Years passed. People came and went. And I was left with Amina, an older Kenyan woman, who was caring for S. When J was born we faced a dilemma. Amina was an older woman and did not have the strength or stamina to care for a new-born baby. Enter Mary. Also a Kenyan woman who was with us “temporarily” to help care for J when she was a new-born. Now did I need 2 women to help? probably not. Did it make life easier (cleaning, washing, cooking, nighttime feedings) yes.
We left for London where my husband was starting his Masters degree and settled into our little rented house in Camden. Amina and Mary got on ok in the new environment and got to know the area well. Amina was an older woman but seemed to love the children and although she was not perfect I felt she would keep the children safe and that is the most important thing. Mary was a super woman. She was stern and a bit cold with me but she was fantastic with S and J. So we settled in nicely.
Amina went on a short vacation and Mary took on both kids and the chores and was a star. I knew I didn’t need Amina but I had no intention of firing her because I felt she was so dependent on this job for her family. In the end she was doing mostly nothing while mary was doing a lot of the work. My husband was getting impatient because she was redundant and was doing less to help each day. One night (maybe sensing it) she said to me “I will not leave you even if I am on crutches” to which I said “You can stay as long as you like”.
One day they both asked me to make photocopies of their passports because there was an “investment” they wanted to enter back home in Kenya and they needed to send copies back. So I obliged and made each 3 colour copies.
The sunday after, I heard the kids outside ou room at 7am. S was helping J up the stairs and came in saying “They ran off”. Mary, being christian, goes to church on Sundays so I assumed that’s where she was… but where was Amina?
I went down and made them breakfast. and waited… and waited… and still no sign. So, I went the basement and found that their suitcases were missing. Then I looked and saw that their clothes were gone. Then, I guess you could describe what happened next as a kind of hysterical reaction. While an over dramatic friend of mine was saying “check if they stole anything” I had J on my hip and S in tow behind me and went up and down this house (The house was a vertical one as are many London houses meaning each floor had just one room or at most two so the house was 3 floors and a basement) I looked through every room, every nook and cranny, under their mattresses, under pillows, under beds, in bags and when my friend asked me what I was looking for I told her “A LETTER! A NOTE! ANYTHING! THEY MUST HAVE LEFT SOMETHING SAYING WHY THEY LEFT AND SAYING SORRY!”
Word spread fast among the other nannies and mothers at S’s school who all seemed not to comprehend why and how this happens and who seemed to look at me in a different way. I mean to them there is no logical reason they would just up and leave like that. Hell, to me there is no logical reason either! But it happens. Salvation came in the form of a mother from Italy (Named Vittoria) who said out loud at a birthday party “B! I heard what happened with Amina! My God that always happens in Italy! I had a maid who I brought from (insert country here, can’t remember for the life of me) and it took me ages to get the paper work done only for her to come here and run away!” THANK GOD FOR VITTORIA!
In hind sight, this was one of the best things that has happened to me. It forced me into a more normal life with my children. One with less help and therefore more dependence on each other and more independence for each child. When S wanted a glass of milk and I was bathing J he would have to get it himself. When J wanted help with a puzzle and I was sorting out groceries she would figure it out herself. It made me less of an over protective mother which gave them much more freedom because when you are one person you cannot shadow two children simultaneously. For the first time in my life I would go to the park with both of them, sit on the grass and let them play within my line of sight unhindered by adults walking a step behind them.
Months later when we were preparing to come home I was once again looking for a nanny because my life here in Saudi does not give me the luxury of doing bed times every night with the kids or school runs every morning or taking them to the birthday parties and play dates every weekend and their life should not be hindered because mine is. I decided then that I would get one nanny for all the kids (Had baby B on the way) I knew there would always be loads of help in Saudi because that’s the way our families work. I wanted a nanny who would expand their horizons, teach them new things and help them experience life in different ways. I did not need a watch dog.
I went through an agency that said they have a brilliant candidate for me. They sent me a CV of an older Kenyan woman called Amina. They had photos of Amina and one of her HOLDING MY SON! WHAT THE HELL! I immediately called the agency and explained that is my son in the picture and she did not have permission to use the image. That was the last I heard of Amina. Mary on the other hand called me on J’s birthday to wish her the best and apologize for the way she left.
That, my dears, is the full story of the 5 women who “ran away” from our family. I later found out that the only way they can stay in the UK is to say they were mistreated by us so God know what Juvy had to have said to the police man who spoke to me on the phone that day for him to have spoken to me the way he did.
Moral of the story is… if I were them I would probably stay in the UK as well. But I would have the decency to do it the right way.