30 October, 2012

Knowledgeable Negotiations Needed

OPINION
First time Nanny needs suggestions.... First of all, some background info about me - I am a full time nanny for a family living in the Washington DC metro area. This is my first full time job as a nanny, but had been a part time (nights/weekends) nanny in NYC area for a few families for 7yrs. I have been working for the DC family for 6 months now and they are also first time parents. I am grateful to them for willing to hire someone who has never been a full time nanny, though I do have loads of experience with children along with great references too.

Initially, I asked for a contract to be drawn up by the parents before I started my first day at work, the parents are lawyers as a lot of DC professionals are. After weeks of them saying 'We're working on it.. it will come this day...", no contract ever surfaced. And I was willing to let the matter rest as I was eager to start work. Now, after 6 months of working for the family, I have met several other nannies whom I speak to regularly. From gathering information from these nannies, I have realized that a contract will help me set certain boundaries with this DC family as there are particular issues that come up time and again that I have problems with. To be clear - I have no problem with what they pay me hourly and for my overtime rate. But I need opinions from parents and nannies about some parts of the contract:

1) Since there are no official rules/laws about raises, when is the right time for me to ask about a raise? And what percent raise is reasonable?

2) I currently have NO paid days/hours off. I do NOT get paid on government holidays /personal days /sick days /vacation days, etc. I only get paid for the EXACT hours I work. **What is a reasonable amount of paid days off I can ask for? I was thinking 5 paid days off every 6 months, is this reasonable? My daily hours varies, it ranges from 9.5hrs - 11.5hrs, so what amount of hours should I ask for that is equivalent to 1 paid day off?

3) And is it also reasonable for me to include in my contract to give me at least 3 or 4 or 5 days notice for any period they expect me NOT to work, and otherwise if there's no advance notice, to pay me a full standard day? (Sometimes I am given little or only hours notice as to when I am not required to work that same day).

4) As we just had Hurricane Sandy come thru our area, there was another issue that came up as well. Is it reasonable for me to include a "Due to extreme weather..." clause in my contract? Such as if they want me to report to work, but the public transportation is shut down due to extreme weather, is it reasonable for me to ask them to compensate me for a taxi cab?

5) There was a dilemma that surfaced previously regarding overnight rate. The parents and I could not agree on a rate therefore, at that time, I did not work for that one night they asked. In this instance, I was again given little notice of when they needed me to stay overnight. They offered to pay me an overnight rate equivalent to a babysitter's rate, whereas I was asking for a reasonable rate according to a typical full time nanny's overnight rate. I asked my other nanny friends what they were charging, and based on that, the rate that I offered was on the low side. **My question is, being a full time nanny, should my overnight rate be more or less than your average babysitter? After talking to other nannies that I've met, I deduce that I perform more duties than the average nanny, without ANY benefits and on an average wage. I feel like having a contract will be beneficial and I need any helpful suggestions to my questions above from parents and nannies. Thank you! - Anonymous

Justified in Leaving the Contract Intact?

OPINION
I want to hear other perspectives on this because I'm not sure if I did the right thing... I'm a live in nanny. My contract states my salary plus rates for overtime. My vacation was set aside as 2 weeks of the family's choice, one week of my choice. I have been here for nearly four months and it's clear that my vacation time will actually be about 5 weeks total because of the parents' flexible work schedule and their desire to vacation as much as possible. So last week I had 2.5 days off but was still paid my salary. I have an overnight rate of $50. In my contract, the overnight rate begins at 9pm. Because I am live-in, night time babysitting and overnight babysitting are the same rate (so whether I babysit from 9-10pm or 9pm-4am, whenever they come home, it's the same flat rate).

The other night MB told me she needed to pick up DB from the airport and asked if I'd mind babysitting for 2 hours while the kids were in bed. I said yes, and assumed that I would be paid our agreed upon rate. Then, right as she was about to walk out the door, keys in hand, she asked me if it was "okay if she just didn't pay me" (yes, her exact words) because of the "extra vacation time last week and because it was 10pm-12am, and you'll be home anyway". I was really offended and caught off guard. I do understand her perspective -- she didn't want to pay me $50 to be home while the kids were asleep, but I wanted to put my foot down because I'm always mindful that I do not work for free, period.

It's taken about four years of experience for me to become as assertive as I am with bosses so I intended to tell her no it was absolutely not okay for her to "just not pay me".  I told her I was not comfortable agreeing to anything outside of the contract we signed before I started. I said I understood that I got extra vacation time, but that I was always here and ready to work when she needed me, but her decision to take her family on a holiday was outside of my control and I didn't want to set a precedence that it's okay to penalize me for it. She responded that she was not lowering my monthly salary because of the days off but she just didn't want to pay me for the extra babysitting the following week because I had two and a half days off.

In the end, she wouldn't drop it so I said it would be okay for just the one night, but moving forward I want to stick to the contract we agreed upon. I am absolutely not happy with this but I felt really pressured, so I'll cut my losses there. I know I was within my rights to insist that we go by the contract, but my question to you all, parents and nannies, especially live-in nannies -- was this reasonable of me? What would you have done? I have a good relationship with my employers and would like to keep it that way. I am upset that my boss would ever even ask me to take less pay than what we agreed upon in the contract, but I'm not sure if I'm justified in feeling this way. There is nothing in our contract about "making up hours" the next week or anything of the sort and I would never get into one of those arrangements if it's because the FAMILY left and I could not do my job. I value this family and the job, and feel that a follow-up conversation is definitely necessary. - Anonymous

Presenting Nanny with Presents

OPINION
I'm a first time mom and we have a nanny we all love like crazy and this February will mark one year. I'm new to your blog and from some of the stories I've read so far our family feels blessed to have such a great nanny. What should we do as far as a Christmas bonus? What is the standard rate? And what about her anniversary in February? Do we give another bonus then too or just a gift? Thanks in advance for all suggestions! - Anonymous

27 October, 2012

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2 Children Killed, Nanny Arrested

IN THE NEWS
2 Children Fatally Stabbed on Upper West Side - A mother returned home from work to her luxury Upper West Side apartment on Thursday to find two of her children, both under age 7, fatally stabbed in a bathtub by the family’s nanny, the authorities said. The nanny herself lay nearby, grasping a bloody knife, with an apparently self-inflicted slash to her own throat. The mother arrived at the apartment a block from Central Park at 57 West 75th Street around 5:30 p.m. with a third child, the authorities said, and confronted the horrific scene. “There were bloodcurdling screams from a woman and man’s screaming,” said Rima Starr, who lives down the hall from the victims’ second-floor apartment. Ms. Starr recognized the man’s voice as the building superintendent. She heard him yelling: “ ‘You slit her throat! You slit her throat!’ The mother’s was just bloodcurdling screams.”

The nanny, whose name was not released, was arrested as soon as the police arrived, according to law enforcement officials. She was taken to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, where she was in serious condition and not expected to live. The police and emergency service personnel shut down the block. Neighbors watched as the victims were removed and rushed to the hospital. Ms. Starr said she was interviewed by the police and told it was the nanny who had stabbed the children. Ms. Starr said that the children’s mother was in a state of shock. “She was screaming in a psychotic state,” she said. “She was not lucid.” She wailed that she would never see her child again, Ms. Starr said. “Just screaming and swaying,” she recalled. “Then she had a lucid moment and said, ‘I need a doctor.’ ” Ms. Starr could only imagine her pain. “She sat there for the longest time in the lobby as the police questioned her.” Ms. Starr said she did not know her neighbor well, but described a young, loving couple. The husband is a businessman, she said, and the wife is a doctor. They have a big, friendly greyhound named Babar, she said. She had seen the nanny in the building, she said, but never got the sense of anything being out of the ordinary. “I rode in the elevator with the nanny just the day before yesterday,” she said. “I was making small talk. She was sort of unfriendly, didn’t want to interact. But I didn’t notice anything strange or weird.”
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Special thanks to the Reader that sent this in. For updates, please check the News Feed to the right on the front page of this blog.

Charles A Dana Discovery Center - Harlem NY

BADNANNYSIGHTING
Harlem NY: was in New York and reemed out another nanny. Hoping this message makes it back to the parents.
Nanny: short (5'2" maybe?) Filipino-like middle aged woman.
Caring for: young white twins, or of similar age (maybe 18mo - 3yrs old? I could only see the feet and they looked the same size/age)
Stroller: brown with orange (colors may be off) sidebyside jogger.
Where: Playground bathroom (Charles A Dana Discovery Center) was between MalcomeXBlvd/Lenox Ave and Frawley Circle/5th Avenue - off of W110/Central Park N.
When: Monday 8/20 around 2pm - give or take 30 minutes.
Nanny left children outside of bathroom stall. After confronting her, her defense was that she can see the stroller under the stall - my response was "how the hell are you going to chase down the kidnapper with your pants around your ankles locked behind a stall?" I can only pray this gets to the family and that I scared the crap out of her and she won't ever do it again.

Frustrated Child Causes Serious Headache

OPINION
I don't know how to really put this so ill just say it. I watch a 13 month old who expresses her anger or frustration by throwing her head. Like pounding it on things. It's resulted in bruises but she just won't stop. Today she got mad because she couldn't access something and once again threw her head but this time, she hit her nose and it bled. MB came home and I was honest and she didn't say too much. I'm so worried that somehow it will become my fault. I mean what kind of baby does that? I've never seen a kid do this. How do I get her to stop before my job is on the line? - Anonymous

East Mt Airy, PA

NANNY CONNECTIONS
We are looking for a caretaker to share our home and work several times per month. Our twin boys are 18 months old and are in daycare full time. They sleep through the night and are happy and healthy kids. I travel overnight for my job two or three times per month so care would start at 5:30 p.m. (picking up from daycare) and responsibilities would include putting the children to bed at 7:30 p.m. The babysitter could have a full time job elsewhere but just help out around the house 2-3 nights per month plus 1-2 times per month on the weekends. We can negotiate and see what works for everyone. You would live rent free, paying only $100/month utilities - in exchange for the working hours. We live in East Mt Airy, a great walking neighborhood convenient to shops and transportation. Thanks!
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Please be respectful. A reader sent this in as a Job posting and since I have on occasion helped Nannies looking for work I thought I'd allow Parents the same.

25 October, 2012

Despondent Young Nanny Needs Encouragement

OPINION
Dear whoevers out there.. Im 16 years old, and currently nanny for a family on the weekends thur-sun. I started in 2009 when i just turned 13. I was paid $30 a day from 8-530. They would pick me up and take me home or my parents would get me. I was okay then. Now im 16, my pay went from $30 a day to $40, 830-6 or after, and i asked to be paid by hour. So i was paid $5 an hour, making maybe $150 a week. Sometimes i work up to 30 hours. The father is a scientist with a PHD and the wife has her own business (which my mom is also a part of) and she doesnt even have to work, she could live off her husband.

So the kids are ages 3 and 7. The 7 year old is horrible, hes loud, hes mean and hes so difficult. He has adhd. I can handle it, but not for $5 an hour. The 3 year old is ...okay. I pick them up from school. Oh, and i also stay the entire weekend.. so im there when they need me. Washington state minimum wage is $9.04 an hour. Me and her husband made a deal that i would continue to babysit and he would help me buy a car. Note, hes lending me the money. Im paying every penny back. It was 2000, so far ive paid off $360. Sooo.. I talked to the mother and she agreed to $8 an hour.. Its okay... But im still so miserable. Sometimes she asks me to wash her pot-goodie dishes.. And i hate it! I have to vaccum the floors and kitchen everyday. I have to clean the childrens room, wash dishes, unload dishwasher and cook breakfast lunch and dinner. All for $8 an hour. I had texted the mother telling her my boyfriend (who babysits them during the week) would take over the next week because im so stressed. I was crying because i never get sleep, i cant afford to get an apartment (i have a bad home situation) and i have bills now like car payments and car insurance and gas and oil ect.

I have a terrible time sticking up for myself... But one night.. I told her. I said i can no longer work for $8 an hour. When the car is paid off i can take no less than $10hr. I felt so strong.. She of course tried to say she cant afford it and that i have to do more work. She doesnt even have to work! Im so sick of this! I hate this job! I hate their family and i hate working for them! Ive been trying so hard to get another job but no one will hire me. Im so depressed and hate my life. Im broke and my car needs fixed. I guess.. My question is what should i do? I cant just leave because i desperately need the money. How much should i be paid for two kids, living in home? Somebody help me. - Overworked and underpaid

Combating a Child in Attack Mode

OPINION
Has anybody ever had a problem bonding with one of their charges or just not liking them? I feel terrible about saying this (and even worse feeling it) but I do not like the four year old little boy that I nanny for. I have been this familys nanny for around two years but have known the family for four years. The parents are great and he has one older brother and a toddler brother. I have tried my best to bond with the four year old (about to be five) by doing activities, playing games and sports and even taking him on Ice Cream Fridays to get ice cream when I pick him up from school.

He is a very difficult child to the point where he has been taken to several doctors to test to see if he may have autism or a personality disorder due to his very high aggression. He is very rigid in the way he wants things and will assault you if you do something he doesn't like. He is very destructive with his items yet at school (according to the school) he is a perfect angel that follows directions and is not in the least bit aggressive to his classmates. He is a bully toward his brothers and when I intervene I get hit, kicked, scratched, bit, spit on, etc. When I have to physically put him in time out, he goes into full on attack mode and I have fallen down the stairs on more then one occasion. He is very bright but has a very nasty personality. His brothers on the other hand, are very easy and more laid back. Do the nannys or parents on here have any suggestions on how to try and bond more with a very difficult four year old and how to combat some of this extremely bad behavior as I am desperate for some help. - Anonymous

Duped Nanny Dumps Family

OPINION
OK I am a parent... I initially was going to put my son in daycare but then my neighbor said she could watch my son for 2 days. Since I have been neighbors and friends with her for a long time I decided to hire her as a part time nanny for 3 days. At first she told me that her rate was $12 per hour. I was very upfront with her in letting her know that was way out of the budget and asked her if she would accept $200 for 3 days of care. She said yes, she did not counter with another amount she accepted it, came to meet my family and had me check references. During her interview, my husband asked whether for an extra $50 she would consider dropping off/picking up my stepson (his son) from school 1 day per week, a total driving commitment of 100 miles. She again agreed even commenting that she had lived in the area where my stepson lives and was familiar with the drive etc... so now we are up to $250 for 3 days which included 1 day of driving back and forth. I then asked her if she could do a full week for $300 + $50 which would include the one day of driving so her compensation would be $350 per week to be paid twice monthly ($700) by check.

2 weeks before she was due to start my Father in law tragically passed away and I asked her to start early since MIL had to return early to be with her family. She agreed, however since she was starting early there were a few things different from what we initially discussed. First my stepson was at a different school because his mom was going to move the following week. The location of his present school was actually closer than the one she agreed to drive to. Issue #1... On the first day she said she couldnt do the driving that it was more than she anticipated... HELLO!!!! she said she had previously lived in that area and should have known what was involved... why agree to something and then back out. Issue #2... she complained that we hadn't given her money for tolls (She was reimbursed the minute I got home) I DIDNT EVEN PICK UP MY CHILD FIRST. Ok I said, if you dont want to do the driving we will find someone else but your new salary will not include the extra $50 per week for driving. So she would earn $200 for 3 days or $300 for 5 days (48 hours total)... Remember she initially agreed to this which brings us to Issue #3... she now complains about this, says that she earned $580 on her last job and that she cant accept such little pay... this in spite of the fact that I also offered to let her keep her own child with her after school so she would not have to pay for after school care... so now I'm offering $300 per week plus the chance to save on after school care for her own child.

Now to the final Issue #4... she sends me an email at 9PM on the first day she works for me stating that we duped her and that she is not coming back to my house... so I was left high and dry by someone who basically did not express that she had any problems with the compensation amount until the first day that she started. This is the height of unprofessionalism and another kicker - she complained that I wanted to pay her by check because she wanted to keep everything under the table... I don't get people demanding top dollar but not wanting to pay taxes on it... as I told her I could have offered more if she would be legal about it. My son is now in daycare... I can't deal with this stress ever again. - Anonymous

Breach of Trust

OPINION
This may seem trivial but my nanny and housekeeper have gotten pretty chummy lately. The only thing that really concerns me is if they're discussing personal family issues and comparing things like their salaries and benefits. What would be the best way to nip this before it becomes more serious? I've been to the park with my children and heard on more than one occasion nannies discussing the families they work for and I find that a terrible breach of trust. I understand that everyone needs to vent but with it so close to home it concerns me. What would you parents do? And for the nannies, what would be a better way to vent? Maybe I could sit down with them and talk this over. Or would that be a bad idea? - Anonymous

Disintegrating Discipline

OPINION
Hello there, I am so glad I found this group. I'd like to ask a few questions of fellow nannies and parents as well. I am a nanny with multiple families part time (having some issues with one in particular) Have been with them for a year and a half - they are a family of 4 (older 2 in school - younger 2 home with childcare) 2 days with me, 1 with another woman and the other 2 a mix of parents and close family.

Let me start by saying this family right off the bat was great, needed specifics as far as finances go, and had a pretty on point schedule and was very warming. Felt valued and appreciated and welcomed like I had known them for years. But much has changed! The youngest 2 seem to have SEVERE attachment issues (which makes sense a different person everyday - how could it become normal) but on top of the attachment there is attitude, disrespect, and they continually call me by the wrong name (none of which is being corrected) its tough because I'm very easy going and have a great relationship with the parents and we have never had any issues arise. Mainly because minor things are easily brought up in conversations and not awkward... However the potty training (or lack thereof) of the 4 year old - lack of interest in anything "educational" - and his emotional breakdowns of "please mommy don't go to work" leave me in a tough position. I'm not sure if for the under 10 hours I'm there a week I should speak up, or allow it to keep on going as is and just "go with the flow".

I'm not a teacher but as a caregiver their safety, happiness and well being is important to me. And a priority! But it truly seems as though the younger children are allowed to do whatever, no structure is needed. (No potty training happening and no "disappearing" acts for the binkies.) I am there watching sometimes all four at once (9,6,4 and 1.5) obviously entertaining them all doesn't come easy/there's no pleasing the masses. But all 4 together seems more volatile and chaotic like I'm just there making sure they don't burn the house down. Parents are very busy with their careers and shuffling of life, needs and day to day coverage. Which is understandable, but I'm afraid of speaking up and saying after MONTHS of observation, I am concerned. I don't want to come across like a bitch if I say something, but also now wondering if I look careless for not saying something! HELP and THANK YOU :) - Anonymous

22 October, 2012

Nanny Group Needs Guidance

OPINION
I'm in a bit of a difficult situation and need some advice. For about 2 months I've been involved in a small nanny group, there are three of us that hang out together, take our charges to the park, library, museums, etc. One of the nannies in our group has become somewhat neglectful lately. I know she's having some personal issues but it's reflecting badly on her job and she's providing sub-standard care. When we first met she really seemed like a really sweet attentive nanny. But now she's constantly on her phone and just seems to be really disconnected from her charges. One of the instances we've witnessed is her allowing them to wander off and it seems as if we're constantly chasing them down for her. We want to confront her about this but think she'd probably get defensive. We've also considered letting her MB know what's going on but that just seems like a back-stabbing thing to do. We don't know how MB would react and she could potentially lose her job. We had hoped this would blow over but we're tired of covering for her. If we confront her what would be the best way? Or should we just go ahead and let MB know what's going on? Thanks for any help you can give! - Anonymous

Car Coverage

OPINION
What coverage should I make sure I have to protect myself? I will be transporting my charge, his carseat will be installed in my car. My employers do not have a spare car for me to use. They have offered use of one of their cars if I am willing to drop off at work the days play classes occur. - Anonymous

21 October, 2012

Cultural Differences

BADNANNYSIGHTING-1
East Towne Mall, Madison, WI Saturday, 10/20/12 545p - This situation was beyond scary and literally ruined my day, not to mention trip to the mall. As I write this submission, I have worked a total of 46 hours since Monday between 3 jobs and my next day off is Thursday, so yes, I am a bit crabby and tired. I had gotten off work, went tanning and came to the mall to put money on my nephew's game plus purchase some gifts for Sweetest Day. I usually enter through the food court, however, something told me to enter through a different entrance, which I did. As I was walking through the mall (I was a bit lost because I came through a different entrance rather than my usual one) I stopped past the play area located toward the center of the mall. People were walking, parents pushing strollers and young adults hanging out. Typical mall atmosphere of Saturday shoppers, including myself.

I look around and I see a small child, a girl between 2-3 years of age wandering alone. Concerned, I stopped and watched to see if her parents or another caregiver were nearby. She kept calling out for her daddy in a soft voice, and nobody came forward for her. I watched as she walked down the mall, searching for her parents. I was waiting to see if someone would claim her, and nothing happened. I knew something was wrong, so I followed her. She walked all the way down the mall, alone, unsupervised, to JC Penney, which is a long way from the play area. My concern was that she would be kidnapped or run outside the mall, so I grabbed her hand and took her to JC Penney, where their security team was contacted. Their security team contacted mall security. About five minutes had passed since I found her. The six of us-mall security and JC Penney security walked down to the play area, where we searched for her parents. They mentioned they had seen this all the time in the mall, where children wander off and neither team was happy about this situation, as they felt the parents were irrespnsible and negligent. The child was scared and confused, unable to answer our questions about where her parents went. Our thoughts were that someone had abandoned her at the mall, or left the mall, unaware she was gone. Either way, we were concerned for her safety, and waited patiently for someone to step forward.

The mall's policy for lost children is to contact the police after twenty minutes. From the time I found her and turned over to mall security, it had been twenty minutes, and the police were called. All of a sudden, her mother stepped forward. We don't know how long she was alone and unsupervised. After security turned the child over to her mother, I told the mother she needs to keep a better eye on her child. She told me she stepped into a store for a few minutes and left her child alone to pay for her items. I believe she said the child wandered off; she claimed to be unaware she was missing. I told her that was no excuse, that she is lucky her daughter wasn't kidnapped or hit by car. I also told her she is a parent and she needs to act like one, starting with a better job of watching her daughter. Finally, I asked her how she would've felt had her daughter been kidnapped or seriously hurt. I told her there was no excuse to let a child that young wander a busy mall alone, unsupervised. She was from another country, and I am not sure if leaving a child alone is a cultural thing, yet I wanted her to understand how serious this was, because she acted nonchalant about it. As I was talking to her, her husband approached with their older child, having the same attitude about the situation as she did. Perhaps I shouldn't have raised my voice. I was tired, angry and concerned. I hope that she is aware that here in America, we supervise young children, instead of leaving them on their own. - Miss Dee

Do Not Enter

OPINION
I've been a live-in for my current family 5 months now. I stay Mon-Fri and go home on weekends. Everything has been going well with a few minor exceptions. We have a contract in place that is adhered to so for the most part I'm happy. One thing that really bothers me though is lack of privacy. I knew being a live-in I'd probably need to be flexible about that but the kids are always coming in and last week while I was away for the weekend the parents allowed a guest to stay in my room. I could tell they had rifled through some of my things but I don't think anything is missing. Am I wrong to feel disrespected? Should they have asked me first, or because it's their house, I should keep quiet about it? Short of getting a lock on my door, which they might find offensive, what else can I do? - Anonymous

Pregnant Mom Kicked Off Bus Over Baby's Dirty Diaper

IN THE NEWS
Seattle - A pregnant woman who was kicked off a city bus when her baby's dirty diaper was deemed to be a disturbance to other passengers has rejected an apology and may sue. "You don't just come out of nowhere and kick a mom off a bus with a sick child," Nichole Hakimian told local ABC affiliate KOMO. Hakimian says the problem she ran into this week as she took her sick 1-year-old son to the doctor took the stress of traveling with a baby to a whole new level. "He had just pooped in his diaper as soon as I got on [the bus]," she told ABC News. "Right after that, the bus driver told me to get off the bus," Hakimian said. "I said, 'why is that?' She said, 'your baby … smells really bad. And it's not fair that we all have to smell that.'"

The 4-month pregnant mom then exited to the bus, she says, still a mile and a half away from her baby's doctor. Seattle Metro opened an investigation into the incident and said the driver in question is a 9-year veteran employee with an excellent record, according to KOMO. "This is a very unique situation. Our goal is always to balance the comfort of all of our riders with providing good customer service," a spokesman said. "The driver didn't violate Metro policy - she felt she had to advocate for her passengers by politely and apologetically asking the woman to exit the bus." Hakimian, however, says that statement is not enough. "You need disciplinary action, and I think they went about it the wrong way," she told KOMO. "When you do something wrong - no matter what it is, no matter what circumstance - you need to be punished for that."

This isn't the first instance of a mom and a baby booted off public transportation just for the baby acting like a baby. Last year, video captured a Portland woman struggling with a crying baby in the back of a bus. The clip went viral after she was kicked off for making too much noise. The driver was reportedly disciplined. But who's really to blame when babies interrupt an innocent commuter's ride? "The baby was just being a baby, pooping or crying, and yet we're saying get off the bus," Melissa Lawrence, CEO of Cloudmom.com said. "So that's clearly intolerant."

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Special Thanks to MissDee for Submitting this Article!

ISYN will remain Moderated for the time being on threads older than 3 days. Please continue to be patient and allow time for your comments to be approved. Thank you!

YOUR SUBMISSIONS MAY BE:
emailed to isawyournanny@aol.com
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18 October, 2012

cl-wtf-1-1-2
1) FREE housing for the right person - (NC) Hi, we are a Military family searching for someone to help out in our home. We recently got custody of my grandchildren 7 and 4 yrs old. I need help around the house and with the children. You can still have a regular job as long as it doesn't interfere with the chores or the time I expect them to be completed. This is NOT a paying job, but a great way to save $$$. Must be able to relocate anywhere in the USA (Military), pass a drug test, criminal background, and an EXTENSIVE interview. In exchange: we will give you a very nice, furnished room for yourself, 1-2 meals a day, gas allowance for errands and the possibility for a cell phone. You must be VERY good with children, be well mannered and be respectful with good ethics. I require that you have some experience cleaning and cooking. Must have a valid drivers licence and reliable transportation. PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU MUST BE DRUG FREE!!! We are not comfortable with any drugs or addiction in our home, around the children or in our lives. We are willing to pay travel for the right person to come to Fayetteville. Must have references as well. Only serious need apply. NO emails, phone calls ONLY. If you cannot follow these simple directions no need to apply!
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Submitted by N.C. Thank you!

2) Nanny needed ASAP - (NY) Looking for responsible non-smoking, non-drinking Christian nanny. No parties or late nights out. We don't want you showing up the next morning caring for our children hung over or tired. You must be neat and clean. Your job will consist of cooking, basic cleaning, guiding the children in picking up their rooms and making their beds. We need you to set a good example for them. Hours are Mon-Fri, 8am to 6pm. Bring your resume, drivers license, CPR and any other certifications with you to the interview. Serious inquiries only. Our kids aren't cash cows so if you're only doing this for the money we're not interested. Pay will be discussed at the interview. Position is available ASAP.
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Submitted by Anonymous. Thank you!

3) FT nanny needed! - (NC) I'm looking for someone willing to watch my children 5 days a week for 9 hours a day. The hours would be from 5am-2pm. I have a 3 year old and a 5 year old so I want someone who would do different daily activities with them like going to the park or doing arts and crafts. I also need you to walk/drive my daughter to school in the mornings (the school is only a block from our house and her hours are 9-12). I will pay $20.00 a day. Please email your resume to me with references (required) and I will call you to set up a time to meet our family.
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Submitted by CoolBeans. Thank you!

4) We are looking for a Live-in Nanny/Housekeeper - (Las Vegas) You must speak english. We are looking for a female between the ages of 19-35. I put the age range because we have 4 very sweet boys ages 8, 7, 6, and 5 and I have found that it can be difficult for older nannies to keep up. The boys like to play soccer, swim, and are very active. I take them to school every day from around 7:30-4:30 so you would be home alone most of the day to clean the house. Once I bring the boys home, I need you to play with a couple of the boys while I help with homework, or while I make dinner. The boys go to bed around 7:30. I am a very hands on mom and put in a lot of time in with the kids so I mainly just need someone to clean and be an extra set of hands to help out with the kids when I need it. We are looking for a very trustworthy, patient, and kind person. Must be organized and a very good cleaner. I love to cook and bake but I am not such a strong cleaner. Duties would include cleaning and organizing the entire house (floors, beds, kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, ironing, etc). You would have your own room with a bathroom right next to it. You have cable, phone, wifi and pretty much anything you need. We are a loving and flexible family and we would like someone who is the same. We like to think of our nanny as family so we want to make you as comfortable as possible. We are looking to fill the position immediately and want someone who is looking for a long term position. I don't want to get the kids used to someone who plans to move, or change jobs 6 months out. We occasionally travel so we would like someone who is able to travel with us. We also have very nice dogs so you need to be comfortable with animals and help care for them. I prefer someone without children or pets of their own. We pay $200 cash per week and we give raises with time. All room and board is of course included. If you have any questions, or are interested in having an interview, please email me through this ad with your name, phone number, and a little information about yourself (age, experience...etc) and I will call you back as soon as possible. Thank you and have a great day.
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Submitted by Anonymous. Thank you!

5) Babysitter needed tonight - (VA) My regular babysitter bailed on me at the last minute. I have a date at 7pm and should be home by 1-2am. Pay is $5 an hour. All you need to do is put my daughter to bed. She will already have been bathed and fed. Just read a book to her and put her down. You can just sit and watch TV like you would at home only you'd be earning money for it at my house! If everything works out I'd love for you to be my back-up babysitter from now on!
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Submitted by LaLa. Thank you!

Red Eye Rates

OPINION
I am looking for advice on what to charge parents going on vacation and me working every day, having an evening break, and then coming back for the evening when my charges will be asleep. I will also have 24 hours off on the weekend as well so I'm not overworked. I will obviously be paid my normal rate during waking hours but should I reduce my rate while they are sleeping? Thanks MPP for posting this and everyone who reads. - Anonymous

MB's Digs Need a Shovel

OPINION
On my way to work tonight, MB text'd me to say her and DB had both left for work already and asked me to do the laundry and dishes tonight, no big deal, I usually do a load when I'm there anyways. Well, I get to work this evening (I'm a night nanny) and it was disgusting, there are gnats all over the kitchen and the sink stank of rancid food with dishes piled high on both sides of the sink, in the dishwasher, and on the stove/counters surrounding the sink. There were five loads of laundry on the floor that had to be done, both the washer and dryer were empty, and the play room was a wreck (I made my charges clean that).

I've seen the house really messy before, but one or both of the parents have been off since Sunday morning and it seriously looks like no one has done anything to keep tidy in this house since I left Sunday morning. To top it off, when I got here the kids had a friend over that MB hadn't warned me about being here or asked me if I was ok with watching another kid for an hour (this is like the 3rd time she's done this), and mind you no adults were here for 45 minutes before I arrived. Usually if I do "light" housework MB will pay me $10-$20 extra a night, but I feel like the 5 loads of family laundry, and 3 loads of dishes that I had to do plus the extra kid for an hour, I should write her an invoice or something for more pay. Am I overreacting? This just really aggravated me because little things like this have been happening the last two or so weeks. - N.M.

Rock-a-Bye Baby

OPINION
I would love some feedback on this situation I may be in. My current charge, baby J, is 10 weeks old, and I have been with him since day one. Neither of his parents have any experience with children, so they're pretty much just figuring it out as they go (like most new parents). I have him from 9-5, 6 days a week.

Lately he has been having difficulty napping. He does the typical baby routine; sleep for 30 minutes and then wake himself up at the end of his cycle. And this is one persistent kid. After waking himself up he doesn't usually scream or cry like I've seen in the past. Instead, he just wakes up and stares at the ceiling. He will literally lay in bed awake for an hour or more. After staring at the ceiling for a bit he starts to drift off, and right before he falls asleep he jerks himself back awake and starts to cry. He cries/fusses for a bit, and then settles back into staring at the ceiling until he starts to fall asleep again. This happens over and over. If we pick him up and start playtime he gets fussy again quickly, which tells me that 30 minutes is definitely not enough. I've been working on this issue. I know that he needs to figure out how to go back to sleep on his own. I do a variety of things; jiggle his crib, leave him to work it out alone, sing, shush, occasionally pick him up if he gets really agitated. Honestly, nothing works. It just takes him a long time to work through it. The past few days we've had a few successful naps where he slept for 30 minutes, fussed for another 30 minutes to an hour, and then fell back to sleep for 1-2 more hours. When he's out at that point, he sleeps wonderfully, and I can definitely see a difference when he's well rested. But it does involve some crying, and it's not quick. I can tell his mom doesn't feel totally comfortable with the fussing.

He sleeps great for her at night. Typically 6 or 7 hours in one stretch, and then another 4 after feeding. When she has him in the evening she doesn't ever put him down for a nap. He catnaps in his swing and in her arms, and I'm sure he does so happily. But I can't do that during the day. Sleeping for 30 minutes and being extremely tired/grouchy in between is not going to work. She wants to talk about it, and I'm starting to get the feeling that she's going to ask me to find another way for him to sleep for naps, i.e. in my arms. Now let me explain that in my last infant job, which was also my first real job with an infant, the parents wanted the same thing. The baby either slept in her parents bed, or in someone's arms. For every.single.nap. I spent most of every day holding her while we walked around until she fell asleep, and then I sat on the couch holding her for hours. She had to be rocked/walked to sleep, always accompanied by crying, and it was completely exhausting. I know that I can't do that again. Every parent is entitled to raise their children the way they want, and I know not everyone feels comfortable letting their child fuss it out. But I also know that I can't spend 5 hours every day sitting motionless on the couch to make sure that the baby doesn't wake up while I hold him. I also realize that J could grow out of this phase at any time, but I don't want to get him so accustomed to being held that he's unable to sleep in his own crib, if and when he gets over the 30 minute hump.

How do I go about talking this through with the parents? I like this job and I want to keep it. They don't have a set childcare method and they listen to me when I explain things, so it's not as if I'm a cry it out advocate trying to work for people who practice attachment parenting. Parents, how would you react to this? Does anyone have more tricks I can try that might get him to sleep on his own without so much time and fussing? Thank you for any input you can share! - Anonymous

16 October, 2012

Little Neighborhood Boy a Bother Because of Mindless Mother

OPINION
I have been a nanny for almost a year now and I love the family I work for. My only concern with my job is the neighbors, or specifically the neighbor's child. Nearly every day I am working, the little neighbor boy (just turned 5), walks across the street and rings the doorbell asking to play. At first I allowed him to come in and play with the 4 year old I am in charge of. After awhile I got sick of being the neighbor's free babysitter, as she never invited my charge over to play, so I only allowed the children to play outside together. Although I was still watching both children I wasn't having to clean up the messes. (I discussed all these issues with MB, who agreed with what I had decided) It wasn't until the weather got nicer that this problem arose and it has gotten to a point where I am worried about the safety of the neighbor child.

When my charge has to come in for a meal this child has stood in the garage and waited for 20-30 mins for my charge to return outside to play. Today, he came by and rang the doorbell, but my charge had lost her privilege to have friends over for misbehaving for her mother. I sent him on his way. Twenty minutes later I received a text from MB asking if the neighbor child was over at the house because his mother couldn't find him. He had walked about 1/4 mile down the road (they live in a acreage development, so there is only a few houses on this stretch of road) to another friends house and was riding a scooter outside without any other children or adults around. I guess I am at a loss of what to do. I know he is not my responsibility, but I can't stand to see this go on. Any advice? - Anonymous

Nanny Needs Remarkable Resumé

OPINION
I am looking for some ways to become a more professional nanny. I love my current family, but it is part time and will never be enough hours. I am tired of having to piece more than one family together in order to put food on the table, many times working well over 50 hours but without the benefits of one full time family. I feel like I am ready to go from nanny job to nanny career. I have an extensive background in childcare. My mother ran an in home daycare in which I helped with many activities. When I was 21 I got my first nanny job. I am now 36 and I have watched over 25 children. I have many amazing references and I am CPR/First aid certified.

What I'm looking for now, are suggestions of affordable ways to make my resume stand out even more. I've looked at online nanny training and I can't find anything that looks like it isn't a scam. I do have some college under my belt, but not in early childhood development. I know some certifications require this. What would all of you recommend? I want prospective families to realize that this is my chosen career, that I take it seriously and that I am a professional. I don't plan on making any changes until the middle of next summer. I am not opposed to going back to school, either. I just can't afford it right now. Thanks for any advice! - Anonymous

15 October, 2012

The Crash and Burn of an Autism Guru

IN THE NEWS
The New York Times - As people streamed into Graceview Baptist Church in Tomball, Tex., early one Saturday morning in January, two armed guards stood prominently just inside the doorway of the sanctuary. Their eyes scanned the room and returned with some frequency to a man sitting near the aisle, whom they had been hired to protect. The man, Andrew Wakefield, dressed in a blazer and jeans and peering through reading glasses, had a mild professorial air. He tapped at a laptop as the room filled with people who came to hear him speak; he looked both industrious and remote. Broad-shouldered and fair at 54, he still has the presence of the person he once was: a conventional winner, the captain of his medical school’s rugby team, the head boy at the private school he attended in England. Wakefield was a high-profile but controversial figure in gastroenterology research at the Royal Free Hospital in London when, in 1998, he upended his career path — and more significant, the best-laid plans of public-health officials — by announcing at a press conference that he had concerns about the safety of the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (M.M.R.) and its relationship to the onset of Autism.

Although Wakefield did not claim to have proved that the M.M.R. vaccine (typically given to children at 12 to 15 months) caused autism, his concerns, not his caveats, ricocheted around the world. His belief, based on a paper he wrote about 12 children, is that the three vaccines, given together, can alter a child’s immune system, allowing the measles virus in the vaccine to infiltrate the intestines; certain proteins, escaping from the intestines, could then reach and harm neurons in the brain. Few theories have drawn so much attention and, in turn, so much refutation: a 2003 paper in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, which reviewed a dozen epidemiological studies, concluded that there was no evidence of an association between autism and M.M.R., and studies in peer-reviewed journals since have come to the same conclusion. In Britain, the General Medical Council revoked Wakefield’s medical license after a lengthy hearing, citing numerous ethical violations that tainted his work, like failing to disclose financing from lawyers who were mounting a case against vaccine manufacturers. The Lancet, which published the original Wakefield paper, retracted it. In a series that ran early this year, The British Medical Journal concluded that the research was not just unethically financed but also “fraudulent” (that timelines were misrepresented, for example, to suggest direct culpability of the vaccine).

Andrew Wakefield has become one of the most reviled doctors of his generation, blamed directly and indirectly, depending on the accuser, for irresponsibly starting a panic with tragic repercussions: vaccination rates so low that childhood diseases once all but eradicated here — whooping cough and measles, among them — have re-emerged, endangering young lives. And yet here he was in Texas, post-career-apocalypse, calmly discussing his work, and a crowd of around 250 people showed up to listen. As people walked into the lobby of the church in Tomball, they passed by a whiteboard with a message that asked attendees to express their thoughts to Wakefield. Many complied with lavish thanks: “We stand by you!” and “Thank you for the many sacrifices you have made for the cause!” When he finally took the podium, the audience members, mostly parents of autistic children, stood and applauded wildly.

In his presentation, Wakefield sounded impatient but righteous. He used enough scientific terms — “ataxic,” “histopathological review” and “vaccine excipients” — that those parents who did not feel cowed might have been flattered by his assumption of their scientific fluency. He also tried to defend himself against a few of the charges laid out in The British Medical Journal — offering defenses that did not hold up before the journal’s panel of editors but were perhaps enough to assure an audience of his fans that he did, in fact, have defenses. Some part of Wakefield’s cult status is surely because of his personal charisma, and he spoke with great rhetorical flair. He took off his glasses and put them back on like a gifted actor maximizing a prop. “What happens to me doesn’t matter,” he said at one point. “What happens to these children does matter. ”After the talk, a line of visitors snaked down the length of the lobby, his followers waiting to have Wakefield sign a book he wrote about his experience and convictions, “Callous Disregard.” “All right, love?” he said, handing the book back to one mother. “Of course,” he said when asked for a photo. A pregnant woman in the lobby told me she was there trying to educate herself. Another woman, with tears in her eyes, blamed herself for not working harder to obtain a separate measles vaccine for her possibly autistic child.

Michelle Guppy, the coordinator of the Houston Autism Disability Network and the organizer of the Tomball event, said she believed her own autistic son benefited greatly from one aspect of Wakefield’s work: his conviction that untreated gastrointestinal problems could be behind some of autism’s symptoms. It was Guppy, it turned out, who thought to hire the armed guards “to make the statement,” she said, “that this is neutral ground, and it’s going to be civil.” Guppy, a mother of two who was elegantly dressed for the occasion, made no pretense of neutrality herself. She narrowed her eyes when she learned that a writer from The New York Times was there to write about Wakefield. “Be nice to him,” she said, “or we will hurt you.” During a three-hour car ride from Tomball back to Austin, where he lives, Wakefield pointed out the curiosities of the area: a roadrunner, burning bales of hay. He was a gracious host in his adopted state, which he finds far more hospitable than the country he left. Sitting beside him was a bottle of Redline, an energy drink that promises a seven-hour boost. “It’s great,” he told me. “There’s no crash.”

Wakefield moved to Austin in 2004, a few years after he was asked to leave the Royal Free Hospital, reportedly because he didn’t fulfill a request that he duplicate the findings in the Lancet paper. Supporters in Austin reached out to Wakefield after he gave a talk there, which led to his helping to found Thoughtful House Center for Children, a treatment and research center for kids with autism. But after the General Medical Council found in January 2010 that Wakefield had committed ethical violations — subjecting developmentally disabled children to unnecessary invasive procedures, mishandling funds and failing to disclose conflicts of interest, to name a few — Wakefield resigned from Thoughtful House. The walls of his professional world have continued to close in. He no longer speaks at the popular Autism Research Institute conference, where he has prominently held court in the past. And to that segment of the American audience that may have been unfamiliar with his work until recently, he has been introduced primarily as a villain. When he was interviewed on CNN and invoked “Callous Disregard,” Anderson Cooper cut him off: “But sir, if you’re lying, then your book is also a lie.”

At the start of the drive, Wakefield spoke with the calmness of the self-certain, ready with a counterargument for every concern. How does he respond to the decline in vaccination rates that some attribute to his theory? If only officials had offered a single measles vaccine, he said, there would have been no uptick in unvaccinated children. (Immunologists argue that spacing out vaccines increases the likelihood that children will not receive all of the vaccines and that they could contract a serious illness during the interim.) Why was there no mention in his Lancet paper that initial pathology reports found little indication of bowel disease in the cases Wakefield wrote about? “You have incredibly limited space,” he told me in a subsequent conversation. As for the accusation that he received financing for the paper from lawyers intending to sue vaccine manufacturers, he insisted that the money was for a separate study. And why did the lawyer behind the litigation essentially say otherwise on tape? “He was confused,” Wakefield explained. His faith in his theory also remains intact, which he made clear when I asked him, in a separate interview, if he still believed M.M.R. caused the autism in the children in the Lancet paper. “Is that a serious question?” he said. “Yes, I do still think M.M.R. was causing it.”

For Wakefield, the attacks have become a kind of affirmation. The more he must defend his research, the more important he seems to consider it — so important that powerful forces have conspired and aligned against him. He said he believes that “they” — public-health officials, pharmaceutical companies — pay bloggers to plant vicious comments about him on the Web. “Because it’s always the same,” he says. “Discredited doctor Andrew Wakefield, discredited doctor Andrew Wakefield.” He also “wouldn’t be surprised” if public-health officials were inflating the number of measles mortalities, just as he thinks they inflate the risks of the flu to increase uptake of that vaccine. Having been rejected by mainstream medicine, Wakefield, the son of well-regarded doctors in Britain, has apparently rejected the integrity of mainstream medicine in return. Wakefield never seemed too perturbed by my questions; if he felt any irritation, he took it out on his GPS, which he seemed to think was out to get him, just like his critics. “There’s no left turn here, you idiot,” he said to the disembodied voice. “Turn right? Why? What’s the point?” Finally Wakefield allowed for an error in his judgment. “I think the press conference is something we could have done without,” he acknowledged. It is no small concession. The media response might not have been so inflammatory; vaccination rates might not have taken such a hit; and on a personal level, Wakefield might have at least been spared accusations of provoking hysteria with calculated hype. But, Wakefield clarified, he regretted the press conference only “because it inflamed the public officials.” In the long term, he said, it did not matter; eventually, they — the establishment — would have come after him anyway.

“To our community, Andrew Wakefield is Nelson Mandela and Jesus Christ rolled up into one,” says J. B. Handley, co-founder of Generation Rescue, a group that disputes vaccine safety. “He’s a symbol of how all of us feel.” Since losing his medical license, Wakefield has depended on his followers for financing and for the emotional scaffolding that allows him to believe himself a truth-teller when the majority of his peers consider him a menace to medicine. The fact that his fans have stood by him through his denunciation may seem surprising, but they may find it easier to ignore his critics than to reject their faith in him. After all, his is a rare voice of certainty in the face of a disease that is, at its core, mysterious. The diagnosis of autism can be devastating. In some cases, a child regresses between 12 and 24 months, baffling parents who do not recognize the child who has replaced the one they knew and has no words to explain. In other instances, they watch their friends’ children sit up, babble and reach out for hugs, when their own do not. Unable to communicate, a small percentage of autistic children bite their own arms raw or bang their heads against the wall, for reasons poorly understood. “We still do not have an explanation for the vast majority of autism cases,” says Thomas Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, who is in charge of coordinating the $120 million worth of research being conducted on autism there. With regard to autism, Insel calls himself a “prophet of humility.”

Most researchers say that there is a rise in the number of children who are landing somewhere on the autism spectrum and that only some portion of that increase can be explained by raised awareness of the disorder. In this decade alone, Insel says, diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder (which includes mild cases) have jumped to 1 in 110, from 1 in 150; in boys, it’s now 1 in 70. He worries that the rate is accelerating. “I would say I am losing sleep over this,” Insel says. What has become increasingly clear to Insel is that something is to blame. Some environmental factor is, or many environmental factors are, interacting with certain gene types, yielding who knows how many different pathways to the same disease. And although many parents think they know with instinctual certainty what that factor was in their own child, researchers “haven’t found anything that looks like a smoking gun,” Insel says. To him, the M.M.R. vaccine, so aggressively studied since the media splash following Wakefield’s 1998 paper, is one of the few factors that can be ruled out. But could it be aspartame? UV rays? Elmo? No one knows. “With autism, people have done this all along — grasped onto various explanations and reached premature closure on each of them,” Insel says of Wakefield’s work. “What I take from the Wakefield story is that everyone is desperate to find answers to what we see as an urgent problem. And if I’m really brutally honest about this, we still don’t have an answer.”

To parents who have run up against unsatisfying answers from the scientific community, Wakefield offers a combination of celebrity and empathy that leaves strong impressions. Michelle Guppy, the mother from the Houston Autism Disability Network who brought Wakefield to speak in Tomball, subsequently spoke to me on the phone about the experience she had at Thoughtful House. She had taken her adolescent son there after a series of mainstream doctors failed to help his constant diarrhea, which required her to change his diaper as many as 10 times a day. “I mean, I remember, Dr. Wakefield was there,” Guppy said, her voice starting to quaver. “And you know, it was just the validation. I don’t care if my son was overtreated or cured — just the validation that we as parents who knew something was wrong got an answer. Just the fact that someone listened and someone tried to do something — someone said, ‘Yeah, this is not just autism; your son has a real medical issue that we can treat.’ I think that validation is all that parents want — just that someone is taking the symptoms we report and looking at them to see what can we do about it.” At Thoughtful House, her son was given an endoscopy, which is considered an invasive procedure. Following the diagnosis, a doctor there (who has also left Thoughtful House and has also come under a cloud of criticism) put him on anti-inflammatories and a gluten-free, casein-free diet. Perhaps her son’s system was maturing anyway, but Guppy credits the treatment, and Wakefield, for vastly improving both their lives.

Wakefield’s big theory — that M.M.R. causes a bowel disorder, which he calls autistic enterocolitis, that then causes autism — has been dismissed by mainstream medicine. And a position paper published last year in Pediatrics also stated that available research did not support the use of casein- and gluten-free diets in the general autistic population (the diets, adapted in extreme measures, can cause health complications of their own). But Timothy Buie, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Harvard Medical School and one of the paper’s authors, felt that the press ignored other key implications in their findings: that there might be a subsection of autistic patients who would benefit from dietary interventions and that the role of the immune system in gastrointestinal dysfunction in children with autism “warrants additional investigation.” Buie makes it clear that he is no fan of Wakefield’s; but he does say that Wakefield was a kind of pioneer in disseminating certain useful ideas about autism. Wakefield’s least controversial conviction may be the belief that some symptoms of autism — repetitive body movements, leaning over furniture, self-injury — might be symptoms of gastrointestinal distress in an autistic population unable to verbalize that discomfort.

Pat Levitt, a neuroscientist at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California and an autism researcher in whom the National Institute of Mental Health has invested heavily, is also now interested in the role of gastrointestinal dysfunction in patients with autism. He has found a gene variant that is more prevalent in children who have autism and gastrointestinal problems than it is in children who have autism but no digestive irregularities. Levitt does not believe that a faulty gut is the cause of autism, as Wakefield theorized, but that the two problems might develop, in some subset of people on the autism spectrum, in tandem, each a result of a flawed interaction of genes and environment. He does not believe — as some of Wakefield’s followers hoped — that by treating an intestinal malady, he will cure the underlying autism. “But is it the case that if you have GI problems, that can exacerbate your child’s behavioral issues?” says Levitt, whose recent work has not yet been replicated. “The answer is absolutely yes.” Levitt and Buie said they believed that for years parents’ concerns about their autistic children’s gastrointestinal problems were too often dismissed, partly because doctors associated those concerns with quackery and vaccine fears and the false hope that a diet could cure the autism itself. When Levitt gives talks, he sometimes puts a picture of Wakefield up on the screen. “Bad science,” he then says, “set us back 10 years.” The slow course of gastrointestinal research in autism — still a controversial subject — has fewer public-health implications than dropping vaccine rates do, but it is an interesting footnote, one of the odd legacies of Wakefield’s work. He was adored by parents because he validated some of their most agonizing concerns when they felt few others would. But he was also one main reason that those medical symptoms were being dismissed in the first place.

If Andrew Wakefield’s followers see him as a martyr, then his chief persecutor, in their eyes, is a British journalist named Brian Deer. Wakefield calls Deer a “hit man,” though Deer claims no such agenda (he has been as critical of the medical establishment that allowed Wakefield to get as far as he did as he has been of Wakefield himself). Were it not for Deer, Wakefield might have been nothing more than a scientist who was proved wrong. But Deer, who has been investigating Wakefield since 2004 and who this April won the Specialist Journalist of the Year award from England’s Society of Editors for his work, has presented a far more damning view of Wakefield to the world. In his British Medical Journal series, Deer made the case that Wakefield was not just wrong but also unethical. He said that the doctor misrepresented at least one aspect of the medical condition of every child he wrote about in the study. Wakefield contests virtually every one of those charges, and it would take a book to encompass Deer’s allegations, Wakefield’s parries and Deer’s counterproof. But one charge that Deer argues convincingly is that several children in the Lancet paper had records showing concerns about developmental delays before getting the M.M.R. shot. Deer points out that another child, whose record was more ambiguous, was seen by a doctor before receiving the M.M.R. vaccine, because his mother was concerned that his hearing was imperfect, “which might sound like a hallmark presentation of classical autism,” Deer wrote. In Wakefield’s presentation at the church in Tomball, he seized upon this detail as evidence of Deer’s overreaching. He pointed out that Deer neglected to mention that the mother also reported to that same doctor that there was discharge from the child’s ear. “What does that suggest to you?” he asked the audience. Some parents called out with confidence, “Ear infection,” which — those parents were very likely to know — can impair a child’s hearing. With that one example, Wakefield did what he does so skillfully: empowered parents as medical experts as he tried to undermine the credibility of his accusers, just enough to convince those who already support him that they are justified in doing so. You could read Deer’s collected body of research on Wakefield and come away with the conviction that Wakefield was an underhanded profiteer who exploited parents and abused their disabled children with invasive tests for the sole purpose of capitalizing on parents’ fears about the M.M.R. vaccine. (He applied, for example, for a patent for a diagnostic kit that could test for measles virus in the intestines.) But Deer does not think Wakefield was solely motivated by profit. He compares him to the kind of religious leader who is a true believer but relies on the occasional use of smoke and mirrors to goose the faith of his followers. “He believed it was true,” Deer says of Wakefield’s theory of M.M.R., but he was also willing to stretch the truth to get more financing for more research. Deer theorizes that Wakefield’s maneuverings were all rationalized by his conviction that he was right: “He would prove it next time.”

Wakefield now lives in a high-end Austin neighborhood, a private enclave where most homes, including his, enjoy generous acreage and bucolic views of the hills. “You can almost believe you’re in Tuscany,” he says of the view from his back deck. A large dog roamed about the house; a very tall son watched an English soccer match; and Wakefield, while making coffee and emptying the dishwasher, continued to bat away charges. He claimed, for example, that a “safer” measles vaccine for which he filed a patent was not, in fact, a rival to M.M.R., which would have been a clear conflict of interest; it was instead an immune-boosting vaccine for those with compromised immune systems, an unfortunate semantic mix-up. (“He is very good at what I call whack-a-mole arguments,” says Seth Mnookin, author of “The Panic Virus,” a history of the controversy over autism and vaccines.) Wakefield is a persuasive speaker, even when the listener knows better. As we talked, I couldn’t help thinking of a clip of Wakefield I saw on YouTube. The video showed him at a conference in 1999, telling the audience about the time he lined up kids to give blood samples at the birthday party of one of his children: he needed a control group of children who did not have autism, and this was convenient. “Two children fainted,” he said. “Another threw up over his mother.” For their service, they were rewarded with £5. “People said to me, ‘Andrew, you know you can’t do this to people; children won’t come back,’ ” he recounted. “I said, ‘You’re wrong — listen, we live in a free-market economy; next year, they’ll want £10.’ ” Clearly, drawing blood in that setting was part of no medical protocol that an ethics committee would ever approve. The General Medical Council, in its ruling against Wakefield, said that by engaging in this behavior, he displayed conduct that “fell seriously short of the standards expected of a doctor and was a breach of the trust that the public is entitled to have in members of the medical profession” and deemed the episode “serious professional misconduct.”

Wakefield was either naïve or arrogant to think that he could joke on camera about the lengths to which he had gone in the pursuit of proving his theories right. But what is also striking about that video is the sound of the audience laughing. He had won over a room full of parents, who were caught up in the charm of a maverick. It was hard to imagine Wakefield making such a joke now; he has not retreated from his position, but he has shifted his sense of identity from that of a renegade to that of a martyr. He often says that he has stuck by a theory that “has cost me my job, my livelihood and my country.” The more he has sacrificed, the more he must believe in his theory — or else what was it all for? A quote from Peter Medawar, a British scientist who wrote a famous critique of a book of specious ideas about evolution, comes to mind: “Its author can be excused of dishonesty only on the grounds that before deceiving others he has taken great pains to deceive himself.” Wakefield continues to work with a sense of mission and an entrepreneurial savvy. Since leaving Thoughtful House, he has been working on a book about parents who have been falsely accused of Munchausen syndrome by proxy: the world of false accusations, of unheard parents in pain — familiar territory, all of it. He is also trying to raise money for a center for autistic adults. It is a shrewd business move with explosive potential for growth: 80 percent of the autistic population in the U.S. is currently under 18. That morning in Austin, Wakefield was on his way to yet another contentious interview in New York, this one with George Stephanopoulos. His son, who drove Wakefield and me to the airport, had no plans to follow in the footsteps of his parents and his paternal grandparents, all of whom were doctors: he was majoring in public relations and marketing instead. Perhaps his father’s experience had taught him something about the perils of science and about the power of messaging. It seems very unlikely that any study, no matter how carefully conducted, will assure Wakefield of the safety of M.M.R. at this point: numbers can lie, or be manipulated, and even paranoids have enemies. Didn’t they laugh at the researcher who said bacteria caused ulcers? Doesn’t he owe it to the children to continue on? Before leaving for the airport with Wakefield and his son, I took in the view from the deck. The hills looked lofty, peaceful, a little bit blurred in the distance — you could believe, as Wakefield had promised, you were in Tuscany. With a little effort, you can believe almost anything.
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Special thanks to Dr. Juris for submitting this Article.

Adventures in Nannying

OPINION
Sunday night texts from my boss usually involve cute pics of my 12 month old charge from the weekend or cute stories. Ha not today, today I got a text informing me that the sweet little honey pie DROPPED A PHONE ON HER MOM'S FACE RESULTING IN A TOOTH BEING KNOCKED OUT! Luckily my boss is a good sport and will probably now wear some sort of facial protection around her children (I'm debating a helmet myself...) Has anything like this happened to you or your employers?

13 October, 2012

The Ties that Bind

OPINION
I'm sure this is a common problem among some nannies who get close with their families but I'm afraid I've let things go too far in my situation. The only reason I decided to write this is because there's been a lot of talk on here lately about starting families through adoption, IVF, etc., and I'm hoping to get some advice about my situation.

I knew my whole life I was meant to be a mom. My husband and I tried to get pregnant right out of the gate but after a year of trying we knew something was wrong. After various rounds with Drs. we're now left with some decisions to make, adoption being one of them. I'm not sure why but I felt like I almost had to talk myself into it. I think it's because I wanted my own biological child so badly. I also feel like as soon as this baby is born it already has a strike against it with his or her parents not wanting it for whatever reason. We've thought long and hard about it though and decided the best thing to do when our child was old enough was to let them know they were wanted very much and that they were special because we chose them.

Since I love kids so much the most natural choice for me was being a nanny. I work for extremely busy parents of three children, the youngest being four. I see the children more than they do and it makes me incredibly sad. I've become super attached to the youngest and she's become my little shadow. After I began the job I convinced myself I'd try and make up for the lack of attention they were getting from mom and dad.  Unfortunately, this has led to more than just my being the nanny. I've done nothing to discourage the little girl from occasionally saying things like she wished I was her mommy. In the beginning, she'd complain about missing her parents however that has all but stopped, and I hate to admit it, it makes me feel good. Trust me, I know it's wrong, but I love this little girl so much and the most amazing thing is that she has helped me to understand that I can love a child like my own even though it isn't biologically mine.

I know the advice for me is probably that I need to leave but I just can't, not right now at least. There's more to it than just the money of course, but they do pay me very well and I need it. Does anyone have any other suggestions on what I should do here, please? And what would be the best way to pull away from the little girl in the meantime so that she doesn't miss me so much when it's time for me to really leave? I know this whole thing is just awful and I feel bad about it, but I honestly did have the right intentions when it started. I can hardly write this without tearing up because I know I'm going to miss her so much. She's taught me more than anyone else in my life ever has. - Anonymous

LI vs LO

OPINION
Hi, I have a couple questions about what I should expect when looking for a job as a live out nanny. I've only had one nanny job, and it was live in. The children (are now) ages 5 and 3 1/2 and 1 1/2. I got paid by the hour ($10 at first, then a raise to $12 when baby #3 came along). Basically my employer was in NYC and I live in FL, so every other month or so she would fly me up and I would live in her 3br apartment (my own room, shared bathroom with kids) and depending on the week I would usually make anywhere between $400-$800 a week and my usual hours were from about 8am till 10pm but some days I'd work only 3 or 4 hours. It would usually average out to about $2000-$2500 a month.

I would help with childcare (she had 2 nannies including me so I almost never had all 3 at once) super light housework (anything more was something I took upon myself to help my own sanity) and I would help with her business (unloading shipments of product, inspecting quality, local deliveries, shipping arrangements, product design, and sales.) I usually did the grocery shopping, and could get almost anything I wanted along with they would order something for me about 80% of the time they had food delivered (which was about 4 nights a week) even when they would go out to eat or go on a business trip they would usually bring something back for me. Cheesecake from a fancy restaurant, caramel candies from France.

I would go on vacation with them, and only on one occasion needed to share a room with the kids. Sometimes they would vacation in my town back in Florida (that's how I met them) and during those times I'd get paid double since I wasn't living there. I've met and been involved with this family so much over the last 2 years I can name and place at least 40 members on their family tree! I took this job straight out of high school, my only previous experience was working in my church nursery for a few years previous, but after reading this site so often I'm starting to feel this isn't a typical nanny experience.

I got married last year and tried doing the whole NYC thing but my husband and I, our hearts can't take the separation anymore! We still need money, so I've been thinking about getting a job down here in Florida. My sister in law is a nanny and has some connections so I'll be setting up interviews hopefully some time next week. There is one woman in particular I'm interested in. She is having her baby in a few months I believe and wants a nanny for at least the first six months. I already know a few things to do different from my last job like getting a contract and get taxes taken out (neither of which I even thought about back when I graduated) but besides that I don't know much else. I'm not sure on how much I should even charge. Being a live out is so different from a live in, I was thinking somewhere between $12-$15 but I don't want to sound money hungry cause I am quite young (and look even younger!) Basically all I'm looking for is how a live out experience would differ from a live in, how much I should charge, and really just any other advice you can think of. Thanks in advance :) - Anonymous

How to Write a Cover Letter for a Nanny Job

GUEST COLUMNSubmitted by Sarah Tucker
www.4nannies.com

Photobucket
Whether a nanny is looking for employment through an agency, word of mouth or online recruiting site like enannysource.com, having a well-drafted cover letter will start formal communications with a potential placement agency or employer off on the right foot. So how do you write a cover letter for a nanny job?

* Include the proper contact information for yourself and your letter recipient. Each time you send your letter out, whether through snail mail or email, you’ll want to personalize it to include the recipients’ proper contact information and salutation. If you’re responding to an online classified, you may wish to only include your email address and phone number. For electronic communications, include as much or as little contact information as you’re comfortable with.

* Make reference to the position for which you are applying. If you’re responding to an advertisement, mention the post ID number or reference number. If someone referred you to an agency or potential employer, include that information. The bottom line is that you want to identify what position you are seeking and how you learned of it. If you’re writing to an agency, you’ll want to be clear you’re seeking representation for a live-in or live-out nanny position and in what area.

* Clearly articulate why you want to work as a nanny. Agency representatives and employers want to know why you want to be a nanny and if you’re applying for a specific position, why you want that job. Clearly articulate what motivates you to seek employment as a nanny and what type of nanny position you are searching for. If you’ve been working as a nanny for the last several years and enjoy partnering with parents in raising their children, be sure to share that.

* Sell yourself strong. What makes you the right person for the job? You’ll want to highlight your work experience, education, training, special skills and professional affiliations in your cover letter. When selling yourself, consider what separates you from others applying for the same position. If you’re applying for a position with multiples and you have experience caring for twins, you’ll want to state that your experience in caring for twins has prepared you to meet the individual needs of each child while ensuring that they stay on the same schedule and routine.

* Ask for an interview request. Before closing out your letter, you’ll want to request the opportunity to learn more about the position and to evaluate the possibility of working together. Provide the best way to contact you and thank the reader for their consideration. Be sure your email address is professional sounding. If you’re currently using something like Teddybears4me@mailserver.com, you may wish to create a separate account for job search correspondence.

* Make reference to your resume and references. Indicate that you’ve enclosed your resume and reference information with the cover letter. If you prefer, you may replace reference information with a statement that says your references are available upon request.

Before sending your cover letter you’ll want to be sure it is in proper letter format and that your letter has been checked for spelling and grammar errors. Having a friend or family member proofread your letter is always a good idea. Oftentimes a cover letter is your chance to make a solid first impression. Take time to carve out a one page letter that presents you as the professional you are.

12 October, 2012


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