You Say "Nounou," I Say "No, No..."
Most mothers have considered the question: Would I hire a "hot" nanny or babysitter to look after my kids?
Someone younger and more fit, with perkier you-know-what's? Someone who gets a full night's sleep and even if she doesn't (because she's out clubbing) she's young enough to shake off the prior night's abuses with a diet coke and Egg McMuffin (or here in Paris, un cafe and a pack of cigarettes). She's breezy, carefree and more than happy to sit on the floor with your toddler for hours at a stretch with nary a complaint aimed at your man when he comes through the door.
If you're like me, you've probably come to the same conclusion: No way.
Because really, who needs it? When we're in the ballpark for a new sitter or nanny, we're not likely to be at our very best. We've probably given birth recently, or are about to, or perhaps did so awhile back and are therefore perpetually tired, under-showered and overall less attractive. Or at least it feels that way.
So, the very last thing we need is a super attractive babysitter.
With this in mind, I interviewed a new sitter yesterday. Let's call her Veronique. Veronique, a French "student" from the chic coastal town of Deauville, came highly recommended by another American mom in Paris. She raved: "Veronique is fabulous. She took care of my four children everyday after school...took them to activities..they loved her...10 euros an hour." Sounded great.
We are actually looking for more than just an occasional sitter -- a part-time nanny ("nounou" in French) for a year-long commitment. We recently lucked into renting a ridiculously cheap extra room in our building known as a chambre de bonne that we hoped to exchange for a handful of babysitting hours. Veronique wanted this exact arrangement. Parfait! No money would change hands; she'd stay in the room (entirely separate from our apartment) and Greg and I would get our long coveted two nights out per week. The room is tiny and lacks a private shower but hey, this is France. She'd manage.
Then yesterday, I met Veronique. Actually, we met Veronique. Greg was home slightly earlier than usual enabling him to participate in the bizarre ritual of sitter interviewing -- a task which normally falls to me alone.
Not sure what struck me first about Veronique: the tussled blonde mane, the micro-mini, bare legs and high-heeled ankle boots? Or was it perhaps the sexy/nerdy glasses framing her heart shaped face? No, none of those. Perhaps it was the ridiculously low cut tank top worn sans bra? Ah, yes. That was it.
And if I hadn't noticed, you can be absolutely certain who did.
Poor Greg. I actually felt kind of sorry for the guy. Not because of the young, French - and virtually topless - woman in our living room, but because I was right there to observe how he reacted to it all.
Suffice it to say, he handled it like a gentlemen. After asking some routine questions about her background and experience with kids, we sneaked off to the kitchen to let Veronique engage with the kids.
Greg looked at me with a half smile and shook his head. "I don't think this is right. She seems like a party girl. And besides...where would she shower? Here?"
Hmm. Not the first concern that sprang to my mind, but clearly something Greg had been considering.
I agreed that Veronique didn't feel like a fit for us. I had been told that she was bilingual -- she had spent a year in Chicago as an au pair -- but it seemed like her English was fairly limited with a particular fondness for the phrase, "It's cool.."
When I asked if she could read English, she responded, "You mean, like, Virginia Woolf?" Uh, no, more along the lines of Cat in the Hat, I said. She giggled. Hair toss.
In fact, there was altogether too much giggling and hair tossing; far too little interest in the kids. No sitting on the floor, no asking to see their room, no inquiries about their favorite toys. (minimum requirements for a babysitter to pass muster). So we parted amicably with me mumbling something about other babysitters to interview and being in touch.
As she sauntered out of our apartment and into the Paris evening, I tried to be level-headed. Was I overreacting because she was young and attractive? Overly put off by her lack of appropriate undergarments?
But I’m still not hiring her.