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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.
- Spring '10