Friday

Trial by Fire- Run like the wind...

Nanny Trials are a popular way for both parties to get a sense for duties and expectations.

So, my trial was to start yesterday at 9:30am. No word on when it was supposed to end. Well, traffic was AWFUL, and I ended up ten minutes late. I hate to be late, and am a bit paranoid about it, so I'm freaking out about this. I didn't have a number to call and tell them, so the first thing out of my mouth when I got there was an apology and the Mom said she didn't even notice I was late. Hm... o.k. Maybe not everyone's as anal-retentive punctual as me.

When I came in for the interview before, I only saw the living room, and this house is BIIIIGGGGG. Mom says she'll show me around the house, but then just wanders off, telling her 3-year-old son, Kid 1, to show me around. Um.. yeah, the kid took me up to his bedroom, his brother's bedroom and stopped in the playroom. Pretty much what you'd expect from a 3-year-old. So Kid 1 and I have fun doing puzzles and I read a few books to him. He's not bad. We get along pretty well.

While I'm reading him a book, he's laying on his stomach, listening. When I'm done, he stands up, and I see the front of his shorts are wet. I said, "Kid 1, did you pee your pants?" He said no. I ask if he needs new underwear, and he says yes, and starts running into his bedroom and shows me where the undies are. I try and tell him that hey, we all make mistakes, but he really doesn't care that he's wet his pants. So he does it again, about 45 minutes later. Of course, I don't really know the kid, and I'm still waiting for Mom to come upstairs so we can talk, or I can actually get a tour of the house. Nothing.

Around 11:30, Kid 1 starts whining, wanting food. I told him we should wait for Mom to come upstairs (I have no idea when lunch is), but he doesn't listen. He starts running down the stairs, demanding Lunchables. Mom comes out and says, yes just give him a Lunchable. And she walks back into her study. Kid 1 and I walk into the kitchen, and thank goodness he goes and gets his own Lunchable. The kitchen is bigger than my entire apartment. So the boy starts eating the cheese in the Lunchable, and I keep the treat (Skittles) on the counter out of his reach.

I went into Mom's office (she doesn't work, she's a SAHM), apologizing for bothering her, and told her that her son peed through two sets of undies and shorts, and that since I didn't know what to do, I quickly rinsed them out and left them in one of the many bathrooms upstairs. Her answer was, "oh yeah, I guess I should have told you that Kid 1's not doing so well with the potty training. You have to tell him to go every 30 minutes or so. Next time put the laundry in the washer." What washer?! Where?!

So I walk back into the kitchen and Kid 1's asking for his Skittles. I notice he's only eaten the cheese, and left the crackers and turkey. Oh, and drank a juice box. Mom comes in and tells Kid 1 we're going to the park so I can see where it is, but he needs to eat his turkey and crackers. He refuses and claims he has a tummy ache. Mom says to him he can't have Skittles unless he eats the rest of his food. He still refuses, and she doesn't give him the Skittles, but takes them with us.

At this time, I finally ask when this trial would be over, since my husband had to pick me up. I thought this would be over by now, since it was 11:30. She said 5:30. Yowza.

So we walk to the park, which is about three blocks away. The area is all mansions. Mom is very nice, and shows me where the boys' karate class is, one of the boy's schools is, and a bunch of other places the kids take classes. These boys are busy. It takes us about ten minutes to get the park which is a decent one. As soon as we get there, Mom gives Kid 1 his Skittles. So I've seen him have a few pieces of cheese, two juice boxes, and Skittles so far. Awesome.

Mom starts saying goodbye to Kid 1, and then starts to leave. I have to stop her and ask when I'm supposed to bring Kid 1 back. I paid extra attention to the way we walked, because I knew she wouldn't remember to tell me the way back. It's a good thing I asked her, since I had to bring him back in 20 minutes so she could go pick up the middle child.

Kid 1 and I have a good time at the park, although I find it a little worrisome that the park was filled with children his age, and he didn't socialize with anyone. On the way back, it's obvious the kid is pooped.

We make it back, and Mom says Kid 1 can take an hour nap, and that she's running out to get Kid 2, the 4.5 year old. She'd be back in ten minutes. Kid 1 went down for a nap without issue. The kid was exhausted.

It is now 1pm. I take this moment alone in the house as an opportunity to finally get some water. But finding a glass in the humongous kitchen is a hard feat. I start looking around for a granola bar or something I can scarf down before Mom and Kid 2 come back. No dice. I found a glass and chugged some water. Anyway, I was too nervous to eat.

Kid 2 shows up, and he's a nice enough kid. We play a bunch of different games and Mom says she's running out to the grocery store to buy things for rice krispie treats, which apparently I'll be making with the boys. I tell her I've never made them before, but I would try (my family wasn't a big fan of them, and I always preferred to do kitchen fun stuff without the stove). She leaves, and it's time for me to wake Kid 1, who screams and cries for Mommy, but she's gone. I just hold him while he cries, because nothing I do will calm him. He and I play a very imaginative version of chess that involves space aliens.

Mom comes home with groceries and the oldest child, 6-year-old Kid 3. Where Kid 1 and 2 seemed like nice kids, Kid 3 is eye-rolling and a bit obnoxious. Mom says, "since you didn't know you were staying all day, did you not bring any lunch?" I said no. Hell, I thought part of being a nanny was getting to eat at the house. She brought me a turkey sandwich from the store. Nice! It's only 3pm, but there's no way I can eat, since I now have three children wanting me to make rice krispie treats with them. They want to help. All that's left out for me is a box of cereal. I have to find a pot, a pan, butter, marshmallows and measuring cups. Kid 2 at least helped me out by finding mixing spoons and helped count. Kid 1 and 3 just up and left the room. So I just start trying to make them. I muddle through, even though I couldn't find cooking spray and wax paper. Those treats are gonna suck. While I'm trying to cook,Kid 3 keeps grabbing the bag of marshmallows and eating them by the fistful. I finally have to use my stern voice on him to tell him to stop. I get an eye roll, and "geez, fine. I'll just get some more later." All three boys are rude and yelling at me for not doing it faster, and Kid 3 is just plain mean.

Then I take the boys upstairs to do some art, and we have a decent time. But these boys don't clean up after themselves, something they are all old enough to do. Since I'm only on trial, I don't say anything and just clean up after them.

Kid 3 played nice with his brothers, but definitely didn't take to me. Not like the other two. He just up and leaves the room to go and bother his mom. By this point, I don't even care, so I let him go. Thirty seconds later, he comes up telling us it's time to leave for football practice.

So we run downstairs, and I start helping them put on their shoes. Kid 1 can't put his shoes on himself, which I find a bit off-putting, seeing as he's 3 and these were only sandals. As we try to leave, Kid 3 has an almost meltdown because he thinks we're going to walk to football practice (even though Mom has told him over and over that we were driving). He then starts complaining that he's hungry, but Mom says he had a slice of pizza after school. But apparently, the kid isn't eating his school lunch.

As we're about to leave, Mom tells me I should see if my husband can pick me up at football practice, which is going on from 4-5. I text him immediately, but traffic's still awful, so I knew it would take nearly an hour to get there.

Football practice was awkward. Apparently this was the first practice, since everyone was just meeting for the first time. I just stood off to the side, since I'm not technically their nanny, just one on trial. So while Kid 3 is in practice, I go and play in some haystacks with Kid 1, 2, and another little girl and boy who were little siblings of other boys playing. The kids start jumping off these high haystacks into my arms, which is kind of fun, until my lower back starts to get sore. Also, I'm a little worried about the kids I don't know. The boy is maybe two, and I'm scared he'll try and jump down without my help. Luckily, his mom comes over and apologizes for leaving her son with me, and thanks me for entertaining him.

Kid 1 and 2 go to Mom for a snack, and she gives him rice krispie treats (thank god, not the ones I made). They also have Gatorade. Mom tells me that Kid 1 hates cereal, but to try and get him to eat it. So wouldn't rice krispie treats be a BAD snack? It's not like the things are nutritious. He does, but then, I'm usually pretty good at getting kids to eat their food. Oh yeah, and who doesn't like pure sugar and butter? These kids have had nothing but sugar, even though there's a huge sign in the kitchen that says things like "NO juice except with meals" and "NO snacks after 3:15pm" which was written by their father with the the title of "Project Chunky." I certainly hope he's not referring to his boys as "chunky." They all looked of average height and weight.

Anyway, while the boys eat their snack, I have a little small talk with Mom. She seems nice, and we get along, except for the fact that she just expects me to know things, like what her kids are allergic to (Kid 1's allergic to dogs, cats, eggs, chicken, peanuts, and who knows what else. All things I should have been told BEFORE spending the day with him.)

At 5:15, my husband shows up to take me home. Mom waits until this point to tell me she didn't bring her checkbook, so she'll put a check in the mail. I'm not holding my breath.

I spent a few more days with this family, and it never got better. Just worse. All three kids yell at me ("get me that toy!"), and are horribly disrespectful (after I specifically told them not to throw a ball, they would try and throw it at my face). Am I being too picky? Should I take this position, or run away?

Are you a nanny or mother who wants to share her experience with a nanny trial? 
Submit your story to isynblog@gmail.com.

39 comments:

ChiNanny said...

RUN!!!! No schedule, discipline, or organization added to kids fueled on sugar is a disaster.

venny said...

sounds like park slope to me.

alex said...

That definitely sounds like it can only get worse. Who doesn't give you a tour, tell you their kid's allergies, etc. She sounds like a nice enough lady just very scatterbrained!

TC said...

RUN RUN RUN!!! It's only going to get worse

BTW you accidentally mentioned one of the kids names

kiki said...

oh god. Always run from stay at home moms!

NannyM said...

My first reaction is as same as the rest...RUN!!!

But do you desperately need the job? Do they pay well? I know all people have a sliding scale of bad situation/good money, you just have to know your limits.

I'm sure you can find a better situation with great kids.

Marypoppin'pills said...

TC,

Done!

What a great eye you have, I totally missed that!

cali mom said...

So...apparently you've never worked with kids before, and you don't know how to plan ahead or communicate to get the most basic information.

Why are you trying to work as a nanny?

Mr B said...

I agree with KiKi; working for stay-at-home-"moms" is the absolute worst. Run, run, run!

Mary said...

I would have never come back after the first day.

MONKEYSHINES said...

too much work un doing all the bad habits. it kind of reminds me of marring a guy with kids, you go into it with the best intenions then realize when the kids get on your last nerve you remember hey their not my kids I dont want to deal with some other womans kids and you leave!that is why I always liked working with infants

Me-A said...

Why are you asking? You know the answer already.

MissDee said...

Wow. Saturday morning, I haven't even had coffee yet, and my head is spinning. Not because of alcohol. lol I feel sorry for these children, who aren't getting proper nutrition, socialization, the learning experience of self help skills and how to be children. I also feel sorry for anyone who takes this job, because they, like the children, are left to fend for themselves, not to mention the lack of parental involvement; the reason why the children act the way they do is because "Mom" hands them whatever they want and walks away.

The rude 6-year-old reminds me of a family I interviewed with in 2001, when I first moved to Milwaukee. The family lived in an affluent suburb, and had three girls, then 7, 9, and 11. The 7 and 9 year old were sweet and 11 year old was somethin else. I notice on my trial day that a piece of paper, printed up in a formal document, notarized by her father and witnessed by her mother and sister stated the 11-year-old's belly button would be pierced on her twelfth birthday. I said, "that's a big responsibility for you," and mentioned my ear piercings as being similar, that you have to remember to clean it daily. She snaps back with "Danielle, I don't like you and don't care what you have to say. I have the perfect body now, I will have the perfect body then and I will have the perfect body for the rest of my life, and I always get what I want, no matter how much it costs". The rest of the afternoon was awful, and I could see that the parents were just as stuck up as their daughter. I told the parents I wasn't interested, that I didn't think it would work out.

Personally, if you felt any red flags raised that you knew the job wasn't going to work out, I would went to the mother and been honesy that you felt things were working out, citing examples, such as no structure, discipline, nutrition and proper training. I would have then thanked her for the time, and left.

The problems these boys will have thanks to their mother....

OP said...

Cali Mom, yes I have been a nanny and I have a BA in ECE. I would love to know what I should have done differently. Yes, I'll admit I should have asked more questions, but I had no way to really prepare myself, since I had no idea what I was walking into. I admit, I have never worked for a SAHM, and I have realized that working for a SAHM is not for me.

I stayed on for three more days of a trial, hoping that things would get a bit better, and when they didn't, I thanked the father for the time with his family, but I turned the job down. Perhaps this would be better for a different type of nanny, but not me.

OP said...

Oh, and thank you, MPP and TC for changing the one kid's name. This was originally an email sent to my mom, and I had the kids' names in it to her.

cali mom said...

OP, you sounded surprised, confused and disgusted by the three year old peeing his pants. This is a common occurrence in kids who are potty training.

You sound like you were too afraid to ask basic questions (like, where's the washing machine?) and expected the mom to be on hand all day to personally demonstrate everything for you while you watched.

You apparently did not research how long it would take you to get there and allow extra time for "getting stuck in traffic" on your very first day, so you were late.

You either did not ever ask for the mom's phone number or it never occurred to you to bring it with you in case you needed it.

It never occurred to you to ask how long your "trial day" would be, so you ASSumed it would only be an hour or two and didn't bring any food along.

You also ASSumed you'd be able to eat some of their food, so when you weren't presented with a lunch plate and a free half hour in which to eat it, you went hungry all day.

Clearly, you are not a good match for this family. So to answer your question, yes, should decline any offer from them.

Cynthia said...

Cali-Mom, I ASSume you have a shread of compassion somewhere in there.

Cynthia said...

Shred before the typing nazi's take over :)

so tired of all the backbiting said...

Wow, people are touchy this week! Suggesting that nannies and their charges should not go to a bookstore to buy books, criticizing how others were raised with no actual knowledge, trying to be clever by capitalizing rude, crass words hidden within longer ones, and just being generally snotty. I think I might take next week off and hope things take a turn onto the high road.

talesfromthe(nanny)hood said...

I think you did the right thing turning this job down, because my impression is that Mom is looking for a "Take Charge" nanny who might have come in with a list of questions about schedules, potty training issues, allergies, etc.

I would have done some things differently in your place, but it's a moot point.

And many nannies won't work w/ SAHP, so you're not alone there!

thejewishnanny said...

You write that bitch an itemized account of your day and you get your money!!! Send her one every day. text her as well. That is YOUR money and that is some bullshit right there!!!

thejewishnanny said...

cali mom said...

So...apparently you've never worked with kids before, and you don't know how to plan ahead or communicate to get the most basic information.

Why are you trying to work as a nanny?

Oh, shut up, bitch. The mother gave her no direction-not even a tour of the house. You are snarky and need to eff off. Thanks!

thejewishnanny said...

cali mom said...

OP, you sounded surprised, confused and disgusted by the three year old peeing his pants. This is a common occurrence in kids who are potty training.

You sound like you were too afraid to ask basic questions (like, where's the washing machine?) and expected the mom to be on hand all day to personally demonstrate everything for you while you watched.

You apparently did not research how long it would take you to get there and allow extra time for "getting stuck in traffic" on your very first day, so you were late.

You either did not ever ask for the mom's phone number or it never occurred to you to bring it with you in case you needed it.

It never occurred to you to ask how long your "trial day" would be, so you ASSumed it would only be an hour or two and didn't bring any food along.

You also ASSumed you'd be able to eat some of their food, so when you weren't presented with a lunch plate and a free half hour in which to eat it, you went hungry all day.

Clearly, you are not a good match for this family. So to answer your question, yes, should decline any offer from them.


SHUT UP BITCH. You have no soul.

oh well said...

I really hope that you got paid for the days that you worked for them.
The parents do not seem to have communicated very well with you, maybe it was the first time they are hiring a nanny? Although I find it suspicious that she did not have her checkbook.

ericsmom said...

I am really offended by the Jew-bitch remark!!
And I am not even Jewish....


That should be removed

VAnanny said...

eric's mom: My thoughts exactly. That crossed the line. Cali Mom is good at that...

cali mom said...

I'll rephrase:

thejewishnanny bitch, you out-bitched me.

Better?

cali mom said...

Better yet, how about "J-bitch"?

ericsmom said...

Did she mention she was even Jewish???

ericsmom said...

nevermind my last comment. I see it was by a poster

ericsmom said...

I just woke up

Bostonnanny said...

I have to agree with cali mom, you sound like an amateur nanny in your post. You should have asked questions, before the trial and during. Some parents expect you to be prepared to handle any situation and able to figure things out on your own, they hired you assuming you had experience and could take control of the situation.

The mom from your description does sound overwhelmed and preoccupied, but you could have asked to sit down and go over everything that you were unsure of.

I'm glad you declined.

MissMannah said...

I know I'm going to get yelled at just as much as cali mom did, but what the hell. OP said she had an INTERVIEW before she had this trial day but she seemed completely clueless about what the job would entail. What did they talk about in the interview? Why in the world did they wait to talk about the food allergies until the END of the day? That should be at the top of the questioning list, as should the children's daily schedule, as should the parents' expectations of the nanny. These, among other things, were immediate red flags for me, but the biggest one was the fact that OP didn't even have her employer's phone number. I know she wasn't "hired" yet but don't you guys get a phone number even before the interview just in case?

Phoenix said...

Holy crap I feel irritated just reading your experience. I would run far away.

nycmom said...

I can see both sides of this story. I don't think it is as clear cut as terrible job or terrible nanny applicant (OP).

I think OP makes some very valid points about the disorganization of the household, the behavior of the children, the mom's lack of attentiveness, and dealing with a SAHM.

However, others have made valid points about OP's shortcomings in this situation also. OP should have been better prepared for the day, asked the necessary questions during interview or on the trial day, been on time for work (again preparation), and be more familiar with a 3yo who is potty training.

Also, I think it is often difficult to judge children based on the initial warming up period. I don't love that OP is describing the kids so harshly. They are 3 boys all under the age of 6yo. Of course, ideally they would be docile, calm, and respectful from the get-go. But with a new caregiver and a mom light on discipline, that is a bit unrealistic for 3 young boys. One of my kids can be tough on first meeting, but I've seen the difference between how a skilled nanny and an inexperienced sitter handles her. The former is firm and consistent, does not tolerate rudeness, but also has the ability to draw my daughter out and connect. The latter never gets it and ends up either constantly giving in or constantly overdiscipling ineffectively.

At the end of the day, this sounds like more of a mismatch of expectations and skillset than the fault of one party.

Jewishbitch said...

I am a Jewish bitch! Cali mom is, well, we all what she is~see yall next Tuesday!!! She is an evil c^nt!

Lila said...

I'm a SAHM and I agree that this job is going to run you ragged so OP should try to find something else. But I have to disagree with the posters that say you should always run from SAHMs. When I find someone I would trust with my kids and home, I treat them like gold because they are to me. Being a SAHM means I have flexibility to work around their appointments, illnesses and requests for personal time. I can be reached at almost anytime for questions and am usually calm and organized. I take my kids to the doctor myself as soon as they come down with something. As a result, my helpers have all stayed with me for six or more years.

Could have been handled better said...

I never act any different during a trial than I would during the real deal except on matters requiring a unique knowledge about the family or children.

What I mean by this is once I learn preferences, I adjust some behaviors, but I expect children to clean up after themselves and if the family doesn't agree, well, that's their right and I respect that, but I'm not working for them.

Lizzabee said...

I am a nanny for a stay at home mom and a dad who works from the house most of the time and I love it. They're great and not all postions working with SAHMs suck.

Basically, it is the EMPLOYER'S responsibility to show the nanny around the house, to show them where things are, to go over allergies before the first day, to make sure there is contact info exchanged, to pay their nanny (forgetting the checkbook is BS, she's a scam artist and shady mcgrady), it is also the responsibility of the employer to discuss whether or not the child is potty training, what is expected of the nanny.

It is the nanny's responsibility to research the commute length, and in this case to confront the mother about the things the mother should have done in the get go.

But, with my job now I was 45 minutes late trying to find their house on my first day. I had their number and I called, they did not answer. I eventually found their home, and I did my research on where to go, etc. but I got lost, took a wrong turn and that does happen.