The Sibling/Surrogate/Sitter... and her Undisciplined, Devilishly-Cute Niece

opinion 1
For starters, this is my first post to ISYN - and I'm not what you could really qualify as a professional caregiver. In fact, I'm not really a nanny at all - except when I'm called on in the case of my sister's only child, a daughter, S. But even this sort of on-call whenever-you-need-me type of babysitting has given rise to some trouble and some questions, and I really don't know if I'm being unreasonable or not. So, I thought it might not be such a bad idea to ask the professionals and see.

A little detail: I'm a twenty-two year old full-time college student, currently in the process of finishing my BA (after sort of back-tracking to get my AA first) and unemployed. At the time this all started, I wasn't doing much during the day, because I was between semesters, and didn't have much activity - other than to stay home, sleep, write a little and generally laze about. I have an uncomfortable relationship with my stepmother and my family is what you might call extended, with my oldest sibling being closer to forty and my youngest only eleven; Daddy has been married twice and had a few extra-matrimonial kids too so while most of us siblings haven't lived together very long or at all, we're still family. That being said, if I've ever been close to any of my elder siblings, it's always been my sister, who's ten years older than myself, making her thirty-two. That might seem like a lot of unnecessary background information, but I want to make sure I explain this right.

My sister, who I'll call N, was a bit of a party girl; drinking with friends all night, going out every night of the week and weekend, working with a hangover and generally living for herself. She got pregnant a few years ago and though the relationship with her baby-daddy didn't work out, she did decide to have the child and I now have a beautiful, albeit moderately troublesome and undisciplined niece. My sister lives in an upper-average sized 1-1 apartment in a semi-nice neighborhood, just her and her daughter. She works one job full time and another part time, for a few hours, on Sunday afternoons. My niece is three now and a real handful; she's also unbearably cute, sweet-looking and manipulative. She's quick to throw a tantrum, but even quicker with the tears; my sister is only vaguely stern with her and only very rarely - for the most part, she just let's her daughter run wild and threatens her with 'pow-pow' when she's getting unruly. My niece is usually good after that, for all of a minute or so, and then it's chaos again.

So, my problems start here. Originally, my sister would call me every now and then (when my niece was still only two years old) and ask me if I wanted to get away from my stepmother for a day or two, maybe come over and have some wine with her and watch a chick flick. I jumped at those opportunities - who wouldn't? And we would do just that - spend that whole night hanging out; that was great. But, as things would go, it always seemed like the next day, my sister would tell me she'd love to have me stay another night - and then would casually tell me that she's thinking of going out with so-and-so for a few hours and would it be okay if I could do her the super-easy favor of watching my niece for a few hours while she went out for drinks. She would offer to get S to bed herself before she left and told me basically all I had to do was make sure she was safe while she slept. It seemed like an easy enough task to do for my sister helping me out of my house for a few days, so I agreed. Again. And again. And again.

It started to be a sort of routine thing. Pretty soon, N stopped calling me to ask if I 'wanted to get away'; now it became 'hey, will you come watch S for me?' And even still, I'd try and do my part and agree - but more and more, she pushed it. She'd call me with barely any notice at all - "Hey, I'm around the corner. Do you mind watching S for me tonight? And tomorrow afternoon?" I said yes, most times, because I felt pressured and trapped - and this is my big sister, who tries to help me out whenever possible. I thought I was being pretty accommodating, though I never complained. Even when I had plans already, my sister would wheedle and beg and I would agree, because I was trying to be helpful and all that. She even had me cooking meals for my niece, cleaning up after S, washing dishes and giving her a bath, putting her down for naps, straightening up, etc. The most I ever did was ask her for dinner-money (which sort of dissolved since we usually ordered pizza anyway) and maybe like, twenty-bucks, flat - as a total for both days. I didn't think it was too much of a big deal, asking for a few bucks, when she knows I'm unemployed and could use a little money. The girl who used to babysit my niece for her, another friend of hers, lived in her apartment with her and slept on her couch - and still charged her two-hundred a week, while my sister was also paying baby-daddy's mother to watch her during the day, instead of enrolling her in daycare. Compared to all that, my twenty-dollars seemed paltry, I thought.

But my sister thought otherwise. The whole comment started an argument about how ungrateful I was to her and how she'd done so much for me throughout my life and how low and shitty it was of me to request any kind of payment for babysitting my own niece. I tried to tell her it wasn't about babysitting my niece or not - my own mother used to give me twenty dollars to watch my little sister on date-night. I tried explaining that to her but she blew me off and told me something like, "Pssht, fine, I'll give you twenty bucks. But you're staying both nights then." And even though I felt she was being really unfair and kinda snotty, I agreed and stayed the two nights. And both nights my sister went out at ten (after barely putting S to bed) and came home at dawn; my niece got up (and gets up, regularly) at eight in the morning and proceeded to bug me into waking up, when I'd only gotten to sleep when my sister came home. She got to sleep in and I got to pull the equivalent of a double.

S is an absolute nightmare most days, which is sad because she's such a sweet-looking little cutie. She's a mommy-clinger so if my sister goes anywhere, S has to go too. She's also very independent and anal retentive, even for a three year old. No one can turn on the faucet for her, she has to do it herself. No one can open the door for her, or hand the key-card to the gate guard, or turn the door knob or hand over the pen, etc. She has to be involved in every movement that's done within her sight. She's also a finicky eater, and even though my sister still has her sitting in a high-chair, she flings her food to the floor and laughs about it, and giggles and shoves her plate off again if I try to pick it up. She has a bad habit of writing on my sister's bedroom walls with my sister's wealth of make-up - in eyeliner and lipstick - and will often do something bad and then come out with a sweet smile to tell you she did so... and then run for cover and giggle the whole time you try to discipline her. She has a whole wall of the living room lined with toys and when she feels like it, she'll throw them at the walls, the windows, me and anywhere else she wants to; I tell her to pick them up, she says no and runs off so I can't catch her, then cries and screams if I do. If I pick up the toys myself, she kicks them over again and runs away. I think she's secretly a little ADHD, but my sister won't get her tested or anything like that and says I just need to "play" with her more. And trust me, I try. But S's favorite activity is watching and re-watching the same three or four Disney dvds and never leaving; I'm not allowed to take her anywhere either. So all I can do is try to read to her (which she refuses to sit still for) or watch her movies with her (over and over again, and even still she gets listless and causes chaos).

She really has no concept of being truly apologetic, because my sister is so lax with her - she tells S, "No, don't do that" but she smiles a moment later and my niece writes it off entirely. The only time I've ever seen her actually take heed is when my sister gives her a light smack on the tush, or a three-count spanking. Then she pays attention and goes to sulk in a corner and cry - which only lasts so long because my sister inevitably goes over to cuddle her and hug her. Which I understand. As a soft-hearted person, I hate seeing her cry too - but my sister's attitude toward discipline makes it really hard to deal, because she won't let me give S a little swat on the tush or discipline her in any forceful way at all. Which I know sounds terrible, but she's a really difficult child and not even being allowed to verbally discipline her actions makes dealing with her impossible. I never really believed in corporal punishment with children, but when I was a kid, Daddy only ever spanked me twice - and I'll be damned if I didn't remember to behave. He only ever did it twice, but I learned my lessons. Partly, I think S's problems are because she doesn't have a steady influx of fatherly stern-ness. Her father only gets to see her every now and then and so when he does, he dotes on her endlessly and spoils her. And my sister is no better; S is her buddy, not her child.

All of this, mind you, is her normal "good day" behavior. Bad days - don't even get me started (this email is long enough already). Now that I started school again, I have far less time and availability then before - which is just fine with me because it gives me a much needed excuse to keep from having to babysit. It's gotten to the point that, whenever my sister calls to ask if I'll babysit while she goes out to party, I tell her I'm busy or just ignore her call flat out. (And a lot of the time, I am legitimately busy, with school or friends or my own life.) I've started to feel abused by her, and her expectations. She never wants to hear "no" from me, and makes a great big deal out of it every time. Her comments range from "come on, please, just this once" to, "what, do you want me to pay you something more for it" to "that's your niece and you're so ungrateful, what kind of sister are you". I've gotten tired of it. So most days, I just avoid answering her calls and focus on school and my own life.

What really motivated me to post to ISYN is this: I was at a friends house, watching a movie, planning on spending the night - taking a night off from school for the first time in weeks. My friend tagged me on Facebook and almost immediately I got a shitty message from my sister - "It's amazing how you never have time for me when I need you, but you have time to go hang out with your friends. SMH. You're fucking amazing. Some sister." And I'm not going to lie, I was absolutely hurt and shocked, pissed and confused. I didn't understand why me going over to visit a friend should provoke such a nasty reaction from my sister, especially when she hadn't called to ask me anything in over a month. I told her politely that I don't recall her asking me to come over to babysit and she told me to go to hell, that I was ungrateful and a shitty sister and a bunch of other things. I won't transcribe the whole nonsense for you guys, but it was ugly and she's still not speaking to me.

So I guess, to wrap up this TL;DR post (for which I sincerely apologize) I guess I'm just wondering... am I unreasonable in my feelings that I'm being unfairly treated and maybe just a little abused? Is it too much to ask, to be paid such a paltry, courtesy amount like twenty dollars for my total time babysitting, even if the kid in question is my sibling's child? Isn't it a bit crippling, not to be able to verbally discipline a child, but be expected to look after her and keep her in line? Is my sister a bit assuming and harsh or is it just me being ungrateful and lazy, like she says? Where do you draw the line between helpful sibling, surrogate mother, or disciplinarily-crippled nanny? I'd really appreciate anyone's insight or input, even if this is kind of off-topic. Is she being unfair or am I expecting too much?


another nanny said...

I think you already know the answer to all of your questions, but your sister sounds quite emotionally manipulative, and that's probably part of the issue with her daughter's behavior, as well.

IMO, you're going to have to set boundaries with her and just accept that she's not going to like it (that is, if you decide it's important to maintain this relationship). If you have plans, absolutely do not change them at the last minute for her (barring an actual emergency). You could offer an alternative time, if you have one available (such as "This weekend just isn't possible for me, but next weekend might work.") I think the money issue really varies depending on the family. You could try to strike middle ground, such as by asking for a flat fee after a certain number of hours. Don't know how that would work out.
As far as the child's behavior, I would give her as many choices as possible (e.g. do you wear A or B. Do you want to eat Y or Z), remain even tempered with her (e.g. don't react strongly when she throws her food on the floor. Just give her a warning, and then end the mealtime if it happens again), and try to let her know as much as possible what to expect.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

First off, I am going to guess that at the root of this, your sister feels alone in raising her child. By her lashing out at you when you are tagged in facebook pictures at a friend's house tells me that either she is jealous you are able to go out and have fun and/or she needs help in raising her child and you are all she has, she clearly doesn't have the child's father around.

That being said, I think she is out of line when she makes you feel bad for having a life outside of watching your niece. Yes, she is a relative but she is not your child and you really have no obligation to watch her. It seems to me that you do truly care for your niece and your sister but you shouldn't have to feel like you are a parent.

I think it is important to approach your sister with your feelings. In a typical nanny job, you could quit and never see the people again but this is your sister so solving some of these issues is important. I would start by telling her that you do enjoy spending time with your niece but you also have your own life. You are not her parent. If you are willing to watch her, outline the changes that you would like to see made, starting with the behavior. I am assuming that you really want her behavior to improve, after all you will be around this child forever. The discipline, for example, needs to be the first thing. Corporal punishment, although may seem to be effective, DOES NOT WORK IN THE LONG TERM! Don't do it. I would suggest maybe a time-out if necessary and also reinforcing this child's GOOD behavior. Ignore the bad behavior. If the child throws food, have no reaction. If she screams, just walk away. If she throws toys, calmly take the toy and put it out of reach. Do not blow up at her, after all, she is just looking for any reaction. At first, compliment her on anything positive she does. If she cleans up a toy, act like it's the best thing that's ever happened. She will probably be thrilled at the positiveness as opposed to always being yelled at.

Also, use her favorite things (her disney movies) as a reward for good behavior. When you first arrive, make it clear the things you want her to do. "Clean up all your toys in the corner and then we can put on the movie!" Do not bribe her. Bribing is anything you say after the negative behavior has already begun. For example, if she is running around screaming, don't say "If you stop screaming, you can watch your movie." That's a bribe and it won't work in the long run. If the child wants to do everything for herself, I would let her do it, within reason. If she wants to turn on the faucet after you turned it on, does she scream at you? If so, don't let her do it. Calmly say "next time ask nicely and I will let you do it yourself." She will learn that screaming and throwing a tantrum will not get her what she wants. If next time you turn on the faucet she says "I would like to do it" be all happy and say "You told me so nicely! Sure you can do it!" The key is not to give into tantrums and to teach her the proper way to "get what she wants." She is at an age where she wants to do anything and that's fine, but not if she's being a brat about it.

As far as the money goes, that can be a touchy issue. I do not think you are being unreasonable for asking for money. I sometimes watch my cousin who is 3 but I never ask for money because it is fun for me and I love spending time with her. For you, it seems like it is more work than it is enjoyable. I would outright tell your sister that you expect to be paid a small amount when you watch her daughter. A babysitter probably makes $10 an hour so if she is paying you $20 for a whole night or day she is getting quite the deal! Tell her that.

Best of luck and if you have any other behavior-related questions I'd be happy to help. I'm a behavior therapist :)

CityNanny said...

I totally agree with StrawberryShortKakes. It's tricky because it is your sister, so you're wondering where to draw the line, and what to overlook since she's family. It's clear that it's not a healthy relationship, and you need to do something about it. She doesn't see what she's doing wrong, and is being a huge brat (your sister!). I would take the time and write a long letter to her. I might get sh*t for saying that, but it's amazing what we are able to communicate when we're not in the heat of the moment. Tell her how much you love her, how much you love her daughter, how your relationship is so important, highlight the amazing memories you have, and don't bitch at her- just be honest and tell her what you are seeing. If she reads it and can tell that it's coming from a good place, and that you're not attacking her, she'll be a lot more accepting of your opinion and you're honesty. Don't touch upon your niece's behavior in the letter- I think it's important for now just to let your sister know how you're feeling about the relationship- HOPEFULLY she'll read it and get a reality check. If not, then you need to take a break from your sister for a while. You can't maintain a relationship, even with family, if it's manipulative, cruel, and just flat out mean.
As far as the niece's behavior goes, she needs a FIRM caregiver. If she throws something (even if it's food), give her ONE warning ("Please don't do that. If you do it again, I will have to take it away.").... and if she does it again, take it away. Don't give empty threats because she'll learn that you aren't serious and thrive on that. I have been there, done that. Nothing will work without consistency. Even if she laughs at you and doesn't take you seriously, just stick to your guns. Set up a time-out and tell her how it's going to work. That is, all of this will happen ONCE you decide to babysit her again (if you repair you and your sisters relationship)... but you do need to tell your sister what you think about the behavior and how to handle it. I would suggest doing some basic google research, and maybe sending her some links or print out some articles.
Anyways, good luck.

MissMannah said...

I think you need to really ask yourself if you want to babysit your niece anymore because it kind of sounds like you don't. I'm also wondering to myself why you never bothered to get a part-time job so you wouldn't have to get roped into babysitting in the first place.

Listen, I know how families can be--I have some pretty effed-up family members myself and you can't feed into their drama. Your sister has a hell of a lot of drama going on and you need to ignore it or you're going to get completely sucked into it again. You need to focus on your own life for awhile. So just tell her NO--she'll get over it, but she will probably throw a pissy fit for awhile and there will probably be some gossip between the siblings. But who cares? Eventually she'll grow up.

Nanny barb said...

What is pow pow?

Razzle Dazzle said...

@ Nanny Barb: It's a spanking, I believe.

@ OP: I think your sis is being manipulative and I don't think you're wrong to feel the way you do. The other ladies have given some good advice already. I hope your sister is able to see where you're coming from and you guys work this out.(And, yes, it's crazy to have no form of discipline in place and just let the child run about doing anything and everything. Boundaries are needed)

Phoenix said...

well I hate to say it but you don't have a nanny type problem. You have a family problem. i am the oldest sister in my family. I'm 6.5 years older than my sister. we know how to take advantage of the younger one. I mean we helped raise them and molded them into servitude LOL. Once me and my sister were vising the cemetary looking for really old graves. And it was HOT. Probably 110 degress that day. Well I didn't want to keep going into the sun so I drove around the cemetary and made my little sister jump out of the car, run around and look at headstones then report back to me what she found. If it was something i wanted to see I would give her the camera to jump back out and take a pic of it. While I sat in the AC of the car. Looking back that was kind of fucked up. But that's what we do.
I'm not saying your sister is right. In fact she is not. But you allowed yourself to be a door mat to her. She is taking advantage of you. So my advice is don't answer the phone when she calls and don't answer the door when she comes by with her daughter. You can call her back tomorrow night and say "gosh I'm sorry my phone was dead and I fell asleep." Or something to that affect. The key is to not speak to her. If you do you will suddenly realize you are caring for your niece and you don't know how that happened. That is whay my sister does. If I want something she just simply won't answer the phone. That really pisses me off but i get over it pretty fast.

Phoenix said...

And the niece isn't ADHD, what she is is lonely. Anytime something is wrong with a kid they say its ADHD. Sometimes it is, most of the time its not. Reduce the sugar and caffine in her diet, put her on a schedule. She clings to her mom because she doesn't just does. I was a mom clinger too, and very independant as well. I never was cruel like your niece though. She needs structured discipline. And in my house if my step-son did that...spanking is allowd in my family

StrawberryShortKakes said...

I disagree with the people who are telling you to ignore your sister in hopes that she will leave you alone. WHAT?! I can't believe people would suggest that. OP, unless you want to not have a relationship with your sister and your niece, I would suggest making steps to be the bigger person in the relationship and solve some of the problems. She is your sister, after all. Ignoring her phone calls is just ignoring the problem and will not fix anything.

MissMannah said...

Strawberry, normally I would never advocate ignoring a problem to make it go away. That is the cowardly way out, in my opinion, and I think I've made it abundantly clear on here that I'm not afraid of confrontations. However, this appears to be a very dysfunctional family and the older sister seems to be very immature. I am willing to bet that any amount of sitting down and talking it out will fall on deaf ears.

wrong said...

Your sister is a bitch.

Also, you need to get a job so that number one, you can help pay for your education and grow up some, and secondly, you can tell your sister that you are working for real money and you don't have time to work for her for free.

As a single mom, I know how much I appreciate my sisters when I need them, but they would never treat me like this, nor I them. Taking advantage of someone is wrong.

NYC sitter said...

It is no one's business whether you have a job or not and I honestly think all the people suggesting that should mind their own business. I know how hard it is to work and go to school at the same time, if I had the choice not to I certainly would have taken it.

OP said...

Hey everyone, thank you for all your comments and advice. I realize this isn't really a nanny problem, but you've all been so helpful anyway - thank you, a dozen times over.

In regards to all your suggestions - the majority of you are probably right, my family is highly dysfunctional (in a functioning-chaos kinda way) and my sister has always been kinda hot headed. I never got a job because I didnt need one until recently and my family didnt push for it; they would rather I focus on my studies than work a normal job.

I did take Strawberry's advice and wrote my sister a letter, but she hasn't responded to it in the week since I sent it to her. I can only assume she's just going to ignore me, until she finds something appropriately snippy to say. But, I put my feelings in words and if she doesn't want to acknowledge them, I can't force her to. I do want to maintain a relationship with my sister and niece, but it seems like h til she needs me again, she plans on ignoring me. Or something like that, I suppose.

To those of you who told me not to raise my voice or get angry at S - I understand; I'm the last person to advocate yelling as discipline. What I was trying to say is that's why my sister does and that's what achieves results with my niece, however brief thyroid might be. My gentle but firm rebukes and reprimands, and my punishments (like time out and taking things away from her) are ignored and overridden by my sister. She tells me not to tell S that she can't do thing or that I'll punish her; she says to leave the disciplining up to her. >.>

@Phoenix - I mentioned ADHD because I do honestly think S might have it; her mother and my younger sister both have it as well, and some of our brothers. I agree, that doesn't necessarily mean anything, but S isn't allowed caffeine or much sugar; her main snack is goldfish and apple juice. She spends her days at her grandmother's playing with her cousins, tearing stuff up and screaming like an adorable banshee, with no one telling her otherwise. She burns off her energy but then mysteriously springs right back into it. I don't know what they could do or change about her diet, honestly.

I just wanted to come back and give you guys some answers and thank you for all your comments and advice. Thanks a lot. (^-^)/

Phoenix said...

Thanks for the update. To me it seems S would benefit from having a set schedule. She seems to be bouncing around to different houses with different people and activities. If she had a set eating and sleeping schedule she would begin to get hungry and sleepy at the right times. Some kids this will work for. If she is anything like I was as child, it won't. I slept all day, and was awake all night. I was also a mommy clinger. My dad was always working so I shared the bed with my mom. If she got up so did I. I would follow her everywhere. She couldn't sneak out of bed either. Course the house I grew up in was extremely haunted and scary. That is probably why my mom only slept during the day. We would be up all night scared.... LOL, fond memories.

but yes, maybe your adorable banshee would benefit from having a schedule. My husbands homeboy had a kid with this idiot girl. She was literally the dumbest thing I've ever seen. She had 2 extra kids before the one with Chris. And her kids had no schedule at all. They would bounce around, jump off furniture, and fight. But they always would crash out literally as their heads hit the pillow. I didn't know why. She just said they tire themselves out. I accepted this until one day we were over at their house late. And her daughter comes in and asks "mommy, should I go get the night night juice?" Um... I didn't know what night night juice was and I was curious, turns out she was drugging her kids with benadryl so they would fall asleep. Next day I was on the phone with CPS reporting the incident. I know she got a visit from them. But since she is a member of the apache indian reservation they couldn't really do anything. She would have to be punished by the reservation and they don't really care about stuff like that

MissMannah said...

Totally off the subject but I hate how the Native American tribes get special treatment like that. It makes me sick and I'm one of them! Something similar is happening here with the Cherokees (my tribe, incidentally) and while there isn't any real child abuse going on with this specific case, this little girl really doesn't need to be with her father but since he is an Indian and has "rights" according to their laws, the courts and CPS are powerless. It is absolutely ridiculous.

OP, it sounds like ADHD or something else could be a possibility with your niece but I doubt your sister is going to do anything for now and I also doubt she is going to take any advice now that she's mad at you...from the sound of it anyway. I hope I'm not projecting my own sisterly problems onto your situation, like I said I've definitely been there--I have 4 sisters. Someday it will all blow over, I hope, and you will be able to have a relationship with her and your niece.

FamilyNanny said...

My sister's like yours except I got paid for the first two and the last one will start school next year in kindergarten while her oldest (teen) sister has a baby. I don't get paid but she'll get me what I want to eat at the store, free computer time all day (5 of us share at night), netflix, and cable that I don't have at home. Not ideal but I'm also working on disability cause once new baby comes there's no way in hell I want to live with them 4/5 days a week. Sorry but because of the first two I know that I'll be expected to do full around the clock care giving, sleep with the brat (sorry but that's how I feel about it sometimes knowing mama) etc. I don't expect my sister to pay me weekly or even hourly but a 20 now and then would be great so maybe we could order a pizza. If we want fresh pizza we have to bundle up and walk 5 blocks to the place where they have 5 dollar pizzas and it comes out of my own pocket. Only perks really are netflix, cable and once mommy/daddy come home the nights are mine.
Said lovely neice I care for now did the banshee thing, still does from time to time and forget doing what I ask. There are some easy ways to entertain her. Does your sister have a computer? You tube sesame street if she behaves, dora the explorer ... etc. My neice has always loved cell phones and not the toy plastic ones either lol. If you have an old one you don't need that takes pictures let her take pictures with them ONLY if she behaves. You don't have to discipline but introduce new things that she can only do if she behaves, cleans, eats her food. Give her small servings of food to start and then tell her if she eats it all she can have pudding, jello, some other treat as dessert. Bribery yes but it works in the long run. Like I said my neice loves cell phones mainly because they take pictures lol. My current one takes videos and she loves that feature. Tell her lets make a video for mommy or whatever. My sister and I have our fights but she knows she'd be screwed if I didn't help her. We did stop talking for 5 months or so because of something unrelated to babysitting and she called needing a sitter. I've said it before and I'll say it again I'm indisposable :) sorry but it's true. I've given up a lot of time/plans to babysit but that was because I don't trust stranger babysitters that my brother tended to leave his kids with if I wouldn't babysit. They weren't strangers to him but there were only two of his strange friends that I trusted to watch them and they were both men and one of his kids was a little girl. I can't give advice about your sister but take the advice about your neice and you don't have to take the pictures with a cell phone, digital camera works too. Mine's cheap but shoots video too. It's been through the ringer so I'm more apt to let her use that then my phone for pictures. Think of it this way too, you'll have memories for the future your sister probably doesn't think about.

InFavorOfBeingFair said...

Putting aside the above arguments about weed vs. alcohol vs. tobacco and the name-calling, and the judgmental attitudes from both sides of this argument...

Out of the 127 comments on this thread, I'm surprised that no one decided to maybe just give the Nanny the benefit of the doubt.

Taking into full consideration what the OP said of the nanny's response to her inquiry, and the original claims of the post, could it not be something so simple as - in her free time - this nanny hangs out with friends who smoke, and she smells because she's present with them? And that she might have a contact high, which is by definition a minor high? Just because she "looks stoned" and smells of weed doesn't mean she's out smoking the night away, holding, dealing, smoking in the OP's house, or stoned on the job - or any of the twenty thousand other accusations up above.

The girl says she's not smoking. I'd give her the benefit of the doubt. If she's as good a nanny as the OP said she was, then that should stand in her favor. And even if she is - by chance - smoking pot, as long as she's not bringing it ~physically~ into the OP's house, or smoking/being stoned on the job, then it's no one's business but hers. Smoking (whether she does it or not) shouldn't erase her great track record with this family, or change their opinion of her. That's just judgmental, and close-minded.