She was cleaning my house.
I was writing a proposal.
Every now and then she talked to me. She had lots of stories.
My son was sleeping in his crib and I needed to maximise my free time. I knew that I literally had 20 minutes before he woke up.
Just then, my mobile rang. Damn! It was the courier guy, delivering my package. We agreed to meet in the basement.
The planned one minute job turned into 15 minutes. The guy was thick. He was circling the block, using the wrong entrances. We were playing cat and mouse. There was also a language barrier. He spoke no English. My Dutch was pretty bad.
During the wait, I thought about my son. I knew he would wake up and look for me. I also thought about the cleaner. I reckoned she would use her motherly instincts to deal with him, if need be.
When I returned to my apartment, I could hear my son screaaaaaaaming from a distance. He was really screeching!
I ran to the door. The cleaner opened.
I was expecting to see my son in her arms, while she tried frantically to calm him down. I planned to apologise for the delay and then thank her.
Instead, she had a vacuum cleaner in her arms. The noise had obviously woken my 1 year old.
I said “Where is he?” and she calmly told me that he was in his crib. She had closed the door and left him there. Crying.
I reacted immediately! I said “What happened?” and she said “Oh, he needs to learn!”
As if I needed to hear more, the cleaner added another little story. She said that her boyfriend who was now in prison had taught her this wonderful method of “teaching” kids, before they lost custody of their daughter. At first she found it difficult to ignore the baby, but then she came around. She said “You need to try it. It works!”
I wanted to slap her.
To me, there was an issue. To her, there was none. She was there to clean, and that’s what she planned to do.
Her capacity for insight was limited. Her benchmark low. Her emotional tank dry.
We were clearly on different pages. Different planets. And neither of us was “right”.
I decided to give her the rest of the day off. And, my house looked like a jumble sale for the next 2 months.
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