Being fully immersed in your family’s culture for a year or more, an Au Pair is bound to find herself unknowingly mirroring the quirks and habits of certain family members. Conversely, Host Parents and children may also find themselves in the same situation, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
In our house, I’ve noticed assimilation happening in many ways and most of it I find to be amusing, not Single White Female creepy – which, by the way, did happen to me with a roommate in college. My now barely 20-year-old Au Pair’s saying of “amazing” to everything has seeped into my subconscious as I find myself using that same one-word response to things I find, well, amazing.
Has she picked up on my strange and loveable habits? Of course she has. I have a special knack for making up really odd pet names for my children, and hearing her say those names like “Smoo” or “Boo” totally cracks me up. Why? I guess I really didn’t know what it sounded like to others when I called my kids weird names, but hearing them come out of someone else’s mouth makes me chuckle to myself.
Unfortunately for my Au Pair, she has picked up on my after-the-kids-are-in-bed snacking habits: I sit down with a sucker, she has to have one. Around Christmas, I got into a candy cane phase, and guess who followed right behind? You guessed it – she did too.
Maybe it’s the whole Silence of the Lambs mentality of “How do we begin to covet, Clarice? We covet what we see.” Especially when it comes to late-night snacks, seeing something tasty makes you want it… that’s how marketing and advertising work.
Our crazy twindom has even extended to our “mom” wardrobes. When she first arrived, my Au Pair tried to be cute and fashionable during her workday, but after learning (as many of us mothers do) that nice clothing can’t be worn around young children, she has started to dress very similarly to myself: black on black with an oatmeal-colored sweater that doesn’t show the remains of dried-on spit up.
My three-and-a-half-year-old has taken to yelling “Nein!” (“no” in German) which is hilarious… that, or we say “Nein!”, and he continues on with, “ten, eleven, twelve…”. Clearly, he is slightly confused.
Yes, I work from home so my Au Pair is exposed to my weirdness more than most Au Pairs may be, but learning from someone from another country isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Having an Au Pair that I also consider a close friend sometimes makes me feel like I’m in a sorority: she has introduced me to the all-important hair masque (that I never knew I needed but cannot live without now), she has gotten me hooked on the show Cougar Town (which, by the way, is AMAZING… note the use of the assimilated word “amazing”), and she and I share a great love of and appreciation for reality shows like “My 600-Lb Life” and “90 Day Fiancé” (much to my husband’s dismay).
No, it’s not a good thing when two women with a shopping addiction live together and feed off of each other’s problem, but the way that we have taken on and shared in aspects of each other’s personalities is a welcomed after-effect I didn’t foresee when I began my hosting journey. Nothing is ever what it seems on paper, and I continue to look forward to the many benefits of hosting an Au Pair will bring to me and my family.