Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Grab Bag Edition

It's late and I should be sleeping, or trying to, but my mind is whirling away with the contents of my to-do lists, so I might as well blog.  We are in our final days here, preparing for the next big move.  I've managed to assemble the necessary supplies, save a new television.  We've heard they are crazy expensive in South America, and I really want a smart tv so that I can watch American television and the Mexican version of Grey's Anatomy with very little effort.  I am going to be forced to actually go to a store and purchase the tv, though, because I was indecisive and couldn't choose, and now it's too late to order anything.  The movers come on Thursday.

We now have our apartment lined up.  It was a bit tricky, and I still haven't seen photos, but I do have a floor plan.  (It freaks me out a little that I have not yet seen photos.)  This is where I am going to start to sound like an even bigger ass than usual, so my apologies in advance.  The apartment looks lovely--great neighborhood, near some parks that people seem to like, with a playroom for the kids and a giant walk-in closet for me.  Perfect, right?  Oh, and it has quarters for a live-in maid, in a different part of the apartment from the "family" bedrooms.  And this is where I confess that we've been debating the merits of hiring a domestic employee.

It makes me feel like such a jerk to say that.  It feels like indentured servitude to me.  My friends who have had domestic staff before tell me that the wages are good for the country I will be living in, and that I would be helping the local economy by hiring someone.  It still feels weird to me.  Because the fact of the matter is that $10 or $15 a day is not much money, and it feels. . .bad.  But on the other hand, we could pay an employee well (by local standards) and have someone live in, work full time, and still pay less than $500 a month.  This person could be a nanny, or it could be someone who cooks, cleans, does laundry, does the grocery shopping, runs errands, etc.  Oh, and the quality of the care/assistance is supposedly top notch.  This is the kind of situation you can only dream about in the U.S.

Miss M is definitely going to be going to preschool, but the schools pretty much only offer half-day programs.  T thinks he might like to work once SB is old enough to be in school.  That gives us like a year or so.  If he is going to work, we'll definitely need help.

I don't know.  I like the idea on some level, but I feel really weird about it on other levels.  We'll see.

Warning: much discussion of pooping ahead.  In potty training news, it continues to be a mixed bag.  Miss M's teachers continue to think that she sometimes poops in her sleep during nap time.  I know better.  That child has never, ever--not even as a teeny, tiny baby--pooped in her sleep.  She is clearly pooping during naptime to avoid using the potty.  I've resorted to bribing her, and it's going reasonably well on days when she wants something.  For example, we bought a fancy bubble thingamabob, and denied her the use of it unless she pooped on the potty at school.  On day one, she pooped in her pants, and was not allowed to open it.  On day two, she pooped on the potty.  However, on day three when she was no longer coveting the bubbles, she pooped in her pants again.  Argh.  We went over using the potty this morning just before I left her at school, and the end result was that she tried to use the potty, according to her teacher, but said it was "stuck and won't come out. "  And then she didn't poop at all, which has now happened a few times on days when I've really stressed the importance of using the potty.  She NEVER skips pooping, and is never constipated, because she lives on fruit and dairy.  Double argh.  But still, she has been pretty good about peeing on the potty, so. . .baby steps.

I'm packing all day tomorrow.  Wish me luck!  I need to have a big day.  Then, it's dinner with a friend from my old job, then one more sleep, then the movers appear.  We end the week with a big party with friends, and then leave for a few weeks of vacation with family in advance of our big move.  Let the games begin!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Quick thoughts on a busy night:

We live in Southeast Asia and we have a full time, live-in helper. It took years to take this step, and it was child care woes that made the decision for us in the end - specifically that our child was getting sick so often that he couldn't attend even the half days of child care we had signed him up for, and that meant one or the other of us couldn't work for those measly half days (and in our case, it was usually me). Live out nannies generally aren't done here, so were ridiculously hard to find and expensive. And completely inflexible.

There are pros and cons. Some pros: a lovely young woman who we now basically think of as a family member (a niece to us, older sister or young aunt to our kids); someone nearby but other than us who loves our kids to pieces all the time, which is especially important because family and close friends are so far away; complete flexibility in child care - we can be home or out whenever we want and the kids can have hands-on, one-on-one care (and adventures around town) whenever we want; someone who can concentrate on laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc., so we can concentrate on being with the kids when we are home; we're helping another person and her family have a better life in some ways than she/they would have had. We're trying to share some of our privileges and good fortune and give her access to things she would otherwise not have had - including learning English better, training and courses on her days off (which we help with when she's working), thinking through personal savings and planning for her own business when she goes home eventually, taking her to places that she wouldn't be able to afford, etc. There are more.

Some cons: Privacy is the number one con. Even though she has her own space, I never feel like I am home alone. And she is always watching and/or participating in raising the kids, so I feel I can never have an "off" day/meal/encounter - she's learning all the time. That feeling of participating in indentured servitude never goes away, even when you treat the person wonderfully and she's like a member of the family. I still feel some guilt. Watching how other families treat their helpers and how there is a "second class" makes it even worse. It sometimes makes me lazier parent - I let go of some responsibility because she is around (or is that a pro, since it means I can relax a bit?). There are more.

Generally, I feel the pros outweigh the cons. But the cons are still there.

It's also really important who you get and how you and the kids gel with her, especially since she'll be living with you and with your kids (and you!) a lot of the time. We were super lucky and found someone who is educated, motivated, enthusiastic, and just happy. Makes a huge difference.

Wendi of the blog formerly known as Life in the Polar North Defrosts had some good thinking about having part-time cleaning help a while back.

Happy to share more or answer questions - tell me where to write.