29 June, 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Guest Column - Lost in Yonkers

Sunday, June 29, 2008
Guest Column by Eileen

In 2001, I moved from Wisconsin, to Scarsdale to NY To work for a very wealthy family. The family had two boys. The boys were 4 & 1. I was 20 years old. I had just graduated from junior college and was taking a hiatus from school.

My salary was to be $475 per week. I would live in a studio apartment on the third floor of the family home. I interviewed with the family by phone. They seemed nice enough. They flew me to NY to meet them. I was more than excited.

I dressed in white keds, white socks, white shorts and a pink blouse. My brown hair was in a pony tail. I was picked up at the airport by the father. His initial greeting was friendly, and then his phone started to ring. From that moment on, he communicated with me by hand signals as he spoke to someone on the phone. Grab your bag. Come this way. There. That car.

The car was an Expedition. He motioned for me to put my bags in. He didn't help. The whole way home he was on the phone talking about a merger. Endsol was creating a problem. I began to fear for Endsol. A meeting was called. He and his phone partner wondered together if Endsol would show. We won't give him a choice, my chauffeur shouted.

We pulled up to the impressive house. He put the phone down and helped me carry my bags in. Inside he screamed Benny, Benny, Benny.

Benny was a very short, very wide housekeeper. The father apologized sharing with me the fact that an unexpected problem had come up with work. I'd gathered that much already. But I nodded sympathetically. The father told me he had to tend to the problem. He assured me Benny would help me to get settled.

Then he was gone. The front door shut and there I stood in the entry way. Benny looked at me, clucked her tongue with disgust and pointed, 'your room on top, up top".

I took the first of three loads up. The studio apartment was a big living room, an enormous bathroom with a massive tub in the center of the bathroom and a bedroom off of the living room. Once you walked up that staircase you were in the studio. There was no actual door there nor was there any door on the bedroom. The bathroom had a wood slatted door that could be pulled shut but made me immediately ill at ease. No knob. No lock.

I looked around at my new digs. A large TV, stereo, game counsels, a big coffee table and two comfortable sofas in the living area. Hardwood floor. Oriental rugs. The bedroom offered a single bed and was thoroughly covered in pink and lace. I began to unpack. I hung my clothes in the bedroom closet. I took out my photographs and spread them around the area. A few in the bathroom, some on my dresser and still more in the living area.

I heard Benny yelling from the first floor. 'The babysitter, the babysitter. You come down here'.

I made my way back down the steps. I fond her in the massive, completely white kitchen. She gestured to a plate on the counter. 'I make the lunch. Mr. David tell me to make the lunch for you. I make the lunch. That's it. I no make you lunch after this. I no work for you. I work for Mr. David and Miss Sarah'.

What could I say? 'Thank you'.

Benny said, 'You eat. I go. Mr. David be home 7;30. No kids today".

I tried to take it all in. 'Thank you', I said again. I wondered where the kids were, where 'Miss Sarah' was. I sat and ate the lunch she had prepared. A very symmetrical turkey sandwich. Wheat bread, mayonnaise, sliced apples, potato chips and ice tea. Finished, I cleaned the plate and returned back upstairs. I watched TV until 9:30 feeling lost.

At 9:30, Mr. David comes home. He again apologizes. He again tells me about an unexpected problem. I am tired and nervous. I wonder if it shows? He tells me he had expected to spend a good chunk of time with me today. He tells me he wanted to show me around the house and around town. He tells me that I would really help him out if I continued to be patient with him. He tells me his wife took the kids to Buffalo and they wouldn't be returning until the day after next. I imagine that this is a scam. I imagine there are no children. No wife. Just this man. And me. I grow more nervous.

He tells me I should make myself at home. I should swim, use the car, take a walk and feel free to poke around. He tells me he is flying to Boston in the morning but will return tomorrow night at 7. He promises he will make time to show me around then.

I wonder to myself why his wife isn't here. Does he know what I am thinking? He tells me that Sarah has no patience for change. She's not good with new people. I smile politely.

The next day I am all alone. I don't feel alone. I feel as if this is some sort of test. Every motion detector looks like a hidden camera. I make breakfast. I make breakfast in a way I have never made breakfast before. I am meticulous. I walk around the kitchen with perfect postures and a smile on my face. I sit to eat my breakfast with a nap on my lap. I dab my face with my napkin after each carefully chewed bite.

Growing bored, I decide to take a spin in the car. I have no intention of going far. The neighborhood as we came in appeared small. I dress up and head out to explore.

I cruise out of the driveway. This is a breeze. This feels right. I turn the CD player on and Bruce Springstein begans to croon. I start to feel really good. I'm in control. I'm a New Yorker. I'm powerful.

I make mostly right turns and drive by the house twice. My house, I think to myself. The sun is beaming through the sun roof warming my head. I press on. Right. Right. Right. Left. Right. The road narrows a bit. The houses grow closer together. Did I go to far? I look for a place to turn around. But where? A still busier street looms ahead. With nowhere to turn, I had straight down the hill. I encounter a road called Central. A car pulls quickly to the right of me. He is turning right leaving me with the option to turn left. And so I do.

There are cars everywhere. Service stations. Strip malls. Stores I've never heard of and foreigners every where. Wisconsin seems awfully far from here. There is too much activity on my right side. Still more on my left side. In my hesitation to turn around, I end up pressing on.

I reach up and snap shut the sunroof. I fear it is illuminating my panic. I turn the radio off. My nerves are crackling. I keep driving. I have let go of the idea that I will do anything to regain control of this ride. The idea of turning either left or right overwhelms me. I press on. In my head, I feel as if something magical is about to present itself and set me on the correct course. Nothing happens. I am still driving. Am I still in Scarsdale?

Now there are too many stores, too many people and still more lanes of traffic. I must turn back now. My heart is palpitating. So many, many cars. So many, many people. I hastily get in to the left turn lane. I pull out the car length and a half to wait my turn. The light turns yellow. And then? And then red. No arrow. No pregnant pause. The cars race at me from the left and the right. I try to back up. I can't. Cars are beeping. The light changes again. I race forward. Nope. No light. Nothing. Traffic is heavy. There are no breaks. Beeping all around. I wait for a chance to turn. And then the light is green again. More beeping. Now screaming. I am in the middle of the intersection. Cars in both directions are swerving around me. No one stops. I feel like I am a bout to pass out. I burst in to tears.

Lights pull up behind me. A quick conversation with a police officer that reeked of beef jerky. Now he stands in front of me. He stops traffic and directs me to pull over. I do. He pulls behind me. He asks for my licence. Nice enough guy. I notice he happens to be a Yonkers police officer. I am still crying. He offers to lead me back the correct way. I follow him to what had to be the end of Yonkers and continue back on Central. I heed his directions. In 12 minutes I am back in the garage. Breathing deeply. Sighing with relief.

Once inside, I stay in my room for the rest of the day. Reading magazines. Watching television. Doodling. From downstairs, I hear the father call for me. He asks me to come down to the kitchen. I am in the kitchen now. He is apologizing again. Yes, I know. You had something unforeseeable come up at work.

HE asks me if I've eaten. I lie and say yes.
'What' he asks.
'Breakfast', I say.
He smiles and shakes his head, 'you'll eat a steak? I bought steaks'.

I smile politely. 'Thank you. yes'. He fries a steak in one pan, frozen hashbrowns in another. All the while he talks about the details of the nanny position. The impending renovation, school clothes, the upcoming school year, David's lobster allergy, Michael's musical talent, Sarah's intolerance for chaos and new people.

He is almost funny. And I find myself laughing. He gives me a tour of the house complete with the sump pump in the basement and instructions on what to do if there is a power outage. He shows me the children's bedroom, gestures to his room, the guest room, the alarm system, the closet with the linens and then he points deliberately at closed door, 'That', he says 'is Sarah's private area'.

I don't ask many questions. The tour concludes at the bottom of the steps where Benny had met me the first day. He says good night. I thank him. He starts to walk away, I ask, 'and when will the children be home tomorrow'. He laughs and says, 'Don't worry. They will find you'.

The next day I am bored. So bored I fall asleep on one of the sofas. I am awoken by footsteps on the wooden stairs heading up to mu studio. A thick haired, freckled boy bounds over the sofa landing in a prone position. Another boy appears next to me, immediately flips on the play station and sits down on the rug. I turn on the charm. I dial up my enthusiasm. I ask them about their trip, their drive, their summer.

Michael picks up one o my delicately framed photographs and asks, 'Who's so ugly'? as he tosses the picture to his brother. David responds by grunting, 'oh she is so gross' and throws the frame at the sofa I am sitting on. I frown, 'That's my sister'.

Michael responds, 'She needs a new face'.
'And better teeth' adds David.
'That's not nice', I correct. They are 6 & 9 but I am so upset by this I almost burst in to tears.
'Where's your mom', I ask.
'Take us swimming', David, the older child responds.
"Sure I guess I could do that. Let me check with your mother first'.
"Sure I guess I could do that. Let me check with your mother first'. Michael repeats holding his nose up to indicate that I resemble a pig.
David has leaped up and run to the bathroom. The door is partially open. I hear peeing. Michael gets up and heads that way. 'Shut the door, shithead', he tells his brother. I can hear peeing. 'Do you want to see David's penis?' Michael asks.
'I do not'. I respond tersely.
He laughs and shoots down the steps calling out, 'be fast. I'm hot'.
David exits the bathroom. I hadn't heard water running. I hadn't heard the toilet flush. As soon as David heads down the stairs, I grab a suit. I go to bathroom to dress and see urine all over the toilet. I mop it up with toilet paper.
I tread down the stairs in my Sears very modest 2 piece bathing suit. Sarah is walking from downstairs and meets me on the second floor landing. She looks me up from head to toe and says, 'Well I hope you're going swimming.'

'Yes, Michael and David asked..' I began an explanation but she cuts me off. She raises her hand in the air.

'Just keep it down. I have a migraine'. she says.
'Certainly'. I say.
She moves to walk away from me and I call out, 'nice to meet you'.
She covers her ears dramatically and raises a finger to her lips, 'shhhhh'.

I had arrived on Tuesday. It was now Thursday. I would last through to the following Thursday.
I would leave by cab as soon as the house went quiet. I had my bags packed and ready since Wednesday, just waiting to seize the opportunity. The kids were atrocious, ugly, obnoxious and not at all as bright as their parents thought they were. The father was a workaholic who no doubt conditioned himself to spend so much time away as to avoid his needy, demented wife. His wife was antagonistic. insecure, accusatory and distrustful. She had flipped out when she found out that her husband and I had dinner together that night. It was a dramatic fight, a screaming match in front of both children and myself.

The nanny agency offered to find me another position. I was not interested. I waited for 8 hours at the airport to get a flight back home. I wish I would have had a chance to see New York, but I don't for a second regret that I didn't make it as a nanny.

The Vegetable Garden

Sunday, June 29, 2008
The Vegetable Garden
Guest Column by Mushroom

Three kids: Cabbage, Turnip and Spuds. These are just three nicknames I gave them over the (nearly) four years I’ve been working with this children, and they’ve had many, many more. In our society it’s a sign of how fond you are of someone if they have a lot of nicknames. The aforementioned three vegetable names are just the ones I use the most.

Cabbage is almost eleven, going on fifteen. He’s a very intelligent little boy and, as with most intelligent people, it brings him more than his fair share of misery. He doesn’t get on well with the other children in his school, besides his also intelligent best friend, because he can’t relate to them. His pet topic right now is famous classical composers; theirs is Linkin Park and Fergie. He’s perked up considerably though lately because he’s going to a special camp for gifted children, where he’s going to study law. We’ve started a new game which involves comparing classical music to modern-day equivalents. (Mozart was Kanye West, Stravinsky was Slipknot, and so on.)

Turnip is a classic middle child. He’s eight going on five and he still sucks his thumb and has a security blanket. As a middle child myself I know that we never really outgrow certain habits (I still sleep with my stuffed dog and I’m twenty-five!) so I’m not worried. He’s very popular at school and he’s usually well-behaved, but like all children he has his moments. (He and Cabbage don’t get on well; Cabbage calls him names and Turnip, being the same size and about the same weight, punches him until I step in and give out stink to them both.) He’s fussy about food but only when he can get away with it (as in, when his mother’s home.)

Spuds is the baby (at least, he was when I started. He’s nearly four now!) and, given the others were school-aged when I started, the one who’s been influenced by me the most. I’m from a different part of the country than the family and I came with my own mannerisms and catchphrases and quirks, some of which I passed on to Spuds. The other day, he told his mother he had ‘a cut of the runs’ (the phrase is actually ‘a touch of the runs’) and greeted Turnip by saying ‘Hey! It’s that Turnip guy we know!’ (I’m always doing that.)

One day, as we were walking back from the school run to catch the bus, we spotted the bus before we had reached the stop. We were just about at the stop but the bus not only drove past us, but drove at high speed through a massive puddle (it was raining by the way) and drenched me in muddy water. Forgetting I had an impressionable toddler with me, I called the driver a f*****g w****r. I got the next bus, dropped Spuds to school, went back to his house to housework and picked him up a few hours later. As we were walking home, he spotted a bus driving towards us and he said to me ‘Hey, it’s that f*****g w****r!’ I managed to get him to stop saying it by the time his Mom got home. I hope.

This week sees the kids looking forward to the end of school for the summer, and me dreading it. This is my third summer with them and I’m trying to think of things we can do. My hands are tied because I don’t drive, we take the bus everywhere, or we walk. Cabbage wants to stay in his room all summer working on his models and tinkering with the piano, so going anywhere is going to put his nose severely out of joint. We’ve been to the Natural History Museum so many times we know all the animals off by heart, and the last time we visited the National Museum Spuds got scared by the mummies and screamed for the whole trip. Only Cabbage likes the Art Gallery and he hated the Interactive Play Centre and I’ll be shot out of a cannon before we go back to the Shopping Centre. I’d like to bring them to the beach but the train and buses take too long to go there and back, and I need a car to get to the zoo.

At home, I’ve got art projects, treasure hunts and rainy-day DVDs lined up, but past experience has taught me that these only last so long. At least the family are going on holiday abroad, which gives me two whole weeks to think of something new and exciting to do with them. Or maybe I could build them a pen in the backyard and let them run free, as nature intended. (Free-range children-good idea?)

28 June, 2008

Nanny needs advice about Employer's Maternity leave and adding another child

Received Saturday, June 28, 2008 - Perspective & Opinion
I currently nanny for a 3-year-old girl whose mother is pregnant and due in January. I am very satisfied in this job right now, love the little girl, the parents are a dream to work for, and no complaints from me. We do have an employment contract between us, however, it does not mention anything about how maternity leave will be handled (the parents didn't think they would be having another at the time they hired me). So my question is, do most nannies just keep working full-time through a maternity leave? Or do they work part-time? Or not at all? Also, what is the norm when it comes to a percentage raise for adding a second child to my care?This mother will be getting three months off and I cannot afford to take three months off, or even three months at a part-time salary. But I'd like to know what the norm is before we have this discussion. Another question is, the little girl will be starting pre-school in the fall, three mornings a week. Do most nannies get paid for that time even if the child is in school? I do no other work for them such as housework, cooking, or shopping -- I only do child care. But, again, I really can't afford to take a pay cut because the child is in school three mornings a week. So I guess three questions: 1. What is the norm for handling pay during a maternity leave? 2. What is the average percentage pay raise to expect for adding a second child to my care? 3. What is the norm for handling reduced child care responsibilities when the child is in school?
Thanks for any input on this!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

27 June, 2008

Guest Column by Nanny Lexie - The Nightmare Employer

Received Friday, June 27, 2008
The Nightmare Employer
By: Nanny Lexie

It’s been one month since I walked out on what became my worst job ever! Which is weird, because for almost an entire year it was one of my favorite jobs. I worked for a family that lived about 30-45 minutes away from me. And, it was foolish of me from the start to even think I would be okay with driving that far, even just three times a week. But, the family promised me gas and toll road money for compensation. The job seemed easy enough. One toddler boy, barely old enough to talk, which is one of my favorite stages. I just love that they learn new things daily, and every little thing, is such a huge deal to them because they are experiencing it for the very first time. The parents also seemed really nice and laid back, so I took the job.

The first year was amazing! Every day me and the little boy, I will call Kyle, would go to the park, or the beach, or somewhere fun. I always looked forward to going to work and seeing Kyle. When I first got there we spent about 3 hours together and then he would go down for a typically 3 hour nap. Since I was only there 6-8 hours, I normally played with him for a little while until his mother came home, and then went home. During the 3 hours he napped I got to do homework, which was a total blessing, and also watch TV, or go on the computer. It really was a dream job. I was getting paid a total of $12 an hour which included gas and toll road compensation, which wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad either.

About 6 months into my job, the mother got pregnant. It wasn’t planned, but they decided they could afford another child. In my opinion they really couldn’t afford another child, and I knew deep down that once the baby came, our arrangement wasn’t going to work anymore. But, she assured me she loved and needed me to help her. About 2 weeks before the baby is due she informs me that she can’t afford to pay me more money for the new baby, so she began taking the baby on her small business deliveries. I knew something like this was going to happen when I kept trying to bring up my raise for the new baby and being there over a year, and she kept putting it off.

When the mother was supposed to be on maternity leave, I planned a vacation with my boyfriend and told her I would be gone 3 working days. She got really upset and asked me what she was supposed to do with her kids. I told her, “I’m sorry, but I need vacation time, this is the first time off in a year and I NEED it!” After I came back from my trip she began treating me horribly. She was always late, and even when I told her I needed to be gone by a certain time she would still be late, sometimes even later. She was constantly asking me to take him places, and buy him things, and would never give me any money. And, when I would ask for money she would always ask me, well don’t I pay you? So, you think she was bad? Well, her husband was worse!

He was a pig of an old man, his wife being probably 15 years his junior. He had a son my age, but that never stopped him from hitting on me. He constantly made sexual comments or jokes about me. One day I came over in a white shirt, and he told his son who was playing with the hose to spray my shirt! Which, of course his son did, and then he told me I could always take it off and he would dry it for me in a very suggestive way. Another time I forgot my keys to the house and he told me he needed to spank me. When he said that I gave him the nastiest look and after that he pretty much stopped. Which was good, because I was 1 comment away from concerning his wife in the matter. To make this guy even worse, he would stay home smoking pot until about 12 or 1pm before finally getting in the shower and leaving the house. It was creepy the way he was always there, or hot boxing the bathroom!

On top of all this, they refused to parent their son. Kyle would be horrible around them, hit, yell, misbehave, be hysterical, and the second they left, he was perfect. But, whenever they were around he was a nightmare! The parents just flat out refused to parent him. If he threw a fit, they would hug and hold, and tickle him and then give into his wishes. I tried to give them suggestions on what to do a few times, but they were always too tired.
So, finally a month ago, I had enough of constantly being stressed over work and that family.

I came to work on a Saturday as a favor to the family for a few hours. She told me she would be gone no more than 4 hours. Needless to say, she was late, 2 ½ hours late! I had completely missed my favorite neighborhood annual event, that she had promised me I would be home in time for. No explanations, phone calls, or real apologies, I think she mumbled “sorry”. I showed her that her son had bitten me so hard it broke the skin, and she asked me why her son did it. I told her he got mad at me, and bit my stomach, and then refused to apologize. Kyle was 2 ½ years old and was fully willing and able to say sorry most of the time. But, not that day. That day he would not budge, so I told him he needed to stay in his room until his mom came home, which was about 10 minutes, and we would decide a punishment. Only, she didn’t want to punish him. So, I told her right there. I don’t want to come back here anymore. I can’t be in a place where the parent refuses to parent. I gave her the keys. She gave me a check, and we haven’t spoken since. It really breaks my heart not to see Kyle, but I know I had to leave for my own sanity! And, I’ve loved every minute of not having a steady employer!

Nanny exhausted by overbearing MIL ....

Received Friday, June 27, 2008 - Rant
Ok, so this is really a rant not a sighting. I am a nanny in NYC for a wonderful family who has one baby who is 11 months old. What I dont love is that the grandmother drives 4 hours away one time a week to come "help me". Words cannot describe this annoying, obnoxious person. First off she is probably in her late 50's and will come with maybe a bag full of groceries, (nothing she cant handle) but she will have the poor doorman actually bring it up. I mean, come on! Like they dont have anything better to do than to bring up your Wholefoods bag . So they bring it up. Most of the time when she comes the baby is sleeping. Its like she picks the time to come when she knows he is sleeping. And she makes so much noise and such a huge production that it basically wakes him up every single time. She claims she comes to see the baby and to help me out since I work about 55 hours a week , sometimes more. But when she comes she doesnt help at all. In fact she makes my life miserable when she is there. She does the laundry the whole time, or she cooks god awful health food from Whole Foods. She literally sits down in the laundry room for hours while she does the laundry even though they have a washer and dryer in the apartment. Dont get me wrong- I dont want nor need her help so I am not mad that she doesnt help me, but just dont pretend that you are helping. And the best part is as soon as the parents get home she snatches the baby from me and makes them think they have had such a great time all day. Even the baby thinks shes nuts. She is obsessed with food and allergies. She has a list of things for me not to feed him. She claims all sorts of normal baby foods are bad and that wheat is bad too. I dont know where she gets this from. She is always on the internet looking at studies . She claimed once that I was trying to put the baby into a diabetic coma by feeding him Gerber carrots and applesauce. She is always insisting that Im either dressing him too hot or too cold. If its 90 degrees out she still thinks I should put a blanket on him. Hes 11 months old. The best is when he used to spit up like ALL babies do when he was 6 months and younger and she would freak out saying he was allergic to formula and that I needed to hold him while he slept and not put him in his crib because he may choke. We have a monitor and an angel monitor that detects the heartbeat . Trust me if he ever was choking I would know. She still wont respect my sleeping routine that I have him on . I put him in the crib before he falls asleep and I let him go to sleep on his own. Hes fine, doesnt cry and puts himself to sleep within a minute or two . She insists in barging in the room while I am doing that to take him, hold him and rock him. Then she wants me to take him and hold him while hes sleeping and she does is laundry. I put him in his crib anyway-I dont have the time to sit there for 2 hours. Shes nuts. She is overbearing and rude to me. Sometimes if Im lucky she'll be done with the laundry by 5 and she'll "relieve me " so I can leave . Wow, thanks. 5 is usually the time Im done anyway. But before I leave I must make 4 bottles for him and put his food out. Are you serious?? Is is that hard to pour formula in a bottle? Plus he only gets ONE more before bed time anyway. And as far as the food, ITS JARRED. Just pick something out of the cabinet and make a decision. I cant stand her voice and the sight of her makes me sick too . She doesnt attempt to make small talk with me like I am hired help and beneath her. Shes always talking about how stressed her son and dil are and how she wishes she could help more. I really hope that doesnt mean she comes around more. She also thinks that cleaning is part of my job, it isnt. Only for the baby and my room. I pick up after myself but I DONT clean. She insists I should be if I have free time. I pretty much tell her thats not what I Was hired for. They have a cleaning lady . I could go on and on but it is just never ending.

Ex-Nanny feels slighted ....

Received Friday, June 27, 2008 - Perspective & Opinion
I am a confused ex-Nanny. I have been working for a wonderful family for the past 8 months. They recently (about three weeks ago) informed me that they "might" be moving across the state, though it was clear they would more than likely move. She said that they would reimburse me if they moved, and I said, "Thanks, I would really appreciate that." I assumed she meant that they would pay me for X amount of time past they last day I worked for them. A week after that (two weeks ago), she told me they were in fact moving. It should have been $1,050. She paid me $350. On a side note, I got both of them and their daughter going-away presents and wrote them thank-you notes. They got me nothing and didn't even bother to pay me extra. My question is, should I call her and tell her I was under the impression we agreed upon some form of reimbursement? If so, what exactly should I say? Nannies, would you feel upset/manipulated? I should also say that they loved the gifts, have given me excellent references, and have overall been a great family to work for.

From OP:
The reason I was under the assumption that I would get 2 weeks compensation is because I am taking a vacation in 2 weeks and the mother was extremely worried and anxious about my not having a job for those two weeks (because pretty much no one is going to hire me for two weeks, then let me have a two week vacation). The reason I felt so manipulated was because they gave me a raise right before they told me they might be moving, and I feel that they did that so that I wouldn't be mad about them moving and get a new job and quit before they were done with me. Now, the 2 weeks was just an assumption on my part and I agree that assumptions are pretty much never good--but I was given no reimbursement whatsoever. Hope that clears it up a little.
Thanks for all your comments. The one thing I wanted to also clear up was that $350 was not any reimbursement or bonus, it was my weekly salary. This has definitely been a learning experience for me. I am tentatively arranging for another nannying position and I am scouring the Internet for nanny/family contracts and I am going to make sure everything, every tiny last little detail, is written out.
~ MPP

6/30 UPDATE:
Hello, this is the "slighted ex-nanny" from a few days ago. I am going to be drawing up a contract with the family I will be working with soon and I have a few questions about what should be negotiated and what is fair. Just a heads up, I will be working for them part-time three days a week from 9-4, and salary has already been determined. The boys are 4 and 1. Things I have Q's about include...
-vacation days: In the past, if the family took the vacation, they were always paid, which I will definitely ask for from this family. But what about if I take the days? Should I request a certain amount of paid vacation and sick days per year--if so, how many?
-paid/unpaid holidays-raises: when they should be negotiated; how much of a raise I should assume, etc. And anything and everything else you guys feel is necessary in a nanny contract! I have learned my lesson about making sure all the details get on the table and I'm going to do my best to not expect anything that isn't made crystal clear. ~ MPP

Friday, June 27, 2008

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To Hell X 3 by D, - Guest Column

Friday, June 27, 2008
My nanny experience could very well be summed up by the saying "going to hell in a hand basket." I was in nursing school and thought it best that I take a year off from the stress and rigors of clinicals/death/blood/exams, by engaging myself in the world children/play dates/art projects and snack time. This I learned, would not be the usual nanny experience.

I was a nanny for a total of 3 families. The first family, had 2 children one of which was under psychiatric care, on the days that this child refused to see the psychiatrist, I was told by the parents that I was to see the psychiatrist and work out any issues that I may be having in my personal life. To me and to many others, this idea was absurd to say the least. The parents reasoning for this was that they had to pay for the session anyway, somebody ought to see the doc. The child often refused to see the doctor and there were many a sessions, hours upon hours that the doctor and I sat across from each other and discussed baseball, different magazines that we subscribed to and where to find good Mexican food. I felt horrible about this, especially because the kid really needed help. He had a fear of lunch meat and dying plants, and oh did I mention that his father used to come home from work, demand a wrestling match and pin his 8 year old son to the floor in less than 5 seconds and tell him he will never be good enough. An addendum to this story is that my very good friend who was also a nanny was sleeping with the father.

Onto family number 2. The mom, who clearly had the money and the power in the family was a tyrant at best. She had requested that when the child was at preschool, that I take those 3 hours and "carefully and strategically" (her words, not mine) lay out her outfit for the next day. To go through this plus size woman's underwear drawer, in addition to applying her pantyliner to the next days underwear was revolting and needless to say was not a highlight in my day. This woman ran a fortune 500 company for god sake!! Her husband was no better, a high powered attorney in NYC, wrote porn screenplays for a hobby, had me read/proof them and demanded a one paragraph critique by the end of the day. This man was also a recovering alcoholic and hid his bottles of mini-bar size liquor bottles in his briefcase, I only know this because I drove him to the train, and when he handed me the 'porn manuscript of the day' his bottles rattled around. The child was easy to care for, smart, funny, beautiful and had no idea what lay ahead of him. My heart broke for the innocence of his childhood.

Family number 3. Where to begin? The children were school age 12 and 15 years old, really no reason for a nanny, the father was home when they got home from school. I did all the grocery shopping, cooked the meals. Attempted to steer the older child away from drugs. I would do random drug searches while she was in school, always came up with something. Though she did have some ingenious hiding spots. The mother in this family was also the moneymaker and decision maker. When interviewing for this position, I had told her about the 'porn manuscript' aspect of my previous job and how uncomfortable that situation was, at that point, it would have been nice had she have mentioned that her and her husband were (are) "swingers" and they host a 'party' every six weeks and would I mind finding a place to stay, when the party was being hosted. Not that I'm a prude, but come on the pictures and left over party gift bags were also too much to bear. My final straw was when the mom sat down with me and told me how I should be spending my paycheck, that I needed to lose the 10 extra pounds I was carrying because I was a poor example of what a "fit young woman" should be and she didn't want her daughter to follow in my path of morbid obesity and gluttony. I guess everyone has a breaking point.

I wish I could say I'm making this up, I didn't want any children for a very long time. I am happy to report I recently received my masters degree in nursing and on the management team of large metropolitan hospital, married and have a fantastic, awesome son.
Yes, I've been to hell and back.

26 June, 2008

Nanny catches Dad abusing the family pet ....

Received Thursday, June 26, 2008 - Perspective and Opinion
I have a dog-reated question I'd like to throw out there for people to respond to. As a nanny/housekeeper, I also provide the majority of dog-care during he day (not in my job description,btw). As a result, the family dog and I have formed a very strong bond. I really love the little guy, and he believes he's MY dog, I think!Yesterday dad-boss got angry when HE allowed family dog within access to the family cat's food dish. Of course, family dog ate the cat food. Dad-boss got very angry and repeatedly (at least 4 times) HIT the dog eioth an open hand. It turned my stomach. I didn't even know how to respond when walking in on this scene, of which dad-boss "seemed" quite self-conscious being observed in. I felt sick to see this, and asked what family-dog had done. Dad-boss told me, but seemed embarassed I'd witnessed HIS loss of temper. I found a good excuse to take family-dog out of the house on an errand, and loved and reassured him, but wonder what other nannies might have done unde these circumstances. Should I have said something directly to dad-boss about how hitting a defenseless pet is not appropriate or acceptable?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lefty & Duke June 2007 I am away this week. In my absence, some of our regular readers have shared stories of their nanny experiences and rants which will run this week. One of our favorite commenters, the legendary Mary Poppinz Pills will maintain the blog in my absence. (Many thanks MPP!)

I've been asked who takes care of Duke and Lefty when I travel. I am fortunate to have found a kennel in Greenwich, right off of Roundhill Road where the two are boarded, (together, because that's how they like it) when I travel. Lone Pine Kennel provides my two little guys with lots of love and attention. If your looking for exemplary care for your pets, please give them a call at 203-661-4358.

Have a great week everyone.
-Jane

Male Childcare Providers: A profile of three great educators…

Friday, June 27, 2008
Male Childcare Providers: A profile of three great educators…
(names have been changed to protect the innocent and nawt hawt)
Guest Column by UMassSlytherin

I would like to take this opportunity to express my opinion on males in childcare. My opinions are based on values as well as extensive childcare experience. I think if there were more males in childcare it would not only benefit the children, the daycare centers, and the female workers, but would also benefit society at large. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with several males over the course of my childcare career, and I have to say that the males I worked with were excellent, superior teachers. Hopefully this article will shed some light on why I feel this way. I will profile three random males I have worked with, although there have been several. I will begin by listing their vital stats, including age, where I worked with them, any children they have, marital status, sexual orientation, level of education, and for those of you who are interested in this sort of thing, if they were hawt or nawt.


Greg
Preschool teacher
College educated
Straight
Age 40-45
High-end chain daycare
Parent of 7 year old girl
Divorced
Nawt that hawt

Greg I found interesting as well as quirky. He was, to be perfectly honest, not well-liked by many of the other teachers, who were all female. He did used to do some things that were quite odd, including coming to the center early to wash his laundry in the center laundry room, including his underwear which I suppose some of the ladies found offensive. But I liked him, and my late mother, who worked there as well in the Toddler room, liked him ok. Greg's daughter was a child actor, and being someone who has always been fascinated with celebrities, I found this extremely interesting. One time Greg even showed me her resume and photos.

Well, getting back to Greg, he was a pretty good preschool teacher from what I remember. He used to come up with all these cool obstacle-course games for the kids to play, and he was very patient with me as far as teaching me how to deal with the children regarding re-direction and discipline. The children really dug him, because he seemed sort of like a big kid himself. I think most of the teachers didn't like him maybe because they were sort of jealous of how much the kids dug him. I really think that's what it was. He wasn't any weirder than anybody else. He really wasn't. Men get a bad rap, they really do. Ok. Next.


Gerry
3 year old teacher
College educated
Sexual orientation unknown
Age 35-40
State-funded daycare
No children
Never married
Sort of hawt

Gerry was one no doubt one of the best childcare providers I have ever come in contact with, not to mention one of the nicest people I have ever met. He, like Greg, was a bit quirky as well, but was largely respected at the daycare we worked at for a few reasons. One, it was in a different part of the state, a part of the state which was way more liberal than the daycare in which Greg, the underwear-washer, worked at. It was a very earthy-crunchy area to be honest, and males in childcare were way more accepted there.

Gerry taught the children who were between the ages of 2 and 3, the older toddlers, which we all know are a challenge. Gerry was excellent at potty-training and no parents ever seemed to feel uncomfortable with him pottying their little girls or boys. Gerry was such a kind person, and so funny, too. He was such a skilled childcare provider, as well as super organized. I remember asking him why all the blocks had to be put back on the right shelves, and feeling frustrated about that, and he looked at me like I was dumb (which I was) and explained to me that the children could learn to organize the blocks and that they should do it because it was good for them and good for the classroom. And you know something? He was right. I wish I could be a more organized person. But I'm just not.

Gerry was always very caring and kind to me, and I appreciated that. He made the classroom a very nice place to be, and the kids responded well to a male voice. He was so great at reading to the children, He commanded respect from the children, but also loved them which was clear in the way he treated them. There was a lot of laughter in the room. He later became the Pre-school/Pre-K teacher and I took over his position as lead teacher in the older toddler room, but I wasn't nearly as good as he was. The room lost a lot when he moved over, it really did.


Tom
Pre-school teacher
College educated
Straight
Age 25-30
Private high-end daycare
No children
Single
Reasonably hawt

Tom was a pre-school teacher in one of the daycares that I worked at. He was a quiet sort of guy and did not have much to say. I don't think he liked me much since I am the opposite, and quite silly and all. He never seemed to think it was funny when I asked him questions regarding hawt B-list celebs and if he could help me come up with strategies to contact them. He was very much a "by the book" type of teacher if you want to know the truth, and didn't seem to think some of the things I did were amusing. For instance, once when he was in the mobile infant room covering for breaks, he happened to see the game I was playing with the children, which incidentally was "Pretend Communion." (That's just using cheerios to help the children practice for receiving their first communion.) Tom asked me what I was doing and when I explained to him that we were just practicing for one of the important sacraments, he patiently explained to me that not all the children were Catholic and we'd better play something else please. I thought he was right and all, and we stopped playing.

Regarding males changing diapers and stuff, Tom used to do this but at this daycare there was a big open bathroom and changing area, so he was never alone. I don't think anyone would have had a problem with that: Tom seemed very nice and not weird at all. He was just awfully quiet and stuff, but we are all different, and I think that's ok. I liked him, even if he didn't like me much. He was a nice guy. The children enjoyed being with him. They really did.

******
In closing, I would just like to say that I think more males should be in childcare and that while hiring a male nanny is obviously up to a parent, I think it's silly to not hire males for the profession. And yes, males as well as females have to be careful these days in how they treat children and not get too intimate and stuff, which is sad but true. Just like in public school, you have to tone it way down now as a teacher. I remember the teachers hugging me and stuff and you don't see that anymore really because of lawsuits and accusations. But just because someone is male doesn't mean they are a pedophile. There are tons of female teachers who we read about every day who are just as bad and stuff. But males in childcare are a good thing, in my humble opinion. They bring so much to the children and to the center. It is good for children to see that males can be skilled early childhood educators too.

Regarding whether or not these males are hawt: none of the males I have worked with have been that hawt, unfortunately. However, I think it's ok to hire hawt males because it's fun to have hawt guys around your work environment. It can only put you in a better mood, right? Right.

Peace out, and God Bless all early childhood educators, male and female, hawt and nawt hawt.

Best of I Saw Your Nanny . . . .

I Saw Your Nanny - Best Of
A Father's Experience with the Nanny Game
Greenwich Weekend Nanny up to No Good
Nanny's Plumbing Problem
Bench in Stuyvesant Square, NYC (Questionable hoho consumption)
Kuku (Nanny's Cash Pot)
Der Weinerschnitzel
Sugar in the raw, Manhattan, NY
Jacob's "Wormy"
Growling Nanny
Stolen Shrubbery

And you say?

Honor my commitment or get out now?

Thursday, June 26, 2008 - Perspective & Opinion
I am a nanny with a big decision to make: should I stay with my current family and honor my commitment until March 2009 or get out of there now?

I can't tell if I am being unreasonable or if I really should leave. I feel as though I am being taken advantage of, but I would like some perspective from employers of nannies. Here's my story:

I have been with the family for one year and three months. I work about 46.5 hours a week and I live out. There are three children ages, two, four and six (who is currently in school.)

Since working with this family, they have taken three vacations. The first vacation was about a year ago, for about ten days total. The family did not pay me while they were away, but luckily I found enough work with another family and earned enough income.

The second vacation was a three and a half week trip out of the country during December and January. I was given one week's pay, Christmas and New Year's Day pay, and earned the rest of my income through other families. I did manage to earn almost my regular pay, but I did not receive a bonus or gift of any kind.

Then, in March I talked to my employer about my financial situation and we negotiated a better deal for me. I received a .65/hour raise and she promised I would be covered for any future vacations the family takes. This meant I should still seek other employment while they were away, but that she would pay the difference between my regular pay and whatever income I found, if I could not find enough. She also promised to give me a $20/week raise this September. At this time I accepted her offer and committed to working for the family until March of 2009.

Now, a few days ago, and right before the third vacation, I had another talk with my employer. Because I commute about 32 miles round trip to get to work, and I don't get reimbursed for gas money while I drive the kids, I asked for a cost of living raise. I explained that I was experiencing financial hardship because of gas prices and other bills going up. She said she would think about it and get back to me.

Yesterday she came home from work exactly at the time I was supposed to leave, and over an hour explained the following to me:

In response to my raise request, she will give me the September raise of $20-25/week early - as soon as they get back from their trip.

Because I was unable to find any work to earn income while they are away on their third vacation (they leave early tomorrow), she said I could just house sit and do things around the House for them. She came up for a two-page list of things for me to do while they are away. They are having their kitchen cabinets painted while they are gone and will need some help preparing. The two page document of my tasks includes:

-bringing in mail, watering plants, general house sitting stuff
-preparing for painting: peeling stickers and removing artwork off cabinets, assembling boxes and removing and boxing contents of all 25 cabinets and 15 drawers in kitchen and downstairs bathroom
-review painting, give feedback, record potential problems and give painters paycheck
-put everything back in cabinets after the paint is dry
-organize and re-arrange playroom including: arranging new art tables and craft closet supplies in playroom, move v-tech desk into close, and sort through all toys into throwaway and giveaway bags and general re-organizing of everything
-spring clean in the bedroom: rinse plastic under covers on beds, sort out puzzles drawer, clean scribbles of the walls with softscrub, clean surfaces of kids playroom and bedroom with lysol
-move one child's clothes from dresser in parent's room into bedroom shelves, sort out other child's wardrobe and remove dressy clothes to put in other closet

After she got done explaining my tasks, the topic of sick days came up. I had taken one on Friday and still needed my paycheck for last week. At this time, she informed me that she didn't feel right about giving me sick days this year. I told her I did have four sick days last year. She said she just couldn't justify paying me for any sick days if she is also paying me my regular income to do part-time work while they are away on vacation. Also, she pays for six major holidays each year. I told her that I felt that all people deserve a few sick days, especially since I rarely call out sick and often the kids get me sick. I also made the point that I work for her full time and rely on her for my full income. She said she understood, so she would let me make up any sick days I take by babysitting evenings for them. I was in shock so I said okay. :( I don't know why I said it but I did.

Now I don't know what to do or what to think. Is this really fair? Am I just being too picky or is this wrong? It feels wrong but I am not an employer. I am ready to look for another job but I have committed for another nine months. Plus I am in love with those kids and would miss them like nothing before.

I am also doubtful that talking to my boss more will help.Through these conversations and other casual ones, I feel like I have exhausted the subject of my financial hardship. I can only wonder why would she be so reluctant to give me paid days off? As someone with a nanny, what do you make of this?

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Nanny injured on the job needs advice ....

Received Thursday, June 26, 2008 - Perspective & Opinion
Ok guys I know this isn't quite where it's supposed to be but I need some advice now and I believe I read that jane is out of town so then she wouldn't be able to post my delimia in time.The family I nanny for had 3 year old Labrador so I'm guessing he's full grown. Yesterday while I was playing outside with the kids the dog went ape over the water hose and landed on my bare foot. All of his weight went right over the spot where I have a pin in my foot due to surgery last year. It swelled up immediately and it's bruised pretty bad. It doesn't hurt to walk as long as I wear flip flops and not shoes but my doctor of course wants me to come in so he can look at it and take x-rays. This happened yesterday and I haven't told the parents yet what happened because I don't know how and I'm going to want them to pay the bills. I have health insurance but I still have deductibles and co-pays and I'm looking at a few hundred bucks in medical bills because of this.Any ideas on how I can bring it up?

25 June, 2008

Starbucks in Scarsdale, NY

Received Wednesday, June 25, 2008
nanny sighting logo This morning, Wednesday, June 25th, at about 10:00 a.m., I was having coffee in the Scarsdale, NY Starbucks (at the train station). Two little boys, 3-ish and 5-ish, in khaki shorts and striped polo shirts, with brown eyes and hair, were sitting unattended for a few minutes. Then they started taking mugs off the shelves and throwing them onto the armchairs where they had been left alone. One of the Starbucks employees called out to see who was with them – no one answered. One of the boys threw a mug and broke it on the chair (it was ceramic so there were sharp pieces everywhere). One of the patrons went up and asked them “where is Mommy or Daddy” and the little one looked so sad and confused and shrugged, then hugged the man’s leg. They were not bad kids, just were unsupervised. Finally, a nanny came out of the bathroom – across the store – and said “these boys are supposed to be better trained” then YELLED at the little boy for not behaving well. She said to everyone who was staring, “well, I couldn’t take them into the ladies room” (it was a single-bathroom with a lock). Then she kept repeating to the boys, “why didn’t you sit there, you’re better trained,” then took them out of the store. She was tall, dark-skinned, short dread-locked hair, with a brightly patterned dress on, and her accent seemed Caribbean. They were unattended – in a Starbucks, with the door wide open and people streaming in and out – for at least five minutes, if not more.

I'm not sure what to do...

Received Wednesday, June 25, 2008- Perspective & Opinion
I'm not sure what to do. I have a WONDERFUL nanny. She has been with us for just short of a year. She loves our three kids and they love her and she does a great job. It was hard to find her--I went through a few nannies who could not handle/relate to all three of my kids before finding her. She works 11 hours a day four days a week and 9 hours Friday, which is a heavy schedule, but I try to be a good employer. She makes a good salary, I gave her a raise a few months into the job because she was so wonderful, as well as a weeks pay at Christmas and gifts for her and her children at holidays and birthdays. My husband is not in the picture and I have over an hour commute, so I need long hours. This is her first nanny position. Before working here, she worked in daycare settings and had early childhood education/training, but had not worked in any one job for more than a year at a time, so it was a bit of a risk when I hired her, but she was so warm she seemed like (and is) exactly what we needed.

She has school aged children of her own and they are great kids. Fairly often one or more of her kids have come to my house when home from school and even though they are a little older (5,8,and 11) than my kids (2,4 and 7), they all get along well. She did mention her kids were having a hard time adjusting to her working full days early on, but it seemed to make them happy to join her at work sometimes.

Last week, she told me she has no childcare for the summer and gave two weeks notice. To me, it felt like a blow out of left field. I really dreaded telling my kids the nanny they had come to love and trust would be leaving, plus, two weeks is not a lot of time to arrange for childcare. She had not indicated she had any issues--in fact, she often talked about planning next school year and summer activities for my kids and even asked me two weeks age to get her a pass to our local pool so she could take them there over the summer. After talking to her about what was behind her giving notice, she said she didn't really want to leave, but the problem was she couldn't stay until 6 every day after school ends because she didn't have childcare for her own kids after camp. I told her if that's the only issue I can rearrange my summer work schedule a bit and arranged for a family member to help out so she could leave in the early afternoon up until her kid's summer camp ends, then take a few weeks off, and come back to a slightly reduced schedule come the fall. Thought that was a good resolution and she indicated that works and was planning on staying. Yesterday I got a call from a nanny she met in the park she had told would be leaving because she needed to spend more time with her kids. Although I know that her kids had trouble adjusting to her working early on, she never mentioned that as a reason for wanting to leave. Now I'm wondering if I should be spending the summer looking for a new nanny since this is a more serious issue than helping her bridge a gap in her own childcare arrangements. Part of me says I need to take what she said at face value and trust that these arrangements will allow her to stay, part of me says I'm being foolish and will be in the same boat (looking at a rough transisiton for my kids and two weeks to patch together childcare) come the end of the summer since the underlying problem hasn't been addressed. Advice?

24 June, 2008

...she is 74 and has a weak bladder...

Received Tuesday, June 24, 2008- Perspective & Opinion
I really need some perspective on this….

We have a relative caring for our only child – a 3 year old son. She likes to take him to a busy playground in New Jersey that is fenced in on 3 sides but open to the parking lot. Outside in the parking lot are bathrooms.

Yesterday, when I had my son at the same playground, I made him come into the bathroom with me when I had to go. He gave me an argument and wanted to keep playing. Then he told me that our relative always just leaves him to play and tells him “I’ll be right back” when she goes into the bathroom. I’m not sure if she even asks someone to watch him – but she doesn’t really know anyone by name at this playground – maybe just chats with some of the mommies there.

Hearing this, I felt like an icy hand just went over my heart. I cannot believe she would do this! but apparently, it happens almost every day – either in this public playground or on rainy days, in the for-fee indoor “playstation” she takes him to. (Son says she always takes him to bathroom with her when they are in a store or at the library but at a play areas or playgrounds she just lets him play)

I sympathize, she is 74 and has a weak bladder, so I know she has to use a bathroom often. I still can’t get over that she doesn’t make him go with her though. And then I remember she IS 74….and although this sounds ageist, but maybe she is not mentally up to caring for children. It’s hard b/c otherwise is in fantastic physical shape (lifelong gym rat). But b/c of her physical athletic appearance, I often forget that she is as old as she is…. Still, her leaving him there for even 2 minuts, I think , demonstrates an unbelievable lack of judgement when it comes to caring for my son.

Also, she has been losing things – she has multiple sets of keys and reading glasses b/c she is always misplacing them. She has forgotten my son’s coat, gloves, hats etc. at the mall, too .

I wonder if she is suffering from early dementia? my husband is defending her b/c he is fond of this relative andmy son loves her. But I no longer trust her to care for my son by herself.

Am I over-reacting, like he says?
Any thoughts?

Stop & Shop in Waldwick, NJ

nanny sighting logo Received Tuesday, June 24, 2008
At the Stop in Shop in Waldwick, on Monday at approximately 10:00 AM, I observed a nanny treating a little girl very roughly. She did not hit her, but the way she put her in the cart was like she was stuffing her in there. The little girl had two legs go in one hole and was saying "owie owie owie" and the nanny was very rough in maneuvering her around. The nanny appeared to be at all times impatient and on edge. The little girl saw a balloon and called out "balloon" and the nanny said "you aint gettin nothing". The way she treated the child was mean. Again, she never hit her or did anything terrible to her but it was a lot of negative energy directed to a little girl. The girl was about three, very healthy in size, with blonder hair and a white and pink cotton dress. The nanny was AA, petite, with an angry face and Grace Jones styled hair (sharp angles). The nanny was wearing knee length khaki shorts and a sweater style tank top. The nanny was carrying a stylish silver clutch.

23 June, 2008

A very long day...........

Received Monday, June 23, 2008- Perspective & Opinion
My work day starts at 7 and ends at 7 however the parents go out almost every single night leaving me with the monitor till 10/11pm without extra compensation. (I am salaried) Also It was understood I would get sat and sunday off however since arriving I am now working Saturdays as well. Not as long hours but still I need at least 2 days off if I am working that much. Another thing, I can do light housekeeping when the children nap but washing and Ironing the parents clothing seems a bit much dont you think? Ecspecially when I was told I would only have to do the childrens laundry. I feel trapped, Like I am a slave. Since I came from another state I feel that I am helpless when it comes to this. What do you guys think I should do?

Travel Pay

Received Monday, June 23, 2008- Perspective & Opinion
I have a question about compensation for travelling with a family. I'm a nanny for two kids(12 and 8 years old) and had to spend 6 days with the kids grandparents(one of the days was a Sunday which I usually have off). My day began when the youngest child woke up, about 8.30 am and ended when the children went to bed, usually around 9.30-10pm. My hours in the city are 7.30-7.30. The only break I had was an hour of personal training at a nearby gym each morning which I should point out that they paid for. I did not ask for this though and if I had have been given the choice I would have said I would prefer to be paid extra instead. I was surprised to receive my normal wages at the end of this trip. Maybe my employer thought this was a vacation for me but it definitely wasn't.What are the opinions of other nannies/moms?

21 June, 2008

Mil, the nanny and a little brown pill

Received Saturday, June 21, 2008 - Perspective & Opinion
O.k., new day, new problem. My mother in-law arrived on Tuesday to stay with us for approximately 3 weeks while some work on her home is being done. Much needed work. My mother-in-law is moderately wealthy but lives in a small 2 bedroom house with a basement. She doesn't use a dryer, but hangs all of her clothing in the dryer. She washes her clothing in a very old fashioned washing machine. She doesn't have cable because it costs too much. She reads the neighbors paper after the neighbor has read it. Meanwhile, she has about 700,000 in the bank.

I tell you this as a general background. She isn't a pleasure to be around and I was the worst case scenario for her pride and joy to marry. She is a hard worker. She mows her own grass.

I spoke to my nanny (who has been with us 14 months) before this and told her it was unavoidable that she would be staying here. The nanny is a live out and I like her a great deal. She is very quiet and doesn't socialize with a lot of other people but she is very warm with me and my child. She's quiet around my husband, so he doesn't get her like I do. But that's more of a reflection of his personality then hers. (I've been told he is quite intimidating.)

My husband wanted an Israeli nanny. The nanny is not an Israeli nanny. He's polite to the nanny but doesn't think she does enough in the way of intellectual and creative stimulation. He thinks his mother is misunderstood and he coddles her. She was married to a verbally abusive man her entire life who treated her like his maid. My husband has a lot of guilt about the fact that even as a young adult, he never stood up to his father, even while in the presence of such abuse. As such, I try to be understanding about the nature of his relationship with his mother.

On Wednesday, the nanny arrived and began her regular day. MIL was there at every turn questioning her about what she was doing and why and suggesting other things. She asked the nanny when she would read to the children (2 & 3.8) and when the nanny said, "when I have time", Mil lost it. She called up my husband and claimed nanny was rude. Since then, things have only escalated. Mil is attempting to care for the children citing the nanny's ineffectiveness. She has decried the nanny as rude, surly, insubordinate and lazy. The nanny, who I love and understand hasn't been on her best behavior either. The nanny always loads the dishes in the dishwasher that are left in the sink in the morning or after lunch. If I am working from home, she will even come and take my dishes from my office. The nanny seems to have gone out of her way to leave dishes and not touch anything that mil has touched or dirtied, a point that did not go unnoticed by mil. The nanny also fed the older child lunch even though mil walked to the deli. This became a big argument over the fact that mil didn't even offer to get the nanny a sandwich.

I have tried to be a peacemaker between not just those two parties but my husband as well who claims the nanny is showing no respect for his mother. I don't pretend to you that I like my mother in law, and for the most part, despite what comes out of her mouth, I am as nice as I can be to her. Perhaps I am curt or brief in the time I spend with her, but I am nice. If I put myself in my husband's shoes, I can imagine that if it were my mother, I would be incensed. To that end, I am a bit disappointed in the nanny

On Thursday night, I drove nanny to the train station and spoke with her in the kindest way. I thanked her for trying to be patient. I told her we only had two more weeks left. I apologized. I told her that mil does want to be a grandmother and relishes her time with the children (all true) and asked her if she could please try not to disclude her from their activities. The nanny told me that she was an impossible woman but she promised she would try harder. I drove home from the train station pleased with that result. I informed my husband who basically said that the nanny was replaceable and his mother was not and that was his house and blah blah blah. In short, he remained bitter about the things his mother had passed on.

On Friday morning, my husband asked the nanny why none of the "Boy 2's" games from his birthday had been opened. The nanny didn't really have a response and my husband told her that they were educational games and they weren't doing "boy 2" any good sitting in the closet.

I was in the next room but I overheard the tone of his voice and I don't think it needed to be as abrupt as it was.

Today is Saturday. Yesterday, the nanny was due to leave at 6, I was running late, I called and told her to be ready and I scooped her up and took her to the train. I had a call from work and I barely got a 'have a good weekend' out and even in retrospect am not quite able to assess what her mood was. I walk in the door at 6:20 and my mil is waiting. I know something is on her mind. I ask her what is wrong. She asks when "husband" will be home. I tell her. Then I say, "what is it, tell me". She shakes her head and says she will wait.

"Husband" gets home late. "Boy 1 and boy 2" are asleep. Husband sits down to eat cold pizza. I sit down to talk to him about his day. Mil resurfaces, "I need to speak to you" she says. She looks at "husband", ignoring me entirely. I look up at this post and I realize it is probably longer than it should be. I wasn't sure what to include and what not, but let me cut to the gist. MIL produces a wad of tinfoil, dramatically. "Husband" and I look at her. "Husband" goes to poke at it. Mil snatches it away. What is it? We ask. Mil claims that said object ( a brown nugget) is a pill that the nanny put in her coffee this AM.

Mil claims that on Friday morning, she was in the kitchen reading the paper and having coffee. She claims that "Boy 2" called out for her to help him get dressed because he didn't want the Nanny to help him. She claims that on her way back to the kitchen, she passed the Nanny who 'heckled her'. (?). Once she returned to her place at the kitchen table, she thought something was off. She took a sip of her coffee and it tasted strange, so she took the cup to the sink and dumped it out. In to the sink went the coffee and this brown pill that she now had in foil. Mil was claiming the nanny tried to kill her. The nanny tried to poison her.

I didn't believe it at all. "Husband" got upset with me over the tone I was taking with "Mil" Husband suggested we could resolve this right now by driving to the pharmacy. Mil thought the police should be called. The two of them drove to the pharmacy. I don't want to know what was said because it is our town pharmacy and I will have to show my face in there, but they returned with a verdict. It was a pill. (I had suggested it was clumped coffee grounds). The pill was a easily identified by the pharmacist as a 'Senekot' tablet. Or about 1/3 of a Senekot tablet as that was what Mil had gathered.

Husband believes Mil that nanny did put Senekot in her coffee. I asked why Nanny would put one Senekot in a constipated 70 year old's coffee. I suggested it would be a favor and not a punishment. Husband tells me the pharmacist says that they would dissolve quickly in a hot beverage so there could have been more. I do not think the nanny had anything to do with this pill in Mil's coffee. Husband thinks Nanny was angry about his instruction regarding the educational games which came about as a direct complaint against the nanny by Mil. Mil claims she was more angry when "Boy 2" asked for her to get him dressed and said, "I don't want "Nanny", I want you."

I have a day to resolve this issue. I don't want to lose the nanny. I get to work at home about 2 or 3 days a month, but the soonest day I can work from home would be Wednesday. Husband cannot miss any work. Mil claims that she doesn't feel safe around Nanny. I am to the point where everything I say is angering my husband. He suggests I am choosing the nanny over his own mother. Mil informed me about an hour ago that she is the victim and not me, so it isn't up to me to decide anything. She suggested that perhaps she could go to the police department and get advice from them. I am wholly against that fearing what could arise from any sympathy MIL might gather from the police. Husband had been threatening all day to put an ad in the NY Times for a new nanny. I have been able to hold him off but he reminds me that he could easily put an ad on Craig's list and get a hundred responses.

To complicate matters, I have a good acquaintances in the neighborhood with a child the same age as boy#2. Nanny watches her child on Monday afternoon from 12-5 along with mine. She is another person that I could run this by in hopes she would join me in supporting the nanny, but there is always the chance that she too could be tripped up with sympathy for mil. (Despite what I have told you about MIL, she has a very smooth, fake facade that fools many people. The nanny, is as I have told you, not overly friendly with other people. She is a bit of an introvert. Any people I share this situation with could be quick to judge the nanny based one their own negative perceptions of nannies in general.

I'm stuck. What can I do? If wind of this gets to the Nanny, she will surely leave me high and dry. Even before I knew this, on Thursday I wondered if MIL could cause her to not return after the weekend.

Peaceful resolution? Is it possible? If you've read this far, thank you. If you have any productive advice, please share.

What's my job?

Received Saturday, June 21, 2008 - Perspective & Opinion
First off I would like to give you some background info . I have been with this family for 3 yrs they have two great children . We get alone great . Sometime I think to great .

What is our job as a nanny? Should we only be there when the parents work ? Or should we be there so they can go out and do what they please during the day in example: : nails , hair , massages and a long list of other things ????

Here's why I asked . I am salaried based , I am suppose to work 50 hrs a week my hrs are M-F 700-500 . My issue is the parents are later a lot , I mean anywhere from 15 minutes to a 1hr or more . Sometimes they ask me to stay when they have meetings etc. Which can run into the late night . Now here's where I run into the problem Dad will get off a lot half of days or Fridays the whole day . But they still keep me there intill the time I get off , I do not get paid over time for the extra time I am there . It is suppose to be time off which I never get . They do take at least 2 weeks off threw the year and I do get paid because it is in my contract . So what do I do ???? I am lost on how to bring this up ? I don't want to be there all hrs of the night and then he has the next day off . I am still there . Please help . I have a family of my own and i am getting to the point where I don't know what to do .

Dad also got orders out of state for 3 yrs . So during this time everything will fall on my shoulders . Also is alright to say in my new contract when dad or mom gets home . That I can leave . Or if dad is home a day I get that day off ???? He will be coming home when he cans .

Also what happens when the kids go to school . the youngest is starting preschool this fall , He will only be there from 9-12 , But the parents want me to pick up more housework so they can keep me on full time . Should my pay go up or should it stay the same ? What is full time ? I always thought 40 hrs where full time . Thank you.

Birthday Blues...

Received Saturday, June 21, 2008 - Perspective & Opinion
I had something happen at work, and although I am not a nanny, I do work with children. I know that a few nannies have dealt with what I am about to say, which is why I am posting here. I work in a small preschool, and have been there for almost two months. In the short time I have been there, I have signed six birthday cards, a new baby card, and a going away card. Just a few weeks ago, my boss was handed a sheet with every one's birthday on it. For some strange reason, I didn't get a card or birthday lunch, purchased by the school like the other employees, all who have had birthdays since I started. Every birthday was acknowledged, with the exception of mine, which is Sunday.

An employee who has been there for three years got lunch, a sign on the front door, and acted like the world revolved around her even more, given the fact that she thinks she's perfect and can do no wrong. As she was talking about her party, she kept giving me dirty looks and rolling her eyes, much like she does everyday. Maybe I am making a big deal about this, or am I right to feel upset about this? I work very hard without a TA, am confident that I do a good job, and really don't have enough time to tackle my list for the day, given my class is under two. My boss says she likes what she sees in the classroom, and the parents like me. I am not trying to sound like a spoiled brat, yet every job that I have worked with children and families my birthday was acknowledged-this was the first time it has been forgotten at work. Forgetting my birthday makes me feel unappreciated, much like how a nanny feels when her birthday is forgotten and her bonus/raise is nonexistent or smaller than what it should be. How do I deal with this? I feel bad, like I am not doing a good enough job.

20 June, 2008

Pay Dilemma

Received Friday, June 20, 2008 - Perspective & Opinion
Hello!
I work occasionally for a great family that lives close by. Every year the parents take a vacation for their anniversary. While their parents usually keep the kids, this year they have asked me to stay at their house for around 5 days while they go out of town.

Here is the situation. They will be leaving sometime Thursday and getting back some time Monday. They have 3 kids, ages 2, 9, and 11. In the mornings I will get them ready for school, drop them all off at school and daycare, and then go to my regular morning nanny job from 7-12 (this job has nothing to do with them) and I am supposed to pick up all 3 kids from their respective places around 4pm. Take them home, feed them, homework, play, get ready for bed, etc. Then I'd be spending the night and starting all over the next morning. Saturday I take the 2 older kids to their relative's house so I'd just have the 2 year old for the remainder of the time. I will not be able to be at my house really at all, maybe 3 hours or so in between my other job and when I have to pick up the kids. I have a husband and step son of my own, so this will be taking away from my family/home life.

I'm very open to doing this, but neither I or the parents have any idea what a fair and also reasonable price would be to pay me for these 5 days. We both agreed to ask around a bit and then decide. Since I am not their nanny, and usually just their babysitter, I charge around $10 an hour for childcare when they go on date nights and such. I want to make these 5 days worth my time, and profit some cash, but at the same time don't want to charge them an arm and a leg. I did tell them any and all driving would cost extra, so I just want to know what I should charge them for my time. Thanks in advance. Any advice or ideas will be much appreciated!

-San Diego Nanny

Friendlys' Ice Cream in Hillsdale, NJ

Received Friday, June 20, 2008
nanny sighting logo I would like to make a report of something I saw. Today, (6/20), I was at Friendly's restaurant on Hillsdale Ave. in Hillsdale, New Jersey. I sat next to a female who was blonde with half of her hair pinned up, she had on a short sleeve hoodie with heart tattoos on it and matching pants and wore flip flops. She was attractive and looked to be in her early 20's. She was with two girls. One of the girls was blonde with straight hair and no bangs, a red face (recently sunburned) and wearing a blue t-shirt with a high heeled shoe on it with fur. She was about 9. There was a younger sister who had the same color blonde hair, but shorter and with bangs. I can't remember what kind of shirt she had on, but she also had a sunburn, but it was barely noticeable as compared to the older sister. The littler girl was sitting further away from me. The three of them ordered what looked like several appetizers (could be wrong about that) and then they each ordered an ice cream dish. The nanny, who I could tell was the nanny by the tone of their conversation and how they spoke to each other, she seemed very sweet. She had an accent that made me think she was from the Midwest, but I can't say for certain. I had no reason to pay them any mind except they were in my line of site. After the meal, the nanny got up to go use the bathroom. About three minutes later, my daughter needed to use the restroom, so we went to the restroom. It was clear that the nanny was throwing up. She finished as we were leaving. We exchanged polite smiles and she left the restroom. My daughter and I left the restroom two minutes later and returned to our table where I noticed the nanny now had the youngest girl's sundae (?) in front of her and was eating it almost voraciously. I paid no mind, waited for the bill and then to pay the bill. When we left the restaurant, I was surprised to see that the nanny was outside of a vehicle (in plain daylight) between a wall and the car, with her finger down her throat. This was not a misunderstanding, but immediately and very apparent. I noticed the two girls sitting in the car, just waiting, not at all concerned but conversing with each other. The vehicle was silver and had a Buick logo on the grill. I don't know the model of the car but by appearance, it looked like a combination of a mini van and an SUV, and on the new side. I didn't notice the plate number but I think if it had been any other but New Jersey, it would have jumped out at me. I am reporting this because I thought about it on the ride home. I don't know that young woman or anything about her, but I did get that she is a nanny/babysitter. I imagine that she is far from home and lives with a family and I hope they realize that whatever it is she has going on, she may need some help. She was very sweet with the girls and it is very apparent that the girls like her very much. I hope this post does some good and no harm.

Heading uptown on the 1 train in Manhattan

Received Friday, June 20, 2008
Good Nanny Sighting I saw your nanny Physical description of caregiver: Light skinned chubby AA woman in a pretty sundress, and hair pulled back. Had a black leather purse with big white stitching. I'd guess she was 30years old, but I'm bad at guessing ages. A happy looking woman.

Physical description of involved child/children: Approximately a 5 year old brown haired boy. White. Fair skin. Wearing a green Chelsea Piers T-shirt. Had a baby blue back pack with lime green zippers.

Address or venue of observed incident: The 1 train in Manhattan. Heading uptown. They got on after Franklin (not sure exactly which stop but I got on at Franklin) and got off at 28th street.

Date and time of incident: Wednesday, June 18, 2008. Around 6 pm? On my way home from work.

Detailed description of what you witnessed: Noticed nanny and boy get on subway. She was holding his hand and gently guided him to a safe spot. He complained about his backpack, and she immediately took it from him putting it on her own back. I usually check out who gets on and then go back to my post work coma.

I'm zoning out but the giggling and laughing forces me to look up. Nanny and boy and playing an animated, fun game of paper scissors rock. Both smiling and laughing at each other. It was so much fun to watch such simple enjoyment. You could tell nanny loved boy and boy loved nanny. Nanny gently warned boy when their stop was coming and she smoothly guided him to the door joining hands write when they crossed the threshold to get off.

I know it may sound like a simple everyday sighting, but there was something magical about how the two interacted. Interaction that is often missing from other nannies and many parents with their kids. It was filled with love, respect, kindness, humor and happiness.

Congrats to parents of this cute boy. You have a good one.

19 June, 2008

Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, CA

Received Thursday, June 19th, 2008
nanny sighting logoPlace: Aquarium of the Pacific (Long Beach)
Day: June 19th, 2008
Time: apprx. 1-2pm
Children: 1 blond curly hair boy and 1 girl with super short hair.

Caregivers: 3 Mexican women eating lunch in the cafe. The offending woman was wearing a gray tank-top and camouflage pants, lots of lipstick. Did not notice the
other 2 doing anything wrong. But the other woman with her was a large woman wearing jeans and a paisley-type short sleeve shirt. Both had hair in ponytails. I Did not take note of the 3rd woman.

Other Details: Green cooler bag, small pink bath and body works bag. Kids were eating a variety of things. Danimals Yogurt and also pizza. Caregivers eating tortillas from a tall bag.

While the other 2 women were not at the table, the little blond hair boy sat down in a chair, the woman in camouflage yelled at him. As we were busy trying to find a table, i'm not sure what it was about, but I think it was because she wanted him at another table. She yelled at him on 2 other instances as well. Once he was whimpering a bit and she yelled "Why are you crying?" very close to his face. After the other 2 women arrived at the table, the little boy moved over to eat with the other larger woman.

This is all I saw, so I don't know if anything else happened before, or after this. But it was enough to upset me and the person I was with.

Attached are 3 photos:
#1 Camouflaged Woman
#2 The large woman with her
#3 The large woman and the little boy who was getting yelled at
nanny long beach 3
nanny long beach 2
nanny long beach 1

The Oh So Secretive Nanny....

Received Thursday, June 19, 2008 - Perspective & Opinion
I am looking for opinions on whether I'm making something out of nothing, or if I am right to be concerned.

My husband and I relocated to New York City from the Midwest last year and we went through an agency to find a nanny for our DS (age 5). We had what might be a unique request- we were looking for a live-in until DS started Kindergarten, and hopefully someone who could then transition to after school care at that point. The agency had us interview with a several potentials, but mentioned specifically "Jeannie" may be especially suited to our needs.

Well, Jeannie has been in our employ for six months and in most respects has just been a dream- very high energy, organized, well-spoken, creative, tidy, and DS just adores her. She has the additional advantage of being a native NYer, so she has my complete trust as far as planning outing for DS, and is an excellent cook- my husband and I joke that DS is eating better than we are!

So what's the problem, right? It's that Jeannie doesn't seem to have any friends/social life, and she can be private to the point of verging on secrecy. The reason why the agency thought we would be such a good fit is that before we hired Jeannie, she and her husband had moved back to New York City from North Carolina, after he was discharged from the Army. However, at some pointed the army recalled him to duty ("start-loss"? I think she called it) and sent him to the middle east for approximately a year. This was all explained in the interview, and is why she would be available to transition to an after-school only position around the time we needed her to.

As I said, Jeannie seems to have no social life. She goes out on evenings and weekends, generally to museums or films, alone. The only calls I see on the bill for the cell phone we provide her are occasional call to what I believe is her father and one to a number in Brooklyn, which I think is her one friend, "Charlie", whom I've been able to gather is an old friend of her and her husband- from what I can gather they occasion go out to dinner or spend time with his family.

And that is actually part of the issue that set off this e-mail. Jeannie is off duty from approximately 6:00 pm on Friday until 7:00 am Monday morning, it her her time to do with what she wishes. Well, last Saturday morning my husband was up with DS very early in the morning and noticed that Jeannie wasn't in her room. When there was no sign of her by mid-day (and no mention that she had plans and no note was left) I became concerned and called her cell. It turns out that she had left at 4 am to join Charlie and his family on a camping trip in upstate NY. I expressed concern that she hadn't mentioned it to us and we had been worried. She apologized for worrying us needlessly. My husband at that point said we should just let the subject drop.

And this isn't an isolated incident- she seems reluctant to discuss anything outside of her duties. Even casual "how was your weekend?" type questions are answered with one or two word responses. When I ask about her husband or family, she is polite, but definitely seems to be telling me to MYOB. On the other hand, if the subject is say, literature or current events, she is highly articulate and an intelligent conversationalist. I have also asked DS if she socializes with any of the other nannies on their outings and he said no.

In summary, she has given me no reason to complain on a purely professional basis. As I said, she is excellent with DS and uniquely suited to our needs. However, I can't ignore my "gut" feeling that something is amiss with her personally, and perhaps in the long run all of us would be better off with someone more sociable. Thought?

P.S. In case you are wondering, my husband says I'm nuts to worry about this.