Every day in Brooklyn, the nannies are out pushing strollers that hold the children in their care. They are ubiquitous in the parks – even in winter – and on the subways. Hiring a nanny is a way of keeping a child at home and away from the head lice and diseases that are found in day-cares and preschools. But, while day-cares are licensed and generally have security cameras, the nanny is a free agent.
I read the bestseller The Nanny Diaries, and while I’m sure there are indifferent narcissistic mothers like the one in that story, I wonder how most of the mothers would feel if they knew what their nannies were up to. For example, one spring afternoon I saw two nannies with strollers parked in front of the garage door of an expensive house. The nannies were sharing a blunt that I could smell as I rode by on my bike. I wouldn’t want the nanny of my child to smoke cigarettes on the job, let alone marijuana.
Once, a long time ago, I saw a very famous middle-aged actor walking in a park, holding a book near his face and reading. A toddler about two years old was trailing behind trying to keep up with the actor that I could only assume was the little boy’s father. I thought that was sad that the little boy was getting no attention. But now the nannies can’t put their cell phones down for a minute, unless of course, they are in the company of other nannies. Then they talk to each other.
I was once in a store in Atlantic Mall and a nanny was shopping for clothes and talking on the telephone while the little boy in the stroller just cried and cried. Was he hungry? Thirsty? Wet diaper? He needed something, something his parents were paying that nanny to provide and she was just ignoring him. Finally, after 30 minutes (possibly longer) I approached her and said I’d call security if she didn’t take care of that little boy. She got all humble and sheepish and spoke in a Spanish accent, “Yes, I take care right away” and then got in line to pay for her stuff.
The worst nanny situation I witnessed was on a train headed for Coney Island. Two boys about 4 and 6 years old were sitting across the aisle from me. Their nanny – blond, Slavic accent – was laying on the seat in front of them. Cursing at them softly. Using the F-word at these kids. She wore a baseball cap and had it pulled down low and evidently she had serious problems. The smallest of the boys stood in his seat and she ignored that until he fell. She helped him up, cursing softly all the while. I determined to find a cop as soon as we got off the train. The parents should know and the cop would get information to let them know. But when the train stopped she got off quickly with the kids. I tried to follow, but when I saw a cop and when I veered off to speak to him, I lost her.
All I can say is – check your nanny.