paid and personal

October 14, 2014

returning from the morning school drop-off today i was prompted to think about a specific oh-so-first world problem and the western countries habits of farming out duties, activities, responsibilities, housekeeping and child-raising.  in particular the child-raising one.

understand first that i’m all for specialisation.  i like professionals with years of training and experience being in charge of and responsible for most of the things in my life.  you know, firefighters that may rescue me with lots of fire-resistant equipment and lake full amounts of water at their disposal, not just my kindly neighbour with a bucket.  or engineers and designers and craftspeople making the planes i fly in, the toaster i eat from, the bricks in the walls of my house.

in particular i like teachers.  (love them in fact.  COULD NOT live without them, as evidenced by my lost sanity during extended periods of time spent with children.)  if i thought i could teach my kids everything a regular school could (bar the insanity bit) it would make sense for them to be home-schooled.  but i wouldn’t contemplate it for a second.  schools are awesome, in my opinion, for a whole bunch of things, most often for those things they do beyond teaching kids to read; community, caring, teamwork, socialisation, friendship, goal setting, leadership, altruism, conflict resolution et al.

before children attend formal schooling their care is a fraught concern.  (as well as the time before and after standard school operating hours.)  there is a colossal, and i do not use that word lightly, discussion about who should care for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers.  i am not throwing myself into that viper pit today, i will only say i believe there is a big array of options and solutions and one or a combination of these will best suit different families at different times.  the particular child-raising tactic that i was thinking about this morning is that of private live-in nannies.  (big halloo to tash!)  in our affluent, aspirational outer toronto suburb nannies are a dime a dozen.  i would estimate every fourth household has a nanny. (and the rest have live-in grandparents!)  this is based on the dubious maths of comparing how many parents to nannies collect their kids from school every day, generally talking to people around here and the number of nannies to parents at the local playgrounds.  it’s easy to tell the nannies from the parents- the nannies are all south-east asian, almost exclusively phillipino, the parents are white or indian.

so far, so no big deal.  except this morning i learnt some of the phillipino nannies are leaving their own children with relatives, while raising somebody else’s babies in a cold country, far, far away.  i imagine there is a whole lot of economic and possibly other reasons why these women make this decision.  i feel it is horrible and wrong.  mothers should be with their children.  the economy of the phillipines, and all nations, should allow families to stay together.  of course, i’m being idealistic.  i imagine if every family that employs a nanny insisted that the person who fulfils that role not be divided from their family the situation may change.  imagination is an amazing, beautiful, deceptive thing.

i continued on my way home with a real sense of horror, it was visceral; my head pounded at the thought of being expected to, if not love, at least strongly attach and like my employers children while my own i’m unable to hug, read to, bind up, rejoice and commiserate with.  while it may not help a struggling family, i resolved then and there, should i ever employ a nanny (highly unlikely as percy and tally are both school age now and funds are not likely to permit) or any other person in any capacity, it would absolutely not entail their removal from their family, particularly their children.