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November 07, 2007

Horror nanny/good nanny

352 We used to have an excellent nanny.  She still loves both of my kids.  But lately her problems have made her unable to do her work.  I mean that truly.  Not that she's no longer Mary Poppins.  She stares off into space.  She sits on the couch doing absolutely nothing.  Sometimes my son falls over crying and continues to cry and she doesn't notice.  My son asks her to play with him and she ignores him.  He's little; he doesn't know or care that she has her own problems.  As far as he's concerned and as far I'm concerned anyone should be delighted to play with him.  He's a very special little boy.  And plus I'm paying her to play with him.

Sometimes our old nanny returns.  At my doctor's office she read to my son just like she has in the past.  He said "I love you." overjoyed she had returned.  She said "I love you too."  It broke my heart. Then later that afternoon he cried for 1/2 an hour after she left.  She didn't say goodbye to him.  Saying a proper goodbye matters a lot to a kid.  And he didn't understand that it wasn't him.  It was just her having a bad day.  "It's my fault." he kept saying.  It broke my heart again.

I have managed lots of people who weren’t nannies.  And I just don't know what to do. When I talk to her about it she reacts with hostility and anger.  The kids try to avoid her.   I know she has marital problems

which I don't feel comfortable blogging about here but they would be considered problems that would make most people angry and/or sad. However many people manage to leave their problems at home and behave properly at work.  My children are generally happy and happy to see her...as long as she's not angry or sad.  My husband says that perhaps seeing my happy children reminds her of her own problems as they represent the future. I want my children to be happy.  They always have been.  My son has overcome so many difficult obstacles and my daughter has always been so loving and supportive towards him. They are more resilient than she is.

So mostly it's that I feel bad about kicking someone out who has been really good to my kids and me because she can't behave appropriately now.  And that hope that our old nanny will return.

What I've done so far is to reduce her hours to once a week.  I told my older child that our nanny is acting this way because she's sad about the rest of her life.  That it has nothing to do with her.  My child seems to understand.  But she keeps asking me when things will get better.  I'm hoping things will get better too. That our nanny will sort out her life before I get to the point where I or my kids can't take it anymore.   But weeks have turned into months.

How long should I wait?  Now I dread her coming over.  I never know if I'm going to get the horror nanny or the good nanny.  Most weeks it's the horror nanny.  And my stomach clenches for worrying that she will make one or both kids cry.  Is it time to say goodbye?

The kicker is this week she asked me for references as she wants more hours.  If it were a regular job I'd just say something neutral to the person asking for reference.  But she will be watching someone else's children.   What should I say if someone asks?

I have no good answer to these questions.  I just feel terrible and I just want things to go back to the way they were.  But I can't fix her life.  I feel like I can't fix anything.  What would you do?

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