Going through the teen section I spotted the Au Pair series by Melissa de la Cruz. The premise is that instead of paying fully trained English nannies totting degrees in early childhood education to watch their kids fulltime, the wealthy would much rather pay the same amount to have their children watched by teens who party like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Britney Spears. Fine, the teens aren’t that ill behaved. But when School Library Journal described how the au pairs take care of “four over privileged, under supervised kids,” I cringed. Under supervised???? Excuse me, but as au pairs isn’t it their jobs to supervise the kids?
Or maybe not.
Check out these books’ covers. One would mistake the world of childcare as one of glamour and fun, a place where young babysitters watch their charges for ten minutes a day before spending the rest of their time scantily clad in the sand. Because what married, middle-aged mother wouldn’t want a bikini-wearing teen with all of her original parts in their original places frolicking in front of her husband? Why it must be high on her wish list, sandwiched between botched Botox injections and male pattern baldness. Note to authors: stop making teens believe they’ll get paid for rolling around on a beach as if they were taking photos for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.
Do you know what teen girls should really be reading? I mean besides He’s Just Not That Into You (which an unnamed co-worker feels should be mandatory 8th grade reading).
The Nanny Diaries.
It’s hilarious, and a lot closer to reality to than the Au Pair series. By the third page you can’t put it down as the narrator describes The Interview: “I answer with as much filigree and insouciance as I can muster, trying to slightly cock my head like Snow White listening to the animals. She, in turn, is aiming for more of a Diane Sawyer-pose, looking for answers which will confirm that I am not there to steal her husband, jewelry, friends, or child. In that order.”
And that about sums it up.
Sure, we (meaning teens) would like to think folks will pay untrained individuals tons of money to stay in fabulous homes. The truth of the matter is, if I were married to some rich, handsome, great, rich guy who is rich (it will happen!) and I believed in in-house childcare, we’d either get a manny, or the woman would look like Nanny McPhee and dress like Laura Ingalls.