• Richard Scrimger

how should a nanny be?

It's moral dilemma time. Not that I am going to actually do anything, but I don't know how to feel.  No that's not right either -- I know how I feel, I just don't know if I am right to feel this way. Here's the situation.  I was walking through my totally nice if slightly smug Toronto neighborhood (dogs with hankies for collars, hybrid cars, anti-pipeline signs) on my way to the subway when I met a three-or-so-year-old kid out in his stroller with his nanny pushing.  No, that's not the dilemma.  I have no problem with nannies.  Kids need care, parent or parents are busy, and rich enough to afford help, nannies like kids and want a gig -- everybody can win.  Wait, though -- could this lady have been the kid's mom?  Sure.  She had the air of a nanny but I guess you never know.  That's not the dilemma either.  Wait for it.  She was talking excitedly, reminding me of the way I used to talk to my kids on our way to the park or the store or the after-hours clinic.  The language was not English, and the kid did not look like he understood, but my first thought was:  Cool.  The more cultures we are exposed to, the better.  If an Anglo kid learns a few words in Finnish or Portuguese or Mandarin, great.  But this was not the case.  When they passed me I realized the truth of the situation.  She was on a hands-free phone, in the middle of what seemed to be an extended conversation. And I thought:  Hmmm.

Now if this lady is the kid's mom, ignoring him to chat with her boss or partner or sister, then, well, that is totally normal behaviour.  I've done it myself a million times, more or less like the mom in the picture.  My dilemma here is  hypothetical, but let's say the lady I saw was a nanny.  My question is:  How cool is her behaviour?   Not a safety issue.  Not a no-personal-calls-ever issue.  Not a language issue.  But if you take them all together, the picture just looks wrong, doesn't it?  The kid is so ignored, so left out of things. It's almost as if he was alone in his stroller.  I guess it would be the same if the nanny took her charge to visit a friend and the grownups ignored the kid but this virtual isolation seems stronger.  No?  Am I wrong?


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Richard Scrimger | scrimgerr@gmail.com | Toronto, ON, Canada