Only a few weeks ago I announced proudly to Kofi that I’d let go my death grip on Dove, and I’d learnt to let others have a piece of him. Lately though I’ve been having some not so lofty emotions inspired by, of all people, my eager, slow-witted childlike 21 year old nanny. When Dovie sees her, he smiles and makes happy noises, which, oddly, is simultaneously reassuring and most irritating. It is heartening to see evidence from the prince himself that he is treated well in my absence. Still why is he so pleased to see her? Four months ago we didn’t know she existed and here he is grinning at her.
When I’m rational about it, I admit that in his bootsies I’d make happy noises too. She carries him on her back and I make her play with him for hours on end. She often changes his diaper and endures the long and trying process of spoon feeding a baby. He sees her as his playmate and little wonder. To hear her talk to him you’d think she was 4 years old. I can’t help but be annoyed when I’m playing with him and she comes into the room and he looks up and smiles and makes happy noises. I’ve caught myself turning him so his back is to her more times than is acceptable in a mature woman. When he’s with her and I come into the room, he always wants to come with me regardless how happy he was the minute before. I like that. Sometimes I find myself mentally sticking my tongue out at her when he chooses me. He doesn’t always smile immediately he sees me however and when he does that, I stay and chat and play till he does even if that means running late for an appointment. I worry, foolishly I know, that he is losing interest in me.
It is stupid to feel that way about my help. I love having one. Babies, delightful though they are, come with a lot of not particularly enjoyable chores. Its great to do the fun bits and leave the tiresome ones to another. I tell you I wouldn’t for all the undivided Dovie adoration in the world want to do the work I dump on her; changing diapers is not a bonding experience no matter what the books say. But a child does become used to and then fond of a person. I know that at this age, one month after she leaves my employ, he will have no idea who she is. Furthermore, no one can replace me in his soul no matter how much more fun they are than me. I’m his mother and that really is that. Still it doesn’t mean he should smile so cheerily at her does it?
Of course I can’t let any of this show. First because I hate it when I have to face Kofi and admit that I’m being petty. Second, because I don’t want her to feel uncomfortable in a hostile environment and leave. It is hard to come by decent nannies here because there are far too many unemployed and unemployable youths who haven’t got a single skill and who for a small sum will work as nannies even if they hate children. There is no monitoring body for infant care workers and there is little recourse the snail slow overworked and understaffed justice system should you find you nanny has abused your child. Unless it is particularly serious, you usually just let them go and find a new one. Though easy to afford, nannies can be nerve-racking to procure. Korkor’s childlike nature means I can trust her with my son. Being a teenage mother, she has experience with young babies and can care for my son adequately and this she does not only well but, more important, happily. I intend to keep her content so she’ll stay as long as possible. The third reason is that it doesn’t do much for my authority to descend to her level and squabble with her for my own son’s affections. She’s the help, I’m the madam for heaven’s sake.
I start law school in August so he’ll be spending more time with her. Their friendship is good for me because I will feel free of mind and hand to do my work. But I tell you petty or not if I think he’s getting fonder of her than I want him to be, I will let her go, even if she were to win 15 international words for infant care! He’s my son; mine. Nobody is going to get a chance even to compete with me on that one.