Saturday, January 9, 2010

Close of Nanny Saga


This morning after I stepped out of the shower and got dressed, I picked up my cell phone and discovered a message, a variant I've seen many times. It was from our nanny. She said she woke up and her eye was messed up, like pink eye, as it she said it had been earlier in the week. She said she would try putting in eye drops she had gotten to see if it would get better and that she would be here in half an hour.

Half an hour later, she was not here. I sent her a text message asking if she was on the way. No response. I called her. No answer. My wife did the same. No answer. My wife had to do a call for work and so was busy with that while I watched our son. Finally, she was done, and I left for work while she stayed home with the children. Because of the weather she was half planning on trying to work from home today anyway (she has a long commute), but with the kids and no nanny, she knew she would get no work done so she took a personal day.

I went to work and got going on things. Around noon, I called home to see if my wife had heard anything from the nanny. Nothing. I texted her again. Nothing. Finally, fed up with this, and having seen this happen on several occasions before, I called and left her a voice mail to call me. Now. Then a few minutes later, I texted the same thing. On too many occasions we find out she can't come with a shor text message in the morning followed by a full day (or more, sometimes a whole weekend) where we call or text her and get no response. She usually gave some excuse about why she couldn't answer. To tell the truth we put up with it because she did show up for work the next work day and she seemed to be doing a fine job with the kids and things like putting away dishes and clothes for us (which helps a lot).

But enough was enough. Not showing up for work and then ignoring calls about where you are after you say you will be in is unacceptable. So I left my message for her to call me. She didn't call. She did, however, immediately text back that she did not have to call me, that she did not have to put up with our "bullshit" and she didn't have to "raise our kids" and that she would come tomorrow (Saturday) morning to give us her key and get her last check. Needless to say, I was stunned. She had not said anything about this before. She seemed just fine the previous day, though it was a long day, since she came early and stayed a bit late as my wife was late getting home because of the weather (and I was VERY late). I make no claims of perfection, but I do know that working as our nanny was not exactly the worst job in the world. For the most part, she was on her own all day.

But maybe we should not be so surprised. Her childhood friend who had introduced us did tell us that she had gotten our nanny a few other jobs in the past that she had abruptly quit. Still, at the time, we had few options, and she did do fine with the kids. She also promised she would never do such a thing to us - she said she understood that we depended on her for both of us to go to work for our own jobs.

After her rather nasty text message, I told my wife, and she then called our nanny's friend, our former (and sometimes current) babysitter. She told my wife that she and our nanny had a stupid argument two weeks ago and then drove off, leaving our nanny's friend and her sister stranded - in Detroit, no less, 95 miles from home. They had gone down there for some sort of party or some bar thing. Since that time, they haven't spoken, and it sounded like the friendship was over. Our nanny's friend (damn, it would be easier to use names...) apologized and did not sound terribly surprised that our nanny had done this since she has done it before. She also said that she thought our nanny might have recently broken up with her boyfriend, and so was acting out of sorts.

I do wonder now if something else may have contributed. Several weeks ago, our son, who is now 23 months old, burned his finger. Our nanny said she did not know how it happened. Our daughter wasn't much help with that either, being four, but from the pattern of the burn - a straight line down across the diagnol of the finger, I guessed it was probably from a hot tap water stream. The water in the bathroom can get quite hot and that is something that would leave that sort of pattern. My wife worried it was the gas fireplace, but that has a flat glass front and so a burn there would not be able to be in a thin line on a finger like that. It would have been wider.

Looking at the computer downstairs, I noticed that it had been used during the day and that there were lots of visits to our nanny's facebook page. We also found some document she had made that looked like a forged doctor's excuse note from work - something you'd expect from a delinquent high school student (our nanny is 24, btw). It was for someone we didn't know, but who we later determined was a friend of hers (not her boyfriend, though). Our daughter did say that when our son was burned, the nanny was downstairs. For some reason, I thought she never went down stairs. We have a gate blocking it and our son really isn't allowed down there (too many small objects and things) and with just one person at home, you can't be downstairs while one or both kids are upstairs. But the logs showed she was down there every day. Now, this wasn't necessarily a big deal - our son naps in the middle of the day, and our daughter occasionally does as well (though now that is rare). If both kids are sleeping, I really don't care if the nanny is downstairs on the computer - but if she is going down there even when they are awake and moving around upstairs, that is an issue.

Rather than really get into it with her, I decided to simply lock the computers with a password. That would remove any incentive to go downstairs at all. She could find plenty of entertainment upstairs - between all of the DVDs and cable channels we have, it wasn't like there was nothing for her to occupy herself with if the kids were sleeping, or even if they were playing without her direct involvement. And that is all fine. I set this up just before the holidays. I wonder if she found it then, though, since she did not watch the kids much, or my wife was here, right up until just before New Year's. This week might have been the first week she was here where she noticed. I don't know. Maybe that reduced her interest in doing this job. I can only guess. We never said anything about it. We certainly never told her she could use the computer, though as I said above, it didn't bother me if she only did it when they were sleeping. The burn incident, though, convinced me that she didn't or couldn't limit herself to that. The burn led to a nasty blister, and I simply couldn't allow that to happen again.

So maybe the lack of computer access contributed. We'll never know. I suspect that she really did not have any issue with her eye, but simply did not want to come today for whatever reason. That may have been true most of the other times she has claimed some sort of strange illness as well. That happened probably at least a half-dozen times. And truly, that did not necessarily bother me either. People do get sick. Or have other reasons they can't come to work. I do wish she had been honest about it. We were always very accomodating. What irked me, really, was not that she didn't come, but that she would then be unreachable - so we would not know what was going on or when she might be back.

I wonder if she'll even show up tomorrow for her check, or if she'll send her sister or someone to get it. My wife thinks she'll be too chicken to show up. I think she's probably right. I really don't care now. We had another person who has subbed when the nanny was sick. We asked her if she wanted to be our full time nanny. She thought about it, but declined. She has a bunch of other job prospects right now that she is excited about, so she does not want to commit. Which is fine - with her, I at least am fairly certain if she does commit, she will stick to it. It is good that she is upfront, rather than working for a bit and then quitting, for instance.

With her turn down, we have no other options. There is a web site for finding child care. We have had some luck finding babysitters there. We signed up for it again (our subscription had lapsed). That cost some money. I almost wish I hadn't now. Because we've decided we will just send the kids back to day care. The day care said they would take them. It has been eight months. They will get sick again. They will get the mind poison that is religion. But I can maybe do something about that. Maybe. It is not like we have a choice. The other day cares nearby simply aren't as good or really all that close. It sucks having to deal with this.

Day care will be much cheaper - about 1/3rd cheaper or more. And during the summer, my wife's mother will be here and we can reduce day care down to 1 day a week, saving even more money (need to keep a day to keep the spot). She can come every summer, which will be good for when the kids have summer vacation after they start school.

Day care is a pain. Haivng to bundle them up to take them in will be annoying, as will doing the same to pick them up. It will be a bit easier now that both are older. I'm not looking forward to it. But the cost savings at least makes me feel good. Not having to deal with nanny taxes or nanny issues also makes me feel good. I'll just have to do it this once, and then be done with it.

So my nanny saga now comes to a close. Tomorrow morning I won't have to worry about nannies anymore. We did day care before, so we can do it again. With my son older, he should do much better than he did as a baby. Wish him luck.


Now it really is over. This morning, only 12 hours after I sent a message asking when the ex-nanny would come over today, she sent a message that said "half an hour." Over an hour later, her sister shows up (showing the nanny is truly gutless) to "get the check." I asked her for the house key. She said she didn't know anything about that. I told her no key, no check. She said she'd go to her car and call her sister about that. She went outside and then left. An hour later she was back, this time with the key. My wife still did not want to give her the check because we wanted the nanny to come so she could at least offer an explanation. Her sister said she would come later today if we give the check now. I told her I did not believe her. She then got very hostile and started complaining about how she was owed money from that check, etc. We told her this was not our problem.

I offered a compromise - I said we'd give it to her if her sister, our former nanny, would talk to my wife on the phone for two minutes. She refused, got very hostile, made complaints about how she was watching someone else's kids right now, and so forth. She still called, but our ex nanny refused to talk to us. Her sister was extremely rude, started making threats about how she was going to call a "higher authority" and call the police. Really, all we wanted was some sort of explanation beyond the very short and rude text message we had gotten yesterday. Finally, when it was clear our ex nanny would never talk to us, and after some nasty things her sister said to us, I decided just to write the check and say good riddance. Her sister took it and slammed the door on the way out, showing she was just as rude and immature as our now ex nanny.

Later, we talked with our ex nanny's now former friend who had introduced us. She explained in more detail what happened two weeks ago - not only was she stranded in Detroit, but our ex nanny had gotten drunk and tried to choke her after getting hostile about when they would leave and how.

This whole experience has soured me on the notion of even having a nanny. We really could barely afford it as it was, and only with scrimping on everything else. And even that did not give a huge rate of pay - probably about 500 dollars a week. Of course, there are far worse jobs than ones where you can stay indoors all day, watch TV, and set your own agenda (as the kids permit). It is not like we were there breathing over her shoulder - we were at work.

It sounds like she is very emotionally unstable, and it is probably good she is no longer watching our children. We will not be replacing her. The kids, as I said, will go back to day care on Monday, at least through June. They will get sick and it will be a pain, but there is nothing we can do about that. At least we'll be able to start adding to savings instead of depleting it. It was about gone as it was.

Some people truly never grow up and just are not responsible adults. I have been quite fortunate for my circumstances.


tina FCD said...

Wow, I feel for you and your wife about the nanny situation.
My daughter babysits for her cousins son A.J. He is almost 3 years old. He has a sister that is 5 years old and in school full time.
Dad goes to work at 5 a.m.(his mom, my sister,lives with him) She needs to be gone for work by 6:30 a.m.
My daughter takes her 11 year old to the bus stop (by the cousins house) to get on the bus by 7:00 a.m.
Can you follow this mess?
They figured if my daughter had to take her son to the bus stop that early, then she could come earlier and stay with the two kids till the 5 year old gets on the bus at 8:00 a.m.
Then take the 3 year old to her home, miles away. Then, at 2:30 leave and go pick up her son from the bus stop at 3:00. and wait at their house till 4:00 when the 5 year old gets out of school, and wait till the dad gets home at 4:30. Mind you, what 11 year old wants to sit with a 3 and 5 year old right after school for an hour and a half?
The she goes home to get ready for HER class at the college at 6:00 p.m.
Maybe she should come work for you guys, I bet the pay is better.
Oh, and the parents are split up, if they don't have work that day, they still have her babysit and do all that. WTF? Sorry about the language, sort of. :P

tina FCD said...

Oh, my daughter got laid off from her job and is back in school.

DBB said...

Yeah - parenting and having to deal with who watches the kids when you work is a major headache. I swear a good babysitter is like gold.

I now have an update to this which I'm going to add to the post.

I can't say we paid all that well - 8 dollars an hour, 12 with overtime, 50 hours a week, usually.

What degree is your daughter getting?

DBB said...

We paid pretty much the maximum we could afford - we were basically breaking even month to month, really watching savings go down.

tina FCD said...

She's going for Medical Billing, I'm sure there's a more fancy name for it. :)

My daughter is getting $2.00 an hour for A.J. and $1.00 an hour for the girl. That's what I originally got paid for for watching them. The mom stopped paying me and still owes me $80.00..I stopped watching them.
Whoa, she does a lot for that money if you ask me.

Your ex nanny sounds nutty!