Blurred lines, Distinct lines, Somewhere in between.

My mum leaves in a few days and I've been having mixed feelings.
On the one hand, I am relieved (!), relieved because no one likes to be criticised every other hour of the day and that is just what it seems to be with her; she's still trying to "fix" me.
On the other hand, I will miss her- her company and her overall support (even when she's annoying, she's still "mom" which impliedly translates to "pillar", "support", " support" and "support". Did I also mention "support"? You get my drift....).

Support like this in this part of the world is expensive, people pay family to take care of their kids so I do not take it for granted that she came over solely to help me with my son whilst I make the transition from having been on maternity leave for almost a year and resuming work with a lot on my plate.
Indeed, I am grateful- May God grant her all the desires of her heart.

After having tried to use a western childminder at the first instance when I resumed work and having been sorely burned by it, I decided it was probably best to have a live-in nanny and so I sought the services of an Au Pair agency belonging to a very industrious and sharp-talking Yoruba-British lady to get me someone.
She'll be the first live-in nanny I've ever had and God knows, I'm not sure what to expect.
As you can expect, there are a lot of feelings coursing through me: Uncertainty, Anxiety, Sadness (to be replacing the trusted support of my mum ), Hope (that the experience will be a pleasant surprise), Determination (to make it work by treating as I expect to be treated) and an overall siddon look disposition to finally tie it all up.
I believe say e go work sha..... hopefully.

Bimbo*, the Yoruba lady who runs the agency said to me,
"Keep it official JudyJudy, I'll advise you. I always tell all my clients to keep it official.
Make no mistakes about it, you are paying them for a service and so they are not your friends, neither are they your sisters, pay them at the end of every week and ask how they feel, if they want to continue, etcetera- but do not muddle up the lines between employer and employee....".
I tried to explain that, though I understood her point, I am naturally wont to be quite accommodating and would prefer to treat the nanny as I would want to be treated meaning with warmth, openness and realness and not be robotic, seeing especially as my son was to be in her care in my absence but she stopped me right after I mentioned "robotic" saying,
" I hear you Judy, but, take a look at English people- in your work place, everywhere- they are nice, they will smile at and with you but when it's time to be serious, there is no familiarity there, you are CLEAR as to where things stand between you two- they will be robotic for the purposes of what needs to be done and, guess what? They ALWAYS get it right, Judy, they always get it right!", she intoned, weaving in and out of a crisp British accent and a Nigerian one.
Very shrewd business woman, that Bimbo- she reminds me of Patti Stanger of the Millionaire Matchmaker.

I thought about what she said and, true to her line of argument, English people are the weirdest when it comes to relations- their culture vastly differs from what obtains in Nigeria and yet, though I sometimes ( a lot of times actually ) miss the "blurred lines" and "familiarity" within the Nigerian context, I find that I take to bits and pieces within the English context.
The English lifestyle as it pertains to relations is a lot like,
"I will smile with you, my kids and yours can go or meet on play dates together, etc- but I won't be bothered with your problems as I have mine- I do not want to know about them, as far as you and I are concerned, life is just the way we see it when we meet and smile at each other, when push comes to shove and when it's time to grind, I am not your friend, an acquaintance at best but, make no mistakes, I am not your friend and so, keep your business- except for where it makes for juicy gossip to entertain me and my real friends- to yourself." and  then this is topped with a very polite,
"Is that alright?",
and a smile maybe.Very weird to say the least.

Flowing from this, you could have a neighbour who comes around or chats with you and exchanges tips and recipes with you and, in a moment of, say, weakness or just a desire to share- brought on by your happiness at what you reckon to be a budding friendship or closeness- you reveal or share something that you should have kept under wraps, say, that your immigration status had expired or that you were terminally ill ( I'm not too sure about this analogy- let's use HIV ), or...... nothing quite comes to mind, just think about anything you probably wouldn't share (except you write a blog where you share stuff that is ;)  ) what may follow your revelation may be an awkward silence, followed by a genuine but rather official, " Thank you for sharing this with me.".
The next meeting with that neighbour or acquaintance would be in a long time - if you manage to block her from all of her dodging and avoidance, and you will notice a probable reluctance to meet your eyes when you do bump into her.
Na their way be dat BUT, it saves a lot of awkwardness and gives you the freedom to close that door of friendship and move on like nothing's happened.
Run-ins would have you both politely averting each other's eyes and looking everywhere but at each other but should it meet, there is normally the very pleasant and polite hello with very light and flowery chit chat- all very polite- just the way I like it, which is the bit I take to.

In the worst case scenario, should you have or be in any trouble with regards to your revelation, what you have revealed will be packaged like a well prepared sacrifice and submitted for your hanging, lol.
My point is, with the English, keep it flowery, keep it light.
There is no need to disclose what you know to be quite heavy, you will not get sympathy, it will sink you.
These thoughts were still in my head when the phone rang and it was the live-in, who was on her way to us.
"Hello, nne, biko amakwa m ma train nkea, ma owukwa nke m kwesiri iba...".
Translation: Please I'm not sure if this train is the one I'm supposed to be on....
The igbo sent alarm bells in my head, "Keep it official! Keep it official! Speaking igbo, on the first meeting no less, is watering things down too much!", it rang.
"Kee train nke ibayere?". Translation: What train are you on?
And that was me thinking I couldn't make myself that aloof ass all in the name of avoiding the contempt that follows familiarity.
There will be lots of opportunities to drive home the official nature of our working relationship, this was not one of them.

What's your take on this? Which do you prefer, the Nigerian way or the English way?
Would you rather "blurred lines" or "distinct lines"?
Or are you somewhere in between, "blurred with a little bit of distinct" or "distinct with a hint of blurred?"
Anyone here find "distinct, in all of it's aloof coldness" attractive?
Please share your thoughts and, for the record, I love England and I love English people!
Their peculiarity make them a beautiful people- doesn't mean I don't find them an interesting puzzle!

Until we meet, my friends,
With Love,

Ps: I'm taking it for granted that everyone who reads this understands the concept of general rules and exceptions. What I've written here is just my own observation- it may be the general rule or it might also be the exception so, of course I realise- and know from experience- that a lot of people here are not like this or "might not" share this character trait but then again, observation no be crime.

No comments