Sometimes I think it’s because she knows more than I do—with her Spotify and her Snapchat. I’ve asked myself whether it’s because she’s half my size, which I know for a fact, because she once left a pair of jeans in our car and they were size 25. It’s not her perfect golden locks or her ability to function on two hours of sleep and a Starbucks latte. It’s not her carefree, single lifestyle that blows her from sorority formals to Lollapalooza. And I swear it’s not because she has a nicer purse than I do.
The truth is: I’m not entirely sure why I’m so hard on my millennial nanny.
In my defense, it’s annoying that she shows up late almost every day. But I have to share the blame because she was late to the initial interview so I had fair warning. Plus, I’m the employer—and the adult—so the onus is on me to remind her when I expect her and to hold her accountable. I’m not sure why I don’t pull her aside for a conversation on punctuality and expectations—except that I hate conflict, and I’m lazy.
There was an unspoken respect between me and the Gen-X nanny. ... How could my sweet, young millennial nanny compete with that?
I know it’s not fair, but I constantly compare her to our last nanny, a stern Gen-Xer with a back-breaking work ethic and take-no-shit demeanor. Our Gen-Xer nanny was late plenty of times in her four-year tenure with us, but she never left Subway wrappers in the car for me to pick up, and she never played Justin Bieber songs for my kids. There was an unspoken respect between me and the Gen-X nanny. It was the bond forged between two people who understood that was how the world worked. We were both on the same generational page—we shared wrinkles, fear about our parents aging, terror over suspicious lumps in our breasts.
How could my sweet, young millennial nanny compete with that?
In theory, it’s fine that my millennial nanny always asks to borrow my phone charger. Certainly, it’s less cool that she gives the kids high-fat, starchy snacks an hour before dinner, but no one is perfect.
And my kids adore her. They see her, perhaps realistically, as their slightly older peer. She braids my daughter’s hair; she lets my son beat her at basketball. She’s introduced them to pop music and that staple of college diets, ramen noodles. She also convinced my daughter that Converse tennis shoes are cooler than flip flops. She buys the kids ice cream with her Dad’s credit card.
There is so much to love.
But still, I catch myself focusing on her untamed youth, her reckless inattention to detail and her quiet sense of entitlement that permeates every exchange between us. I can’t seem to stop wishing she were more serious, had more gravitas, was more like those of us in Gen-X.
So maybe it’s just straight up jealousy. But then again, maybe it’s just that my loyalties lie with older people, women like me whose only electronics growing up were a yellow Sony Walkman and a crimping iron. Women who had to figure out public transportation because there was no Uber. Women who knew how to be on time for a job interview. Women who worshipped Ralph Macchio and knew who Baby was and why nobody was putting her in the corner.