The first panic attack happened as I was collecting my luggage at the Aereoporto di Firenze.
WHAT AM I DOING!? THESE PEOPLE COULD BE CON ARTISTS!
Comforting thought as I nervously walked out to meet the family with whom I would live and work for the next four months.
There they stood, cute as can be. Mother, father and baby girl. La famiglia Ferrucci.
The Ferrucci’s lived in a villa, in the hills outside of Florence. When I first heard the word villa, I pictured a sprawling estate straight out of the movies. There, amongst the marble statues and olive groves, I would lovingly tend my charge. A cross between Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music and…well…Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins.
I never did have any trouble with my imagination.
In fact Villa La Scelta was more of a villetta – a small villa. Nevertheless, as the front gates opened and we drove up the steep, paved driveway, I was immediately charmed by the beautiful quaint, two-story home and the surrounding garden. Though it would be some time before I truly appreciated the living space the Ferrucci’s had in comparison to the standard Italian family, I was still awed by the fact that I was going to live here.
This was going to be a great summer.
Slightly jet lagged, yet eager to make a great first impression, I followed the Ferrucci’s through the front door and into the villa. Though we had exchanged emails and a few phone calls in the weeks leading up to my departure, there was still so much to learn about them and about my responsibilities as “the nanny.” Luckily both the Ferrucci’s spoke excellent English, which helped immensely as they shot rapid-fire instructions about schedules, where things where and how things worked.
During all of this, Olivia, the little girl who would be my charge, stared at me with distrusting eyes. You see, the Ferrucci’s live in a world where nannies are commonly accepted as members of the family, often staying for years and practically raising their charges them as their own children. Not wanting to be displaced as parents in the hearts of their daughter, Giulianna and Raffaello Ferrucci had decided that the solution to this problem was to change nannies every 4-6 months, effectively eliminating the danger of extreme attachment. So, even though she was just 2 ½ years old, Olivia had already been through multiple nannies, or as she called them, “ta-tas.” And she was done. The previous ta-ta had succeeded in forming an emotional bond and Olivia was NOT happy that she had been replaced.
I was officially the enemy.