Aiming to be happier families.

THE GOVERNESS DIARIES – Series 1, Episode 8 – When we come in the house we take off our clothes

“Pooor rabbit, sorry rabbit.”

“Pooor rabbit, sorry rabbit.”

[If you’re just checking in, and haven’t yet read the preceding episodes of THE GOVERNESS DIARIES, click on the link to the right under ‘recent posts’, where you will find them. If some of them are not there, you will find them in ‘THE GOVERNESS DIARIES’ under ‘categories’, just scroll down to whichever episode you missed.]

Adelina had now taken to pinching, so her next English words were taught very emphatically with my nose on hers after she grabbed my arm and dug her fingers in: “NO PINCHING LINA!” I also decided that they both needed to show some form of remorse when they hurt someone as I was beginning to see sociopathic, serial killer potential here. So after she had pinched me I told her to say, “Sorry Deni” – she folded her arms and stomped off. I stomped straight afterher, took her hand and stroked my arm saying “poor Deni… sorry Deni.” She stomped off again. I knew that the ‘pretending to cry’ thing wouldn’t work with her so I turned and walked away… “Deni!!” she shouted, I kept walking. She ran after me and tried to take my hand.

“Sorry Deni,” I said

No reply so I dropped her hand and carried on walking.


“Sorry Deni,” I repeated, still walking away.

She stood and stamped her foot. I carried on walking – just by the way, we were in the house at this time, so there was me walking upstairs, downstairs and all around the garden, with her following me. As soon I was out of sight she ran after me again but when she caught up she just stamped her foot again – twice this time for emphasis. I think I must have walked around the house about four times including walking up and down the stairs (three floors) about five times and was just about to have a heart attack from exertion, when I heard a very reluctant “sorry Deni.” I stopped walking and went to her, took her hand and stroked my arm again saying, “Poor Deni.” Her face actually softened slightly so I gave her a hug and said, “that’s better, no pinching, it hurts.” (And it is exhausting). Some time after that she was watching a Russian cartoon on DvD and a rabbit got splatted by a bear. She went to the TV and stroked it, “pooor rabbit, sorry rabbit,” she said. Her parents were totally taken aback. Apparently Lina had never said sorry before.

Nikoli asked me one day what “Ah ah,” meant. I was confused

“Ah ah?” I asked.

“Yes.” I asked him to write it down and he wrote ‘A A” I frowned so he said, “You say zeez, A A to Lina.” Then it dawned on me, every time I see Lina winding up to a scream or a pinch or a kick, I say “Ah Ah”. I told him it was code for “STOP THAT NOW!”

One afternoon when I took Nikoli to his mother at the beach he went and sat by her and got hold of her muffin top (a fat roll on her tummy) and started wobbling it. “Look Deni, my muzzer what she has,” he said. Katja was embarrassed and tried to squirm away. “Nikoli,” I said, “Don’t do that, it is not nice to embarrass people, you are being rude.” “Yes, Nikoli,” Katja said. Nikoli realised that I was not going to laugh with him so he stalked off to annoy Lina instead.

Not two seconds later, and with Nikoli still in earshot, Katja said, “He can be embarrassing. He notices everything.” Then she started laughing and said, “See that woman over there with all those rolls of fat, he is always saying something funny about her.” (???!!!!!)

Katja had a tendency to belittle and make fun of people and she did it when the children were around…. I smiled, said, “see you later”, and headed back to the house for my lunch break. “Ja meisie, lag mos en die laggery sal terug kom. Wees versigtig wat jy leer.” – I had taken to muttering in Afrikaans to myself. [Translation: “Yes girl, laugh, but your laughter will come back at you. Be careful what you teach].

 The children were now having tennis lessons on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and yours truly got to walk them to tennis and sit watching them for an hour (not sure how that fitted the mould of ‘tutor’ but what the heck, I got to read my book for an hour). Separately, they were vaguely bearable at that point, but together they were still a nightmare, they just couldn’t leave each other alone. Nikoli teased and taunted Lina and she hung on him or pushed and hit him. I had to walk with one on each side of me, holding their hands so I could drag them apart all the time.

Nikoli was often very rough with her so one day when he forcefully kicked a ball at her I told him it was enough and that she was a girl and he shouldn’t be so rough with her.

“Why you say zat?” he said with a scowl

That,” I said.

“That,” he repeated.

“Why do I say what?”

“Why girls, you can’t play with zem?”

Why can’t you play with girls?”


“I didn’t say you can’t play with them, I just said you mustn’t play rough with them. Lina is smaller than you and you hurt her, but you shouldn’t be rough with girls anyway.”


“Because girls are special.”

“What special? Why?”

…. (As a bit of a feminist, I realised that I had talked myself into a corner)

“Well-mannered boys and men treat girls and women like they are special and they don’t hurt them or be rude and nasty to them.”

He folded his arms and put his arrogant look on his face.

“When I grow up I am going to sit on the beach and my wife is going to work.”

“Ja seuntjie, ek wonder waar jy dit gehoor het?…Ek sê weer, wees versigtig wat jy leer.” [Translation: “Yes little boy, I wonder where you heard that?… Once again, be careful what you teach]

“What you say?”

“I said, do you know you are going to England?”


“Well I wouldn’t say that too loud or some little girl in England is going to beat you up with her hockey stick.”

Lina’s tennis coach was a sweet guy who didn’t speak much English, he was also a shy, gentle guy.  Lina kept walking off the court and he didn’t know what to do so at first I would go and sit in the court to encourage her to stay. There was not much shade on the court and the temperature was in the thirties so eventually I left to sit under an umbrella. Each time Lina came out I would take her back. Then one day she came out and he was hovering behind her so I put her hand in his and turned them both around. She pulled her hand away, stamped and said, “ai don laaik tennis.” I bent down to her eye level and said, “You LOVE tennis”.

Adelina:      “Noo”

Me:            “Oh yes.”

Adelina:      “Oh noo”

Me:            “Yes”

Adelina:      “noo”

Me:            “Definitely yes”

Adelina:      “Definally noo”

Me:            “No”

Adelina:      “Yes”

Me:            “See, I told you – go play tennis” – The coach was totally confused.

And before you fall asleep …

One day I arrived back from tennis and walked into the house. Katja was having an off daay , she muttered something and Vladimir said, “Oh Deni…”

Me:            “Yes?”

Vladimir:     “Um… when we come into the house, we take off our clothes.”

Me:            (eyebrows raised) “We do?”

Vladimir:     “Yes.”

Me:            (this was going to be fun) “Oh… ok…”

Vladimir:     “And the children, they see that you don’t take of your clothes, so now they don’t take off theirs.”

Me:            (trying very hard not to fall on the floor in giggles) “I see…”

Vladimir:     “So we ask if you would please take off your clothes.”

Me:            “Yes, sure no problem, but I think you mean shoes?”

Vladimir:     (frown, swallow, blush, laugh) “Yes… shoes.”

The next episode will follow.




25 March 2013 - Posted by | The Governess Diaries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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