13 May, 2013


ISYN Link of the Day

Have American Parents Got It All Backwards?
We need to let 3-year-olds climb trees and 5-year-olds use knives. ....

ISYN Vacation Diaries, #4

I was debating which vacation story to submit, and decided on this one. If you’d like to hear another, I would certainly oblige!
 
This was a family that I had been with for about 5 months at the time. Three kids; a boy age 13, a boy age 11, and a girl age 5. The family typically took a two week vacation around Christmas. In order for both nannies to get to spend time with family we alternated working for a week at a time. I got the post-Christmas shift and my dad drove me to the airport at 4 am on the 26th. The family would be without help for almost a full day because the other nanny left that same morning, which was a disaster in the making. I was flying cross-country to get a connecting flight at LAX which would continue to Hawaii.
As I was hustling through the airport to catch my connection I received a phone call from DB, asking me if I could please change my flight to a different Hawaiian island. I was pretty baffled, and nobody seemed to be able to explain to me what was going on. After a phone call to DB’s assistant I figured out that the family had spent the first week on island one. They then flew to island two for the second week, but after a day decided that it wasn’t to their liking, so they called the plane back and flew right back to island one. After a bit of discussion with various airport employees I finally got my ticket switched and was on my way to Hawaii.
We were staying at a gorgeous resort with rooms that faced the water. The family had three rooms right in a row, and mine was on the end next to the boys. Since the family had been there for a week already they had already gotten over the jet lag and were on Hawaii time. I on the other hand was still on my east coast schedule, so I woke up before the sun. It was actually nice having the time to relax before they were awake. I was told by MB that I needed to make myself scarce unless they called me because they were trying to have “family time”. (Sidenote- this was always stated before vacation, and tended to last like 5 minutes, basically until any of the kids got bored or needed something.) So in the spirit of making myself scarce I spent my mornings at the pool working on my tan. Once MB and DB caught wind of that fact I was asked to reserve lounge chairs for the family since once they woke up they would all be taken for the day. By this time the attendants at the pool already knew my bosses as the most demanding and obnoxious of all their guests.
 
Every night before going to bed I would pack several bags for the kids. These were filled with their bathing suits, sunglasses, sunscreen, hats, and basically everything else you could think of for going to the pool. MB asked me to lay the stuff out for them to put on in the morning, so I did. And every morning, without fail, I would get a call from MB telling me to go back to the room to get the bags for them because they were on their way to the pool. I would make the long walk back to the rooms, and back to the pool, to find them lounging on the chairs I had saved. Stuff strewn everywhere, hats and shoes missing for me to find. MB would then tell me to put sunscreen on the kids. HA. The 5 year old was easy. My sweet C. She let me get her all ready and then she jumped in like a little fish. And then I spent the next 30 minutes trying to get sunscreen on the boys. MB would sit on her chair and half read, half watch me attempt to get the boys out of the pool. They alternated between ignoring me, splashing me, and trying to pull me into the water.
 
Once they finally gave in and were sunscreened, I spent the rest of pool time trying to keep them quiet. Because you see, they insisted on swimming in the “quiet pool”. Aka the pool for adults to lounge by. There were 3 other pools nearby where yelling and splashing was allowed, but the entire family felt the need to spend the day at the one pool that required quiet. And the last thing this family was, was quiet. The boys would throw each other in, scream, and take towels from the pool desk and throw them into the water. MB thought this was all great fun, and loved watching her boys “be boys”. That is not the description I would have used. I tried to play with C, but the boys followed us around trying to grab my legs and pull me under. The oldest boy was only 13, but he was about 6 inches taller than me and at least 30 lbs heavier. He would swim under and grab me, and then lift my legs up so my head went under. I really had had enough of them at this point, and repeatedly told him to stop. I could tell that the people sitting around the pool were getting uncomfortable with what was going on, but MB was just sitting on the edge observing, so finally I took matters into my own hands and the next time he grabbed my legs I kicked him right in the head. Hard. Of course he threw a giant hissy fit and acted like I was so horrible and mean, but I have to say that it felt good.
 
A highlight of every day was lunch, when I got to watch MB and DB charm (*bully*) the hostesses at the pool restaurant into giving us reservations that they neglected to make ahead of time. Of course we always ended up seated within a short period of time. I actually did enjoy the celeb sightings. They must have had their own celebrity beach or pool area, but they ate down with the rest of the “common folk”, so we ended up sitting near quite a few actors.  I spent that time pretending I didn’t belong with the family who made the most noise and the most demands, and left the biggest mess. 
 
After lunch I was usually required to play touch football with the boys, so their dad could ignore them. How he gave birth to two athletic children is beyond me. Sometimes MB would join in, running around screaming like a maniac and trying to include C on the sidelines while she happily worked on her sticker book and pretended not to be related to them. If I got lucky I was able to take C over to the kids’ pool or to get an ice cream cone at some point in the day. And if I was really lucky she managed to convince MB that she would absolutely die if she spent another minute in the sun, and we could go back to the room for a bath and a movie.
 
In the evenings I got the kids ready for dinner. That typically included- instructing the boys 67 times to pick up their wet clothing off of the floor. Searching for their dress clothes that somehow managed to walk off the hangers on their own into a big pile. Telling them that “No you can’t wear that t-shirt to dinner.” “I’m sorry if you don’t like that oxford that I packed, maybe next time you should look through your suitcase before we leave like I asked you to do 74 times.” “Yeah, no t-shirt, for real.” “I don’t know why your khaki’s are all wet; could it possibly be because you left them sitting on the bathroom floor in a puddle of water?” “I have no desire to see you naked. Go back to the bathroom and change in there.” “Seriously. Take that t-shirt off.” Eventually resorting to unplugging the TV because they couldn’t tear their eyes away from it long enough to get dressed. And all while bathing, dressing, and doing the hair of C, who by this point was pretty much a zombie from her busy day.
 
I wasn’t usually included in the dinner plans, which was absolutely fine by me! I took that time to order at least one movie, and get myself some fabulous room service, always with dessert. While I was waiting for my food I would go into the other rooms and straighten up the kids’ things for the next day, pack their beach bags (which I would inevitably end up going back to get), and sort through the laundry. MB had completely deluded herself into thinking that the boys were taking care of their dirty clothes on their own. In fact, she once told the housekeepers that they would be fired if they cleaned up the kids’ messes. However, the screaming and berating that would happen if the kids couldn’t find the things that they neglected to clean up was definitely worse, so we just let her believe that they were doing it. Not to mention the fact that MB and DB were two of the messiest and most unsanitary people ever, so their children were simply following that example.
 
At the end of our lovely trip we had a nice long plane ride, like the cherry on top of the sundae. Flying private is the only way to go with a family like this; I don’t think they would be able to deal with following the rules of an actual airport. Much simpler when you can just drive up to the plane and get right on.
 
Because of MB’s rule about screen time limits, I spent 95% of the flight entertaining someone. Considering the flight was 10 hours long, and middle boy was the king of being bored, it was excruciating. Basically I was instructed to keep him entertained, and then when I gave him a list of activities I had planned, he shot them down one by one. Followed by another lamentation of how bored he was. Luckily he enjoyed being read to, so I lost my voice by reading for 5 hours.  My smart C knew the rule about one movie, and she also knew that her parents were completely clueless, so she spent several hours starting her one movie over from the middle when it was almost finished. I certainly wasn’t going to give her away. Eldest boy spent most of the flight complaining about having to study, instead of actually studying. He was stuck studying because he had been failing his classes. Apparently having a tutor help you with all of your homework doesn’t always lead to turning that homework in.
 
Stopping to refuel in CA was another fun event. MB and DB told all of the children to wash their hands and then left me to make sure that they did it. Of course C was a cinch, and middle boy wasn’t too challenging. Eldest boy however, sat in the waiting area and refused to move. After plenty of cajoling he went inside and came back out 3 milliseconds later with wet hands, which he then proceeded to shove into my face. From the smell I was able to gather that he had not washed his hands, and he must have been keeping them in his pants for most of the flight. I eventually had to go up to the front desk and ask them to turn off the TV in the waiting area; that was the only way the almost high schooler would get up and take care of his basic hygiene. Really, I still can’t believe it.
I did go on several more trips with them, and I worked for them for another 7 months after this. They were not the happiest months.

12 May, 2013

How much is too much?

I read the post from the mother who thinks her nanny smells of alcohol. I have been wrestling with this myself, because if I share the info with someone else, they might insist I do something. Lets make this clear, I need my job. Okay, so my employer and I both live in Brooklyn. I live in a section where there are good restaurants and events on weekends. About two months ago, my boss asked me if I would babysit on a Saturday night and I told her I didn't want too because I didn't want my weekend interrupted. She said she really wanted a late meal with the kids and just wanted two hours on a Saturday night. I suggested that she bring the child to me and I would watch her at my house, put her down, etc. I have a portable crib. This worked out, they paid me generously and then it started a kind of a regular occurrence. Most of the time, my employers walk and bring the child. Three times they have had their vehicle, either because of weather or a child already sleeping. When they pick the child up, they most definitely have been drinking. We are not talking about a great distance between our two places. I am increasingly uncomfortable handing over this helpless, often sleeping child two parents who have clearly been drinking. Because I need my job, I was going to suggest that I can keep the child until 10AM the next morning once a month, but I don't want to have them coming to pick up the child while intoxicated. Even if they are walking, something could happen and I feel responsible. The only other thing I can think of is finding them a sitter to come to their house, but that would also come with a whole host of responsibilities and culpability if the sitter wasn't good. Sigh.

ISYN Link of the Day

34 Dishes Cooked By Adorable Grandmothers Around The World
Who run the world? Grams.

11 May, 2013

ISYN Bad Interviews, #1

1) I literally just got home from an interview that lasted fifteen minutes, where I was told the position was filled. They are in need of weekend care, and the second I sat down, the mother tells me someone from the center their children attend will be watching them on weekends, and could she keep my information for backup? Fine, although I was ready to walk out. I found out their children attend one of my center's competitors, and the competitor has frequent turnover, poor quality care, less than dependable teachers and has been written up for violations from DHFS, leading me to wonder is the person she hired reliable? My center has been written up, yet not to the frequency of this center. Literally a day after I called her, this other person applies. I contacted her last week; she couldn't have emailed or called me, telling me she filled the position?
 
I didn't have to drive far, as they live less than five minutes from me. The point is, why have me come over in the first place?
 
2) I showed up for an interview on the UES (NY) on Monday at 555PM for a 6PM interview. The housekeeper let me in and told me her employers weren't home yet and allowed me entrance to wait. While I was waiting she was preparing dinner. I started making polite chit chat which led to the present childcare situation. The nanny leans in and tells me, "she was a good, good nanny, a good person and they did her dirty, no no no no, I wont never say a bad word about that woman, she was the loveliest." With that, the door opens and "Mom" comes through the door. She is flashy and polite and interested. I answer her questions and the interview seems to go well, but the housekeeper's whispered words and THE SCARED LOOK on her face when she said it and the woman walked in the door haunt me! It's Friday and I have an email from the lady saying she would like me to come and work a trial day next week.  My bank account says yes, even for the one day of pay, but I think that was a sufficient warning!
 
3) I went from my present job to my bosses apartment in Brooklyn for an evening interview and arrived as a delivery order was arriving. My boss & her husband invited me to join them at a table off the kitchen. They spread out the boxes and stuff and handed me a plate. The interview went nice.  As we ended with promises of a follow up, DB says, "would you mind just tidying up in there, I mean, since you ate, and take any leftovers you want". WTF?
 
4) This weekend I interviewed with a mother at STARBUCKS. This is something I don't really like because it gives you no feeling for who you are dealing with. She brought her three year old girl. She had told me her children were great and she was raising them 'the Chinese way' and yadda yadda yadda, it was all about respect. It became very clear that the mother was not raising the children at all. The three year old asked no less than 100 times for her nanny. "I want Claudy, where is Claudy". The mother explained 'Claudy' had been with them for about a year and suddenly quit without notice. This for some reason didn't ring true. During the interview the child was allowed to order a cookie, a muffin, a hot chocolate and a Perrier. She ate bites of stuff and squished the other stuff. She squished the muffin right into the mothers chest, all over her shirt. The mother was frazzled but tried to play it cool. You could tell her child was not accustom to relating to her. The child also stood up on a chair and said," Im peeing my pants, Im peeing my pants" and appeared to do just that. The mother said, "Oh, ___, why are you being so silly?" The child also called her mom a "dum dum", told her to "go to work" and told me, "mommy told Claudy to go to hell." I smiled politely as if the child was just being precarious. The mother said, "well I was caught off guard and disappointed to be left in the lurch".  The child also told me my jacket was ugly and my teeth need braces. Other people in Starbucks realized it was an interview and, well even if they didn't, all those around had a look of horror on their face!
 
5) I interviewed with a family in Bronxville at a very nice house. The parents both met me at the door and told me how down to earth they were. They offered me tea. They sat on the sofa and kidded around the whole time. It seemed real... And then it got to real. He "tooted" and she smacked him on the thigh. Then she "tooted" back to him even louder and more aggressively. He immediately "tooted" back to her. I thought I was going to pass out from the smell and weirdness of it all. They offered me the job on the spot. I told them I had a second interview with a family I was very interested in the next day but that I would let them know.
 
 
Come on Nannies, you wanted to share your bad interview experiences! Send them my way at isynjane@aol.com . Posts may be edited for contact and space.

Manipulative 8 month old?

Help!  My new charge is 8 months old and has been held for every nap his entire life.  His former nanny was an elderly lady who sat in the rocking chair for the baby's naps.  I refuse to do this.  I have other things that need to be done like caring for 4 other children, cooking, cleaning, and idk...eating lunch or going pee!  He detests the swing and stands right up if I put him in the crib. I've tried laying him down once asleep but he wakes up immediately every time.  I let him cry today and he went on for over an hour before I couldn't take it anymore.  I swaddled him tight and put him in the swing where he finally fell asleep.  There has got to be a better way so I come to you all for help.

Before I get bashed for letting him cry.  Just know that he's a manipulator!  I know it's quite incredible at such a young age but as soon I  come into view, he quiets right down and smiles.  There aren't even any tears and snot!  I've never in all my years of taking care of kids come across an infant that can shut it off like that.  I see acting in his future.

ISYN Link of the Day

20 Ways To Display Kids' Art
If you're a parent, you know that kids start accumulating artwork early on and soon there's little room left on the refrigerator to display it. Place your kids' best masterpieces in an art display system to showcase their budding talent. This ideabook features 20 options for parents to peruse when deciding which system is best for their children and homes.

Alcohol and the New Nanny

Today I came home and smelled alcohol on our nanny's breath. This is not the first time I've thought I could detect something but today I was able to confirm when she left the room that she definitely had vodka in her Mountain Dew. I don't know when she drank it, though my wife and I don't know any reason it would be okay.  We will be confronting her on Sunday (Mother's Day).

Question:  Is there any justifiable reason we shouldn't fire her on the spot? 
Our daughter is four months old.  Our nanny has worked for us less than a month and does a fantastic job for us. She is a live-in.

10 May, 2013

Civil Liberties & The Nanny

Are these the new normal?

1) My nanny contract.....Nanny will submit to random urinalysis. Upon request for urinalysis, nanny will immediately provide specimen. Urine will be tested for all drugs and narcotics...... This goes on to say, "If urinalysis reveals presence of prescription pharmaceuticals, nanny must produce physician's prescription.

2) As a live-in nanny, the nanny is expected to comply with the rules of the house. To ensure house rules are being adhered to, routine inspections and surprise inspections will be conducted of the nanny's unit.  .....bed is to be made on a daily basis, sheets changed on a weekly basis.....no alcohol, tobacco, firearms or drugs are permitted on employer property at any time....no pets are permitted in the nanny unit or on the employer's property......the nanny may have beverages in the supplied min refrigerator provided they are appropriately disposed of after consumption....all food is to be consumed in the employer's kitchen during the hours of 6AM-8PM.....

What about you? Does your nanny contract contain questionable requirements of any sort? Please share with isynjane@aol.com.  Posts may be edited for space and content.

 

ISYN Link of the Day

You’re Fired!
20 Signs That a Pink Slip is Coming
(Some of these apply to domestics!)

ISYN Nanny Salaries Across America, #3

Los Angeles, CA
On salary: 47,500 year (just received 5% raise as of today's pay)
Taxes: Yes
Method of payment: $1444.50 (net) direct deposit into bank account every 2 weeks
45-50 Hours per Week
Paid time off multiple times per year when they travel without me or have family visiting.
Two weeks paid vacation and paid federal holidays.
Ten paid sick days per year
Reimbursement for any expenditures (I keep receipts and a record of expenses and log miles driven in my car)Bonuses and thoughtful gifts for Christmas, birthday and Valentine's Day
Length of time at current position: 6 years

Larchmont, NY
Today's pay: 625
On the books or off: Off
Method of payment: personal check
Disposition of payment: left in my cubby in the mudroom
Salary Adjustment: No paid time off, except for three weeks in August. Any other sick time is docked from my pay at $105 per day. I get Christmas, 4th of July, New Year's Day, and Thanksgiving off. I sometimes get a half day on Christmas eve.
Length of time at current position: 14 months
Nanny experience: 10 years

Connecticut
Today's pay: $1325 ($1800 gross) ($46,800 salary - live out, one child 21 months, M-Th 7-7)
Pay period: 2 weeks
Method of payment: Check
Taxes on the books or off: On the books
Disposition of payment: Personal check handed to me at end of day
Adjustments to pay: Employer pays taxes; was originally at $1250 bi-weekly off the books and after a year had asked to go on the books in lieu of a raise (fully expecting the pay cut). Not only did they put me on the books but they pay my taxes in addition to a net raise which brought me up to $1325 take home.
Length of time at current position: Year and a half
Years of nanny experience: Six

ISYN Kidspeak, #2

"Did you have a nice night with mama?" -Me
"Mama was very upset!"- Paris replied with wide eyes
"Oh dear! That's not good. But sometimes grown-ups feel upset too. Like when you
feel upset because you are missing dada."- Me 
"Dada came home stinky"- Paris
"Oh! I bet mama needed a hug..."- Me
"Yeah..." -Paris

I would guess that father came home smelling of alcohol, hope it was not the
stench of another woman's perfume! 

09 May, 2013

Reward Offered for Info on Wal-Mart Molestation Suspect

A $2,500 reward is being offered for information about a man who sexually assaulted a 7-year-old girl at Wal-Mart in White Plains. New York State Crime Stoppers announced the reward Thursday.
The man allegedly stalked the girl at the Main Street store before luring her away from her parents and sexually assaulting her at 6:48 p.m. on April 20.

Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call the New York State Crime Stoppers tip line at 1-866-313-8477.

ISYN Link of the Day

25 Funny Notes Written By Kids
All from the mouths of babes, the utterly hilarious mouths of babes