When I started working as a nanny three years ago, Anju was six and Ketan was nine. Now Anju is her older brother’s age, and Ketan is nearly a teenager. I got to be a part of their lives while they were at their most creative and affectionate, and now that I’ve finished working for them, I miss them. A lot.
Anju: Do you know what makes me sad? Matteo doesn’t tease me.
Me: That makes you sad?
Anju: Yes! One of the signs of liking someone is teasing. He never teases me, and I tease him all the time!
Anju: And I don’t know what to do. Last year he was in my class, so I was used to him. But now whenever I see him I just run away like a weirdo.
Me: Yeah, I’ve done that.
We listened to a lot of pop music in the car. One summer we listened to Imagine Dragon’s album over and over and over again until we knew the lyrics to every song and could sing them at the top of our lungs. I set a precedent of absurd dancing, and I took so much joy in glancing at the rearview mirror to see Anju and Ketan flailing and fist-pumping to the beat.
Ketan: Have you ever liked anyone, Miss Trish?
Me: Uh, YEAH.
Ketan: I’m being serious.
Me: I promise. I can probably list hundreds of people I’ve liked.
Ketan: No, I mean real people. Not celebrities.
As a Protestant, I learned a lot from their Catholic faith. We crossed ourselves before meals, and combined with my class on Trinitarianism, I developed a deep appreciation for the symbolic reminder of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The kids liked to try and stump my religious knowledge, and they usually failed until they brought up the Stations of the Cross or something else missing from my Baptist upbringing.
Ketan: We should play Knockout! The person…
Me: I know how to play Knockout.
Ketan: What? How?
Me: I did used to be a kid once.
Ketan: No, I mean, how? With all the snow?
Me: We have indoors. And you do know it doesn’t snow all the time, right? Like right now it’s hot in Illinois.
Ketan: It is?
I taught them to cut a mango into slices, then cross-hatch the fruit so it was easily accessible to eat. I loved when they magnetized toward the cutting board during the summer as I cut it up. We fought over the pieces and stood over the garbage can as we stuffed our faces before agreeing that a second mango was necessary.
Anju: Why don’t you have a boyfriend?
Anju: Most people who are 25 have a boyfriend.
Me: That’s true.
Anju: I think it’s because you live in a fantasy world where you listen to One Direction and love Louis Tomlinson.
Me: Look, I never asked you to be my therapist.
Ketan read through the Harry Potter series first, then Anju. I introduced them to A Very Potter Musical, and we had a wizard fights with the official character wands they got for Christmas. We discussed favorite spells, magical creatures, and characters, and we sketched pictures of the Golden Trio one lazy evening.
Ketan: If you could date anyone from Harry Potter, who would it be?
Me: Ooo! Um, Draco, of course.
Me: Sh, yes. Also Sirius Black. And Remus. And Harry. Honestly, it’s more a question of who wouldn’t I date.
Anju: I would date Harry.
Me: Good choice. What about you, Ketan?
Ketan: …Mrs. Weasley.
Me: Um. Best answer ever.
Anju got me into One Direction, and we spent many a car ride debating which member was the cutest, had the best fashion sense, or sang the best solos. Ketan always huffed at our repeated conversations before joining in just as passionately. They both liked to tease me about my crush on Louis Tomlinson, and Anju got over them before I did.
Me: You know I’ll invite you guys to my wedding, right?
Anju: When you marry Louis Tomlinson?
Me: No, like to a real person.
Ketan: You’ll still remember us?
Me: Look, hopefully it won’t be THAT far from now.
Anju: Will I still be in single digits?
Me: Whoa, two years? No, that’s too soon.
Anju: I want to be your flower girl!
Me: No, sorry, look, I’m not planning it or anything. I’m just saying–
Ketan: You’ll be Mrs. Trish!
Anju had the entitled affection of a cat, moving my legs so that she could sit on my lap without first discussing if I was up for a cuddle. Ketan was subtler, choosing to “accidentally” sit right next to me so that he could lean into my arm. They both loved to be tickled, and they gave big hugs after we talked through whatever was making them sad during any given trauma. They were my primary source of sweetness, and I’m going to miss them dearly. For three years, they felt like my children. I honestly don’t know if I want to have my own, because I can’t see how my biological progeny could be anywhere near as awesome as Anju and Ketan.