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Unformatted text preview: nterference, Neil continues. “No, Neil, no,” Soccoro
says. Socorro turns to Lucy and asks her to tell Neil in English to put the stick down.
Lucy turns to Neil and tells him to be careful because “you’re going to ruin your
beautiful blue eyes.”
This example demonstrates the ease with which nannies ask for and receive help from
one another. Socorro draws on her relationship with Lucy to seek support in caring for Neil.
In this case, care work is not solitary, but collective.
Nannies often do each other small favors while working at Pebble Park. These favors
can be as simple as watching a child while a nanny takes a bathroom break, or offering
snacks or trading toys to appease the children. Nannies are especially careful not to exclude
children from any activities. One day, Marlena brought construction paper, stickers, wooden
craft sticks and paint for all the children to work on an art project. When Colby and Nathan
brought colored clay to the park, Alicia separated the clay into small pieces for other
children. Similarly, when Jack rode his bike around the park, Julieta insisted he share the
bike with others:
“You have to share, Jack” she tells him in English, as she attempts to distract him
with other toys. After he reluctantly gives up the bike, she tells me she often
persuades him to leave the bike at home because he doesn’t like to share it, and other
children always want to ride it. “It’s easier to leave it at home,” she says.
Sharing is part of the collective ethos at the park, so it is not surprising that Julieta
requires Jack to share. Julieta is not only motivated by her desire to teach Jack proper
manners, but sharing is important in keeping the peace among both children and nannies.
Jack’s bike is particularly sought after amongst the children, and Julieta tries to minimize
outbursts by forcing Jack to share the bike or trying to avoid bringing it altogether.
Unlike in private homes where nannies are the sole employees and caregivers, at the
park nannies turn caring for children into a collective act. Nannies work together by
supervising all the children and planning group activities; furthermore, by encouraging
children to share toys, nannies attempt to minimize conflict. Working together helps
nannies take care of the children and it builds good will amongst the group; collectively
caring for children at the park strengthens nannies relationships with one another. Qual Sociol (2009) 32:279–292 285 Sharing food
In the employer ’s household, food illuminates the boundaries between employers and
employees; often domestic workers eat alone rather than eating at a table with their
employers (Hondagneu-Sotelo 2001). At the park, it is unusual for nannies to eat alone; in
fact, nannies created a weekly ritual around sharing a meal. Thus, in addition to regularly
spending time together and sharing care work, nannies also share food with one another,
illustrating another dimension of community life at the park.
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- Spring '10