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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “All that Glitters is Not Gold” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/24/08)

TITLE: Flash Nails
By Colin Swann


Judy struggled through the doorway holding Jake on one arm and trying to hutch up a shoulder bag on the other.

She asked, “Can you place my ad in this weekend’s issue, please?”

Judy had decided she would return to work – but not full-time – just part-time. She was advertising locally for a child-minder for three days a week. This would allow her to be hands on with Jake for most of the time.
A fortnight later whilst having breakfast John asked, “Have you decided yet which of the two you want to look after Jake?”

Judy had whittled it down to two possibilities: Mary Canns had a glowing reference from the previous family she had been with but had no formal qualifications. She had worked for her employers for twelve years, until her services were no longer required. However, June Jarvis, who was just 21, had a qualification in child care with distinction and brilliant references from all her main tutors.

“I think I’m going to go with youth. Plenty of energy and enthusiasm! June Jarvis has a first class qualification and good references from her teachers.”


Judy’s doorbell rang. “Hi there June, you’re good and early. I’ve fed Jake. Here’s a list to help you get through the day. Ok!”

Driving to work Judy thought how June was immaculately dressed. All that make-up and those painted nails. She thought, ‘Not conducive to diaper changing and child puke.’

When she got in to the work’s car park she phoned her friend Mavis. “Mave, would you mind just looking in at my place today, to see how things are going with Jake and his child-minder?”

“Sure – I’ll get back to you and let you know.”

In the afternoon, when Mavis arrived and let herself in, she was met by baby Jake screaming his head off. She looked round but could see no baby-minder. She checked Jake over and had to change his diaper – but still no appearance of June.

She looked out through the window and spotted June in the backyard smoking a fag with one hand and looking with admiration at her varnished nails on the other.

She decided to phone Judy there and then. “Jude, this child-minder’s really bad. When I arrived Jake was yelling his head off. Miss World was having a smoke break and checking out her nails in the backyard. You need to get rid of her and fast! I’m not leaving Jake alone with her Jude – shall I send her packing?”

“Will you give her $100 dollars for her short services and tell she is no longer required? If she’s awkward tell her to hang on there with you till I get back. Thanks so much Mave, see you later.”

Later Judy contacted Mary Canns who was available to start immediately. She was a pearl of a find. Jake grew up loving her and she became like one of the family. Jake as a child called her Mammy Canns and was still calling her that when he reached his eighteenth birthday.

About a year after June Jarvis had been sacked, there was a big court case involving her. A child had died in her care and it was alleged that there had been gross negligence but it could not be proven. There was a suggestion the child may have been shaken and that it had caused the brain damage. However, because of general slackness in duties she was officially blacklisted as being unfit to mind children.

Mammy Canns proved to Judy that common sense, real experience and dedication can be irreplaceable in matters of life and death.

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This article has been read 883 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Colin Swann02/02/08
This piece is not good enough to be entered in the advance section.
Joanne Sher 02/02/08
A very good example of the topic, and a great title. A little polish (some of your phrasing was a touch awkward) and this would really shine!
Jan Ackerson 02/02/08
Oh my, how scary! I love that the mother listened to that little voice of warning in her head, and that she caught the bad baby-sitter before damage was done!

This is all too frequent today, isn't it? My heart went out to the little screamer, and I was so glad that the less "glittery" babysitter turned out to be the real gem.
Shari Armstrong 02/02/08
Speaking as a former childcare worker and nanny, I have to agree whole-heartedly - experience over youth and "education" is a much better guide.

A little more show and less tell and this would have been a stronger entry.

I liked the mom's thoughts as she left about the makeup and nails :)
Laury Hubrich 02/02/08
I love your title! Very appropriate with your story. You certainly kept to the topic! Great job on that! Keep on writing. You show much talent!
Pat Guy 02/02/08
A very good example of how appearances can be so deceiving ... and you carried this theme very well throughout your story.

How scary ... and a good lesson you've written.
Sally Hanan02/02/08
I LOVE your message, and this should resonate with many a mom. As for commenter #1, I totally disagree, but I suppose he's allowed to have an opinion ;)
Colin Swann02/03/08
When I entered this piece, I regretted it almost straight away as I genuinely didn't think it was good enough for the advanced section. Hence my original comment.
I'm very sorry if anyone has been misled, and ask your forgiveness.
On a lighter note: you are all a kind bunch! On an even lighter note: I think it is the most times that one of my pieces has been read.
Denise Pienaar02/04/08
Oh my! When I read the first comment I thought "What mean person wrote that?" Writer, I think you underestimate yourself!! I thought it was well written and illustrated the point well.