Becoming an au pair for the Trossel family was the initiation for my trip around the world. Like many people who just graduate university, and find themselves in a confusing maze of uncertainty and doubt, I felt fatigued by my home town and was unable to fit myself neatly and contently within a niche of my society. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree is psychology with a focus in neuroscience and found work as a counsellor for adults with intellectual disabilities. While I enjoyed the work I was doing I also felt young, restless, and like I was being asked questions I was not ready to accept responsibility for.
I started doing research into ways I could travel. I knew that I wanted an escape from moving forward in a career I was unsure of. I wanted to gain new perspectives and put experiences to the all of the material and knowledge I had gained in my undergrad degree. I had never left Canada before, and the idea of travelling alone was a bit frightening for me. I remembered back to when I was in high school and had heard of young people going abroad to find work as a nanny. I thought that if I could go away and work with children in the comfort of a family home it would be a good start for a big adventure.
I found an Au Pair website and made a profile about myself and also was able to browse the profiles of different families around the world. I was always interested in the culture and language of Spain so I found myself looking for an opportunity there. Luckily, I found the most amazing and welcoming family I think I could have found. I began an exchange of emails and Skype calls with the Trossel family and it was not too long before I begun my plans to my first travels abroad.
What I liked most about being an au pair was that my responsibilities revolved around the wellbeing and happiness of two funny and happy two year old twins. While the work was challenging and the majority of the day I was a nervous wreck, the demands also forced me to think at the level and interests of infants. I was reintegrated into a world of play, imagination, and on waking each morning I thought to myself – what would Lily and Gaston enjoy doing today?
The children and I spent endless hours together in the sun at the beach where we swam, made sand castles, and jumped in the waves. I learned some Spanish and French, how to drive a manual car, how to change a diaper, and most importantly how to be a friend. I had a lot of time to myself where I enjoyed exploring the new country in which I was living. I also got to know Aline and Thierry, the parents of Gaston and Lilly, who welcomed me into their home like I was part of their family.
I would recommend work as an au pair to anybody who loves children, who enjoys being a part of their playful reality, who wants to experience new cultures abroad, and who is interested in learning new languages and skills. Accepting this position gave me the courage the take a plane out of my country knowing that there was a family who was aware of my arrival and was waiting for me to arrive safely in a place that was new to me. If I did not have this connection to something secure I am not sure if I would have had the courage to tell myself before I left home that I would not be back for a long time. Working as an au pair gave me a home away from home to grow in courage, strength, and responsibility of my own affairs.
I spent three months with Gaston and Lilly – time I will never forget and feel privileged to have been apart of. It was work that gave me fulfillment because I was shaping the development of two children in a positive way – introducing them to my culture and language while being a figure of comfort and security.
I do not know if Lilly and Gaston will remember me as they age, but I hope that inside of them somewhere lays a familiar voice that at some point long ago used to sing them songs, encourage them to play, and help them to laugh. I hope that as they grow old their smilies never fade, their joy is never far away, and that they do not loose their magical spirit of playfulness of adventure.
Having a happy childhood is not something everyone is gifted with. Seeing the manifestation of positive growth in a rearing environment as fulfilling as Port de la Selva reminded me how beneficial happiness and joy is for the developing mind. There is something so special about the smile of a child, and to give laughter and happiness to Lily and Gaston was a treasure I will carry with me forever.