on closer inspection.
For me, nannying was like a spoiler for a well-marketed but ultimately disappointing movie. It really made me question my suitability for motherhood, and the expectation most cultures put on having kids.
It’s a double-edged sword, this insight, with part of me wishing I didn’t know what I know. If a brood of your own is what you’ve always dreamt of, and you’d rather go forth into your child-bearing years in blissful ignorance, then I suggest you stop reading – because I’m about to drop a few truth bombs about parenting that I learnt from my time as a nanny.
It’s not as easy as it looks
Nannying is easy right up until it’s really, really hard. One minute you’re enjoying the taste of groceries you didn’t pay for, and the next baby Hugo is smearing his own shit on the wall.
Parenting is this, full-time, and financed by you.
Kids can be cruel
Often, poo is the least of your worries. I’d happily scrub bodily fluids off surfaces all day than deal with mean, nasty, or downright evil kids.
Blackmail is second nature to these little monsters, with their conniving nature lying dormant until they pick up some nasty titbit to use against you. Butter wouldn’t melt in the mouths of these mini-masterminds until you speak unfavourably about the furniture. And then, well… you’re fucked.
It will spill out instinctively but ‘Don’t tell your parents’ is exactly the worst thing you can say. Not only will they tell mum and dad, he or she will also tell their parents that you asked them not to. This is of course if you don’t pander to their every need for the remainder of your shift.
This extortion act is not an innate skill. It is learnt, and by the time it’s tested on you, it has been fine-tuned on one or both parents. In my house, it was dad, with ‘Don’t tell your mother’ the usual nail in his coffin.
At best, it’s boring
Even normal kids are pretty shitty. They tell long-winded stories that are often irrelevant. No narrative, no suspense. Just an unrehearsed stream of consciousness.
As a parent, this is what you have to look forward to. Up to 24 hours a day, and seven days a week.
You become a rubbish person
As a nanny, I found myself infiltrating mothers’ groups in desperate need of adult contact. Over time, I realised every conversation was just an exchange of complaints, with each of us – yes, myself included – trying to out-whinge one another.
Beyond grizzling, having kids seems to grant you a free pass on manners and a sense of entitlement that makes you an enemy of the public if coupled with a four-wheel drive or pram.
You pay for your freedom
Now, dealing with these little turds for hours at a time is pretty horrific. But imagine being on the other side of the transaction – leaving your spawn in the care of someone who will inevitably double-dip in your $13 pot-set yoghurt, and have the cheek to look you in the eye as you hand them wads of cash.
I know this because I’m currently enjoying the better end of this deal, and I’m in no hurry for this to change.
Words by Poppy Johnston
Feature image: Audio Opinions