The final update for the Sole Caretaker question..

Received Sunday, July 11, 2010
perspective and opinion I was really enjoying blogging about it, but unfortunately a creepy semi-stalker was using it to follow what I was doing, so I had to stop. It was really great just knowing that others were reading and offering occasional encouragement.

My position ends in 12 days. I've had my share of crazy jobs, and not just in the nanny world, but I think this one tops them all. I cannot wait to leave.

Has anyone else ever taken care of a child that they just really couldn't stand? As much as I try to like him, I just can't. I've never met a child who is as rude, disrespectful, and mean-spirited. He says things that I would never consider saying to another person.

Up to this point, I hadn't really discussed the child's bad behavior with the father because I didn't think it would have any positive impact on the child. We were getting along better and things seemed to be going more smoothly. Bedtime was easier, he was eating better, and the attitude was happening less often too. Unfortunately, last week the father came home for a visit. I didn't ask for specifics, but I assume that he was given a random week off sometime during his 12 week employment, and it just so happened to be 2 weeks before the job ended. I didn't stay in the house while the father was at home, because it's a very small house and it would have been extremely uncomfortable for both of us.

Since he's been back at work, things have gotten so much worse. Today I was yelled at more times than I can count. He makes faces, slams doors, calls me names, and insults everything I do. It takes all of my strength and patience to not scream and walk right out the door. Then, he turns around and acts as if nothing happened, all the while making smart comments that allude to the fact that I'm the worst nanny in the world (when he's not being passive-aggressive, he just says that out loud instead of hinting around). Trying to do schoolwork with him is next to impossible. I try to do fun things with him but nothing is ever good enough. Disciplining him seems to do nothing, as he knows that in 12 days his dad will be back and things will be just the way he likes them again.

I want to cry all of the time and I have no respite from him, ever.
I'm at the end of my rope. Today I had finally had enough, and I wrote this email to his father.

Hey ________
I'm sending you this email to let you know about some issues ____ and I have been having.
Things have gotten worse since you left, and I'm sure part of it is him lashing out because he's upset that you're gone.
I'm not sure how you want me to handle things, but I will give you a brief rundown and the way I've been approaching the issues.

He has been very rude and disrespectful. I've dealt with some of this in the past with him but things were getting better. It mostly occurs when I ask him to do something he doesn't want to do, or when I tell him "no" when he asks to do something. For example, today when I told him that we needed to get some schoolwork done before he watched TV or went over to play with ________, he responded with hostility, followed by ignoring me completely. In response to his attitude, I told him that as a consequence of being rude and disrespectful, I would not be taking him to the skate park that day. I told him that if he was able to change his attitude and act more kind, we could go sometime next week. I then waited for him to cool down and when he did we got his work done and he went outside to play.

He responds to almost everything with telling me that he doesn't like me, I'm the worst nanny ever, and I'm nothing like his dad.
I have explained to him that I realize I'm not you and I cannot be you, but that I would like him to tell me the things I do that he's unhappy with and I'll try to work on them.
The only explanation he gives, is that I'm not fun, I'm boring, and I'm mean.
I'm sure that I am more strict than you, but I'm not going to change that. I won't tolerate disrespect or being spoken to in a rude manner. I try to do fun things with him often. We went to the pool yesterday, and we've played baseball, soccer, gone to movies, gone hiking, and played games. He seems to enjoy all of those things while they're going on, but as soon as he's unhappy with me for some reason or another, he lashes out and tells me that I only "try" to do fun things, that they're not really fun.

He's a good kid, I realize that all of this is hard for him. However, I don't know what you want me to do about his behavior. I've sent him to his room to cool down, asked him to take stars down from the fridge, and taken away privileges like going places and watching TV, but things don't seem to be getting better.
He tells me all the time that he doesn't want me to watch him when you go away at Christmas, and if that's really the case then I shouldn't be watching him. I like him, but I can't enjoy an environment where I'm told how terrible a job I'm doing ever day.
Anyway, just thought I'd let you know. Thanks, ______________

I don't know if it was even worth it to write to him. I'm sure he'll be concerned, and will call and talk to the child about it, but at this point, I'm almost too exhausted to care.

There are only 12 days left. There's not much I can do during that short amount of time, and luckily for me, it's short. I really appreciate all of the support I got from everyone this summer; it made things much easier. I learned so much from this experience and I hope others were able to learn from my mistakes too.


you go girl!!! said...


What a great email: I'm so proud of you!!! You cannot function in a toxic environment and you are doing absolutely the right thing.

Village said...

I feel so sorry for the child. No mother, and a father who keeps leaving. No wonder he's so unhappy. It not about the OP. It's about his feelings, and they are badly hurt, and he is bound to be terribly sad. And to be alone on Christmas, so young. It's just so, so sad.

OP, it sounds like you have handled it the best you could. And your best is all you can do.

alex said...

Op I am so sorry you are in this situation! Did you send the e-mail? I bet his father will be worried and will call the child, make sure to be near him to see what he says. The child is probably lashing out at you because he is mad that his dad left him alone. Has he had nannies in the past? I wonder if they have felt the same way. Just hang in there, only 12 more days! You can do it!

Bostonnanny said...

Op I know this may sound far fetched but the way this child is acting out sounds like he became attached to you and realizes your leaving.... Like everyone else. Now I don't know all the details and I could be completely off. From my experience when a child his age who has gone through so much, it becomes to much to handel. Ppl constantly leaving will cause a horrible affect. You need to sit down and tell him that you will miss him and try to stay on touch if he wants. He will prob blow it off but give him a little time. He might actually open up.
Your his mother figure at the moment and as much as that sucks, you need to understand he needs you. He's pushing you away because it's easier then saying bye.
Again I could totally be off, but give talking to him about you leaving a try, it can only turn out positive.
By the way thank you for the updates and your doing a great job

t.t. said...

OP does not need a guilt trip. I think she knows why the child is acting out. But the fact of the matter is that he is not her child.

This parent is an ass. I would never leave my child in the care of a provider who I knew was not happy with the job. I would be there A.S.A.P.

Life is tough. I feel bad for this child in theory, but OP needs to look out for number one and not let her emotions get in the way of doing the right thing. This child will be this parent's child forever.

MissDee said...

I remember you posting about this when you were offered the job. Isn't this the child with ADHD and a father who is always gone for work?

I had a child in my school age program who was much like this child OP described. This child would do things behind my back that I couldn't see, such as: throwing a ball repeatedly at a child for no reason, hitting a child on the back while the child had water in their mouth, forcing water all over the floor, jumping off the climber in the gym, taking things off the shelf that are "teacher only" items, having a cell phone on the playground and using it, fighting me over the cell phone in a refusal to give it to me, harassing a child on the van during the ride back to daycare, disrespecting me while I would speak to the class by cracking jokes, and being silly. There was a situation where I addressed my class as group about their listening, and this child's face turned bright red. He got so angry with me he started throwing a fit, and manipulated his way to my boss's office, where he told her I was mean, and a bad teacher, always yelling. My boss came back to tell me that I have to walk on eggshells when communicating with him, which turned out to be his having anger issues due to his home life. Well, I found out more from his cousin's mother as in there is NO STRUCTURE in this child's house, and he can do whatever he wanted, which I began to see after he would manipulate his way into my boss's officer "for a break" from me. I wasn't trying to be mean, yet at the same time, I also wasn't going to allow the behavior to occur in the classroom that the teacher before me allowed. This child would do things because he thought they were funny, like when he kept throwing the ball at another child. The other child was there for temporary care, and broke down in tears, refusing to tell me or my bosses what happened. This child and his siblings ended up pulling from the center, however, I can't help but think they left because of me-that I am mean, with too much structure and too many rules.

Sorry for rambling on...Just had to vent. How often does this child see his father OP? Is there structure when the father is with him?

Nanny Sarah said...

Man, this brings back memories. I, a nanny, had one family with a then 31/2 and a 6 month old. The 6 month old was not even on a schedule and the things that 31/2 did to me. In 3 months I was there- I had to leave- I was punched, kicked, kid broke 3 pairs of glasses- I had to pay for- and he swung a knife at me- out in public- broke two of my fingers in a door and the worst one was I received a bite on my stomach- he bit so hard that he broke a scar on the right side. His mom and dad were emotionally and physically abusive- I found later on. I did not want to leave- but I was really afraid that it would just get worse. Parents did not want to help in anyway. You have ever right to leave- especially what the dad said to you- I know you must be a great nanny- who obviously only wants the best for the child.

Bostonnanny said...

T.t calm down. First off yes this child is not hers and will never be. Also this is not a guilt trip, it's another explaintation to why the child is possibly acting out. As a nanny you can't possibly assume that a child won't get attached to you. It's part of the job. Yes a nanny has the right to leave and never look back especially if the child or family is horrible. The problem is you as a nanny are an adult and can understand the reason to leave, a child depending on age may not.
From a previous post she said that the child was slowly improving (no child can change over night) and after the visit from the father did the child start to revert to previous behaviors.
Why can't we assume that the child is suffering from sever separation issues from both his father and nanny. His father left him with a stranger and while he is home he prob doesn't give him the proper attention in the first place. Now the stranger comes in and changes his entire lifestyle, he is still upset his father left and now he has to adjust. This can be overwhelming for an adult never mind an 8yr old. He finally starts to adjust to his nanny and new rules, possibly even enjoying the attention he is receiving. Now dad comes back for a week and he back in the same environment to begin with. Maybe he realized that nanny is leaving and the attention will disappear. Maybe he enjoyed his new lifestyle but felt confused. He doesn't have the emotional range to understand his feelings yet.
Why couldn't this backlash just be him trying to readjust to his pre nanny life and possibly being sad she is leaving.
Most children who are treated for add don't even really have it, they are just not getting enough stimulation.

oh well said...

I think writing this e-mail was a good thing. There is so much one can take, even if you seem able to take more than most. My wild guess would be that the boy thinks that he is going to get his dad back if he is mean enough to you. The dad has to step in and figure out what he needs to do. You sound like a great nanny with a big heart, but there is only
so much you can do.

t.t. said...

boston nanny,

just because someone disagrees with you does not mean they need to "calm down." I am quite calm, I was just stating my opinion. Of course a nanny will get attached to a child. The question here is: what is more important, this child, or OP's sanity? Seeing as it is not her child, I would vote for OP's sanity.

Faith said...

"I'm sure that I am more strict than you, but I'm not going to change that."

I wouldn't have drawn a comparison between you and the dad, to the dad like that, but otherwise your email was well done.

the OP said...

OP here...
Thanks for all of your kind words :)
It is too bad that the dad is leaving again over the holidays. He'll be gone from the day before Thanksgiving until 2 days before Christmas, and he asked me if I was available to work that time.

I honestly don't know if the child likes me or not. I know how he treats me, which is badly, but he can also go from saying he hates me, to giggling and being silly with me.
Throughout this whole experience, people have said "Well at least you'll be good for him". I hope that's true, but I really don't see how it could be, considering how much he seems to dislike me.

Oh well, I did what I could.

@Faith- It does seem that that line could be taken badly, but the father and I have discussed our "parenting" styles. We both agree that I'm more strict, while he lets the child get away with much more, so I don't think he would be offended by my comment.

Manhattan Nanny said...

That poor boy. When he lashes out at you, and says he hates you, keep reminding yourself that he doesn't mean you. He is expressing his anger, insecurity and loneliness at being left motherless, and more or less fatherless. Hang in there, it will soon be over. I hope you can enjoy the rest of your summer.

world's best nanny said...

I nannied (is that a word?) a kid who had ODD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and RAD, Reactive Attachment Disorder. Scary, scary kid. Be happy you are out of there soon, just hold your breathe and it'll be all over. I just hope this experience hasn't made you jaded.

Nanny K said...

t.t., I can't believe your comment! As a nanny of twelve years, let me tell you number one is ALWAYS the child. Yes, you have to leave jobs, but this isn't Starbucks and the too bad- so sad kid attitude is appalling. This nanny has been through the wringer, but I am SO proud of her for not embracing your attitude. Stick with it OP. You will be done soon enough and hopefully you can part this child without him internalizing anymore abandonment. Kuddos to you for emailing the dad. Perhaps you could have a frank conversation person to person before you leave.

MissMannah said...

Nanny K,

In a perfect world, it would be all about the child. But it doesn't work that way. Many of us have felt the sting of unfair bosses and we've stuck with the jobs for wayyyy longer than we should have, simply for the sake of the child, sacrificing our own happiness and yes, our sanity. (I shouldn't say "our" but I know right now I am going insane from my mom-boss.) It should NOT be that way and it should not be expected of nannies to work under such conditions. After having such a horrible experience, I've promised myself and my husband I will never let myself get into this situation ever again, no matter how much I love the child. In an employment situation, you have to put yourself above everything else. It isn't being selfish, it is only business. It is ultimately the parents' job to put their child's well-being above all else.