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¿Como Se Dice “Pretentious”?

August 19th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  3 Comments

Look, I understand white liberal guilt. You want to be an enlightened Eat Pray Love multicultural creature, but you lead an unadventurous life—work, home, Thai takeout, sleep—and it means you mostly deal with people roughly like yourself. You would like your children to do better, to be citizens of the world, able to leap the barriers of ethnicity and class that forestall openness. If only they had more consistent … exposure … to the wider world. I get it.

Which gives me the right to say this to my fellow cosmopolite elitists: You’re overdoing it again. We need a nanny, and non-Spanish-speakers need not apply. People! Get over your insecurity! Your kid has the same shot at Harvard even if he doesn’t pick up his third language by age 4. Go out this weekend, feed your kid an unhealthy American burger and a couple of Cokes, and calm the hell down.

It’s clever, though, I’ll give ’em that. I don’t know anything about hiring domestic help, but I would have to assume that a struggling English speaker does not command quite the same hourly rate that Mary Poppins does, and certainly not as much as Ms. P. plus a language tutor on the side. Everyone wins! Unless you pay her off the books, in which case the IRS, and by extension the rest of us, lose.


  1. Perpetua says:

    August 19th, 2010at 10:15 am(#)

    I always thought the “Spanish, please” ads meant “willing to work for a ridiculously low salary and incapable of complaining to the authorities about it, please.” You mean there’s a child-centered reason for those ads, too? Huh.

  2. Matt says:

    August 19th, 2010at 11:17 am(#)

    I was surprised the story didn’t touch on the experience we had with our Chinese-speaking nanny: my almost utter inability to communicate with her. While she and Jean spoke easily, I was often reduced to just nodding yes to whatever she was saying. I mean, it was great that Sasha had such a consistent early exposure to Chinese, but it wasn’t easy for everyone involved.


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