cyprus: back to the place you’re longing for

Those of you who have been reading for a while will remember the au pair chronicles—a serial about how it is that I ended up in Germany and what it was like spending 10 months au pairing for a insanely rich family in Frankfurt am Main. Well, I’ve been busy writing new installments to share with you during operation whirlwind baby. But since a hell of a lot of new readers have become regulars since I first began the series a year ago, I thought I would start by re-publishing the series thus far—both to buy me baby time and to get everyone caught up before continuing the saga. You can find an index of the entire series here. This segment was originally published on February 9, 2010.

The war started with a bruise. Franci became a bitchy little snot in a matter of hours, twisted my skin until it turned black when I told her it was bedtime, and ran screaming into the “kids’ disco” across from the clubhouse

The disco was set up like a regular disco, but with lower tables and non-alcoholic drinks. I walked slowly in after her, counting, breathing deeply, doing anything I could to keep the rage in my head and out of my hands.

“Franci, what you just did really hurt my feelings. We’re going to go back to the room now, come on.” That’s what I had planned on saying. But when she saw me across the room she screamed, “Asshole, stupid asshole, I hate you!”

I turned around and left without a word. The situation was beyond my control; I needed to get mom and dad involved or I was going to break into a thousand little pieces that no one would ever be able to put back together.

Jens and Janet were sitting at a round table in the dining room with Franci’s new friend’s parents, eating fresh dates and drinking wine. My voice was shaking as I held out my arm and explained what had just happened. “Do you see that? Your daughter just did that to me. Then she ran into the disco, and as soon as I walked in the door she screamed and called me a stupid asshole. She won’t listen to me. I need one of you to step in.” Jens threw down his napkin, disgusted.

“I’ll take care of it,” he assured me, “Meet me back at the room.”

I could hear Franci’s howls from across the resort. Jens had her by the ear and was dragging her down the path. “You acted despicably tonight. If you don’t cut it out I’m sending you home on the next plane all by yourself.” She screamed louder. “Do you want to go home by yourself?” She screamed louder still. I stood waiting at the door, and he dragged her in past me and ordered her into pajamas and bed.

When Franci refused to talk to me the next morning, Janet suggested I ignore her. I was glad for the break, but ignoring someone who doesn’t want to have anything to do with you in the first place seemed like an ineffectual strategy. Fuck it. And then there was one.

With Franci out of the way—she now spent her time with her new friend James, and since James went to the Dolphin Club, so did she—Franz Joseph was easier to handle. With two there was always one who didn’t want to do whatever I suggested which meant that in the end we did nothing but sit in the hotel room: them hypnotized by Greek television, me staring longingly at the beach out of the terrace window.

Joseph preferred the heated pool to the beach, so one afternoon we joined the older Cole children there for a swim. In the deep pool I insisted that he put on his swimmies. He screamed. I insisted again. So he hocked a big lugey and spit in my face. I picked him up like a surf-board, slung the beach bag over my shoulder and carried him kicking and crying back to the hotel room. Fuck the Mediterranean, fuck Cyprus, fuck all-expenses paid. Now I understood Aldiana’s other motto, the one that was constantly being sung on the television commercials, “Back to the place you’re longing for.” I couldn’t wait to go home.

0 Comments on “cyprus: back to the place you’re longing for

  1. Did those people ever display anything approaching love or even tolerance for their children? In every story so far, when you needed parental back up, they stormed in threatening their children with what must have seemed like terrifying consequences for what is, I’m sorry, fairly predictable little kid behavior in a foreign environment, especially since it appears they were banished from the rest of the family.

    I’m not at all trying to imply that their behavior was acceptable or that you did anything wrong. But, but–why couldn’t they hang out with their siblings and parents on the vacation? Why were they always being shunted off?

    After reading this, I want to both put the kids in an extended time out AND give them huge hugs and tell them it’s okay, they’re okay. Their parents are crazy, but it’s not their fault.

    I hope those people had a therapy fund going.

  2. Rachel: Yeah, the whole situation was incredibly f-ed up. Incredibly. The parents did their best to semi ban them from the rest of the family during that trip for sure. Everyone else was staying in one big suite together, and me and the twins were on the other side of the resort in our room. Nuts. I think the parents just thought they were a nuisance and wanted to try their best to have a vacation in which they didn’t have to be involved. Not that they ever really were at home either.

    I was always oscillating between pity and rage myself. I mean, there’s little you can do to improve a situation like that when you’re just some person there for ten months who is going to be replaced afterwards with some other random person (this is how they raised all their kids, though I think they were probably more involved with the first two as they turned out quite nice). Sometimes I imagine running into them in Frankfurt, and I wonder what they are like now. Poor kids.

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