Received Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Where: Seattle Children's Museum
When: Tuesday, April 20th, around 2:00 PM
Child: Nathan, about four years old. Dark brown hair, longish with a tendency to curl. He was wearing a light green shirt. There is also another child, I think a girl, who looked to be between 6 and 12 months (I only saw her from a distance.)
Nanny: "Teresa" or "Theresa." Probably late twenties/early thirties?, seemed to be Asian/Pacific Islander in her heritage, but spoke English with no accent.
What happened: My charge and I were playing in the museum when Nathan walked up to us and informed me quietly, "I'm looking for Teresa." I don't know if he remembered me from an afternoon he spent playing with my charge at the museum a month or so ago, or if he just came up to me because I was down on the floor with my charge (I was also wearing a bright purple satiny skirt, which tends to attract kiddo attention. :-) ). I started looking around for his nanny and couldn't see her anywhere at all. Nathan would play with us for a short while and then say, very sadly, "Oh, I can't stay. I should find Teresa." and walk off into a different part of the museum looking for her. He refused my offer to go with him to the front desk and page her, so I just followed him with my charge while keeping an eye out for a staffperson I could flag down. My charge was resistant to leaving the area he was in and I didn't want to crowd Nathan so I ended up sort of straddling one section of the museum making sure Nathan was in my line of sight while i carried on a fun conversation with my charge. This had all taken a good twenty minutes or so, and I saw Nathan wandering around by himself for a while beforehand.
Nathan ended up close to the front desk and tried several "fake" falls to get attention: he would slip himself onto the floor, wave his coat around, say "OUCH!" and giggle and look around for a reaction. It seemed like he was basically used to having to really push and scramble for adult attention. I caught the eye of the front desk person and directed her to him, and then he stood up and said "Can you call my nanny, please? I'm lost. I'm Nathan and she's Teresa."
The staff were really responsive and pleasant and quickly called the nanny. She stood up from a completely different section of the museum where she had been down on the floor with the baby (this area is surrounded by walls so there was no way she could even have been trying to watch Nathan, and it's also only for 0-3 year olds so he couldn't have gone in there looking for her) and without even getting off her cell phone waved him over with a really harsh, angry gesture. The staff walked him over and I heard what sounded like the beginning of a short, sharp lecture.
What's just as disturbing is that this is the second time I've seen this kind of interaction between the child and his nanny. A month or two ago he ended up playing with my charge and me for a solid hour. The entire time he was sweet, thoughtful, very conflict-resolution oriented with my charge (who's an only child used to directing all his play, and tends to hit some snags when he plays with other kids), friendly, polite....I'm a nanny and a preschool teacher and this child was awesome in every way. His nanny was 20 feet away the entire hour, talking on her phone and pushing the stroller with his sibling in it, and only looked at him once, when she charged over, told him to stop jumping up and down, and stormed back.
I thought about posting the sighting at that time but I thought there might have been an emergency, or a stressful day, or something, and in any case the nanny might have been watching him more closely than I had seen, since I was busy playing with both of them and rarely looked at her. But what i saw yesterday suggests a pattern of harsh and neglectful action with him, and that he's heartbreakingly used to it. She may be awesome in other contexts, but I think Nathan's lucky parents should know that his nanny, at best, seems to consider her job to watch his sibling and that he's an annoyance and inconvenience.