Gibson-Nannies

Nannies expectations about others park attendance

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Unformatted text preview: about others’ park attendance becomes more apparent when women do not arrive when expected. Although going to the park is a routine in these nannies’ working lives, this routine is susceptible to change. A nanny’s absence from the park can indicate several things—an employer ’s vacation, a sick child, or in some cases, the loss of employment. One day we learned that Natalia’s employer fired her: “She showed up at work and la señora had a letter waiting for her, a letter of recommendation. She didn’t even tell her why,” explained Alicia. As other nannies murmured in concern, Alicia continued, “I told my boss what happened and asked her to never do that to me.” Natalia’s arbitrary dismissal was the talk of the group for several days. Women dissected the turn of events and speculated about what they might do under similar circumstances. Their conversations reflected their sympathy for Natalia, and their belief that they could easily find themselves in the same predicament. When a nanny who is a park “regular” fails to show up, women notice and worry about her absence. When Rosa did not come to the park for two consecutive days, several women discussed what might have happened. Although it was clear they were worried Rosa might have lost her job like others before her, no one verbalized this fear, as if saying it out loud might make it true. At the end of the day, when Rosa had not arrived, Joanna instructed Lucy to call Rosa to determine if something was wrong. They learned that Rosa was fine, but Raj (the child she cared for) was sick, and they would return to the park the following week. Lucy exhaled a sigh of relief and relayed the message to several other nannies that waited to hear the news. 284 Qual Sociol (2009) 32:279–292 While the literature on domestic work emphasizes the social isolation women experience while working in private homes, working as a nanny also provided women the opportunity to regularly attend Pebble Park. At the park women, escape the constraints of working in the private home and form relationships with other nannies who attend the park at the same time. Consequently, most nannies spent several days a week together, essentially creating “co-worker” relationships. Sharing care work Although nannies enjoy spending time with one another at the park, they would not be there if not for the children in their care. Not only do children provide the warrant for nannies’ presence at the park, but it is through helping one another care for children that nannies’ bonds with one another are strengthened. Consequently, children also play an important role in the community life at the park. While each nanny is primarily responsible for caring for her own child, nannies watch children collectively. In the following example, Socorro asks Lucy for assistance in taking care of Neil: Neil plays with a stick and waves it in front of his face. Socorro touches his arm to lower the stick. Annoyed at the i...
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