I have been afraid of mice since childhood. No, in cartoons they are very cute and funny. And if a real live mouse gets in my way, I’m ashamed, but I start to squeal.
And this fear of mice was the main reason why I reluctantly agreed to move to a new house in a cottage settlement. The move was due to the fact that my husband and I decided to leave our city apartment to my son, who by that time already had a wife and our newborn grandson. I, and my husband, liked their family more and more every day. And remembering how we dreamed of living in our own home in our youth, how difficult it was to go to our own apartment, we decided to make this task easier for our son’s family – to give them our apartment in the city center. We already had a car, which untied our hands: we didn’t have to think about public transport. The accumulated funds were enough to buy a cottage and household appliances. And for the housewarming, my son and daughter-in-law made us a luxurious gift: furniture for the living room and kitchen-dining room. They gave us another gift: a kitten.
A red-haired, easily placed in the palm of my hand, named by me Nikifor, the kitten quickly grew into an imposing tall cat. And I immediately realized that the mice now will not be able to even get close to our house. Nikifor had no competitors either on the right or on the left in the neighboring cottages. A potential threat – he probably never saw a dog alive at all.
Until the new owners – a young family — settled in the cottage on the right. They bought it from an elderly couple, university professors. After retiring, the couple agreed to move in with their daughter, who probably lived with her husband and two children in Spain for ten years. They put the cottage up for sale, and buyers were quickly found for it: a young family. The cottage suited them perfectly. They did not do any restructuring. Except that instead of a classic flowerbed, Anya, the young hostess, made an alpine slide. And her slide was not quite traditional: a juniper bush was now growing on its top in the center, which, it turns out, emitted a slightly tart aroma that wafted to us.
We met the newcomers. Occasionally we went to visit each other. And Anya once confessed to me that she has been treated for infertility for several years.
— I want to be a mom so much! And Nikita dreams of having a child,» she said, barely holding back tears.
— Anyuta, — I tried to console her, — people sometimes wait for decades. You, most importantly, believe!
In the summer, Anya and Nikita went on vacation, and they gave me the keys and asked me to look into their house. They turned off water, gas and electricity. But you never know what! I then asked how often to water her alpine slide. Anya, with gratitude that I take this care on myself, told and showed where to connect the hose.
I heard that they had returned, not so much by the noise of the car, but by the loud barking: Anya was carrying a small Cocker spaniel in her arms.
-hello! – she said. – And we are not alone. We have a new tenant with us, Taffy.
«Is that a Cocker spaniel?» – I decided to show off my knowledge of dog breeds.
— Yes, it’s a spaniel. We bought it on the highway. One was sitting in a box that stood next to the boy. He said that Mom doesn’t allow the whole brood to stay. So he attaches the puppies. This is the smallest…
So we got another neighbor – the Cocker spaniel Taffy. Such a cute creature! Fidgety, curious and omnipresent, does not bark, but as if a bell is ringing. He was loved not only by the owners, but by everyone in the village who met Taffy on a walk. And if someone has a dog that is completely devoid of aggression, it should be similar to Taffy. Anyway, the appearance of Taffy brightened up Anya’s life. Let it be an inferior replacement for the child she never stopped dreaming about, but still the baby is in the house.
And then one day Anyuta called me and asked me to come in. I was also surprised: it’s not three o’clock in the afternoon, and Anya is not at work. Is she ill? And hurried to her. Taffy was the first to meet me – he was barking loudly, jumping up and down, in a word, it was impossible not to take him in my arms. So with Taffy and I went in to Anya. She was beaming. And immediately said:
— I just came from the women’s clinic. Imagine, it’s been seven weeks! I can’t wait for Nikita to arrive…
— How glad I am for you! I said, really feeling joy for both Anya and Nikita.
And in mid-January, Nikita took his wife and son from the hospital, whom they had long decided to call Marat. Now I rarely saw Anya. Unless she herself did not invite me to come to her. So I had an idea how Marat grew up. And once again Taffy was amazed: as soon as Anya told the spaniel that Marat was sleeping and it was necessary to be quiet, this red-fawn miracle seemed to tiptoe around the house without making a sound.
And somehow Anya showed me how Taffy plays with Marat. The boy was lying in his crib, and the spaniel was rolling a rattle in front of him. Moreover, I tried to make Marat see the rattle. And he was really watching her and blowing bubbles with delight.
Well, somehow it happened that Anyuta caught a cold? She started having mastitis. He was defeated. But she could no longer breastfeed Marat. With caution, but I had to switch to artificial feeding. Nikita comforted his wife as best he could. And she blamed herself and often cried. Nikita secretly consulted with a well-known obstetrician in the city. And he expressed concern that his wife could be threatened with postpartum depression.
— And how to avoid it? – Nikita’s anxiety has only intensified.
And then the doctor advised him to load his wife with work. The one she knew. And what she was doing before the decree. At this time, the company that belonged to Nikita, and in which Anya was in charge of one of the departments, received a large order. If successful, the company could count on a decent financial reward, which in turn made it possible to open a branch in the region. Anya knew about this – Nikita constantly kept her up to date with the company’s affairs. And now he turned directly to his wife:
— Anyuta, you listen to me! – he said. – If only you knew how much the company needs you today! Maybe, since you’re not feeding Marat, you can help us?
— Yes, I understand, Nikita, — Anya absolutely correctly understood her husband. – I guess we’ll do that. But first we’ll find a babysitter.
The whole firm helped to look for a nanny. But we settled on a company that worked officially: here we were looking for service personnel, which included nannies. For each potential applicant, a verified dossier was collected here – from personal data and recommendations to photographs. Special attention was paid to the medical book, which excluded the possibility of being a nanny, having any, not to mention an infectious disease. Anya and Nikita visited this company together, looked through a dozen questionnaires. We settled on two contenders. And they appointed a day for their first meeting.
A middle-aged woman came first. But it didn’t work out for a long time: the woman’s phone rang, she apologized and walked away to talk. When I came back, I was confused. Apologized again, saying:
— They called from home. Unfortunately, I will not be able to work for family reasons.
On the same day, the second applicant came. A girl in her early twenties. Pretty. With the right speech. She told me that she was studying in absentia at the Faculty of preschool education. And this will be the fifth baby, for whom, if she is taken, she will be happy to become a nanny.
I liked the girl. And Anya went to bring her up to date. The duties of the nanny included only caring for Marat. Neither washing nor cleaning concerned her. Only the preparation of mixtures, feeding by the hour, keeping the baby clean and daily walks.
The nanny, whose name was Tanya, asked permission to hold Marat. She picked him up carefully and wanted to say something. But suddenly Taffy ran up to her and began to bark loudly. Nikita shouted at the spaniel, but Marat had already woken up and started crying. Tanya deftly shifted the boy from hand to hand and began to gently lull him to sleep. And in the kitchen, Taffy was whining plaintively…
Anya and Nikita gradually got used to the fact that their Marat stays at home with a nanny. Returning from work, they saw their son clean, the battery of washed bottles testified that Marat had been fed. In short, Anya was now grabbing the phone less and less at work to call home and find out how her Marat was. She threw herself into the project, working with her usual passion, and carried away her colleagues with it.
The only thing that bothered Nikita and especially Anya was Taffy. In the morning, when Tanya was just approaching the gate, the spaniel started barking. And he didn’t stop. That is, Taffy barked while Tanya took off her shoes in the hallway, then went up to the second floor to the nursery. He, too, followed her up, keeping a distance, and barked until he was hoarse. Neither Anya nor Nikita had even known before that Taffy could bark so angrily. And Tanya gently said to the dog:
— Well, Taffy, what are you! Take it easy! You’re good!
But Taffy didn’t react to that. On the contrary, he barked even more angrily. Then Anya noticed that Taffy wasn’t eating. Early in the morning, even before Tanya’s arrival, he was allowed to run into the yard. He came back, drank water and ate his food. In the middle of the day, Tanya, at their request, put another portion of food in a bowl of Taffy. But the food remained untouched until the evening, until the owners returned from work. One day on the way to work Nikita said to Anya:
— Taffy is kind of weird… He doesn’t accept Tanya. How long can you bark at her?
— Yes, I noticed, — Anya agreed. – if it wasn’t for his barking at the babysitter, I wouldn’t even know that Taffy could have such an angry, hoarse voice.
— We need to go to the vet after work, — Nikita suggested. – Maybe Taffy has some problems…
They stopped by. An elderly veterinarian, who knew Taffy because he vaccinated the spaniel, listened to them and said that without examining the dog, he could not tell if he had a health problem. We agreed that they would bring Taffy to the vet not today, but tomorrow. Already saying goodbye to them, the veterinarian said:
— A dog can react this way to someone she doesn’t like.
Nikita was joking:
— Probably, the nanny is not his type…
On Saturday Nikita took Taffy to the vet. I was just outside the gate-checking the mailbox. And I saw how the dog, happily wagging his tail, jumped into the car. She asked after saying hello:
«Is Taffy going to the market with you?»
— No, I’m taking him to the vet.
And he went. I, like everyone in the village, loved this dog. So I decided to go to Anya and find out what happened. Anya showed me into the living room. There in the arena sat a grown-up Marat and played with colorful cubes. The cheeky, big-eyed kid was calm and focused.
— Probably, the nanny looks after Marat well, — I said.
— Yes, — Anya agreed. – We were lucky. However, the nanny will leave us in June – she is studying in absentia, and she will have a session. But we’re taking a vacation, so we’ll wait for our Tanya. Maybe he’ll come back to us later.
«What about Taffy?» Are you sick?
And then Anya complained that she didn’t recognize the dog. A peaceful, playful dog barks angrily at the babysitter. He feels her approach a mile away and starts barking loudly. And when she enters the house, she almost throws herself at her. And so it is all the time while she works for them.
And then I remembered that since the windows in their cottage with the arrival of spring began to be put on airing mode for the whole day, I also hear Taffy barking. Several times a day. And really vicious, desperate. And I told Anya about it.
…Nikita brought Taffy home and told his wife that the spaniel was healthy and there was nothing to worry about. All Saturday and Sunday, Taffy behaved as usual, and his voice was not heard at all. But that was exactly until the moment when the nanny did not come to the house on Monday morning. The owners haven’t seen her yet, she hasn’t even rung the gate yet, and Taffy tensed, tail tucked, teeth bared. As soon as Tanya steps into the yard, the spaniel immediately begins to growl and bark angrily.
On the way to work, Anya was haunted by one thought: Taffy doesn’t like the babysitter for something specific. And for what? During the break, Anya went to the company that provided them with Tanya as a nanny. She talked to the manager – she was interested in how long Tanya had worked in previous families. The reviews about her were good. But one fact was surprising: Tanya voluntarily terminated the contract as soon as the child approached the age of one year.
«Well, why change jobs with such constancy?» thought Anya.
The answer that came to her mind scared her:
«Isn’t it because a one-year-old child can’t tell anything yet?».
Anya stopped herself from such an assumption. But the doubt about the nanny only grew. And not just doubt – fear for Marat appeared and grew. Anya pulled herself together and, going into Nikita’s office, tried to calmly state her assumptions. But she got only the beginning to be calm. Then Anya started crying. She drew terrible pictures in her imagination. And Nikita realized that his wife was not panicking. If this is just her irrepressible fantasy, it should be debunked as soon as possible. Well, and if it’s true…
On the same evening, a computer scientist from the company came to them and installed, carefully disguised, CCTV cameras in all rooms. And here again. A complete stranger arrived, who had never been in their house. And Taffy behaved peaceably and even affably. I’ve never been like this with Tanya…
Anya hardly finished it the next day. She hurried Nikita, and they finally got home after standing in traffic. Tanya was released. They took Marat, Taffy immediately joined them, and began to watch, as Anya later told me, a horror movie – what the surveillance cameras recorded. When I saw it, I completely agreed with Anya: you can’t call it anything else than a horror movie.
On the screen it looked like this: Tanya, closing the door behind the owners, went up to the nursery under the desperate barking of Taffy. She roughly checked Marat’s diapers. Noticing that he needed to be changed, she snatched Marat out of the crib, putting him on the changing table. The boy began to cry. And Taffy literally threw himself at the nurse’s feet, barking nonstop. The babysitter kicked the dog. Taffy whined, but immediately rushed at her again. Then the nurse put the crying Marat back in the crib, grabbed the ottoman and, waving it, chased Taffy out of the nursery. Then she closed the door. Marat was crying loudly. Behind the door, Taffy was barking just as loudly and, there is no other way to say it, bitterly, unable to protect Marat.
«Shut up, both of you! The nanny yelled.
At that time, someone called her. And she, having started talking on the phone, periodically shouted at Marat:
— Will you shut your mouth or not! And so almost all day.
Such was the communication with the child and the dog, I mean. Yes, the nanny fed Marat. I changed his clothes again. I put the boy to bed twice. Everything seems to be according to the regime. He was crying more and more quietly. Then he just sobbed. And finally, he fell asleep.
Then Tanya would go downstairs, warm up her lunch, then drink coffee. Taffy would sneak into the nursery at that time and lie down on the floor by the crib. And the nanny kept talking and talking on the phone. Mostly about some of their own affairs. But she did not forget to curse Marat. But especially got Taffy, who, according to her own expression, was across her throat:
— This dog is such a trash! Worse than a boy! I would have poisoned him! – the nanny said to someone.
…Anya was crying so much all this movie that Nikita was about to call an ambulance. And only this forced Anyuta to pull herself together. The next morning, as soon as Taffy barked, warning of the imminent appearance of the nanny in the house, the gate was not opened to her. Nikita just went outside and gave her the amount of money due, telling her not to set foot here anymore. Tanya made innocent and offended eyes, even squeezed out tears, but Nikita had already closed the gate. And went to the house. Taffy was running towards him, as if saying:
— Well, finally! I warned you!
Anya stayed with Marat that day. She will now work from home. And Nikita will go to the company where they found a nanny for Marat. He will leave them a copy of the video. But the most important and the most correct thing Nikita will do is he will throw the video on the Internet. Only Marat’s face will be «clouded». And the nanny will be presented uncut: everyone should see her face, hear her voice, know the vocabulary. Nikita will also leave his contacts. And he will receive a lot of grateful words: such a practical lesson is simply necessary for those who hire a nanny, and for nannies who at least once dare to afford to treat a child like that.
But the most famous will be Taffy – a cute spaniel with a big brave heart. So big that he desperately rushes to the boy’s defense. Very small. Who still couldn’t even tell how bad it was for him with this cruel aunt, deftly leading his parents by the nose.
However, there will be a couple of exceptions among the reviews: they say that the surveillance camera violates human rights. Nikita did not respond to such comments. The parents answered. Those who have either already visited the place of Anya and Nikita. Or those who are looking for a babysitter for their child.
If their answers lead to a common denominator, to make, so to speak, one collective answer, it will turn out short and clear: and is such a nanny allowed to children?