All that glisters is not gold….. Gilded tombs do worms enfold.
Shakespeare was not just rhyming. He was onto something there. People talk all the time about how having domestic help is great. It is, but as there’s a downside to everything, here’s my top 10 list on why having help sucks!
- No nudity- you know those Sundays [in my case limited to when the boys are in Tema] when you don’t feel like wearing anything? Well, you don’t have a choice. Best put something on before you step out of the room or brace yourself for embarrassing moments.
- No spontaneous middle of the day sex- we did it a few times, but afterwards, you come out and feel kind of … not quite guilty or defensive. There’s some undefined desire to establish that you’re still boss or something. I can’t quite tell. We decided that feeling like we had to hold our heads high in the presence of our help was not really fun so we don’t - much at any rate.
- no gossip or confiding outside your room- even inside the room, whispers are best.
- no carelessness with money- you can still fling change onto the cupboard. it just won't be there every time.
That’s right. There aren’t 10 things that suck about having help. Having help rocks. I am forever grateful that I live in Ghana where I can be unemployed and afford live-in help.
The reason there’s a thumbs-down list at all is that the children are growing older and easier everyday. They can brush their own teeth. Although if I let them too often, I’ll need to up my dentist budget. They can bath themselves. Not perhaps to meet international bathing standards but with anti-bacterial soap, there’s little to fear.
They can go to the bathroom on their own both for number 1 and number 2. Vini still yells when he’s done doing number two: Agnes can you please come and wipe my poopoo bumbum?’ Dovie, with a growing and rather amusing and bemusing sense of privacy will wipe himself whether or not you ask him to call you. Nor will he let you stick around while he’s pooing. ‘mama can you please go. I will call you when I finish.’ but he won’t. And usually he’s done a pretty good job too. Their new mantra is ‘I can do it myself’. After lengthy negotiations, we have reached an agreement; in the mornings adults clean children, at night, children clean children and adults watch.
If they are thirsty, they get their own water. They don’t need diapers and they don’t wet their beds. They know exactly what they want to wear and won’t accept your help dressing up unless you respect their choices. [ I once told Dove to change one or other part of his orange and green ensemble. He thought about it a minute and replied with a shrug ‘maman these colours they make me happy.’]
And best of all, they have become my errand boys. Such efficient little bell boys they are. ‘Dovie, Pick the papers up for me please.. take that to the kitchen. Vini, bring my phone, fetch my shoes. Tell `papa uncle John is here.’ MMm. I get to spend long lovely moments in those lazy positions from which only emergencies can move you, while around me, my mini-me s get things done.
What’s the connection between all these and the feeling that having help has its drawbacks? Simple really, a case of ‘se odo sa a n’ato adapaa.’ [out fades the love, in flows the hate] The horrible endless wheel of chores that comes with helpless babies and makes them oppressive has rolled away. I now have the liberty to be irritated that there’s some stranger on my compound forcing me to put clothes on to get a drink of water in the night. Once, I scrambled around trying to make life in our yard appealing to my help Now I tell them ‘the end of the month is a bad time to annoy me, because its really easy to pay you off.’ Maaba do ankasa!
Of course, bathrooms still need to be cleaned, floors must be swept, things arranged, ironing done, washing up put away, tables cleared, furniture polished, trash taken out… the list is endless. And no matter how well they are done today, tomorrow they fall to be done with the same energy again. These non baby related chores do not show any signs of going away.
This is why the top 10 help rocks list trumps the help sucks list. It is admittedly very intrusive to have strangers in your home nearly always but man, it makes for living it up. I wouldn’t give up the luxury for anything. I’ll just grumble I think. Domestic help… I dey biiiii keke!!!!.