Ivorian Nannies and Lebanese Pediatricians (Diary of a Six Month Old)

By Piyushi Dhir

Soon after we reached San Pedro, my Mum was on the lookout for a nanny for me. I think she’d had enough of me by then. Papa, the driver and the housekeeper were all put on nanny-hunting duty. One lady actually sent Papa a written application at his office, titled ‘Application for the post of Nanny’.

The driver’s referral was selected and she got onto the job soon enough. The following few days were quite funny. My Mum was glad to get me off her hands and yet, she was so suspicious of how I was being handled by the new lady that she would keep peeking around corners and doorways, as if to catch her red-handed doing something wrong. I’d heard of mothers play peek-a-boo with their kids, but mine was playing it with the nanny!

It took her quite a while to trust the nanny with me and eventually, she also allowed the lady to carry me African-style, on the back. That sure was fun. I’d nestle into this cloth and ride around the house, until I’d nod off to sleep. It is, in fact, still one of my favourite ways to catch a wink.

Riding Piggyback African Style

Riding Piggyback African Style

Nannies aside, my parents were also watching out for a pediatrician. They soon rejected the two available in San Pedro because they’d already had bad experiences with both, when my Mum had visited them while I was still in her tummy. They finally settled for Dr Carlos in Abidjan, a nice, grandfatherly kind of guy, who I mostly like, except for when he decides to prick me in the butt (which he does quite often).  So every month, I’d fly down from San Pedro to Abidjan to get my monthly vaccinations.

This Dr Carlos is quite thorough. Unlike the doctor I’d met in India, this one gets my parents to dress me down to my diapers and proceeds to check every single inch of my body. The most fun part, though, is the expression of delight on my parents’ face every time the doctor announces my height and weight gain. They take such immense pride in the numbers, it leaves me wondering why anyone would be so fascinated by someone else’s dimensions!

Related to this, I have to tell you about this really amusing incident. So at my 6 month visit, when Dr Carlos was taking the usual measurements and comparing it to his records from the last month, he got flabbergasted. Apparently, my height had actually reduced since the month before! He always gets Papa to hold the scale against my head and he himself, adjusts it at my toes. So the doctor measured me again and again, and finally gave up, muttering to himself how it could not be possible. It was only on the way back home that my Papa confessed to my Mum that on the previous visit he’d not quite touched the scale to my head because he thought it would hurt me. Poor Dr Carlos. I can still picture the flummoxed expression on his face.

If the reduction in my height confounded the doctor, he was delighted with the rapid increase in my weight. How it happened is that when I was just over five months of age, my Mum decided it was time to get me started on some extra foods apart from milk. So I’d started having some dal, rice, khichdi and veges. She did not, however, tell the Doctor about this development as he’d instructed her to not start solids before six months. Happy with how I’d grown fat on milk alone, he then instructed my Mum about what foods she could start giving me. You should have seen her- nodding like a good girl, with a most innocent expression on her face!

Honestly, my parents are such kids!

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About the Author

Piyushi Dhir is the author of 'In Search of Love', 'I'm Yours, The Next Time', 'Silent Promises' and 'Enmeshed Evermore'. She is a contributor in 'Nineteen Tales of COVID-19', a collection of short stories. A voracious reader, a keen traveler, a businesswoman and a mom, Piyushi currently resides in Canada. A nomad at heart, she loves to discover new places and capture the hues of life with her pen.