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Nellie Gomez is the pierced, punked-out, glitter eye shadow-wearing, constant-iPod-listening au pair to Amy and Dan. She lets Amy and Dan get away with almost anything and even accompanies them on their journey around the world. The fact that she's getting a free ride to Paris only sweetens the deal. She seems to be doing this out of the kindness of her heart (and a taste for her three favorite things: "guys, food, and money." [6.42]), but we can't help but notice one thing. In her nose, Nellie wears a silver snake nose ring. The snakes are symbols of the Lucians, one of the branches of the Cahill clan. Could Nellie be related to Amy and Dan after all?
Amy and Dan make a big point of calling Nellie their au pair—not their babysitter. Given that an au pair is traditionally someone from a foreign country living with a host family, we're not sure if this is an accurate description. If it is, it makes Aunt Beatrice, and her penchant for firing au pairs at the drop of a hat, even more despicable, as these poor girls are likely deported after getting the ax.
It also would mean that Nellie was from a foreign country, which doesn't seem likely. After all, she talks about going to college in the States and has to call her dad for permission to travel. If she was living abroad, she probably wouldn't have to do that. Amy and Dan probably call her au pair just to avoid being the "babies" alluded to by the term "babysitting."
Nellie has to fill the role of keeping Amy and Dan safe, and she has an offbeat way of doing this. She's a wild driver, "careen[ing] across three lanes of traffic" (8.53) in order to shake a vehicle in hot pursuit. She smacks Alistair Oh in the head with her backpack after finding out how he betrayed Amy and Dan. And she bravely accompanies them into the bone-filled Catacombs of Paris.
During all of it, she tries her best to put on a brave face: "'It's going to be fine, kiddos,' Nellie said, but her voice was quavering" (16.75). She's determined not to let Amy and Dan panic. By being brave for the kids, Nellie becomes more than just a guardian to them. She truly bonds with them and becomes family, like a big sister they never knew they had.