Advice Needed Please.... Surviving Monster Grandma

I could use some advice. I work for a lovely family with three young children (all under the age of four). After more than two years with them, we have a great relationship. I am very bonded with the kids. MB and DB and I get along great. When I'm working, I'm treated like an extremely valued employee with all the accompanying benefits, when I'm off the clock I'm treated like family (and we do spend time together outside of work). We communicate and handle conflict well. I have no complaints... until Grandma comes to visit.

I get along fabulously with the grandma who lives nearby, but several times a year their other grandma comes to visit. They try to make it as easy for the nannies as they can - MB takes off as much time as possible from work while she's here, they limit the visits to one week long, etc - but frankly each time it has gotten more and more insane, and I find myself dreading each visit for weeks before it actually happens.

Grandma is mentally unstable. In fact, she was neglectful/abusive to MB and her siblings as children (eventually their father raised them) and while she's somewhat more stable now, she's still... what's the word... unpredictable? I am always concerned for the kid's emotional well - being when she's around. She is extremely manipulative and falls apart quickly if she doesn't get her way. As the kids get older it becomes harder and harder to keep them unaware of her erratic behavior.

Case in point: during one visit she came downstairs late (around 10 AM) while the kids were playing. She asked the little boy (then two) for a snuggle. He was very engaged in playing with his trucks, but reluctantly left them, gave her a hug, and then wanted to return to playing, as he is an active little guy. She tried holding him for a few minutes while she said things like, "Don't you want to snuggle grandma? Grandma is never here and she wants to spend as much time with you as she can. You don't even know who I am, do you? I'm not a part of your life. If I died tomorrow, you wouldn't care..." before she let him go play. The whole visit was like that. She made the kids extremely uncomfortable and clingy (to me) and I was at my wits end trying to keep everything calm for them. On another day during the visit she worked herself into a hysterical crying fit, and basically sat across from me telling me her life story for hours - how ex husbands abused her, she was scarred by finding her dad dead as as child, etc - I'm talking about 2+ hours of crying. Luckily the kids mostly stayed in the other room playing, but I wasn't able to interact with them like I normally did as I was too busy trying to keep them separated.

In the past, I've made plans and then made sure to leave while grandma is still sleeping, but the past few times she's gotten up early and gone with us. Once she asked if we could stop at Target so she could run in to get a box of tampons on the way to a playdate. The kids and I sat in the car waiting. Forty minutes later she emerged, exclaiming how she never got a chance to do her Christmas shopping, and we had such a better selection in our state.

I could go on and on - basically she is so unhinged that I just can't stay one step ahead of her by anticipating what crazy thing she might do next. Also, she's always prying into MB and DB's life, and it's harder and harder to come up with vague answers.

MB is extremely supportive and sympathetic towards us (She knows exactly how crazy grandma is) so any good coping mechanisms or strategies I could suggest, she would be supportive of. I'm just not sure what to do. Grandma is coming to visit soon and I am dreading it already. :(


Jaxx said...

First of all let me say I feel very sorry for you. My first thought was to ask why couldn't you get time off while Grandma visits, but now I understand that she Needs a Nanny as well. I understand that you cannot leave the kids with Grandma alone. I would either ask for more money while she's there because you have another child on your hands or tell the parents that the week(s) Grandma visits are the weeks you choose for your vacation. Then the parents will need to coincide their schedule while Grandma visits. Parents know how she is, there is no reason that she should be your responsibility.
When Grandma Pryies into the families lives just be honest with her and tell her you don't know or you are not sure. If you know the answer but do not want to respond pretend you are busy, you didn't hear her or play dumb like you have no idea what she's talking about. Good luck let us know what happens.
You could always drop her off at bingo or the local senior center and "accidentally " forget to pick her up :)

Leigh Raymer said...

something is really wrong here - you sat MB understands yet they dump this unstable family member upon ...YOU, actually endangering the kids. If it's only a week then just knash your teeth and get thru it but if it is a longer period of time then some kind of confrontation will have to happen

I had an unstable employee of my mother's once and my mom paid for me to drop her off at a shrinks - the shrink was the same as her like 2nd language and country, age gender - and - the employee would be calm after talking to her

You can't fire granny but instead of dropping her off at target - get permission from mom to take the woman to someone she can cry with for 2 hours (paid) i saw this approach work

Karen Nomore said...

I would personally either grin and bare it or tell your boss you cannot come in that week. why should you be stressed to the max. mom leaves bc she doesn't want to deal w her.if she wants u to then she should compensate you. your getting manipulated into taking care of her.I'm sure mom doesn't want to.but if she takes off work she should give u the week off and paid. she can watch the gramdma.

Anonymous said...

I think you should continue with planning to leave early with the children on an outing during Grandma's visits. If they need naps, then set them down for a nap and leave when nap time is over. Make sure you explain this plan to the mother. If Grandma wakes up early, she does not get to tag along with you and the children. You have the right to say no. Your job is to care for the children not to take care of Grandma. If she wants to spend time with the children, then she needs to make arrangements with the mother and you should not be needed at those times. It is very important that you set boundaries and have the parents back you up. If Grandma makes the excuse that she needs tampons or food, then you can pick them up as a courtesy while you're out with the children. If Grandma cannot respect the boundaries and tries to be manipulative or cling to your leg as you're leaving, then she should not be allowed to visit. Grandma will only push as much as she's allowed.