Received Tuesday, February 2, 2010 - Rants and Warnings
I have been contemplating writing this since I stumbled upon this site a few weeks ago. I finally decided to just do it because I have nothing to lose and maybe I will get some great advice and relieve some frustration at the same time.
I am the nanny to one great little boy (Little Dude) who is 23 months old and have been with him for nearly a year. I will start out by saying that I know I was naive going into this job (stupid of me since I have been a nanny for a decade and worked with many families) but I have decided that once my year is up I will not be renewing my 'contract' with this family. This decision has brought a lot of issues to the front of my mind and I find myself being torn up about them all.
When I first started this job Little Dude was very quiet, he didn't say a word, he didn't interact with me at all, he didn't show any form joy when playing with the numerous amounts of toys in his play yard. All in all he wasn't your typical 1 year old child. A few days into my position I approached the mother with my observations. She sat down all upset and told me all about this horrible nanny that they had for Little Dude when he was 6 months old until just before I arrived. Supposedly she just left him in his crib, in his swing or in his play yard all day long with out any interaction. The parents only found out because the mother arrived home early from work one day and her son was laying in his crib in a soiled diaper and the nanny was in her room with an ipod plugged into her ears and uncaring that her charge is in need of care. Well The Mother let her go right away and they started searching for a new nanny (ie ME!)
I was upset for Little Dude, wondering why someone would do that to a child. (I know it happens, but it breaks my heart). So I started working hard to bring Little Dude out of his shell. Within a month he had said his first word, he was laughing and he had started being a little less aggressive. (He had a problem with biting, hitting out, and scratching anyone with in range). I had thought that maybe the issues with the previous nanny would slowly be forgotten by Little Dude and he would not have any scars from it.
By the end of the month I had come to the realization that a bad previous nanny was one of the least problems Little Dude had with his life. Slowly but surely his parents' interactions with him began to wane as they became more comfortable with my presence there. They began working later, not getting up with him in the mornings (knocking on my door asking me to take him because they didn't have the time) and then finally they stopped getting up at night with him. (I once listened to him scream and cry for 50 minutes one night. The next morning they sat down with me and 'informed' me that they had 'important' jobs that they needed to be alert so they couldn't be responsible for waking up all night long.')
His mother sees Little Dude a maximum of 30 minutes a day (when she isn't working late and when she takes the time to slow down). And his father sees him possibly 5 minutes a day in the morning when he runs out the door. The sad part is that Little Dude has stopped asking them for attention. He used to go in the mornings and sit by their bedroom door and sob for them. (They ignored him, but he could hear them through the door). Until I would come and pick him up and try to distract him. Now he doesn't ask for them, he ignores them and will just play as if they aren't there. (This breaks my heart because I have told them what is going on and they don't believe me). Sunday's are supposed to be Little Dude's time with his parents but 9 times out of 10 he ends up spending the day with his Grandmother while the parents do incredibly important things with their day.
It is bad enough that they withhold their attention, love (Little Dude's dad won't even kiss him because he thinks it is 'Gay') and respect. They can't even be bothered to spend any of their hard earned money on him. This Spring/Summer Little Dude went 3 weeks without any shoes because they couldn't take the time to pick him up a pair that actually fit him. When I kept reminding them that he was missing out on activities etc because he couldn't walk in bare feet, they told me to just put his old shoes on him, which is ridiculous because they were too small.
Little Dude has been playing with toys that are too young for his age and maturity level because they can't be bothered to purchase toys for him since he has 'a playroom full of toys to play with'. I finally went out and bought him some age appropriate toys and it was amazing. From a set of lettered blocks he has learned to recognize all the letters of the alphabet in one month (he now points them out and says them for me when we are out). Little Dude is a very bright child when he is properly stimulated. He is now speaking in clear sentences, learning his colors, numbers and takes a joy in reading books with me.
This is where it gets so hard. This is where I feel like bawling my eyes out as I write this. I will be giving my notice the the beginning of April and leaving the beginning of May. On top of all the issues with Little Dude, I have been working 24 hours a day 6 days a week without even being guaranteed my Saturday nights off (they once left on a Saturday night without letting me know and I made plans to go out. As I was leaving the house through the garage I noticed that one of the cars was not there. I texted the mother and she texted back to say they had gone out to meet some friends ON MY NIGHT OFF, so obviously that night out was ruined... but the worst would have been if I had left and didn't realize that no one was home with the BABY!). I am burned out. I have actually contemplated not staying in the child care field (which if you knew me was a huge thing to even think about). But now I have to leave because it is becoming detrimental to my health to stay here. I am exhausted. I suffered from a kidney stone last month and they got MAD at me for making them take a day off from work. All I heard was how hard it was for them. Hello, I am on massive pain killers and still in a lot of pain. Well after 2 days off they made me come back or they were going to kick me out. So there I was in massive pain, unable to take pain pills and unable to pick up Little Dude and they were telling me that I either started working again or I was out on the street. That was the beginning of the end.
But the idea that I would be leaving Little Dude in their hands (I know he isn't my child, there is no boundary issues like that here), but it really upsets me that he is older and will remember this. Also, they got lucky when they hired me, they could easily hire another woman like the first nanny, and the idea kills me. But I can't honestly recommend this position to anyone of repute because of the parents. The best thing would be for Little Dude to go into a child care center so at least he will be getting proper care without anyone having to deal too much with his parents.
I don't know if I am making sense in this post, I just needed to get this out and honestly see if anyone has had this experience before. What did you do? How did you leave without it killing you walking away from the child?
On a note I have spoken to a friend who works for DCFS to see if there is any form of abuse or anything like that going on, but she states that since they have hired someone to look after Little Dude they aren't doing anything wrong... but of course they won't win parent of the year award. The crazy thing is, is that they just don't see that they are doing anything wrong... they just don't grasp it.