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When the mom of a kid in my son’s preschool class told
me she’d be sending the nanny in her place for a playdate, I panicked. Spending
time around older ladies makes me nervous. I’m always afraid they’re going to
chastise me for not wearing pantyhose, try to teach me how to knit or ask me
to find something using the Dewey Decimal System.
Truthfully, I was disappointed that the mom herself
wouldn’t be there. Her email said that she would be working, to which I replied
that I totally understood, being a busy business-lady myself. Instead of coming
to my house to enjoy the cheap wine I keep on hand for just this sort of occasion, she would be sending “Pearl.”
I get it. Going on your kids' playdates is so 2011.
Why waste time picking up your dry cleaning, baking cupcakes for school or going
to the gynecologist when you could hire a Pearl to be your proxy?
It’s not like I was imagining that this mom and I were
going to become best friends or anything. I get that the playdate is really for the kids, not for me to find someone who also wants to paint nails, have pillow fights and try to contact Robert Palmer with a Ouija board.
And besides, spending time with this woman’s governess would give me the chance to learn interesting new things,
like the correct way to clean the inside of a straw or what women wore during Colonial times.
I would do my best to make Pearl feel right at home.
offer her a cup of tea and ask her non-invasive questions. I'd present our home in a positive light and make sure she didn't discover the puzzle
pieces and stale bits of hot dog that we keep under our couch. She would see that I'm a good mom.
I’m sure I could have learned a lot from Pearl, if I’d just given myself a chance to know her. I may have even made a new, unlikely friend.
Or would she? As the date of the playdate for the boys
drew nearer, I became more and more paranoid. In my mind, Pearl was not just
judgmental—she had the ability to see the darkest secrets of my soul. She
knew about the leopard print vibrator and stash of Vicodin in my sock
drawer. Pearl visited me in my dreams, shaking her head and making a distinct
tsk-tsk-ing sound. She did not approve.
I decided that I could not, under any circumstances, be present for the
playdate. I didn’t have a Pearl, but I did have someone who could be my stand-in
for the afternoon.
My 20-year-old babysitter looked at me sideways
and begrudgingly agreed when I suggested that she would be the one to facilitate.
I’m sure I could have
learned a lot from Pearl, if I’d just given myself a chance to know her. I may have even made a
new, unlikely friend. Right at this moment, we could be getting manicures, wearing matching muumuus
and drinking mimosas together. Instead, I made my escape to the local café
where I could sip a latte while writing on my laptop, secure in the knowledge
that none of the people around me knew anything about the handcrafted Spice
Girls diorama in my living room.