Have been searching long and far and wide for a person who would stay with Sonny boy while I brought in the jam. But for nearly a year, had not met with any success of the lasting kind.
My Mom while she is wayyyyy better than me at looking after Sonny boy can't stay for more than 2 months, before the heart begins to pine for the coconut trees, and the shouting-at-the-cat-who-comes-to-steal-the-fish, and the friendly neighbourhood gossip, so poor Sonny boy has to settle for second best!
We got someone from Kerala to stay with us for a short while. This was someone whose elder sister used to look after a friend's kids, and the elder sister was exemplary, but the younger one was far from it. While she was here, Sonny boy learnt to go pssst! pssst! at young gentlemen from the kitchen balcony and duck out of view! After one afternoon when I came home without prior notice to find the flat locked, and her near the Security Guards' cabin at a time when everybody was having their siesta (Sonny boy was to be fast asleep too, instead of which he was out in the burning sun), I put a stop to her caretaking before she brought a whole lot of unwanted cares to me.
Subsequently Sonny boy was put into the day care centre which functioned within our flat complex. And while this was ideal from the security and convenience for school-bus-drop point of view, the daycare ladies were firm in their stand that they would not stay beyond 6, max. 6.30. We managed for a couple of months, before they shifted the time to 5.30 , when there was that cold wave in Chennai and it started getting dark and gloomy by 4. Time to bid goodbye to the daycare too.
Then there was another girl whose parents told us to treat her like my daughter, and insisted that she kept house for them and looked after all the neighbouring kids too and was a total gem. She was a young girl (the parents assured us that she was 17)and Sonny boy took to her at once. The parents left, and the girl developed a fever the same evening. When the parents were informed, they told us to ignore it and that it would wear off in a couple of days. Turned out the poor girl was homesick. The fever got better, but the next day when she called home, her parents refused to take the call. She thought we were also ganging up against her and said she would go on her own to her house. The husband still has nightmares of her going off and later having the police come knocking..... To cut a long story short, we got a friend of the parents to escort her back safely. Phew!
I was at my wits' end as to what to do, when like manna from heaven descended Sonny boy's present care-mate. She was the cousin of one of the maids in the complex, and had been working in a garment factory before. So age no bar, definitely.
She was young, she was clean, she helped me in the kitchen, she did housework well too and she was cheerful. All well. I really like her, honestly. But.
Comes the fly. In the ointment.
She stays with us .
I HATE the idea of having someone underfoot ALL the time, in a flat. As of now, we can't afford to stay in a flat with a servant's room and all that. We have 3 bedrooms, out of which one has no wardrobe and so is a misc. room..
And our present house has been designed by a NITWIT who has not put a single lock on ANY of the wardrobes. So when we go off, I can either lock the bedrooms and leave her the use of just the kitchen and the guest/pooja/computer room. Which wouldn't leave any bed for Sonny boy to sleep in the afternoon, there being just a diwan in the guest room. Or I can leave the entire house and wardrobes open to her. Well, beggars can't be choosers, so that is what I do currently. So far she has not proved herself untrustworthy. Touchwood, touchforest!
But there are so many issues, all related to this staying-at-home bit. She has not been a housemaid before, neither have I had one before, With the result that a few all-important ground rules were left undeclared.
I gave her a toilet soap, washing soap and toothpaste for her use. I expected that she would have brought her toothbrush. Turns out that she hasn't and wants me to buy one for her. Ok, not a big issue at all. I also bought her a bottle of Parachute when buying the toothbrush.
Madam asked me if I should buy her shampoo also?! I told her that I had some spare bottles that she could use for the time being (hotel samples)and that she could buy one later. I do NOT think that I am supposed to buy shampoo for my maid, or am I, people? If she wants one, she can jolly well buy it from her salary.
Ditto for sanitary napkins. Madam can buy whatever brand she likes for herself. Not ask me for my stock!
The I find by chance that Madam has been happily using my comb. ewwwww! Now she is a pretty clean person and all that, but I barely put up with even my husband using MY comb. My comb is MINE. To be used only by ME. and hello, what happened to the comb she would hve been using before she came to work in my house? Didn't she think to pack that when packing her clothes, huh?
This is why I hate to have somebody staying full time. There are so many things where the line has to be drawn very intangibly. Like she can look after my son when I am not there, but when I AM there, I do NOT want her butting in or adding her two bits or scolding Sonny boy. I am also old fashioned in that I do NOT want her raising her voice when I am there, or hanging around in the living room/dining room. I do not expect her to be in the kitchen full time, but she does have a room of her own- said guest/pooja/computer room, she can go there and relax.
Coming to the computer room, we have a computer unit, that had a couple of shelves partly empty as I hadn't unpacked all of Sonny boy's toys/books which is what had been stored there. One day, when searching for something, I open the lower shelf, only to have a heap of clothes tumbling out. Madam was using it as her shelf!! I got damn pissed at this especially since she started using it without a by-your-leave from me. I however didn't want to create an issue, so I am letting that lie, till the day I springclean, and then her things can go wherever. What bugs me is that she didn't even ask me if she could.. Not that I would have allowed her if she'd asked me, but I would have gottne her an extra suitcase or something..
But the limit was when, one Sunday, we were supposed to go out for lunch, so I told her to get dressed by lunchtime as we had to go. I was preparing breakfast and she was cleaning the house, after cleaning she asked me if she could have her bath first. She had already cut me all the reqd veggies, so I said Yes, and then I got busy. I did not notice when she came out, but after some time the smell of agarbathy wafted thru the house... and there she was lighting the lamp! I the lady of the house was in the kitchen, and she the maid had had her bath and was lighting the lamp. Can you believe that??! I saw RED, but I kept my cool as I didn't want to shout at her while she was praying. I went and had my bath, and then I took all the pooja items to wash, in front of her. And I told her very politely, that she wasn't ever to light the lamp, even if I wasn't at home, or even on my off days. I told her that she was welcome to go and pray, I had no issues with her going and praying in front and all that, but that I didn't want her doing anything else. And then as usual, I went and lit the lamp.
And I wondered, what all was I supposed to lay out in black and white regarding what she was supposed to do and what not? What I wanted her help for and what I didn't? What she was supposed to provide for herself and what I would provide?
Once the irritations have started, they come in a stream. This post is to let off some steam, but at the same time to remember what really matters. That Sonny boy is looked after pretty well while we are at work. Maybe what was required is a Rule Book like we used to get at hostels. Dos and Don'ts. Sigh!
I hope she stays long enough despite our differences. Amen.
1 day ago