Received Friday, April 16, 2010
My day starts at six am. I get up, make some tea, and while it’s stewing I get dressed and cleaned up. I drink it, and while I used to skip breakfast because I don’t like eating before eight am, these days I make myself eat one of those nutri-grain bars with my tea. I probably won’t get another chance to eat until well after noon. I leave the house, walk for twenty minutes to the bus stop and take the bus to work. Before going into the house, I take a quick peek in through the living room window to gauge the mood.
The three kids, one school age, a toddler and a baby, are all in their pyjamas. It’s half seven, and we have to leave at eight to be on time for school. As I get in the kids are messing with their toys; apparently the older two have had breakfast but the baby hasn’t. I usually feed him his breakfast. Dad is milling about downstairs doing God knows what, Mom is upstairs getting dressed. Optimistically, I stick on the kettle hoping I might get a quick cup of tea before I leave for the school run. The younger two both have filthy nappies although they’ve apparently been up and about for some time. Nobody has bothered to change them, they tend to wait for me to do it. Both kids have nappy rash frequently.
After I’ve changed the nappies and gotten the younger two into their day clothes (and convinced the older one to put on his school clothes, which he had been refusing to do) I start to feed the baby his breakfast. Mom emerges from downstairs, and after some cursory chit-chat she gets on my case about a tiff she had with another mother, whose nanny I happen to be friendly with. The tiff, in a nutshell, involves a trip abroad I had planned and warned Mom about months in advance and her inability to plan around it. She left it to the last minute to look for an alternate minder and chose to try and convince my nanny friend to take over my day off. Despite the obvious trouble with Mom not bothering to check references and her barely knowing my friend’s name, my friend’s employer seemed to think she was nanny-poaching and picked a fight. Mom chose to blame this on me, although I don’t know my friend’s employer and I didn’t know about the situation until the day I left.
The two older boys then decide to act up, the oldest torments the younger and the younger starts screaming. Dad and Mom stand around uselessly and since I’m busy feeding the baby (and they don’t like me to interfere while they’re there) it goes on until both children are in hysterical tears. This happens frequently when the parents are home; it never happens when I’m there. Dad escapes upstairs, Mom leaves, they calm down and I tell the oldest to get his coat on for school. Dad resurfaces to ‘help’, by handing me the boy’s coats. He gives me a snowsuit for the baby, despite it being 25 degrees outside. The snowsuit is two sizes too small. After I substitute the snowsuit for a fleece jacket, we leave the house fifteen minutes late. I never got my tea.
After dropping the oldest to school, myself and the youngest kids spend the next few hours at an interactive playgroup. We do this mainly because the middle child’s vocabulary has improved with exposure to children his own age, but also because Dad works from home on Wednesdays and he tends to dip in and out and get the kids riled up. To avoid this, I remove us from the house for most of the day. By the time the group play session finishes, it’s time to pick up the oldest from school. The boys have had their lunches and have their nap on the train to school. On the way back, the Dad calls me to check up, which he does frequently. Everything I say to him goes in one ear and out the other, and he tells me to take the kids to the park after school.
Mom and Dad seem to have a mild obsession with exercise and ask me to go to the park pretty much every day, to the point that I hate the park. The playground is a good forty minute walk through the park, and given that I’ve been asked to bathe the kids and have dinner on the table by half four (and I also have to clean up the messes in the dining room and kitchen, unpack the dishwasher and sort out the laundry) sometimes it just doesn’t work time wise. Discussing this with M+D is like talking to a brick wall; they think I just don’t manage my time very well. But since they leave the after-meals tidying up to me all the time, I tend to think they have more room on their schedules than I do. Certainly they have time to go jogging or train for marathons, but no time to change dirty nappies. They leave me with no time to read a book with the children, or draw pictures or bake cookies unless I forgo the park.
By half three, my energy levels are at an all time low and I’m still a bit upset from the drama this morning. I haven’t eaten since six am. I’m running on three cups of tea I got at the playgroup and a bottle of fruit juice. I am in no mood to go to the park, so I don’t. The kids play out in the back garden and have a great time. Because the middle kid is scared of spiders, we make a game of hunting one and giving it a name. When we find a big one, I trap it under a glass and middle kid names it Ben. We then release it, just in time for me to put on dinner. I eat a hasty slice of toast over the sink and dish up the food. After everyone eats, they have a bath and I get them into their PJs.
Dad finishes work and comes downstairs, and despite the kids being ready for bed he suggests they go to the park. The oldest boy is against this idea, he’s had a long day and is tired. Dad suggests they drive to the beach. The baby is due to go to bed in less than an hour. Faced with this confusion, the boys start bickering and physically fighting. When I give them a warning, Dad tells me off for trying to discipline them, telling me that they’re normally well-behaved so they don’t need discipline. I’m so sick and tired of this nonsense that I just put on my coat to leave. Before I go, I hear the start of a major tantrum but I don’t even look back.
I’ve been with this family for nine months. I’ve put up with laziness, behaviour problems, backbiting and all-round nastiness from people I thought were great employers when I first started. I’m quitting in a month.