Returning to PHL from ATL a few weeks ago and I see something I’ve seen a fair number of times before: Prada-clad 30ish couple in first class and, in coach, their au pair tending to at least two children, sometimes three, and, in this case, a pair of 2 year old twins. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not begrudging this couple their sloth in first class, and I’m sure they work very hard and need Mary Poppins. But I still always get a kick out of it when I see it – which is typically on international flights. I imagine they are rather pleased with themselves and rationalize their separation from the kiddies like this: Well, it’s awfully generous of us to be springing for Mary’s ticket and excursion to Italy, isn’t it! Never mind that she’s really just going to be doing the same old au pair work she does on the Main Line (or Buckhead if that’s where they’re from); she’s just going to be getting some really good pasta and gelato while she’s doing it.
Anyway, twins and nanny are diagonally in front of me so I have a good view. It’s not a long flight and we took off around 3:30 p.m. so it’s not really meal time or anything. That doesn’t stop nanny. She must have read somewhere that eating and drinking helps small children cope with ear popping when flying. At least that’s what I’m hoping because I am literally watching these toddlers be force fed at least a gallon of apple juice and enough goldfish to turn their little fingers orange.
I’m a mom and I know a thing or two about tending to children. But I stay out of it. It’s not my business, it’s not my problem, and they aren’t my concern. And yet, I can’t help watch as we begin our descent, as she picks up the pace and encourages their continued slurping.
These were not twins to mess with. They were going to show nanny (and perhaps Mom and Dad). And they were going to show ALL of us exactly what they had just ingested. Yes, as we passed over Citizens Bank Park (I tried to see if Chase Utley was at the plate, but couldn’t quite get a clear line of sight), Marykate and Ashley hit their own inside-the-plane homerun!
We are a little too close for comfort now. There’s maybe two minutes before touchdown. Flight attendants come running, Handi Wipes are flying. Even Mom shows up but is careful not to dip her Christian Louboutin’s peep toes into any of the, shall we say, recycled snacks. It’s a scramble, dirty looks are rampant, and the crew masterfully manages to clean everything up and get back in their seats by the time we feel the first wheel hit the tarmac.
Hmmm…okay, entertaining story, but what’s the point? And didn’t she just write about vomiting in her last blog? Is she feeling a bit nauseous herself? Well, I’m not sure where I’m going with it either, but I was struck by the story as it was unfolding. It all seemed like a parody – affluent couple outsourcing baby care to inexperienced help who botch the job and sends people scrambling when they should be chastising the rest of us for having our tray tables down or our bags in our laps. Interestingly, I also noticed that Dad never showed up. Apparently, he was perfectly comfortable letting crew, wife, nanny, and nearby travelers deal with his children and not even feign concern.
If you’re a female corporate traveler, and you’ve met an au pair in the air, write and tell me your story!
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