Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Carla is a Nounou

This week I (Carla) started my job as a nounou (nanny). As described in a previous post, I got this job through a friend of a friend (this seems to be the way everything is done in Paris. We got our apartment through a friend of a friend, we gets jobs through friends of friends...). This week, I am watching two children from 9am till 8pm. Next week, I will watch them from 5pm till 8pm. Then, starting in September, I will be with the children every Wednesday from 9am till 8pm.

There are two children: Alixia is a 7 year old girl, Thibault (pronounced tee-bo) is a 5 year old boy. They both wear really thick glasses which make them look like very cute owls. Thibault is an energetic, inquisitive boy who speaks no English, though he is learning yes, no, thank you, please, and his personal favorite, bye-bye, quite well. Alixia is more introspective, though she has occasional outbursts (normally aimed at her little brother). She has had one year of English in school and does a very good job translating things for me. The parents want me to speak only in English to both of them, though this is difficult with Thibault. I usually end up speaking some French to him when telling him to do thing. Tonight I had to keep telling him, "Mangez les courgettes maintenant!" (Eat the zucchini right now!). I also remind him throughout the day, "Tu fais du pipi." (Go peepee)

Here is how the 11 hour day with them goes:

9am-9:30: they wake up and stumble downstairs
9:30-10:00: I heat up their milk, put some cereal on a plate, and make sure they eat and drink it all.
10:00-10:30: they are allowed to watch TV for 30 minutes. That's it. No more TV until the next morning.
10:30-11:00: I dress the children. Alixia will pick out her own outfit, which is usually all while. I then tell her to put on a pair of dark pants so they won't get dirty. I then pick and dress Thibault.
11:00-11:30: we go on a walk. One of the children will grab the neighbor's dog and be in charge of walking it, while the other child rides a scooter. Though the child with the scooter will usually ride ahead, he/she always stops at intersections, waits for me to catch up, then we cross together.
11:30-12:30: play time! We either play with marbles or a card game.
12:30-1:30: lunch time! At lunch, the children must eat two different vegetables along with the meal (today, I made crêpes with ham and cheese). They are really good about eating them, too! In fact, this afternoon, I was preparing lunch and Alixia came up to me and asked, "Can we please have a salad with carrots?" Amazing! The parents place a very high value on good nutrition. All fresh vegetables and fruits, limited pasta, no sodas or juice, very limited treats. And the kids comply. Alixia is also very helpful setting the table. She will get out the plates, fold the napkins and place silverware on them, and fill the water glasses. Both the children use a knife with their meals and also have proper manners while eating. Unbelievable! I don't think I was allowed to use a knife until I was 15.
1:30-2:00: time to wind down. I will read a little book to Thibault while lying in his bed.
2:00-3:00: nap time for Thibault. While he rests, Alixia will play in her room for 30 minutes, ten she comes out and plays cards with me.
3:00-3:30: goofy time! The three of us will wrestle, tickle, and laugh together.
3:30-5:15: between these hours, the children have their goûter (snack), which constists of a piece of fruit. Every three days, they can have a candy. Depending on the weather, will go to the park to play or play together indoors.
5:15-5:30: I prepare the children for their bath. We pick out pj's and pick toys to take to the bathtub.
5:30-6:00: bath time! Alixia takes a shower while Thibault takes a bath. Thibault will play in the tub for about 15 minutes, then I help him to wash. Alizia takes care of her bathing but I help her to dry off and comb her hair.
6:00-6:15: the kids run around but-naked, screaming and laughing. I don't know why they do this. I guess I would too if I could.
6:15-7:00: I sit them down with paper and crayons near the kitchen so I can keep an eye on them while I prepare their dinner. They are usually pretty quite during this time, with only the occasional scream of bloody murder. Today, Alixia made a drawing for me!
7:00-8:00: the children eat the dinner I have prepared for them. Again, it must consist of two vegetables along with meat. Yesterday I prepared some ham, gnocchi, salad, and sweet peas. Tonight I prepared pork (marinated in a honey-mustard sauce), zucchini, salad, and quinoa. They are expected to eat every last bite. This usually takes Alixia 20 minutes, but it takes Thibault over an hour! Poor Alixia has to sit there and watch her brother eat before she is allowed to leave the table. And since it's a French household, all meals are accompanied by bread.

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