It is the night of the new nanny. She is maybe a nanny or maybe a Spanish teacher. It is unclear. She is a blog reader who told me she could help me.
Lots of people offer to come to the farm and help me get that mythic work-life balance that no one really has. But this woman said good things in her emails — that she worked with autistic kids, her native language is Spanish, she loves my blog. I hesitated. She said she has done this before, gone to someone's house for a short time to help get the things back on track. So I said yes.
I had Spanish-speaking nannies in New York City. They are so easy to find there. It should be easy here, too. Darlington has a relatively large Hispanic community. They come to rural areas so the police leave them alone.
Here's an interesting thing about the Hispanic community here. We are one of the only counties in the whole US that has a Hispanic population that is more educated than the white population. The white families have been here for forever, and they don't take big risks—they grow up here and do exactly what their parents did. The Hispanic people have huge ambition, they took huge risks so their kids could grow up in the US and do great things, and they look down on the white people as hicks.
We come into contact with Hispanic people when they buy animals from us. Once a bunch of Hispanic men came by to buy some pigs. But the Farmer and I were having a fight. I was screaming at him that he doesn't ever talk to me and he was saying how he didn't care and I should just take the kids and leave.
I said, “You never wanted a family! You should go live with your pigs! All you want is some woman who doesn't talk to you and just gives you blow jobs!”
The guy who was trying to buy the pigs but couldn't because I was in the way — he just sort of stood there, a little ahead of all his friends in the truck.
And the Farmer looked at me and looked at the guy, and the Farmer said, “How many of you guys understand English?”
And the guy said, “All of us.”
I've tried to hire someone locally who speaks Spanish to work for us. I can't tell if no one is interested because the Hispanic community just doesn't want to have anything to do with the white people or if it's our family in particular that is scary, after the day of pigs.
So I thought maybe this woman could come and negotiate something with someone here who speaks Spanish. So I bought her a plane ticket for a week-long trip. As a try-it-out thing. Also, I did a background check on her. I have a friend who does those for me. I wanted to be careful.
To be honest, I did not talk with the person on the phone. Because I hate the phone. And I did not pick her up at the airport. Jeanenne did. And the person, who I will call S, got to our house at 9pm. The Farmer and I were sitting in the living room waiting.
She has three suitcases. One is full of gifts and Mexican food. She is prepared. She looks like she has diabetes, maybe. She is that kind of fat—the fat was oddly distributed in a too-even way.
She has to use the bathroom and she nearly pulls down the bannister going up the stairs and I am seriously worried that she will not be able to make it living in our house.
I tell S the schedule for the next day. I'm in Chicago for cello lessons and the Farmer is in Madison with the other son. I had sort of hoped that S would take the boys to Madison but it's two hours away. She does not look mobile enough for taking care of the boys in Madison.
S says she will cook dinner for the Farmer and the son. She is very excited to do that and it becomes clear to me that what she wants is to be our cook.
I say I will have to show her how to work the stove. She says she can figure it out, but I have spray-painted the whole thing with chalkboard paint so you can't see the buttons, so really, she will not figure it out.
I show her tricks to finding the on button.
We sit back down in the living room.
She says she brought gifts.
I say, “Oh! Thank you.” I do not ask what because I hate gifts because I hate surprises. Actually, I like gifts that are surprises if the person is not there. I do not like having to be thankful and surprised and grateful all with the person right there. It's a lot of required emotions for one moment.
I told her ahead of time not to bring gifts. The Farmer said she'd bring them anyway. He was right.
She says, “I brought you a copy of the book To Train Up a Child.”
For those of you who did not read my post about this book on my homeschooling blog, go read that right now. This book is about why people should beat their kids, and three kids have died from this way of parenting.
I say, “Oh, I'm so curious to see the book. How did you get a copy?”
“My friends buy it by the case. We love it.”
“What? Beating kids?”
“It's not beating them unless they are very disobedient.”
“That's crazy! This is crazy. Kids are dying.”
“No. It's saving lives. It really works. There is proof.”
“What? Tell me the proof.”
“When the author of the book had his kids in a truck, and the truck caught on fire, he yelled “?Get out of the truck!' and they all ran. Being obedient saved their lives.”
Before I could say anything, before I could even move, the Farmer said, “We're going to bed now. Goodnight.” And he as he stood up he grabbed my hand so that I had to leave with him.
I said goodnight.
Then, in the bedroom, we laughed. For a second. And then he told me that I absolutely cannot have another person visit the house that I have not met for coffee first. He reminded me of the last family. Who I ripped apart on the homeschooling blog. It's amazing, really, that anyone will come visit.
So the next day S makes breakfast. She makes cactus. The boys ask for cornflakes, but they are interested to see the Farmer try cactus. The thing is that we don't want to have all new food. We want stability and predictability. So this breakfast makes no one happy.
It also does not make S happy. She thinks we need to be more strict with the kids and this means the Farmer should sit at the head of the table. She is disturbed that we have her at the head of the table. She does not understand that it's an expression of how little we care about who is at the head. Or maybe she does understand that. Maybe that is the way she is planning to help us.
We do not find out because while I'm driving to Chicago and back, Jeanenne is buying a plane ticket for S to go back early.
The next morning, when I tell S, she seems to not care. She says, “Well, I'll still read your blog.”
All in all, with the plane tickets, and Jeanenne driving to and from the airport, and the $500 I promised to pay S for the week, it cost me about $2000.
But it's a good lesson, because I realized that I am pretty good at having a fun job and a fun family at the same time. I like cooking for the family. I like having a cozy family, just the four of us, on the quiet winter farm. I like our meals together, and I like the dance of driving that I have composed between me and Jeanenne and the Farmer. I am actually doing pretty well at getting my job done and taking care of kids. Having S come tell me that she will fix my life makes me realize that I like my life.