Received Tuesday, July 14, 2009 - Rant
All right, I'm a huge fan of this blog and never felt like I had anything to write here because my work has always been very pleasant, but I've had enough this summer. With the recession and all, finding a job this summer was a bit difficult but I ended up getting 2 offers. One offered $150/wk MORE than the first, but it was more hours and with an infant that did not talk. The second was less money but with a 6 year old, bilingual girl. I chose the second job after weighing the pros and cons because I figured I could interact more with a bilingual child (I know both languages she speaks) and the mother and I got along great. I was told that I would be working 15-30 hours a week depending on the child's schedule and when the parents would get out of work. My job including preparing meals, driving the child to and from camp and play dates and doing math with the child. I was also told that I would be able to take the child out and go to the park, or the beach, or the zoo, etc. The first week of work was alright, it took a bit to get used to the traffic patterns and a schedule with the girl, but we managed. I soon started to realize that all the wonderful plans the mom told me I could make with her daughter like going to zoo...were not going to happen, because by the time I picked her up from camp, she was absolutely exhausted and grumpy and there were just not enough hours in my work day.
Getting the girl to do her math work was like pulling teeth...but I was not surprised. Then things started to get irritating. The mother insisted on giving her daughter a bottle whenever she asked for one. This meant me filling a bottle...yes, a baby bottle, with nesquik and milk, then heating it up in the microwave...and making sure it was the perfect temperature, or else I would have to cool down and reheat the bottle as the daughter saw fit. Then the girl chose not to eat/finish her meals. I told her mother (I talked to her for at least 30-40 min every night, letting her know how the day went, during my free time at night) because I was concerned for the girls health but the mother just brushed me off and said "It's ok, she eats at camp." It wasn't long before the camp called alerting the mother that her daughter was not eating their either. She called me (again during my off hours) and told me how I needed to implement more foods into her daughter's diet, and then condescendingly told me "you're a smart girl, you know she can't run on macaroni and cheese all day." To which I was shocked, because I had written a detailed list of different foods I could make her daughter for breakfast and dinner....but were impossible to make because there was never the correct food in the fridge. The mother told me that sometimes I would "just have to cuddle and watch a movie with her as you feed her," and of course, that meant spoon-feeding her 6yo daughter. At first I was taken aback, because a. I do not like watching tv with my charges, and b. I know 2.5yo that can feed themselves. But, seeing as how the girl was not eating, I figured her fainting was way worse than me having to spoon feed her while watching the Backyardigans. Then, when she finally did start eating, she would demand that the different foods in the meal be seperated into different plates. I was somewhat understanding because I too do not like when certain foods touch other foods so I did what she asked...but then she asked me to use a different utensil for each plate.
The mother did not have a set schedule and would come home whenever she could. Her daughter would also wait up for her every night and therefore had no set bedtime. If the mother came home at 9:00, then the daughter would stay up till 9 and they would play together for an hour or two. That meant that there where nights in which the girl wouldn't get to bed till at least 11pm. I was supposed to be in every morning at 6:30, and sometimes the girl would be wide awake, sometimes she would be sleeping (to which the mother told me to let her sleep), and sometimes she would just be getting up and grouchy and demanding her bottle. This made it difficult for me because I never knew what to expect and it constantly changed our routine because I would have to push everything back. Also, the girl would go to a different camp every two weeks, so after we had gotten the hang of one routine...we'd have to change to another one completely and adjust. Also, it did not help that some days the mother would be like "today, she is going to have a play date so you do not to come this afternoon," or "today you need to pick her up at this time instead of this time," or my favorite, "I'm taking the day off tomorrow to spend more time with ***** so I'll see you x-day instead." While I love having time to myself and being able to sleep-in, I'm a college student and I have bills and loans like most people, so this annoyed me.
All of this was building up for me but I figured, I'm only here till August, and money is money. Plus, when my charge wasn't being overly picky about food, we got along pretty well. Please note that I love children and have had wonderful experiences as a nanny before. I've also worked at a day care center and ended up having long lasting relationship with those children and still babysit for them today. I would always tell the mother what was going on and how the day went. However one day, in which the girl was sleeping in because her mother had gotten home late, the mother starts criticizing me that her daughter had not done enough math homework the past couple of days and that she should be doing at least 3-5 pages a day because we had "so much time in the mornings." On a good day, her daughter would be up by 7, which meant, 20-30min to eat, we're now at 7:30am. It took her daughter about 20 min to do one page of math but at least 10 min to convince her to do it, so now we're at 8am. Usually the daughter wants to play before math for at least 15min, so now we're at 8:15am. It took her about 15min to get ready for the day and out the door, so now we're at 8:30am. But to get to her camp we needed to leave by 8:15, 8:20 at the latest. So now we're about -15 min, yet we had "so much time." I tried to explain to her that it was very difficult to get her daughter to do math and there were good days and bad days. She then continued to criticize me by saying that the reason she doesn't do her math is because I don't have a set routine with her and that I let her watch too much tv. How am I supposed to have a routine with her daughter, if she (the mother) doesn't even give me a routine to stick to?? She told her daughter sternly that she had to do math everyday with me or else. To which her daughter replied in a whiny voice "but i don't want tooooooo." And instead of explaining to her daughter why should do her math, or trying to reason it out, she started laughing. I was dumbfounded. How was her daughter supposed to take doing her math seriously if all her mother did was laugh. Her mother would never do any math with her. The mother said it was because she spent so much time working that by the time she came, all her daughter wanted to do was play, so of course I looked like the bad guy "forcing" the girl to do math. I ignored her response, and tried to talk with he girl but by this point the girl was screaming and crying because her mom was leaving to go to work. After she left, I told the girl it was time to do math and she screamed at me and slammed the bedroom door. Once again I was dumbfounded. I would never yell back at child let alone hit her, but I felt as if I was at such a lost, because I had tried everything with this child. I believe children are very smart and understand what you say to them, especially an already bright 6 year old. I decided to remove all her toys from the living room, to distract her from doing math. Once I got her back in the room I sat her down and explained that what she did was wrong and how we needed to stick to our morning routine. I drew out a big chart, writing out our routine, letting the girl choose when we would do what, and what color to write it in. I wanted to let her know that together we could negotiate and it wasn't just me calling all the shots. After our talk and later in the afternoon, our day went great. She did her math, she ate all her food, we went to the library, she ate all her dinner and I gave her a bath. Her mom called me later that night and I explained to her what had happened in the morning but that her daughter and I had a nice long talk and we worked things through. The mother's response "oh...I don't think I would have moved all the toys, I think that was a bit dramatic..She likes the toys." I couldn't believe it. What did she want me to do then? Let her child get away with throwing a tantrum and letting her think it's ok?? (btw, I put all the toys back after she finished her math...just like I told her I would). I again tried to explain, that we talked about it, made up our routine and that the afternoon went smoothly. She told me that she would be taking the next day off and that I should come back the day after that. I was not surprised. However, I was surprised when I got a TEXT MESSAGE the next night at 10:30pm saying that she was uncomfortable with the way things had been going and that she didn't think her daughter should be afraid of doing her homework. I called her back and left her a voice message telling her that I'm sorry that that's the way she felt and that their must have been some miscommunication between the two of us, but that we should meet up before the weekend to talk about this.
I didn't really want to go back to work for her, but she left me in a horrible position. I had only worked 13 hours the week before, and because this happened in the middle of the week, I only worked 12 hours this week instead of the 15-30 hours/wk we had agreed upon. I also have to go back to school mid-August because I'm a resident advisor, therefore, finding a job for basically 1 month would be impossible. I am now out of a job and out of money because I did not let a child get away with having a tantrum. Sorry for the length, but I just needed to get that out. Some feedback would be appreciated. Thanks!!!