Thursday

Nosy neighbor scolds Nanny

Received Thursday, July 3, 2008 - Perspective & Opinion
I am having a bit of a problem that I'm not sure how to deal with. To give you background, we live on the Upper West Side in a co-op that has lots of families. There is a pool on the roof, and our babysitter, a very sweet girl in her early 20s, will often take my two boys, seven and nine, up there to swim after camp. She is great with the kids and they adore her. I love that she brings her bathing suit and doesn't mind getting wet; I've gone up the roof to see the three of them jumping off the deck, screaming and laughing.

She always puts all their wet stuff away, makes them dinner, and even cleans up, which my husband and I have never asked her to do. We're very happy to have her! The problem is my neighbor down the hall! Our kids definitely like to roughhouse, and while we don't let them beat the shit out of each other (pardon my french), we recognize that boys will be boys. The babysitter is great, and definitely pals around with them, putting them on her shoulders in the pool, playing water basketball, etc.

My neighbor, who up until this point never seemed nosy, is constantly telling me that my "nanny plays way too rough." I politely told her that our boys needed someone who would really play with them, and that we were quite taken by the sitter. She has no kids of her own.

Last week - and this will allow you to see how incestuous the co-op really is – the mother of a boy who both my kids are friendly with came up to me at the pool. The sitter was off, and both my husband and I were up there. She said that she had spoken to neighbor X in passing, who mentioned that she thought our babysitter was way too rough – jumping in and out of the pool, playing splashing games, etc.

Meanwhile, we have never gotten any complaints from the lifeguard or other residents (many of whom are elderly). Finally, yesterday, the boys and babysitter came in from swimming all looking a little despondent. I asked them what had happened and our sitter responded by saying neighbor X had chastised her for roughing around with the boys, suggesting she "had better learn to behave like a young lady."

I feel terribly for our sitter and for my kids, who probably felt awkward. I told the sitter I would take care of it, and I certainly want to, as she deserves nothing like this. What can I say to my nosy neighbor? Remember, what I say to her will definitely come back to me, despite how big our building is. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

I suggest that you tell the neighbor that while you appreciate her concern, you would prefer that she not speak to your sitter and to come to you with any concerns she may have. Also be clear with her that you do not feel the sitter is behaving in a way that is harmful to the children.

mpp said...

How annoying that your building has it's own Mrs. Kravitz.

Since she didn't seem to understand well enough the last time you explained, I would be a bit more firm this time .... and like 1:45 suggested, tell her to speak to you personally from now on if she has any other concerns.
(She will probably try and take you up on this invitation, but run the other way when you see her coming.)
Pain in the butt, yes. But at least you'll be deflecting this busy body away from your poor Nanny.
You seem like a very caring Employer, so if she's as wonderful as you say, I'm sure you won't mind taking the bullet for her.

Good luck! (You'll need it)

sprak said...

Since you've seen the swimmers in action and approved of the antics, cannot you just tell her that? She may have genuine concern for your children but may be the over-protective type that sees danger in every corner. Just so you know what's going on. That's what's important.

Anonymous said...

Sprak, she has no concern for the kids. She is a "Condo Commando" they are retired and have nothing to do but sit by the pool and complain and they do not like kids.
We had a place in Fl a gated community. We had 4 teens and I would go to the pool with them because if this commando. We also went at a time when there was no one around. The pool ladder became loose and at the commando meeting this old grump presented us a bill for 5K to fix the ladder because the "kids caused it to loose climbing in and out of the pool all the time." This guy complained abut anyone and everyone under the age pf 30. Notes left on your door , on your cars and telling everyone that would listen that all kids were to rought and shuld ot be allowed in the pol and it cost more money for the association "to fill the pool because they splashed water" .
OP if this continues if you have an association go to them or tell the person to stop harassing your children. Make the emphasis on "Harassment". You live there too and it is none of the pool commando's business if your kids actually enjoy themselves .

Anonymous said...

Since your "concerned" neighbor was so "kind" as to offer her oppinion, I would print oiut child development articles from crediable sources such as the CDC as well as educational websites on the value of play-- especially with the care taker. Take the articles to her and politely ask her not to speak to your sitter. Now, here is the REALLY immature par: tell your sitter to keep playing, if for nothing else than to spite her :). Don't worry about your neighbor... your kids are thriving and you landed yourself a priceless nanny!

Yaya said...

Tell her to pull the stick out of her a$$ and MYOB.

UmassSlytherin said...

OP, this woman sounds extremely unpleasant: sorry to you, the sitter and the kids you have to deal with her. You have gotten some great advice here. In my opinion, tell her directly that if the lifeguard on duty does not have a problem with this play, then she should respect your sitter, who you feel is doing a great job. It would be different if they were not following the rules of the pool. I could understand if the owner of the building had complained or if their play was negatively effecting the other residents, which is obviously not the case, correct?

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

If this woman keeps driving your babysitter crazy don't be surprised if she quits. I hope not, because you seem like a nice employer.

Also, talk to the nanny. Let her know that she is doing a great job. Tell her to ignore that old bag.

Marissa M. said...

Yaya took the words right out of my mouth. I'd tell her that if she ever speaks to my nanny again that I would file a restraining order against her and to take the uptight stick out of her ass and to have some fun for a change.
Make sure you tell ur nanny word for word what you said and tell her to splash, laugh and play as "rough" as she has. Girls shouldn't behave like that? What a crock...

lizz said...

seriously...act like a lady?! what does that even mean. If acting like a "lady" means I have to be boring and quiet and never have fun...then I dont wanna be one!:) what is this 1950. Tell this lady to back off....they are only having fun. If the sitter where acting abusive to the kids thats another story but goodness...

Anonymous said...

People are ridiculous. I would tell her that you appreciate her concern, but the nanny is under your employ- not hers! And that you will deal with any problems that arise as YOU see fit.

Janet English said...

I don't agree with the "I appreciate your concern" comment. Just tell her your nannies playful behavior/ personality is none of her business and she is not to harass/insult her with her opinions on how she should behave. After all, its not lady like to call another person out on their personality just plain bitchy!

Do you really care how this neighbor feel about you anyways? She sounds like the kind that bad mouths you behind your back.

Anonymous said...

Yes. You need to be more firm this time. Evidently you were too nice last time.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like your neighbor is jealous you have children and a nanny... :)

lindalou said...

i think you need to just bluntly tell the neighbor that her harassment of your nanny in front of your children needs to stop immediately. what an old cow.

Anonymous said...

It's kind of sad--old people can seem really interfering even if they mean well. My suspicion is this person is lonely, and thinks she's got your back.

The next time you see her, if she says anything to you about your sitter, tell her you pay this girl to play with the boys and that it's her job to let them be boys. Say that you've seen her with them and that you know she's doing a good job. Thank her for her interest, and assure her that you recognize she's concerned.

And make sure your sitter knows exactly how you feel, too.

Anonymous said...

What a shame. She sounds like such a fun sitter! Your boys & you are so lucky to have her.

The neighbor sounds like a jealous, nosy lady with nothing better to do. I think it would really tick her off if you acted like nothing happened, as if nothing was bothering you. I don’t know, maybe you really should say something to the lady. Tell her not to interact with the sitter or your children. Then hold your head high.

As for your poor sitter, sit her down and reassure her. Tell her how much you and the boys love her. Tell her how much you appreciate her willingness to join in their play.

mom said...

Ugh! This is the type of woman who is probably going to now go to the pool daily just to monitor the situation with your babysitter...and may try to cause trouble for you in the building if she doesn't succeed in asserting her will over you, your babysitter and your kids. (Haven't we all known somebody like this at one time or another?)
Unfortunately, the stronger you come on in putting her in her place, probably the stronger she will be in her efforts to control the situation.
The one thing you may have going in your favor is that the other neighbors may have also been victimized by her and find her to be a pain in the butt...which will hopefully be to your benefit should she try to take this up with the neighbors and condo association.

Our crappy ex-next door neighbors like that (they also had no children...which I suspect made them jealous b/c, as I later found out, they had been trying for years to have children, unsuccessfully) befriended somebody on our association and were able to have "violation" letters sent to us from the association for every tiny thing...even as small as a nail that rusted above our garage door once! (And we kept our house and yard in great condition...it's just that there's always something oyu can find with a house or yard to complain about.) They harassed our kids every time they wanted to play outside on the cul de sac (Bouncing balls and big wheels make NOISE, ya know!), and even got the association to put a ban on basketball hoops soon after we got one (causing the entire neighborhood to have to remove them from their homes and streets as well.) They turned the sprinklers on when the kids played in the grass between our houses...even once when my husband was out playing with them. They tried to circulate a petition about our noisy dogs (which I heard through the grapevine because nothing actually came of it "officially" because nobody would sign it 'cause our dogs were NOT unreasonably loud at all...not to mention we got along very well with all the other neighbors.)

Every week the man would call me on Wednesday evening, right after my son would put the garbage on the curb, to tell me that he had placed it "too close to his mailbox." (Mind you, this was after the mail had been picked up by him for the day...and the trash would be removed before 8:00am...long before the next day's mail would arrive.) I would say to him, every time, "Thank you , Paul." And then we left it there.

We were just always polite when we saw them. If they accosted the kids with nonsense, we would just say "thank you, but we'll take care of the kids." Because, unfair as it may seem, the reality is that a nasty feud with your neighbors, even if it is ALL their fault, can make life miserable, and is, frankly, not worth it. (It did help me out with the sanity portion of the experience to remind myself each time something happened what nasty, miserable people they must be to spend their whole lives doing nothing fun and only policing the neighborhood for CC&R infractions. I satisfied myself with remembering that my life was full and happy and too busy to worry about such nonsense. You might try that.) But I would not involve myself in a feud with such a ninny if I were you. I do like the suggestion so many have made about simply telling her that you are satisfied with your children and your babysitter, thank you very much. I would simply repeat that to her, in the exact same words and tone of voice every single time she says anything about your kids or babysitter. YOu might even have your husband do it. Sometimes a man's stern, but polite, intervention is all it takes.

Shortly after we moved, our icky neighbors adopted a child, and when we see them around town with her they are as friendly as can be, so I really think they were just unhappy because they didn't have kids. Sadly, my son encountered them at the pool one day and overheard them telling their two or three year old daughter not to play with the kids of a certain "nationality" because they were "dirty" and "not winners, like her." They are just crappy people and I feel really sorry for their little daughter, who is being taught that she is superior to others based really idiotic criteria.

Anonymous said...

Tell that person that rough and touble play is actually very important for boys and good for their development. It may even prevent learning disorders. I learned this in my first child development class and you can probaby find an article to back you up online.

Even still, she has no business talking to your sitter like that.
I like the ideas some other people had to 1) tell her to talk to you, not the nanny and 2) report her to any association president or head person in your complex, if there is one

chick said...

Well, first, make sure nanny knows that you are very happy with her.

Then, next time you see nosy neighbor, address the situation. "My nanny tells me you were rather mean to her the other day. I am sure you didn't mean to upset her, and I just wanted to let you know we are fully aware of how nanny plays with our boys, and we APPROVE of what she does to keep them amused and entertained. If you have further issues, please speak to me, not nanny."

Then, enlist any neighbors you have who also go to the pool and ask them to loudly and publicly compliment nanny when nosy neighbor is around. Nanny doesn't have to be there, your friendly neighbors could just say "WOW! The X family has a real gem in their nanny!" "I know! Such energy, always playing with their boys!" and so on and so on.

If that doesn't work, you may need to give nanny explicit permission to politely respond to nosy neighbor like this: "I am doing the job I am paid to do. If you are concerned about my work, please feel free to discuss your issues with my employers."

Anonymous said...

The one thing I would be sure of is that the kids and nanny were not screaming loudly and splashing people sitting by the pool. Some people like to go sit by the pool to read and not be splashed and have nerve racking screams by the kids.They could be playing a little rough? Maybe you should check and make sure they are not doing that and then go see your association director about the problem. This person may be making ligfe rough for other people too.

Anonymous said...

Gee, I"m glad I dont work near this lady. She'd probably would have called the cops on me the other day when I took my charges to the beach. The 2 boys and I (ages 8 and 13) were throwing a sponge ball at each other (not to catch either lol, but we weren't hurting each other) and I let the 3 year old stay in the water til her lips turned blue (yes she was next to me the whole time). I should also say that my charges are my niece and nephews lol.

Anonymous said...

Gee, I"m glad I dont work near this lady. She'd probably would have called the cops on me the other day when I took my charges to the beach. The 2 boys and I (ages 8 and 13) were throwing a sponge ball at each other (not to catch either lol, but we weren't hurting each other) and I let the 3 year old stay in the water til her lips turned blue (yes she was next to me the whole time). I should also say that my charges are my niece and nephews lol.

Anonymous said...

well now it feels good to have the shoe on the othr foot huh, when you as a parent gets the shoe on the othr foot

manhattanmamma said...

No amount of reasoning, begging, cajoling or complaints to the association will stop this person, regardless of her motives.

I tried many of the suggestions above and a few others on a similar neighbor 2 years ago to no avail. Then I found a solution that worked. Anytime he approached, I simply met his complaint or comment with one of my own. "Your kids were playing too loudly yesterday" was answered with "Oh I was meaning to tell you, the other day when you mowed your lawn, I was trying to nap, and it woke me up." "Your 'e headlights when you came home Saturday shined right in out bedroom window" was met with "Yes and as we pulled in, since you didn't have your shades down or curtains completely drawn we saw your wife and you in your pajamas and felt that was inappropriate had our kids been in the car, please draw your blinds in the future." "The smoke from your BBQ Sunday blew in the direction of the clothes we had hung out (They leave their clothes on the line for days and besides, we are careful to positron our BBQ so the wind doesn't blow on their clothes) was met with "Yes I had been meaning to talk to you about that. When we are having a BBQ party, could you be kind enough to take your Swiss cheese underwear in off the line before our guests arrive? It really detracts from the ambiance we are trying to achieve." After doing that several times, I began speaking first whenever he approached me to make a complaint or comment. He would come over as I pulled into my driveway and open in his mouth but before he uttered a word I would say "Just the person I wanted to see! The other day your cat was in my yard and peed. that kills my grass. Please keep your cat off my property!" The next time he approached and started to speak I said "I'm glad your here! Last weak when your grand kids were over they made an awful racket! Could you tell them to keep it down when they're playing in the yard next time? I couldn't hear myself think." My favorite was, once as he approached I started with "Have you been feeling poorly or is it just the color shirt that's making you look sickly?" After only a short time he stopped coming over to speak to me and now everything is just fine. :D

Michele R said...

In that you do have to worry about "the rest of the building," I would just tell your neighbor that you appreciate her concern, but that you are okay with the situation. I would also ask her not to speak to your babysitter. If you do this with a witness, you don't run the risk of her changing the story to others. If she continues, I might go so far as to put something (witnessed) in writing.

Anonymous said...

10:44 that is genius. I'm going to remember that one!

mom said...

10:44

LOVE IT!!!!

(If I knew how to make the words bigger on here, I would say that in GIANT letters!)

When we moved into our new house (this one) my next door neighbor came knocking at the door one day to tell me that he didn't appreicate my kids having friends come over at night because the lights from their headlights as they drove up the street shone into his kids bedroom and woke them up. I thought to myself, "Get curtains! DUH!" Like we're supposed to limit our guests to times when his kids are awake? Who ARE some of these people who think people around them should stop living normal lives in order to accomodate their crazy whims? Go live on a farm if you don't want to be among people. But I didn't say anything to him but a bewildered, "Uh, OK." I was so stunned...and I was NOT about to have a problem with another neighbor after just getting away from the crazies we had left. He sticks notes on my son's car (with masking tape, which melts to the windows) if he parks nose in on the cul de sac...or if we park what he deems is too close to his driveway. Still, when I see him, I smile a big smile and say "Hello!"

The people across from us in the cul de sac are as nice as can be. They have multiple cars, a big boat that they sometimes park the street, ATVs on a trailer that they sometinmes park on the street...and often have parties/guests who park over the whole street. What do I say to them? Nothing. because its just NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL, and I like to be able to go outside and have a nice conversation with my neighbors much more than I like a pristine STEPFORD-STYLE street with all of the vehicles parked in neat little rows. .

mpp said...

Manhattanmamma, brilliant!
:D

Anonymous said...

Simple, its none of his business how your children are cared for as long as you are comfortable with the situation. Tell him to stop being so bored with his life to interfere in yours and go find a new hobby.

Sue Doe-Nim said...

I would speak with the neighbors with your husband and hers too.

My experience with nosy neighbors is that they don't do it in front of their husbands and if the two of you tell her that your nanny is a part of your family and you don't appreciate her being spoken to that way and whatnot you can be pretty darned sure that her husband will give her a dressing down.

I'm guessing you'd never want to be her friend anyhow but I think it's important for your children and your nanny to see you actively take their side.

They're kids. It's a pool.

Argh... some people.

manhattanmamma said...

Thanks guys, though I cringed when I saw all the typos. I had a late night the night before!

Anonymous said...

I feel a lot of sympathy for your sitter... I'm a babysitter myself and I've had issues with people critiquing my way of childcare.

Tell your neighbor that you appreciate her concern, but you have complete faith in your babysitter. Tell her about your boys who need to rough around a little, and, most importantly, ask her to not speak to your babysitter again.

What your neighbor did was inexcusable. I sympathize with your sitter... she may have felt a little threatened, not just awkward! Best of luck, OP!

:)