Gibson-Nannies

Community life at the park every wednesday nannies

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Unformatted text preview: ry Wednesday, nannies participate in a weekly potluck between 11:30 A.M and 1:00 P.M. The weekly potluck started after a child’s birthday party when Maria mentioned they should eat together more often. Alicia suggested a weekly potluck, and the ritual was born. Nannies decided Wednesday was the best day to eat together because it was a day most nannies came to the park. Alicia set up basic guidelines emphasizing optional participation so no one would feel unduly burdened. In the following example, women invite a nanny to join the potluck when they see her sitting by herself: Alicia, Linda, Julieta, Maria and I sit at the picnic table with plates of food. Socorro is sitting on a nearby park bench watching Neil play with a toy truck. “Come eat!” Linda called to Socorro. Socorro shook her head and mumbled that she was not hungry. “No!” exclaimed Alicia, “Come here and eat with us!” Socorro sheepishly joined us at the table, served herself a plate of food, and began chatting like everyone else. This example demonstrates how nannies include one another in their activities; they invite Socorro to join the group for lunch even though she has not contributed any items. Sharing food around a table encourages feelings of fellowship and community (Fieldhouse 1986). Inviting Socorro signals that she is part of their group. Some days, nannies share a feast of homemade tortillas, beans, salsa, and different meats and salads, while other days they order food for delivery. One day, however, only a few people brought food, and the “meal” consisted of crackers, bagels and cream cheese. I commented on the meager selection food to Lucy: “Do you think the weekly meal is dying?” I ask Lucy. “Dying?”Lucy asks incredulously, “It’s not dying. Sit. Eat.” When I suggested to Lucy that perhaps the weekly potluck had run its course, she defiantly told me to sit down and gathered the few nannies who were present that day to eat bagels. Food is both sustentative and symbolic (Lupton 1996). Even without a complete meal, Lucy insisted that we eat together; she seemed to want to prove that the ritual was still relevant. Potlucks are often festive and lively. Nannies gossip about their boyfriends and husbands, and offer each other advice about relationships or parenting. They also tell jokes and funny stories. One day, when we were sitting at the picnic table, a man approached us: “Are you all nannies?” a man asked. Marlena replied in English, “Yes, we’re the nannies club, we’re the Super Nannies Club!” The table erupted in a fit of laughter as the others realized what was said. Although Marlena’s response was meant to be funny, it was also accurate. The community of nannies functions like a club in that it is a recognizable group that meets regularly for a common purpose. Moreover, weekly potlucks expand the image of the lonely nanny who eats in the confines of her employer ’s home. Through their activities 286 Qual Sociol (2009) 32:279–292 togethe...
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