Confessions Of A Governess: When The 5-Year-Old Was Ashamed To Be Seen With Me

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Confessions of a Governess is a Mommyish series from the perspective of someone who gets paid to watch other people’s children. Moms, take a deep breath.

Standing on the platform in her favorite pink sandals, she eyed the coming trains with the precision of most adults. Sophisticated for her age, she already held opinions on  all kinds of things like Lady GaGa — “she’s got problems,” Barack Obama — “he’s a nice president man,” mermaids — “the ‘real-er’ fairytale creature,” and bangs — “they don’t look good on everyone.”

She folded her arms a lot when she disapproved of certain opinions and generally held her own on the other side of an argument. Whether it was how to slice apples or which television shows were best, she consistently had a point of view.

“This isn’t our train,” I remember her saying as she tugged on her newest purse — a birthday present from her grandparents with a sequined design. She held my hand as instructed and delighted when strangers would give up their seats for her. “I can sit on your lap,” she once said, crossing her ankles over the edge of the seat.

We boarded the correct train and she studied the fraying ends of my wilting purse. My favorite, but falling apart from the weight of  too many library books, too many pairs of flats, and the perpetual stuffing of sweaters.

“Your purse is old,” she said as the train hurdled over the bridge.

I told her that I knew and that I needed to get a new one.

“When will you get a new one?” she said, her legs swinging back and forth over the seat.

“When I have the time.”

She picked at the decaying handles and peered up at me again.

“Like tomorrow?”

Eyeing the fraying faux leather, I realized that she was trying to tell me something.

“Are you-,” I hesitated when remembering her age, “are you embarrassed to be seen with me and my old purse?” Known to assess her own mother’s outfits and scrutinize certain hair accessories, this was not outside the realm of possibility.

She blinked. “It’s just really gross.” She turned up her nose. “You should get a new one soon.” She scooted over a little in her seat and glanced at the passing buildings. “The Q is very slow today.” She looked around. “Don’t you think?”