Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Slice of Life: Nanas Know All

In middle- to upper-class Chilean society, it is very common for families to employ "nanas" who serve a dual role as nannies (taking care of the family's children) and maids (cleaning, cooking, etc.) In many cases, nanas become almost a part of the family.

We are blessed to have very nice neighbors on either side of us, and both have nanas. It is interesting to talk with them and observe the dynamics of their households. In one case, the family is not Chilean and their nana came with them from their home country. She is very young, no older than early twenties (if that) and very responsibly cares for two small children, the house and the yard, while the family members carry out their professions (they are all in various medical fields.)

At the other home, the nana is of grandmotherly age and was actually the nana to the husband when he was a child (he is now in his mid-30's.) Both parents are professionals and they have one little girl who attends full-day "jardin" (pre-school.) Their nana loves dogs and always talks to Daisy over the adjoining wall. She also makes a point of hinting to us when we are falling behind in taking Daisy out for walks!

My sister also has nanas living next to her house. One of them loves to share all the latest family gossip with anyone who will listen. She and the nana next door to her seem to organize their outside chores at the same time so they can talk away while they sweep leaves and take out the trash!

If there is one thing that we have learned about living around nanas, it's that "nanas know all." The other day, our neighbor's nana said that she had told the wife of the house that I had been doing all of the errands and running the kids around lately. Well, it was when Pedro was up north so I was alone for a few days. She doesn't miss a thing! I guess the moral of the story is not that "Big Brother is watching" ... but that the nana is! (:


Anonymous said...

That is all soo true, I lived with 2 families in chile and the first one that wasnt exactly happy to have an exchnage student living with them had a nana that came every day and she and I became the closest of friends because she was never treated with the greatest respect by tis particular family, and I never really fit in with them either so we spent hours and hosue in the kitchen chatting with eachother. she is probably one of the reaasons I learned soo much good spanish becase she didnt know any english at all. She taught me all sorts of chilean recipies and alwasy made sure to give me extra cookies :) When I left that family to move to my permanent second family she was the hardest one to say goodbye to, and even we still alwasy met for tea on her sunays off for the remainder of the year. In my second family we had 2 nanas! and one was just for me! it was crazy, my mom back home couldnt believe it and alwasy used to say I was going to come home the laziest kid ever becuase I would wake up to freshly ironed clothes and a tray of breakfast everymorning or I could dake all afternoon with my friends and my nana would just come help and hten clean it all up. Of course I alwasy felt soo sooo guilty about it because I was never raised that spoiled but after once doing my own dishes which made the old lady ( did I mention she was liek 90) cry becuase she thought she was loosing her job, I realized how much a part of the culture they really were. The funniest thing ever though was one day she said lauren if Iever win the lottery, I will come to canada and work for your family.. It made me laugh so hard. Anyways I really did love them all they were always caringand realy were liek my own grandmothers...
I hope all is well down in my second country!
God Bless

stephanie garcia said...


My husband and I were both laughing over your post! How funny that you had an experience like this. I would miss all that special treatment if I were you! (:

GOD bless,