A is for A Great Injustice.
Last year, about this time, as the green leaves turned beet-red and golden, A Great Injustice was committed: Our Au Pair was not declared International Au Pair Of The Year. It might be that the title was too lowly, for she would easily be a candidate for The Best Au Pair In The Entire Universe Award. As our AP’s year expired in the Spring that might have been that… but…. our AP, after my wife and I begged and groveled, agreed to delay college to help us raise our kids for a second year. (#AlwaysComesThroughInAPinch)
And so now our AP has another shot at the title!
L is for Livestock.
My wife and I train Three- Day Event Horses for a living. Our AP learned to lead horses and feed horses. She can tell a grey from a bay, and a forelock from a fetlock. She begged for riding lessons and Papa, 80 years old, has been teaching her.
Now our AP don’t jus’ wrangle young un’s, she’ll wrangle ‘em ponies as well.
L is for Leaving
These last few days, I mean, Geez, I knew she might cry, but now there are tears a couple times a day, and it’s contagious. Our AP is going back to Ecuador. Our kids, a five year old boy, and a one year old girl, are devastated. (Mainly because she is leaving, but perhaps also because they are recognizing that it will now be up to my wife and me to make sure they are receiving adequate food and water.)
AP, don’t Leave!
I is for Invariably.
Our AP Invariably made friends wherever we went. Friends with the in-laws, friends with the staff, friends with Ferdinand the dog, friends with students and clients, friends with our friends, of course friends with the kids, all the kids, the friends of the kids, and the plants and the bees and the flowers and the birds, she made friends with them all! She made friends with the two barn cats that I swear are going to need to set up a support group when they realize she is gone.
S is for Sister.
The point of the Au Pair system, we were told, was that she would be like an older sibling. Our AP fit that role like a hole in a donut. She ate with us, went on family trips with us, watched movies with us, went jogging with me, helped my wife with meals, went kayaking with us, went swimming with us. She laughed and cried with us. Our AP, in other words, was the Perfect Older Sister to our kids.
S if for the one Silly Mistake our AP made.
If I didn’t include a mistake you would think she would be too good to be true. When we were on a road trip, (part work, part fun), she took the kids on an adventure to town and locked the keys in the truck —the first part of the mistake. My wife and I were teaching a clinic at a farm and she didn’t want to bother us —the second part of the mistake.
Our son, who was four at the time, a young four, suggested she try to open the lock.
“With what?” our AP asked.
“With a stick,” he suggested. And that is where, under pressure and feeling the crunch of time, her mind left her — the final part of the mistake.
Eventually she called, and I, in turn, called AAA. She and the kids waited in an ice cream store for the mechanic. We saw them an hour later wearing embarrassed, ice cream covered, grins.
(“And you listened to him?” I still rib her, and she still nods sheepishly.)
O is for Orange, Naranja in Spanish.
Our AP has inspired me to learn Spanish, I am on Streak Day 314 on Duolingo. (Note, by the time the judges read this my Streak will be 326 days.) Which brings me to my first criticism of our AP: That her English is better than my Spanish and I see zero hope of catching up. NB our AP is always extremely nice about it, and never points it out.
N is for Never say Never, Always say Maybe.
Please don’t let one of my kids ask “Will we Never see Allisson again?”
I hope Allisson goes home, and I hope she goes to college, and I hope she meets a guy (or a girl or whoever), and I hope she gets to live in the Galapagos, and that all her wishes come true. But I selfishly hope Allisson will come back to visit next year. And the year after that. And every year.
Because I can’t imagine these kids growing up without her.