Small Talk

Tattletale nannies inspire confessions

I read a review of one of the “nany-tell-all” books about star moms and the reader was aghast. The word was that anchorwoman Katie Couric stood by the refrigerator sloppily eating ice cream from the carton, and that she left dirty clothes all over the house.That’s it? That was the best the tattletale nanny could come up with? My mom-friends and I all agreed that the idea of a kiss-and-tell nanny peering over our shoulders was a horrifying thought.

While admitting with relief that we certainly weren’t famous enough to prompt any real interest in out-of-carton-ice cream binges, I gleaned a few confessions with the absolute promise that all taletellers would, of course, remain anonymous. I am no nanny-tattletale and besides, some of these stories are mine.

In our book, there might have been an entire chapter devoted to a certain mother’s irrepressible cursing in front of the impressionable toddlers, despite her best efforts to kick the habit. This story would include the day that the child mimicked those curses, in the middle of the grocery store, loudly.

Then there’s the tale of the mom who locked her children in their bedrooms at night. She did it to keep them from tumbling down the stairs in their nighttime ramblings, but it would sound bad in misquoted print.

The book might mention that on occasion, unnamed mothers turned that car radio up pretty loud to drown out the howls or endless chatter in the back seats. It could note that at least one mother didn’t just drop her dirty clothes on the floor. She let all the laundry pile up until it mildewed.

And unless it was the nanny’s job to mop the kitchen floor or sometimes clean out the refrigerator, there would be copious tales of threats to call the health department.

Another nanny might have been the one to discover the 3-year-old sitting on his bed after somehow getting his hands on his father’s box-cutter and figuring out how to turn the blade around so the razor side was out. This story lacks further drama, since the child did no harm to self or bed, but it certainly sends chills down any mother’s spine and might tarnish her reputation a tad.

Several of my sources also admitted that they are just as happy that there were no adult witnesses to that fact that the first glass of wine of the evening coincided directly with the first shriek from a toddler.

The one, however, that might really sell our book would be the tale of the parents who pretended to go to work.

These folks actually had a nanny, before their children were in school, and on those occasional weekdays when they were both off work at the same time, they would dress, go out of the door, wave good-bye and then slip up the back stairs to their bedroom again. Dad would hop off to the store for coffee and munchies. Then they would spend all day lounging, reading, eating and just playing hooky from everything and everybody.

Now there is a story worth retelling, but their nanny let it slide.

Apparently, they hung up their clothes and they didn’t get any ice cream on the rug.


Jean Hart Gillette is a freelance writer whose children are happy to rat her out without any help from a babysitter. Contact her at


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