BossLady and I are at a crossroads on how to approach the issue of childcare. We're lucky enough that she can take a 4-month maternity leave when our daughter is born but, after that, we're officially screwed!
Hiring a nanny is one possibility. Unfortunately, this would be asking me to take a gargantuan leap of faith in humankind. Aside from the fact that I'm an inherently untrusting person, I'm also completely xenophobic (not in the etymological sense that I hate foreigners but in the sense that I am unduly fearful of all strangers.) Furthermore, I'm a fairly protective husband. I would never leave BossLady alone with a stranger. If you think I'd leave my precious daughter with one, you're crazy.
I've also got to admit that I'm not entirely comfortable with the subtle racial overtones of having a nanny. It all seems so exploitive...like supporting apartheid, mining diamonds in Angola or having high tea with Imelda Marcos. Am I exaggerating? Possibly. But have you ever walked around Central Park during the middle of the day? It's like a U.N. delegate contest to see who can push the white baby around the fastest! (Winner gets the false promises of citizenship and minimum wage!)
I'm also a little disturbed by the constantly changing trends in the racial makeups of the city's nannies, or at least what those trends say about our society as a whole. For a while, it seemed de rigeur in NYC to have a Carribean nanny. They were considered much more reliable than nannies from other regions of the world. Unfortunately, every time I hear a Caribbean accent, I get nightmares and start thinking about the movie "Angel Heart." I don't want to wake up in the middle of the night and see the nanny collecting the family's fingernails in little cloth bags for use in some future nocturnal ritual. (I know this is a ridiculous personal idiosyncracy but it's part of my general neurosis and, really, those Cajun/Caribbean accents scare the hell out of me.)
Lately, from what I see on the streets and hear in the subways, the new & hip fashion accessory seems to be the Filipino nanny. They're this season's human equivalent of the cashmere poncho. Personally, I think this is great. I've travelled all over the world and Filipinos are some of the most warm-hearted people I've ever met. Your worst-case scenario with a Filipino nanny is going to be their constant adoration of a glow-in-the-dark statue of the Virgin Mary. And though most Filipinos are small, I think that, pound-for-pound, they're some of the nicest people in the world.
BossLady and I did briefly toy with the idea of hiring a Korean nanny. We thought this would be a noble gesture to ensure that our daughter speaks the langauge of our ancestors (unlike her own parents). It would be like having one of our mothers around. What a great idea, right? Even better, many Korean nannies also cook so we would have an endless supply of home-made Korean food! Unfortunately, after extensive research, BossLady and I found out that most daughters rarely survive the experience of having ONE Korean mother. Forget about the psychological trauma that having two would cause.
One other option discussed was bringing an Au Pair over from Europe. Our child could not only learn a dead Romance language but also learn about great ideas such as colonialism, body odor and bad teeth. Just kidding (I think.) But...is it me or does it seem like every time there's a nanny scandal on the news involving child abuse, it's always a European au pair? That's a deal breaker for me. And doesn't it seem that the ones who aren't involved in child abuse are the ones breaking up the marriage and running off with the husband? I'm just guessing but that's probably a deal breaker for the BossLady.
So where does this leave us? I really don't know. Whether we get a nanny or put our daughter in daycare, I know I've got to get over my deep-seated phobia of entrusting her to a perfect stranger. Aside from causing long-term psychological problems, I'm pretty sure that she would grow to resent me if I kept her locked in the house until she was 18. But the reality is that we can't afford to have either BossLady or me stay at home. Any folks out there have any suggestions on how I can overcome these fears?
Stay tuned for tomorrow's post on New York City childcare where we discuss enrolling your child in daycare prior to conception, non-refundable application fees, homeschooling and the interminable spread of communicable diseases.