Friday, September 4, 2009

The Year I Ate Standing Up

If I had started this blog after I arrived it wouldn't be called "Semi Swiss" (because I have embraced almost nothing of Swiss culture, save for being on time, and it hasn't really embraced me) it would be called "The Year I Ate Standing Up." (Which will be the title of my best-selling book about this year--sort of like the Nanny Diaries, but funnier and with a better movie). It would be called that because pretty much every breakfast and lunch is spent on one side of the counter, with the kids sitting on the other, or if they are at the table I'm essentially running back and forth grabbing stuff I forgot or tidying up. Rarely do I eat a meal in the standard, seated, position. This got me to thinking about the other stuff about the job that I don't particularly care for... Since I'm a huge fan of lists I give you:

The Top Ten Worst Things About My Job

10. The gross things that children do: picking noses and eating it (I mean you're 8, I know my brother did that--haha Jack! I remember-- but I am pretty sure he didn't do that at the age of eight!) and those lovely marks that an insufficient butt-wipe produce on underwear. (I swear seeing underwear with track marks was definitely not in my job description).
9. Living in the suburbs. It sucks. I always liked the suburb; the quiet, the safety, the greenery, my friends living in a 30 second walk from my door at Denison. But now I hate them. Public transportation stops running to and from suburbs much earlier (and why shouldn't they--the families don't need to be coming back from Zürich at 2:30 am) in the suburbs leaving most au pairs racing to their train once the clock strikes midnight. 
8. Always being at the mercy of some one else's schedule.
7. Ironing. Now I know that ironing was a part of my job description, but ALL of my ironing (seriously, p.j.'s for a 5 year old? And boxers? Who irons boxers?!) could be avoided if, when the clothes came out of the dryer, they were folded instead of being tossed in a ball, into Jill's Ironing Bin. 
6. Not being at Denison surrounded by my closest friends.
5. The fear that I am becoming a nag. I am constantly reminding the kids to do something, or asking/telling them to stop doing something, or making sure they are doing what they should be--I'm starting to annoy myself.
4. Frozen food. Granted I was on a meal plan for the last four years so I shouldn't be complaining about food but we have so much frozen food here. (Yes Anna drives to France to get it... but it's still frozen food.)
3. Paying for my cell phone. Woof.
2. The fact that I am a.) essentially a servant and b.) that because I am a.) the family assumes I am some down-home, backwoods hick. Yes, I am from Minnesota, but that does not mean I have never seen a bottle of champagne before. I think all their previous au pairs were excited about the copious amounts of champagne that the family consumes, but I went to Denison, clearly I have been around a lot of alcohol. One of their past au pairs collected the top of champagne bottles--the metal part above the cork--and so now the father thinks that I would like to start a collection. I don't know how to politely decline, so I end up just stuffing it into my pocket and chucking it into the garbage later. They also try to "culture" me explaining that, "In Europe, it's customary for people to have at least one glass of wine with dinner"--they obviously don't know my parents! And I didn't quite think working at a wine bar at the age of 16 was resumé worthy so although I know that their wine glasses are a.) incorrect for the type of wine they are drinking b.) holding more than the correct pour and c.) not nice wine glasses since they can go into the dishwasher I don't exactly think it's my place to inform them!
1. Living with your employer. Think about it, yeah, I thought so.

But my job has it's (very, very nice) perks so I'd thought I'd offer a list of:
The Top 10 Best Things About My Job
10. Sometimes the kids are kind, or well-behaved, or just really, really funny. (Like when we were at their house in France and the dinner table is quiet and Stephanie looks up and says, in all seriousness, "I wish to be Dora [the Explorer]," and you find it so funny that you're crying--that's when I really like the kids.
9. The other ex-pats I've met. Everyone is so welcoming and kind, I guess it's because we're all in the same boat.
8. Other au pairs--you can talk, bitch, empathize, and share funny stories about your kids and they will listen and understand. (And the au pair meeting where one can trade clothes, books and the all-important and much too expensive English magazine).
7. Actually just all the people I've met are really great (well except the ones that Allison and I manage to meet)
6. The ability to travel. Easily. Like in a few hours I'm hoping on a train to Milan (and because they have this wonderful ticket called the Gleis 7--if you're under 25 and traveling after 7 pm any train in Switzerland is free! So my ticket to Milan was 15 CHF--I've paid more for a drink here). 
5. I don't pay for room/board. Which is really helpful since my Denison education never taught my the useful skills of how to pay a bill/rent..
4. That the kids are old enough to do things on their own and that they go to school. Thank goodness I don't have to cart a stroller around!
3 My daytimes and nights are free. (I essentially work 3-5 hours a day... and yes I still complain about it!)
2. Weekends off.
1. Uhh, I live in Switzerland.



  1. #5 of the first list - I fear this also!! Eeek! I am a nag!!
    and # 6 of the second - yeah baby!! im heading to florence this weekend, we can share some italy love! (have you got holidays in oct?)
    great blog! x

  2. Answer to #7, 1st list (Who irons boxers?) That would be your great grandmother (Anna Carr)she ironed everything, including the sheets & pillow cases she changed daily.