My phone alarm attempted to wake me up for 6:30AM for yet another day in the glorious life of an au pair. It was Wednesday which meant only two more days until date night on Friday. I was excited but also nervous. Tyler and I had been texting back and forth, eventually we became friends on Facebook and buddies on Instagram so I got to stalk all 92 of his pictures and stalk any recent ex-girlfriend’s. But I couldn’t find anything. He was either single for a long time or just wasn’t interested in posting his relationship all across social media like every one else. I was secretly hoping it would be the latter.
I rolled out of bed and groaned since I knew my host kids would be snoring away whilst I try unsuccessful attempts at waking them up. Today was swimming lessons for the kids and I had the joy of joining both of them as they playfully learn the basics of how to scoop their arms and kick their legs. I knew how it was going to play out. Adam, being only 2, will cry in fear and cling onto me until the lesson is over. Confident, striking Matthew will attempt to swim laps during the whole lesson. I couldn’t wait for the weather to get warmer so we could have lessons in our 8 feet pool in the backyard like last summer. I had already been in the US for 11 months now and made the decision to extend for yet another exciting year as an au pair.
I often wondered whether I made the right choice to continue to au pair for the same host family and stay apart one more year away from my home and family in England. My parents knew all along I would make this choice, they know me in and out. They knew I wanted to travel and experience everything they couldn’t. In a way, I was doing it for them. But I also thought about the memories I would miss at home in England; holidays and weddings, or whether I should have applied to be an au pair in a different state to broaden my travel experiences. I think I made the right choice to stay for another year. I hope.
“Adam, it’s okay. Just try kicking your legs, that’s all. I’ll hold onto your arms and you kick”
“No, no, no, no, Lissy!” Adam whimpered as he clung onto me.
Guess this lesson was all about Adam clinging on to me whilst watching Matthew swim. Matthew was with the instructor on the other side of the pool. He felt far away me but the pool was quite small and I could see him and he could definitely hear me as Adam and I cheered him on from time to time. Adam and I stayed by the shallow steps of the pool and we both enjoyed playing with his swimming toys. The swimming instructor was teaching Matthew something new. I could tell by how hesitant his body looked as I watched them. I glanced at the clock on the wall hoping it was time to leave so Matthew doesn’t have to do something he doesn’t wish to. We still had 15 minutes left of the lesson but Matthew looked uncomfortable.
“Maybe Matthew can come play with us now, Adam? He looks like he needs a break, right?”
Adam didn’t realize what I had said as he continued to play with his toys. He looked so cute with his blue swimming shorts that had little grey animated shark prints all over them. His hair was dripping wet and appeared very slick. I ran my fingers through them but he pushed me away. I thought it would be a good idea for Matthew to join us so he could play for the remaining minutes before we leave.
I glanced towards Matthew but I couldn’t see him. Where was he? I froze but my eyes were frantically searching for him. I stood up suddenly, almost slipping on the steps. Adam stopped playing with his toys and looked up at me. He knew something was wrong, he’s familiar with my panic expression.
“MATTHEW??” I screamed, hoping everyone could hear me, including Matthew.
Nothing. No response.
The instructor heard me and looked at me instantly and started to search for Matthew. She was trying to find him. I grabbed onto Adam, picked him up and propped him on my left hip. I began fighting my legs against the water and walked towards the instructor. The water was reaching up to my chest and Adam’s belly whilst he was resting on my hip. I didn’t want to take him any further because I was scared Adam would start to cry and have a tantrum. That was the last thing I needed right now.
“Where is Matthew?! He was just there! With you!” I pointed accusingly as I yelled at the instructor. She looked shocked at my tone and voice. This was probably the most I had ever spoken to her.
The ripple of the chlorine concentrated water began to increase and a voice crept up behind me and I felt soft, wet, small fingers tugging onto my hot pink swimming suit.
“Lissy! You can’t take Adam that far, I’m gonna tell momma off you.”
It was Matthew, he was swimming right behind me.
I kept silent on the ride home but switched the radio on to fill the dead air in the car. My host kids knew what was wrong but of course they acted like nothing happened. As if I wasn’t scared to death of the thought of losing my host kid 20 minutes ago. I knew I had to tell my host parents but I knew they would understand and that no-one was really at fault and at least no-one was hurt but I knew that I had to tell my host parents before my kids tattled on me. Luckily, I called my host mom right after I showered and dried the kids at the pool, and she understood the situation perfectly and was pleased no-one was injured (or drowned). I knew my host dad would be too busy with his patients in New York so I sent him a quick email to give him an update. They both knew how well I handled the kids and after 11 months, they wholeheartedly trusted me with their children. This was one of the main reasons I decided to extend my stay with the same host family; the level of trust in our relationship.