My husband and I really wanted children, but I couldn’t get pregnant. The doctors threw up their hands and claimed that everything was fine with both of us in the reproductive plan. It remained to hope, pray and wait.
Six years later, a miracle happened – a daughter was born, who was named after my late mother Inga. When my daughter was nine months old, she was diagnosed with celiac disease. Neither Igor nor I have ever even heard of such a disease before.
– This is a hereditary disease that is caused by a constant intolerance to gluten, or, more simply, gluten, – the doctor explained. – The disease, of course, is not the worst in the world, but very insidious. If it is not treated, symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, bloating, sudden mood swings, delayed physical and mental development appear …
– What is the treatment? I asked, barely holding back tears.
– In compliance with the strictest diet. Your girl is very lucky that the disease was detected at an early stage. If you exclude all gluten-containing foods from the diet, the child will develop normally.
– You said that the disease is hereditary, – the husband, who had been listening to the doctor in silence, entered into the conversation. – But my wife and I are healthy.
– So, one of your closest relatives is ill. And not necessarily celiac disease. Possibly cancer or diabetes mellitus.
“My mom died of stomach cancer,” I managed.
– Wow. And my father suffers from diabetes,” Igor added gloomily.
“Diet, diet, and diet again,” the pediatrician reminded him goodbye.
Our daughter was not allowed to eat anything made from cereals – wheat, rye and barley. That is, no bread, no pastries, no pasta…
– Nothing. So, he will lean on vegetables, meat and fish,” Igor cheered up a little. – But she will grow up slim!
But not everything was so simple. It turned out that gluten, which is harmful to our Inga, is contained in hundreds of different products to which manufacturers add flour or some food additives. While my daughter was very young, it was not particularly difficult to follow a diet. But when she grew up a little, she had to be vigilant so that the girl did not steal something forbidden from the table or from the refrigerator – a sausage, a cookie, a piece of bread, sausage or cheese, did not lick ketchup or mayonnaise, did not sip instant coffee from a cup…
Her third birthday was approaching. I was faced with a dilemma: go to work or quit. Ideally, of course, it would be better to quit and stay at home, because no one will take care of a child (especially a sick one) better than mom, but… The fact is that the husband, with all his many virtues, earns a little. My salary at the bank before going on maternity leave was almost two and a half times more than Igor’s salary, in addition, there was a prospect of growth. Anyway, they promised me: when I go back to work, in the near future I have a chance to take the position of head of the currency department. Gluten-free products are more expensive, it was quite noticeable for our family budget. So we really needed the money! Therefore, I could not afford the luxury of staying at home.
But there was no question of giving Inga to kindergarten either. It was also impossible to entrust the care of the baby to my grandmother – my mother died when I was in my last year at the institute, and Igor’s parents live on the other side of Russia. Anyway, there was only one way out – to hire a nanny. But our child needed not just a nanny, but Mary Poppins and Dr. Spock in one person. Whether it is possible to find one is still a question…
The first person we chose as a result of the most careful selection was thirty-five-year-old Tamara, a woman with a medical education and excellent recommendations.
– Don’t worry, I’ll manage, – the nanny assured, after we told her in detail about her daughter’s illness.
And she coped, however, smoothly… a week. And then she disappeared, taking with her all my jewelry and some of my valuables. My husband tried to contact the people for whom Tamara worked before us, but it turned out that such people do not exist in nature – both the recommendations and the nurse’s diploma turned out to be fake.
The next nanny, Regina Petrovna, was already fifty-nine, but she looked much younger. Competent speech, neat clothes, almost forty years of teaching experience and three grandchildren raised by her – all this inspired confidence. A few days passed, and Inga’s condition worsened – she began to have nausea and diarrhea. In addition, the always obedient and affectionate daughter suddenly became nervous, irritable and even aggressive. Naturally, we immediately took Inga to her doctor.
– There is a violation of the diet, – said the doctor.
But the nanny swore that she fed Inga only those products that were listed on the menu, which I personally made up for my daughter every morning.
– He’s lying! I said to my husband angrily when the nanny went home.
– Not a fact, – Igor objected. – Do you remember how Inga secretly ate a crab stick three months ago? She was very ill then, too.
– I don’t know… I drawled doubtfully.
The purchase and installation of hidden cameras punched a significant hole in the family budget, but we did not find another way to check the honesty of Regina Petrovna. Watching the first video brought my husband and me into a state of shock. It turned out that as soon as we left for work, the nanny immediately turned on the TV and began watching the series. It was time for lunch, but she continued to stare at the screen. Inga, accustomed to eating at a strictly defined time, stopped drawing and approached Regina:
– I want to eat!
– Wait, – the woman waved away with displeasure. – Now the most interesting thing begins.
The daughter asked the nanny to feed her twice more, but she didn’t even budge. The second camera installed in the kitchen recorded how Inga opened the refrigerator, took a cutlet out of the pan and ate it. The whole horror was that it was our cutlets with my husband – when I cooked them, in order to save money, I put a whole third of a white loaf in the stuffing!
…I had no idea that my calm and composed husband could shout like that, and even at an elderly woman. Regina tried to justify herself, but then she was outraged and said that she would sue Igor for insulting her honor and dignity.
– I will sue you myself! Igor barked and shook the flash drive in front of her nose: – Let the judges admire your honor and dignity!
Regina Petrovna, as if blown away by the wind.
The third and fourth nannies also turned out to be flawed and were fired long before the end of the probation period. I was desperate. “I’ll have to leave work after all,” I decided in the end. Yes, money is needed, but the child’s health is more important than any money! When she shared her plans with her husband, he shook his head and said:
– Olya, don’t rush. You will always have time to write a statement. Let me take a vacation for now – I have more than a month running along with the holidays. And in the meantime, maybe we’ll come up with something better than your dismissal.
Igor’s vacation was coming to an end, and we still hadn’t come up with anything. My mood was disgusting. On Saturday I went to the supermarket to buy groceries. Absentmindedly pushed the cart between the rows of shelves. Suddenly someone called out to me.
– Olenka, don’t you recognize me? – a modestly dressed woman with a haggard face came up to me.
– I am Olga Morozova’s mother, Galina Tikhonovna.
Olga Morozova and I studied in the same group, were friends and often visited each other. Almost immediately after receiving her diploma, Olya jumped out to marry an American and went to live with him in Boston. At first, we corresponded by e-mail, but then our virtual communication somehow imperceptibly came to naught. I really didn’t recognize Galina Tikhonovna. Eight years ago, when I saw her for the last time, she was a healthy beauty, and now she has aged, lost weight, haggard… There are black circles under the eyes, kilometers of wrinkles on the face. She looks sixty, but she’s just over fifty! And the clothes are obviously second-hand. Does the daughter not help the mother at all?
– How is Olga doing? I asked, more out of politeness than curiosity.
“Don’t you know anything?” Olenka died five years ago. Together with her husband, they crashed in a car. A month later, Boris Nikolaevich died of a heart attack. I was left all alone.
Galina Tikhonova wiped a tear from her cheek. I automatically looked into her basket: a pack of the cheapest pasta, a small bottle of sunflower oil, and even a net with sprouted onions.
– Do you still work there? In the factory accounting department? I asked for some reason.
– They cut it a year and a half ago. After fifty, it is almost impossible to find a normal job, and retirement is still far away… She waved her hand in resignation.
– What do you live on?!
– I got a job as a janitor, – said Galina Tikhonova and blushed.
– My daughter is sick and she urgently needs a babysitter, – I blurted out unexpectedly for myself. – Maybe you could help us?..
– In principle, I probably could, – the woman nodded shyly. – I just don’t know if I can handle it…
– But let’s try, – I asked. – What if it turns out?
A year has passed since then. We dismantled the hidden cameras a long time ago – they are now completely unnecessary. Because you can’t even dream of a better nanny than Galina Tikhonova. She has fallen in love with our Inga, like her own granddaughter, and is even more worried about her than Igor and I are. During these twelve months, my daughter has never had an exacerbation of the disease – she looks and behaves like an absolutely healthy child. She grew up noticeably, learned to read, ride a two-wheeled bicycle and play the piano. And all this is the merit of the nanny! Galina Tikhonovna herself also underwent amazing changes: the woman became younger and learned to enjoy life again. And from her sincere open smile, it becomes brighter for all of us.