Gibson-Nannies

Children in the same way several nannies told stories

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Unformatted text preview: ld stories of well-behaved children who became monsters after a 10 minute visit from their parents. “They want attention,” one nanny explained. “They become more spoiled and they don’t listen to me when their parents are around,” added another. In the following example, Raj’s dad, Rick visits Raj at the park: Raj’s dad, Rick, approaches us and Rosa (Raj’s nanny) quickly stands up and is visibly flustered. She awkwardly introduces Rick and points out Raj’s playmates. Rick tells Raj why he has come to visit saying, “Just like Daddy has an office, this is your office.” Raj beams and Rick quickly leaves. Raj burst into tears. Rick’s visit to the park lasted five to 10 minutes. As Rosa struggled to calm Raj after his father’s departure, Julieta shook her head in disapproval and voiced a common frustration among the nannies. Raj was happy before Rick arrived at the park but Rick disrupted his routine. Nannies have to work to reclaim their authority, and parents seem to be completely oblivious to the extra work required after their short stints at the park. When nannies are amongst themselves, they turn caring for children into a collective act, and work together to support one another. Women repeatedly treat one another with consideration, and are conscious about how their behavior affects other nannies in their presence. In contrast to the support nannies give to one another, parental intrusions actually create more work for nannies. The differences between nannies and their employers are also apparent when the groups socialize in close proximity. During a child’s birthday party, nannies sat quietly at one table, while employers and family members sat at another. When I asked them to explain the difference between the birthday party and the potlucks they offered the following explanations: Gaby said, “I don’t know. It’s uncomfortable. It embarrasses me. I don’t want to spend time with the gringas.” Rosa chimed in and explained “It’s that we have to be reserved around our bosses.” “This doesn’t feel like a birthday party,” Marlena says. “It’s that it lacks el sabor Latino,” (Latino flavor) says Rosa. Qual Sociol (2009) 32:279–292 289 These comments demonstrate the racial/ethnic boundaries that separate nannies from their employers; nannies invoke feelings of difference based on their employers’ non-Latino status. For example, several nannies suggested that the birthday party was less enjoyable because it was not a Latino party. With their employers in attendance, the party lacked “Latino flavor” and nannies felt ill at ease. According to Hondagneu-Sotelo (2001), domestic workers often characterize the food in their employers’ home as bland and unappetizing. During the birthday party, Lucy pointed to the expensive and low-fat bag of organic popcorn with a skeptical look on her face, “You like them?” she asked me. I shrugged and popped one in my mouth as she wrinkled her nose and looked...
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This note was uploaded on 09/24/2013 for the course SOCI 001 taught by Professor Dr.tukufuzuberi during the Spring '10 term at UPenn.

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