Seattle Children's Museum

Received Wednesday, April 21, 2010
negative emoticon 1
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.



Lola said...

This sort of confuses me:
"He refused my offer to go with him to the front desk and page her"

Honestly I zoned out while reading and truly thought you were talking about an 11 year old! Which when you wrote:
'"Oh, I can't stay. I should find Teresa." and walk[ed] off into a different part of the museum looking for her'
I thought, yea that sounds like my stepson, (age 11) when he meets someone cool, suddenly I'm a drag...;)

Anyhow, I realize that he is only 4 and am confused why him 'refusing' your offer would be okay with you. Do you think he should make this decision on his own at that age? Granted he does seem mature, but come on.

Don't misunderstand, please, I think this sighting is more than justified and commend you for helping him. This poor boy should NOT be responsible for his own well being. This was me at his age. I was allowed too many freedoms (BECAUSE my parents thought I was so smart and so mature I could look out for myself..) and it only made me feel unsafe and uncared for. The part about him falling to get the staff's attention just broke my heart :(

oh well said...

Well, if OP had taken the boy to the front desk, I suspect she could get flamed for teaching him to trust strangers, wouldn't she? Sounds like she handled the situation really well. I once lost track of my kid for a couple of minutes in a museum, and I still shudder thinking about it. Kudos to you, OP, I really hope the parents see this!

just another mommy said...

As I was reading this sighting, (while being heartbroken for the liitle boy) I was thinking that this is the exact reason for this site and I truly hope the parents see this! Thank you, op, for taking the time to take care of that little boy and also to come here and report what happened.

no name said...

Anonymous said...

Very sad. I have a 4 yr old charge and he's so clingy I couldn't lose him if I wanted to! (Not that I would want to!) If there is ever a next time, is there a chance you could try and small talk the nanny under the guise of setting up a play date since the kids played so well together? Get the parents phone number or something??

OP said...

OP here...

Re: the first: I was planning to go to the desk as soon as I could maneuver him close enough to be able to watch him while I did it. :4) I definitely wasn't going to walk away and let him make his own call on whether he was lost or not, but I also didn't want to panic him by making a big "Oh no! You're lost! Quick, let's run!" So I said 'Hey, kiddo, we could go call Teresa on the intercom! I bet she would think that was funny!" and when he said "No thanks," I just went into wait-and-watch-for-opportunity mode.

I tried to set up a playdate once before and also went out of my way to compliment him to the nanny...I've deescalated a couple harsh situations on subways, etc. before just by drawing the nanny or parent's attention to one of the things worth liking about their child. She cut me off. I did let the museum staff know that this was the second time I'd seen this kiddo separated from his caregiver, and they said they'd try to watch him. Presumably if he's there taht often his family's on a membership, and I'm hoping the museum can get contact info that way.

Katlee85 said...

I really hope the parents see this.

I know if that were my kid, that nanny would be immediately fired. You could have been some psycho with one kidnapped kid and looking for another for all that nanny knew. (Not saying you are lol, just saying for all she knew you could have been)

Or, he could have found a psycho pervert without meaning to.

Don't people know that pedophiles hang out in places like that, for kids whose parents/nannies don't watch them?

Marypoppin'pills said...

I just want you to know that your Post was exceptionally well-written... providing all of the necessary detail and even staying neutral with your reporting which is sometimes difficult to do. You went above the call of duty in providing help for this child and the Sighting to this Blog.

Thank you!

dadiswrongonthisone said...

This is perhaps the best siting I have seen on here in a long time. Good for you, OP: excellent, excellent siting. I hope the parents see this. It almost brought tears to my eyes the way you so warmly and kindly described the boy: you are a truly good nanny. Your family is so lucky to have you.

ChiNanny said...

Love this sighting. Good job OP. Hope the parents see this.

omg said...

The way he did eventually ask the desk staff to page the nanny makes me think he's had to do it before. And why is it his responsibility to find her? Shouldn't it be the other way around?!

Seattle Nanny said...

If you ever see the parents, I'd love to take that job away from the bad nanny. *sigh* :)