Rebecca Nelson Lubin
guest column It was on the trip to Hawaii, the third morning in, when herding the three children out the door at 6am to hit the breakfast buffet that it happened. Now, in my defense, well, it was 6am, and in the hour that we had all been awake waiting for it to be late enough to leave the villa there had been an unusual amount of arguing amongst the two boys, and my patience was thin and I had not had nearly enough caffeine. As we pushed through the door with the jogger stroller packed with one Girl Baby and one huge diaper bag our process was slowed by the two big brothers wrestling over who would push their baby sister. They continued to jostle down the hallway to the elevator, pushing and shoving at each other and hurling insults until, fed up and horribly jet lagged spun tired I found myself shouting the following sentence:


My words were met by with complete stunned silence. I actually thought, “Did I really just say that out loud?” I looked at the children. The four year old looked confused that I had spoken in a register above my usual soft whispering tone. (I’ve been told I possess a “Baby Voice”.) The ten year old looked delighted at the possibility of getting me into trouble for unsavory language. I thought briefly about holding my head high and saying, “Yeah. I said that. Now fall in.”

Instead I asked, “Who wants to push the elevator button?” brightly, and vowed that once out of the villa, our first stop would be the espresso bar for a triple shot Americana for the tired nanny.

When we settled into our table, laden with buffet items and a fresh, hot, caffeine filled beverage for me, the ten year old really lit into me.

“You are in sooooooo much trouble!” He lauded.

“Nah, I’m not.”

“I’m sooooooo telling!” He said, rubbing his hands together in glee. “What would you give me not to tell?”

“Go ahead and tell,” I said, and reached into my bag for my phone, “in fact, I’ll tell first.”

I texted my mom boss the following message: “Super Nanny just yelled at children not to bitch about stroller. Bring u back some bacon?”

Her response? “Hahahahahahahahahaha. Yes on bacon.”

Okay. Yes. We as Nannies should not yell OR swear at our charges. We should endeavor in every way to maintain a sense of dignity and decorum in our relationships to the little monkeys. Even when jetlagged, even when premenstrual, even when going through a hideous breakup. As professional nannies, I believe we’re supposed to remain kind and even in all situations. Or something like that.

But I wonder. How many bad nannies sighting on this board are just sightings of a good nanny having a bad day? It happens to the best of us. It even happens to the parents on occasion.

As research for this week’s column, I polled several parents about their more colorful outbursts towards their children. We shall call it “Shit we shouldna have said.”

A relative of mine who shall remain nameless, once shouted at her daughter while on the phone with me, “Stop fighting with your sister or I’m taking all your candy and giving it to some other child!”

Last Saturday I went on a wine tour in Sonoma. One of my tour mates was a good friend who has two small boys. She confessed that she will sometimes let loose obscenities at stupid drivers while in the car with her children and cover up her foul language by insisting, “No! Mommy just said FORKLIFT!”

One of my oldest nanny clients couldn’t get his five year old into the car. He meant to say, “Get in the car child, or I will take away all your toys.” He actually yelled, “Get in the car child, or I will take away all your clothes!” He feared for quite a long time that he had surely sent his son into years of therapy. Said child is now 22 years old and doing just fine, and not, as his father feared, lugging a suitcase with a fresh change of clothes everywhere with him.

My own sainted mother, when pushed too far in my childhood, was sure to explode with the following statement, at full volume:

“Cut the crap right now! It’s not funny and it’s not cute! Seriously! Cut that shit out now!”

Truthfully, my brothers and I used to laugh at this sort of outburst. My older brother could even pantomime a scissor cutting motion at the back of his pants, which would result in me laughing, which resulted in further fury from my mother.

But seriously, the innocence of childhood only last so long. They learn swear words on their own so young. Sierra and I still joke about the time I was driving her and her older sister Willow to school. Willow was whispering some newly acquired vocabulary into Sierra’s ear. Sierra screeched, “Beach? That’s a swear word? I say beach all the time!”

“Son of a beach!” she will text me now, at seventeen, “Having a bad day.”

I suppose that is how I will sum up my own outburst in Hawaii. I was having a bad day.

When we returned from breakfast, the ten year old was still intent on selling me out.

“Did you hear what Rebecca said?” he asked his parents, delighted.

“We did,” said my mom boss, “and we agree with her, you guys were totally bitching about the stroller.”
Rebecca Nelson Lubin is a writer and Nanny who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. You may read more of her articles at


Marypoppin'pills said...

Rebecca, that was so #$%&*@! funny! lol... loved it!

Taleia said...

What an awesome thing, though, that you have that kind of relationship with your bosses... I know not everyone would! :)

Floor dweller said...

I too have that kind of relationship with
my employers and I love it this way. But
my question would be why weren't the parents
joining their kids for breakfast? Isn't that the
Idea of a vacation.

Blythe said...

Love. It. Thank goodness for wonderful employers, huh?

rte66nanny said...

Another nanny and I were taking our charges out for a bike ride, with her walking up ahead with the oldest kids, and I took the rear with the little ones. We had the right of way to cross a major intersection, when a car blew through a red light and almost hit one of my charges. My friend had to yank my charge out of the way. It was truly frightening, and in the heat of the moment, my friend screamed at the car "f*** you!"

We crossed the street, and her 4-year-old asked her, "what did you say to that car?"

"I said, 'watch out'." She then turned to me. "I want a big stick so I can whack cars like that who almost run over children!"

The next day her charge gave her a stick, and he kept yelling "watch out!" to cars. Thank goodness he didn't hear what she actually said!

nycmom said...

Very funny column this week!

Floor Dweller:

We have taken our nanny on vacation and opted to spend some mornings alone, together, sleeping in. Family vacation *are* about family time, but it's also wonderful when you can bring an amazing nanny and *also* fit in some couple time. In fact, we are on vacation right now! We didn't bring our regular nanny, but have hired a temp from a local agency. My husband and I sleep or relax in for the mornings til noon. Then we, fully rested and happy, join our kids and have a great family day for the rest of the day. We even occasionally go out to dinner alone or a movie at night after the kids are asleep. It is really a wonderful balance!

Northern Nanny said...

Thank you thank you thank you for writing this! I am also a good nanny that on occasion has bad days. I try not to use foul language, but I have been caught using choice words under my breath while struggling with a stroller that just will not collapse, or children that just refuse to listen. I think it's so good to hear that we are not all perfect and do sometimes slip up. That is human. It does not mean we are doing a poor job, or are mean people, we just have bad days, like everyone else.

lmfao said...

Rebecca, I have been depresed lately and this story just completely made me smile!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I will be a regular reader from now on!!! lmfao!!!!!!

You are awesome!!!!!! :)

alex said...

I absolutely love that he wanted to tell on you so bad and I would have loved to see his face when his mom said it first :)

Reminds me of the boy I used to nanny who was intent on spying on me constantly. I did absolutely nothing wrong or even questionable and he would record me on the phone having conversations with his mother!! I never took personal calls while on duty. It was absolutely ridiculous and sadly, I could barely stand him.

TC said...

The one thing that still makes me laugh is what I said to the oldest when she was misbehaving at a semi nice restaurant.

After telling her for the umpteenth time to sit down and turn around and leave the people behind her alone I summoned a saying my mother was found of saying and said "DO I NEED TO TAKE YOU TO THE BATHROOM????" The little darling's eyes got huge, she shook her head no and slowly slid down in her seat and behaved the rest of the time we were in the restaurant.

I didn't mean to say it, I was just at my whit's end and that was something my mother used to say to me when I was younger. What made it all the more funny was the fact that when my mother said that she meant she would take me into the bathroom and spank me. My charge has no clue what that means, I've never once spanked her or even threatened to spank her.

Someone's Nanny said...

This reminds me of the time I was changing a crib sheet in the boy's bedroom while they were playing in the family room. As I was stuggling with the crib sheet, I said a couple of four letter words, forgetting the baby monitor was on, and the boys were listening in the other room!


Have you ever taken a vacation with your kids without help? I guess being a working mom you wouldn't know what to do with them huh? Weird hiring a stranger to bring on vacation so you can sleep in, why do you have kids?
I could be wrong but I bet you see a therapist. I can read between the lines and I can tell!

Rebecca said...

Aww Come On MK, that was mean! NY Mom made an excellent point in response to Floor Dweller.
Floor Dweller: As I wrote out in last week's column, always ask your family what they want from you on their vacation before you leave. On my employers wish list was the chance to sleep in. I watched the children in the early mornings and the rest of the day was totally family oriented.
MK, let's not bring negative comments around, okay? Everyone was being really cool and positive until your comment. It's so unnecessary!

Traveling Nanny said...

Monkeyshines and Floor dweller, there are plenty of families like that. I travel with my work family and stay in the same room as the kids (they are young). I get them up, give them breakfast and then play with them. Their parents take them for 2 hours and then I have the kids the rest of the time. We sometimes have dinner together. I always look after the kids on the airplane by myself. We travel for up to 3 weeks at a time. And the parents don't even work! I thought it was weird at first, but now this is just "normal" for me!

sharon said...

boy you hit a spot rebecca ! i was leading games in a picnic for a bunch of kids when ----- an insect flew into my eye ! It hurt! A mother who was trying who help said "that is a big insect " I said "f-ck! help get it out!" This mother did not bat an eyelash and deftly removed the insect.

the children were staring at me with amazed faces. I said "Miss Sherry apologizes for saying a bad word - no body ever say that word !!" the mom patted me on the back. Forgiven.

Here is a better one - again playing picnic games with kids - i asked my friend Arturo how to tell the kids in espanol to not drop and play with the eggs during the egg toss before the game starts.

Those of you who are bi-lingual know what is coming

Arture told me to say " Tomen los huegos in su manos! no juege con el, no juge con el"

i said that over a loud speaker to a large group



I am sure my comment rings true with a lot of Nannies and will be deleted because it is harsh but the truth.
As soon as I hear working moms talking about the "balance" either a therapist or life coach has been involved. Really read into some of these posts they are very preechy, and others sound like a therapst talking. They need a pro to validate them choosing their career before their children and letting a stranger raise them it is so weird to me kinda like having someone else pick your nose!

@Floor dweller
Why would they want to eat breakfast with their own children? They probally don't do it at home so why would they do it on vacation?


@ Anonymous
Although I had a very bad time working for Asain parents, to be honest the kids were very well behaved and respectful.
Asain babies are very cute and I am in the final stages of adopting a infant from Korea

Money is the root of all evil said...

I guess to each his own. As a single working mother to a young special needs child, I can't imagine choosing to spend time sleeping in rather than waking up with my precious baby. Sleeping in? lol what's that? I am always tired: I love to sleep. :) So to me, I do agree slightly with MS about how it's weird to hire a nanny to care for your kids so you can sleep in. I bust my butt to pay for childcare so I can work to support my daughter.

But what if I were rich? Who knows? You don't know what someone's life is like until you have walked a mile in their shoes. I would like to think my value system would not change if I had money, but I can't know that for sure. Being a blue collar single mom is all I've ever known.

I do know that money changes people. It is sad but true. I don't begrudge a rich mom for her money and paying a nanny to watch her kids so she can get her beauty rest. I don't understand it, but I don't hold it against her.

I know that if I were rich, I would get to spend more time with my child and I would see that as a blessing. But as I said, who knows? Maybe I'd become greedy.

Just something to think about.

Phoenix said...

LOL. Adults say things when they are angry. When I was a child I thought the electical boxes on the side of the road were made to house bad children who were being bad in the car. My mother always told me when I was bad that she was going to pull over and stick me in one of those boxes because that is where bad kids are. I always imagined little kids inside those boxes. LMAO!

Lola said...

The sleeping late comment by anonymous: why is it that people base their ideas of how people are based on the few interactions they have had. That is called stereotyping, and applying it to race (and saying that all people of that race must be that way) is called racist. My 'white' daughter would sleep until noon if I let her from infancy on up. No matter what time I put her to bed she would wake up about 12 hours later. Not that I believe all white babies sleep for 12 hours!! Lol!! That's just silly.

another nanny said...

As far as parents sleeping in on vacation, I think you have to look at the overall lifestyle. If, like Traveling Nanny's family, the parents never work and never spend time with their kids, that's different from parents who normally work outside the home, then care for their kids evenings and weekends, and use vacation to both relax themselves and spend family time.
Also, there's nothing wrong with therapy. And there's nothing to be gained from a parent constantly feeling guilty about their choices/situation (e.g. being a working parent, being a single parent, etc). In fact, chronic parental guilt is much more likely to harm a child (IMO) than a parent working or taking a nanny on vacation.

MissMannah said...

I loved this week's column! Reminds me nobody's perfect and I don't have to beat myself up when I'm not. One time I was teaching in a 2s class and dropped an entire gallon of milk all over the stack of cots. I let out the f-bomb and was so shocked at myself for saying it that I accidentally said it again! I slapped my hand over my mouth and just prayed none of the little parrots went home saying it.

rte66nanny said...

Eca, why did you just write my exact comment? Well, I should say, the first paragraph of my comment.

a mom said...

it doesn't bother you that the 10 yo sees you as an 'employee' that he 'supervises' on some level? The fact that he says he's going to 'tell on you' is bothersome to me on some level. Reminds me of the time I took my son to his friends house for playdate and when we got there, the other boy was livid that the cleaning woman had put away his train tracks that he had set up. He storms into the bedroom where she was still cleaning and yells at her and then comes out where we are and says "she is SO fired for doing this!". I just thought to myself, "what an entitled brat."

Phoenix said...

Lola. your daughter will never get out of that! How do I know? I was the same way. From infant to now. 12 hours of sleep no matter what time I go to bed. She will have trouble with it. And she will be tired most days because frankly I just don't have the luxury to do that everyday. Sigh. At least I know there are others like me :)

Vanessa said...

My Mom boss and dad boss swear all the time. Every time they say shit or fuck I mock yell at them. I loved your story! I have the same kind of relationship with my bosses. When I have a bad day and lose my patience, they support me and understand. I've yelled at my charges and I've threatened to take toys away. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes kids just enjoy to push buttons and they succeed.

But to be fair to these sightings, the nannies' attitude must have been negative enough to get someone's attention.

Phoenix said...

I yelled at stranger kids last night. I was parked outside my friends house sitting in my car. And three little kids like 6 or 7 were playing with a ball and it hit my car. I told them to knock that shit off and not to hit my car again! They went away. So sometimes yelling is good :)

Rebecca said...

How would you guys feel if my next column was about spanking? I'm not sure if I should run two "I'm a truly terrible Nanny" columns back to back.
Feedback please!


I have an idea!
Why don't you write a article on making cupcakes with your charges and what you and the daddy can do with the left over frosting when the kiddies are asleep!

Phoenix said...

To give a real opinion. I think you should write an article about spanking. I think everyone has been there or has seen a nanny in such a state.


Who is getting spanked? Is daddy spanking the nanny or is nanny spanking the daddy?

Rebecca said...

MS, I actually only write about what I have personally experienced. You should write about the cupcakes!

Lola said...

phoenix, the funny thing is that right after she was born I learned that part of her name meant sleepy or tired according to a name dictionary! it was prophetic, lol :)

Vanessa said...

LOL MS, you should write about your shenannigans with your boss. Seriously? ugh.

Anyway, I think you should write about spanking. I personally don't do it, but I have smacked them on the hands on occasions, especially when they play with outlets or near the stove, and talking doesn't do much.

MissMannah said...

Rebecca, I would love to read your insights on spanking. Actually, that goes for everyone. This is such a hot-button topic and I'd like to get an intelligent conversation going. None of this "You're going to hell for being a bad parent if you smack your kid" nonsense please.

Marypoppin'pills said...

I am sure my comment rings true with a lot of Nannies and will be deleted because it is harsh but the truth.


Why do you keep saying you're going to get deleted? Say whatever the hell you want... just don't be racist and it will stay up.

Done and done.

allie said...

@ a mom. I think the 10 year old more amused than anything else. I nanny for a family with a 10 year old and he jokes about things like that with me(whether I've sworn in front of him or completely forgotten to get something done that his parents asked for, whatever). He'll say he's telling but its just teasing. He loves me and the parents love me and he knows they will just be amused as he is- they joke about me being perfect and never forgetting anything, and he understands that I mess shit up, and so do his parents. However, the minute I get firm with him about homework/screen time/attitude, he will get completely respectful and listen to me.

NomoreBigBird said...

I think a spanking article would be extremely interesting (even if it will likely cause a lot of drama and debate). As someone else mentioned, it's a hot-button topic . . . if nothing else, it'll certainly get every one talking.

On a side note, you don't seem like the type to spank Rebecca, or perhaps I have you pegged wrong? Either way, I'm guessing the column is going to be funny and interesting yet again.

AZtoWA said...

I can SO relate to this post! I have a story but would be judged in an instant so I will just say...I immediately went home and told MB "Just so you know...I'm a horrible nanny because I did X!" She cracked up and said she didn't blame me!! :) All was well!

We always joked about the things we did that made us a "horrible" mother or nanny.