Caribou Coffee on Springbrook Drive in Coon Rapids, Minnesota

Received Friday, June 11, 2010
negative emoticon 1 Nanny, probably 22-25 years old. Black tank top with lace, lots of cleavage. Jeans, hiking shoes, train conductor-style hat. Darker hair (brown with red/maroon tones) in a messy bun.Probably 5'8, thicker/overweight build.

Charge (Michael) is an approximately 8 year old boy. Black button-down shirt, opened with a grey henley/long underwear-like shirt on underneath. Jeans, light brown hair, brown shoes.

They were together at Caribou Coffee on Springbrook Drive in Coon Rapids, Friday 6/11 from 10:30am-on. Nanny ignored him most of the time, reading a magazine, scribbling in a small notebook, texting, etc. Kept telling him firmly to read his book (The Youngest Templar: Keeper of The Grail by Michael P. Spradlin). Your son was bored out of his mind on this dreary morning-he even appeared to fall asleep at one point. He was trying to get her attention, picked up his book several times, took off to the men's room (at the back of the store, near a back exit)without her so much as looking in his direction. When he came back, he said "Hello" to her, trying to engage her. She looked up at him, and then went right back to scribbling in her journal again. She left him on the couch for several minutes alone while she went to the register.They were goofing around together, and he hit his head on the back of the wooden couch. He started to cry, and she just laughed. She rubbed his knee a little bit while he cried, but said "Next time you're sitting on a wooden couch, don't throw your head back" in a very sarcastic manner. She cares about him in some capacity-that's clear,but she does not take necessary precautions to keep him safe, and makes no effort to engage him really. They sat there, her ignoring him for well over 1.5 hours. I overheard her explaining to him that she is"mentally tired, has a lot to do". She told him he was annoying for jiggling his knee. I think her name might be Katie, but I'm not sure.I took pictures of her ignoring him, of her at the register without him, of your son sitting on the couch alone. Please contact me if you'd like to see them for verification.


SillyGoose said...

I think this is ridiculous. He is 8! He doesn't need to be fully engaged with an adult all the time. He doesn't need to be watched if he goes 20 feet from his adult at that age. Every Sunday I take my friend's daughter, who is now 7 and 1/2, to a bookstore to read for an hour to an hour and a half. We've been doing this since she was six.

I don't stay with her the whole time. I let her go to the water fountain by herself, the cafe to look at the food case, to the children's section by herself, etc. It's Borders. It's big, and I let her go out of my eyesight. Kids need to develop confidence in their ability to take care of themselves. They learn cause and effect by DOING.

So he banged his head. Big deal. He won't do it again.

It's okay for kids to be bored. Maybe he's supposed to read for a set amount of time each day and this was the reading segment of the day. Maybe "Katie" had planned the whole rest of the day around fun stuff for him and needed this break to calm down and organize things she had to do later. I don't think she was abusive or neglectful considering his age, unless the boy was mentally retarded or otherwise delayed/impaired.

Student Nanny said...

While I do think there is something to be said for children developing independence, Borders is a child friendly place- there's a section specifically designed for kids to hang out in. A coffee shop really isn't. Heck, I get bored in coffee shops.

As for it possibly being his assigned reading time, the OP states that he wasn't reading the whole time. If my charge started zoning out during his reading time, I'd probably comment on that, and remind him that we won't get to do any of our other fun activities if he doesn't get his reading done, rather than just sitting there silent.

Overall, I wouldn't enjoy sitting silent with someone for that amount of time, and I'd certainly want to know if the person I was paying to engage my children was treating them that way.

bippityboppityboo said...

An hour and a half is a long time for the nanny to be doing her own thing. I agree that it isn't abusive but maybe she could have taken him home for some quiet time if thats what she needed rather than confining him to a certain activity for so long.

OP said...

I am the OP.

There is a difference between giving your charge independent time/leading them to do a certain activity, and blatantly ignoring them.

He tried to engage her over and over and over. Her job was not reading a magazine at Caribou on a Friday morning. Her job is to keep her charge safe and happy. She did neither of those things.

He smacked his head hard on a piece of wood, and cried over it. And she responded poorly. Silly goose-do you have kids? If you do, and your nanny laughed and made fun of their injury/tears, would you just say "So what"? I doubt it.

She gave this child no reason to trust her or like her. If he needs to learn independence, that's fine and dandy. But independence isn't ignoring him as he gets up and wanders around. And he's not going to learn to be independent by sitting in a coffee shop for two hours, with nothing to do.

Not a baby said...

While I agree that making an 8 year old stay an hour and a half in a coffee shop is probably beyond boring for him, I think this post is a little over the top. First of all it's "Coon Rapids, Minnesota"-how do you even know this was a nanny (can't believe it's a mecca for nannies) and not a big sister or something? Next what is wrong with and 8 year old going to the bathroom by themselves (in a safe environment) and esp. sitting on the couch while she pays for something? I would hope he could be trusted not to leave through the back exit (which was implied I thought) and at 8 he certainly should be able to behave long enough to sit on a couch by himself while she pays. About the hitting of his head-you said she was rubbing his knee, which sounds like she was trying to comfort him. I have said similar things to my children when they do something like that in a laughing tone to let them know they are fine and they need to be more careful next time...and they are not 8 years old. I think the age of this child pretty much discounts everything this OP is concerned about.

Not a baby said...

One more thought: At 8 he really is too old to be going to the womens restroom unless it was just in a totally unsafe environment.

anonynanny said...

Wow, that description scared me for a second! But that is not how I dress, and then I realized that is definitely not where I nanny either.

I watch an 8-year-old too. If he goes to the bathroom in a public place, I stand right outside the door. If he hurts himself while doing something I specifically told him not to and starts laughing, I might make a sarcastic comment. But if his first reaction is crying, I will make sure he is okay and definitely not laugh! I would be afraid of bleeding or a concussion, and I would be on the lookout for signs (nausea, uncharacteristic sleepiness).

I let him read a lot because he LIKES to, and if he's reading I usually work on scheduling (playdates and whatnot) or other random work-related things I could be doing instead. If I have nothing else to do I'll read too. But I never, ever ignore him if he wants attention. And periodically I check with him to see if he would like to play a game or do something else with me, because I never want him to feel like doing something else but not want to bother me while I'm doing something else. Ignoring a kid is a horrible thing to do, especially once they are of that age, because they understand you're doing it because you don't really care about them. By 8, kids are perceptive, and they understand when they are being neglected and when other things are more important than they are.

Sorry for the essay, I just get really excited when I see entries that are about older kids because most of what I see here is about babies or toddlers and doesn't really apply to my age group.

Also, telling him he's annoying for jiggling his knee bothers me. If he has Tourette's or something, he's going to get enough teasing for having tics without having his caregiver do it too. And even if he doesn't, he was sitting there for an hour and a half! I would fidget too after an hour and a half!

All of that said: complaining that she left him on the couch alone is dumb. By 8, kids are quite safe on their own within your eyesight for a few minutes. Also, the parents may very well have asked the nanny to have the kid read. But I really doubt any parents would be okay with the nanny ignoring him, letting him get hurt, and letting him fall asleep during reading time!

anonynanny said...

Not a baby: My boss has asked me to take the kid I watch to the women's restroom if we are in a public place. Not really the nanny's place to question that. I'd rather annoy the other women in the bathroom than not do what my boss asked me, even if personally I agree that the kid is too old to have to go to the ladies' room.

The OP said...

Not a Baby-

Coon Rapids is about 20 minutes (tops) from Minneapolis. It's not exactly Farmville. There are plenty of nannies in that area. I am one of them.

He got up from the couch, and she didn't even look to see where he was going. He went into a single-stall bathroom, in the back of the store, with a rear exit near by. My thought isn't him taking off, it's him being taken.

When you're caring for someone else's kids, there is no room for taking chances, or completely ignoring where a child wanders off to in public. Unacceptable. If anything, be overly cautious. No, you don't have to go in the bathroom with him, but at the very least, find out where he is going.

Maybe I'll post the pictures of his obvious boredom, and you'll understand why I was so bothered to watch this child staring off into space for a good two hours.

I would love to have a job where I got paid to sit at coffee shops, clean out my purse, read magazines, journal-but I'm a nanny, so I'll have to keep dreaming. What this girl was doing, I don't know. I've never seen "read magazines", "apply make-up", and "text" in a job description. Especially one involving other peoples' kids.

If she wasn't in the wrong, she wouldn't have darted off in such a crazed hurry, almost getting into two car accidents, when she caught on that I was observing her odd (and cold) behavior.

The kid got yelled at for wiggling his knee around. Good Lord, what was he supposed to do that entire time? Watch cars go by? Sit still and not move a muscle?

This is NOT what nannies are for. Laughing at anyone who hurts themselves enough to cry is evil.

nycmom said...

OP, thanks for the post. After years of reading this blog, I *still* don't get the need to attack OPs as the first impulse. I do understand asking for more information, and enjoy the larger issues raised by some debatable points. But overall, I like to err on the side of trusting the OP's judgment in sightings. Only the OP was there and observed the interaction. Submitting a sighting is a fair amount of work. You have to care enough to carefully observe and either write down or memorize identifying details. I think I've submitted only one sighting ever, but there was real effort involved and it was not something I took lightly.

I just don't think most people (especially one as well-spoken and well-intentioned as OP sounds) are likely to get it wrong. Sometimes it is hard to convey how terrible a caregiver is in words because so much of the observations are based on the nanny's tone of voice, warmth, eye contact, patience, kindness, and general relatedness to her charge. It's not always easy to capture this by describing behaviors like not responding with basic kindness/sympathy when a child gets injured; or not caring in the slightest to ensure a child is safe when using an out-of-the way restroom. It's easy to argue the specifics, but I think when we do this we truly "lose the forest for the trees." Again, thanks OP! As a mother, I'd much rather read a sighting and decide its merits for myself than not have the information.

CS Nanny said...

There have been many school age children that have been abducted and then their bodies are found a few days later. If this nanny wasn't paying attention, and didn't even look up when he wandered off, he could have easily been kidnapped and she would have never known, until she couldn't find him. I don't see any fault in this OP's posting. If the child was doing required reading, that's one thing. But it sounds like the nanny just wanted some free time, and dragged him along to the coffee shop.

TC said...

Arg if people continually attack the ops then they are going to stop coming here and then you'll have nothing to bitch about.

Of course it depends on where the nanny and child are when she allows the child to go to the bathroom alone but since the op brought that up and felt it was unsafe then we should take her at her word. I personally wouldn't allow an 8 year old to go to the bathroom alone, if it was a one stall bathroom then I would stand outside the door but in no way would I send a young child (and yes 8 is young) to the bathroom totally alone.

Again the op was there not us so if she felt the child was being ignored then we need to take her at her word. Yes of course a child should learn to entertain themselves but to me 1.5 hours is excessive in a coffee shop with nothing but a book to occupy his time.

Yasmine said...


The length of time involved and general detachment displayed by the nanny makes this a good sighting. On the other hand, I do take issue with your notion that laughing at injury is evil. I score big points with my charges by pretending to walk into walls, and for theatrics, falling. Are you telling me I am caring for little devils? You know, you may have something there…

You say they were goofing around and that it was clear that the nanny cares for her charge, but now you've essentially labeled her a demon? How long did the boy cry? Did her reaction lessen the crying? If it did, what makes it inappropriate? I'm not saying I'm comfortable with the laughing, but let's look on the other side of it, overreaction can do more harm than good. Not all hits to the head deserve tears at 8. If a charge of mine hurts her knee, I won't laugh, but after a good hug and cradling her in my arms, I might suggest cutting off her leg so it won't hurt anymore. She's five and she smiles every time. What would you think if you hear that?

At the very least, I think evil is much too strong a word for a little laugh after a little bump. It's not like she was laughing and dancing while he was seizing on the floor and coughing up blood. I dunno, just some food for thought. Oh, and I've seen text in a job description. I hate texting, but I guess some parents like updates. Like freaking Twitter for their kids.

"Tommy is taking a crap, next update at five."

In most threads the OP's post is accepted as the word of God from the get-go. It is hardly the first impulse to question it. I'm glad to see when folks do ask some questions, even on the clear cut cases, because those questions can impress upon us all the need for quality in our sightings. A little skepticism is healthy and only makes ISYN stronger. Good people make mistakes, even the most well spoken. We're all human and I've always wondered about what happens in-between the glances that make up any sighting.

"Tommy is picking his nose, next update at 5:05."

anonynanny said...

Agreed with Yasmine. I text with my boss more than with anyone else I know, and I would feel horrible if someone saw me texting during work and assumed I was doing something I wasn't supposed to be doing.

I don't mean to attack the OP. I just wanted to share my own experience with 8-year-olds because they are older than most sightings here, and nannies for younger kids may not understand what it's like to watch a kid who's pretty self-sufficient. If the kid I watch is occupied with his own task that he doesn't need (or even want!) my assistance with, I think texting a friend is fine. I just wouldn't ignore him or take time out from an activity I am doing with him in order to do my own thing.

Nanny in L.A. said...

The nanny wasn't abusive but she wasn't doing her job. I don't care if they where in a "safe environment". Kids are kidnapped and assaulted in safe environments too.
Kids are abused sometimes even in their own house!
I take care of an 8yo girl and if she needs to go to a public bathroom, I will stay around her.
If she bangs her head, laughing wouldn't be appropriate; the first thing she would say to me is that I am "mean".
And an 8yo can entertain themselves but they do enjoy talking and being engaged; if the nanny had gave him attention for 10 minutes every time he spoke to her, the little boy would be fine for a bit reading. Kids like to tell you what they are thinking or something funny they read, etc. Giving them attention is part of a nanny's job!

nanny2 said...

I agree that it's sometimes best to make light of minor injuries, because otherwise you end up with a 10-year-old who expects the world to stop if she stubs her toe. There's a way to use humor, though, or downplay the incident, without belittling the child. But in this instance, it doesn't sound like there was any warmth in the caregiver's interaction with this kid.

Hmmmm said...

I'm guessing this is bored older sister, and not a nanny. Coon Rapids isn't the most high brow area and it seems doubtful someone living around there employs a nanny.

Hmmmm said...

OP, just saw that you do work in Coon Rapids. You have to be the exception to the rule.

Deli Girl said...

If it's a nanny, it's neglectful. If it's a teenage babysitter, you get what you pay for. It sounds more like an older sister to me, especially the head bumping part.

Anonymous said...

The OP says:

I do NOT work in Coon Rapids-I work in a suburb of the Twin Cities. One of the suburbs that starts with an 'E'-you know, the ones with ample supplies of money and nannies abounding?

There are nannies in Coon Rapids, though. It's a whole 20 minutes out of Minneapolis, FYI.