Awkward! (A conversation about race and fathers, with our nanny.)

July 22nd, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  2 Comments

With almost no exceptions, my experience with Ellie’s nanny, who has been with us for about four months, has been great. The baby loves her, Tomoko respects (and likes) her, and I find her calm to be an entire separate, and reliable, infrastructure in the system of our parenting.

But I did have one whopper of a chat with her the other day. She is from Trinidad, of African descent, and very proper. I learned a little earlier that she was in the process of splitting with her husband, and had in fact moved out and was living withe her sister (with her two young children).

After offering my sympathy, I asked her what sort of arrangement she managed having with her ex with the kids, and she told me she assumed that they would be with her. In fact, she said, she wouldn’t be totally surprised if her husband cut off relations with the kids and just moved on. I expressed some shock at this—up to this point her description of him had been rather good—and she frowned at me.

“Let’s be honest, Ted,” she said. “We’re all adults. The truth is, black men are more likely to leave their families than men from any other race.”

No need to go into the class, race, and gender weirdness that plays into hiring someone to look after your kids. We happen to be very lucky, our nanny is superb, but it’s still an adjustment on a daily basis.

I just had no idea what to say to that one. I tried mumbling something appropriately liberal about poverty and the alienation it causes (which, I admit, was kinda condescending), but she batted it away as if I hadn’t spoken. Black men, she knew, were no damn good.

I let it go at that, we joked about finding her someone Jewish, and then she went home.

Any thoughts out there? A difficult one for me.


  1. dizzyworld says:

    August 17th, 2011at 10:28 am(#)

    Where in the world have you lived until now?

  2. dadwagon says:

    August 17th, 2011at 1:40 pm(#)

    Uh, in middle class utopia?

Leave a Response


Recent Comments

  • Dee: As one of the impressed moms there last night, and also because my kid ate 3 bowls of that bolognese, thanks for...
  • Drew Wallner via Facebook: I’m totally making this when we get back from holiday travel, I even just got a...
  • Matt: Whoops! Just put that back in. The recipe editor has been fired.
  • Ed Lilly: Looks great – thanks for posting! One question – you did not specify putting the meat back into...
  • Maks: I’m against baby yoga for sure, but want to say something regarding that author is a little wild about...

DadWagon Reads!


But no daycare.

Apple's New Campus Has Cutting-Edge Features That Will Amaze You | Architectural Digest

Steve Jobs's final vision has been realized, and it's in the form of a bold 175-acre, Foster + Partners–designed campus

May 17th 4:21pm • No Comments

On the one hand, this is a cute project. On the other, he named his daughter Madison, which is just awful.

Dad Creates Book For Daughter Who 'Didn't Want To Be Chinese'

His daughter doesn't have any Asian storybook heroes, so he's creating some.

May 16th 2:50pm • No Comments

Time to teach the kids how to start a fire in the Weber.

The New York Times Makes a Print Play for Kids

Sunday’s New York Times will include a special print section for kids.

May 11th 12:08pm • No Comments