Communicating with my Nanny – Listening to the Unspoken
“When my neighbour’s brother who lives in the apartment above ours cat-called at my nanny from the balcony and whistled suggestively as she walked by – I almost fell down in despair…”
She was showing off vast amount of midriff and leg on display
The dress code of our new Nanny got me so appalled that I would send numerous texts to a good friend of mine describing in detail my horror at the low cut tops and super tight bottoms. It was her first week with us and she was showing off vast amount of midriff and leg on display. And when the neighbor’s brother who lives in the apartment above ours cat-called at her from the balcony and whistled suggestively as she walked by I almost fell down in despair.
Read to her Biblical verses on purity…
I put out a quick SOS on social media asking what I should do, given that she is a wonderful person, very warm, friendly and loving and absolutely kind to my children. I got an avalanche of feedback. The responses dropped in on the conversation thread fast and furious. I was advised to quickly run to the supermarket and get her a set of uniforms; to drop a line in the conversation with mock innocence asking if perhaps she may have put on some weight recently and needs a slightly larger dress size; to summon her behind the closed doors of my room and tell her in no uncertain terms to cover up or march out of my home; to read to her Biblical verses on purity; to confiscate the offending items and lock them away out of reach; and to simply buy new wardrobe items myself and present them to her to wear.
Women who feel the need to validate themselves and feel beautiful by showing off the physical
I also sought the wise counsel of my friend Rose who has the gift of understanding people beyond the masks they wear, and although she was pretty clear that I needed to discuss the matter before it got out of hand, she didn’t quite have an immediate solution. In our discussion, one thing she said got me thinking deeply. She mused out loud that in general, women who feel the need to validate themselves and feel beautiful by showing off the physical and seeking to be acknowledged for their external properties may in certain instances be subconsciously expressing some internal strife. This bit stuck with me. I thought about it quite some more and concluded that our new nanny must have either had something happen to her, or occur in her life that was triggering the need for this overt dressing. I then started my attempt to seriously discern what unspoken communication was emanating from her and to think about what I could do to support her.
There must have been some internal insecurity creating the external dressing
I enrolled her in a programme that I had taken last year, and quite enjoyed, run by my church. Called ‘Mizizi’, it seeks to have participants rooted in understanding their purpose, their gifts and calling and to be connected with the community and God. In just about 3 or so weeks into the programme, much to my absolute pleasure, the suggestive dressing fell off. Just like that. Without any word from me. Not a whisper. I concluded that just as Rose had said, there must have been some internal insecurity creating the external dressing as a trigger response that somehow Mizizi must have addressed by affirming to her that she is beautiful from within? She has been with us for 3 months now. Every day is learning day as we walk through the journey of life with her and as she looks after our family.
I know I have been asked so many times when I mention it, why I am risking and investing in sponsoring my nanny for a programme and yet she is still so new with no guarantee whether she will stay. And that I should wait until she has stayed with us for a while before investing in her lest it be a waste of time and money. My rejoinder has been to ask if one wouldn’t rather invest in the nanny’s transformation right from the beginning and give it their best shot towards having them stay?
All the same, I find that the unspoken communication from the people we employ in our homes to look after us and our children is often more deafeningly loud than the stuff they say out loud. Their actions and reactions whilst living with us are often a sum total of their childhood, upbringing and recent past.
Try and walk a little in their shoes
When the nanny has done something seemingly uncharacteristic or beyond common sense in the house, it may be worthwhile to try and walk a little in their shoes (albeit this may be a tall order) and try and see where they ‘could have been coming from’. In normal cases, more often than not, communication beyond the spoken does help a great deal to foster partnership.
And just like in relationships with family members where one tries to understand their spouse, parents, children and siblings’ language of love, it would be of immense value to do the same for this ‘pseudo’ family member in the name of a ‘housie’.
“His energy is infectious. He oozes with conviction. He is the master of ‘It’s-never-that-serious’. He has perfected the art of retelling his pervious ordeals with wet humour. I would almost say I wish I had met him way earlier in my education…”