She has gone to get her head cut off.

by Cranky Guest

Maria, Portugal

I moved to England speaking very little English. I was 19 years old at the time and I was full of wonder and amazement. I wanted to learn English and have an adventure. There was a family looking for a full time nanny with three children: 8 and 4 year olds and a 3-month-old. The interview went well. It seemed I managed to nod in the right places, said yes or no depending on the questions, all while hoping my answers were the right ones. It was 50/50. I got the job! I should have known that when the 4 year old tried to bite me at the interview I was in for different kind of adventure.

Not being able to speak English at the beginning made the 4 year old “brat” the ruler of the house. She would teach me things to say that no 4 year old should have known. When the parents would come home and ask what I had learnt that day and I told them, there was a look of dismay and sometimes redness on their faces. I couldn’t tell them that their “darling angel” had taught it all to me because I didn’t have enough control over the English language and they couldn’t understand Portuguese. So the “brat” was allowed to do whatever she wanted. She would simply say, “Maria told me I could” whenever she was caught out doing something she shouldn’t have been doing. The baby was a delight and the older child so kind that it made up for the “brat.”

Within a few months my English slowly began improving, mainly through reading children’s books. Mr. Men and Little Miss were their favourites. However, it still wasn’t great. One day the father asked me where his wife was and I told him, “she has gone to get her head cut off!” (Instead of getting a hair cut). Having my head cut off was what I wished for most days since everyday the “brat” would test my patience and I had to hold in my crankiness. It was a real fight of wills. It was extremely challenging but over the years I grew exceptionally close to all three of the children, especially the “brat”. I left speaking perfect English 12 years later. I ended up having a very different kind of adventure than I had originally imagined, one I could probably write a whole book about.

My time there made me doubt if I ever wanted children of my own. When I did have my own daughter I prayed it would be nothing like the “brat”. Years later I realised that my time with the family certainly helped me be a better mother and gave me an opportunity to learn about children I never would have had. I am pleased to end this by telling you that although the “brat” has always been a bit of a drama queen, they also turned into a wonderful person. I don’t just have my own daughter, deep down I am proud to say I actually have four children.