I am an au-pair. I look after kids. You want to know my world, well here it is; the life of a London au-pair.
‘is a domestic assistant working for, and living as part of, a host family. Typically, au pairs take on a share of the family’s responsibility for childcare as well as some housework, and receive a small monetary allowance for personal use.’
This is my job in a definition. But it’s more heart than just that, more work than just that, more life than just that, more complex than just that.
I am in a family of a Dad, a Mum, and two boys aged five and two. I have the top room of a four storey town house. Out my window I can see rows of chimneys and a neighbour’s balcony. At four AM I can hear the planes in the sky above and sometimes the restless crying of a two year old boy. I have ear plugs for such a time. They’re green.
I am not a parent, and I don’t want to be one, for now. I am an au-pair. I must tow the line between being another parent and being an indifferent carer. I have to hold the pen and draw the line myself. It’s all up to me how much is much (a bleeding heart) and how little is little (bordering stingy).
I wake up to the sound of boys eating their breakfast. I eat breakfast to the sound of boys putting on their uniforms. I’m walking out the door to the sound of a little boy chattering about a new make-believe story and another little boy making the beginning of words. I get swept up in pre-school chaos and I have to grab one little hand to stop it being dismembered. Homework in one box, reading book in the aqua slot, a question of the teacher and goodbye to one little one. Then I’m walking out the gate pushing the other little one in a pram heading to a nursery that runs inside a red-bricked church. He holds my hand and he’s only two, but going on fifteen as he must shake the hand of the head-teacher and speak her name through his jumbled up speech. Time is my own for an hour or three, depending on jobs to do. So my day continues on. Every day is not the same. Some are easy, some hard, others harder still, but mostly it can be taken in a stride. It can be a stride out of my way, but it’s my job. I’m an au-pair, and I’m loving it for a season.