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Feel like I'm walking on eggshells with current AP

(15 Posts)
Weegle Mon 13-Oct-08 19:17:57

This probably really is a vent because I guess her pros outweigh the annoyances, but current AP has done my head in today. She's been here 3 months and I still feel like she's "new". She is very bright but is not a fast learner, she needs to be told how to do something several times and even then she is slow - we're talking about things like how to fold a boy's vest here, not rocket science. But the main problem is that if you say anything to her she looks almost aghast and shocked, and takes it as criticism and gets defensive. Which means I have started saving up what needs to be said and only saying essentials which is daft because things aren't being done how we like/need. Today she left a pair of kitchen scissors on my toddler's table - I didn't notice, he picked them up and came toddling in to me and I of course freaked (he had them pointing up under his chin, if he had fallen it would not have been funny). DS in tears (because I shouted from shock) and I said "where did he get them from?" and AP nonchalantly says "oh I left them on his table when I was opening my parcel earlier" - no "sorry", no nothing. Then she needed help with something she was cooking (she was trying to make a rosti in a wok, really not gonna happen) and DH said "I don't think it will work it needs to be a flat heavy based pan" and she got all defensive "I'm just following the recipe". So I then offered to help and she's in tears! So I'm saying, it really doesn't matter, it's just a rosti, let's transfer it to this pan and then it'll cook better etc etc. She really really can't handle anything that might even be construed as a mild criticism. The thing is she's 19, she's not going to get everything right all the time and so I need to be able to explain to her how to do things yet I feel I can't because she'll get defensive, or worse, cry. It's so bad that if DS is having a stroppy day then instead of getting stuck in and getting on with her jobs to help she hides as if it's some reflection on her, I'm not explaining well, but she is worse precisely when I need her to be together e.g. one of her roles is to put DS in his car seat if I am going out (I can't lift him), every Monday I go out at the same time yet this morning because DS having a strop she goes and hides in her room so then as well as dealing with stroppy DS making me late, I have to go and get her to ask her to put him in the car - we've gone out at the same time every Monday for the 3 months she's been here! Any suggestions on how I can handle this before it drives me (and DH) to complete distraction?

kittywise Mon 13-Oct-08 19:55:23

get another AP, I would.

Julesnobrain Mon 13-Oct-08 20:07:24

Back to basics...Why do you have an AP?? to make your life easier... is she doing this? No.. then sorry I agree with kittywise, get rid of her and get one that does.

gooseegg Mon 13-Oct-08 20:09:38

Weegle - the scissors being left out with no horror and apologies over her mistake is worrying, but I have to laugh at your exasperation over her shock at the boy's vest folding!

Seriously, is there a special way to fold boy's vests?!

Sorry I'm not being much help.

OK - lots of praise for things she does well and lots of humour to diffuse things when she looks like she's about to get stroppy.

And if that doesn't work: grin and bear it if the good really does outweigh the bad, or say goodbye.

blueshoes Mon 13-Oct-08 20:15:40

weegle, I share your frustration. Walking on eggshells is the right term. You should not have to hold back on telling her things, especially since she does not get it right the first time - it is counterproductive to making her a useful person around the house.

Remind us what her pros are?

Weegle Mon 13-Oct-08 20:18:10

No there is no bloody special way to fold boys vests - is there??? so why do I get asked several times how to fold them?!

ARGH. I really can't get rid of her. She's not THAT bad. Not in the league of previous disastrous AP who didn't last a week. She is normally fine with DS (bar the scissor incident) and does get a minimal amount of housework done (although for some unknown reason she hoards the family laundry in her room) and is willing she is just so unbelievably sensitive that I feel I can't remind her how to do something I've told her before, or point out if something's gone wrong e.g. where are all DS' pjamas just as I'm putting him to bed tonight - in her room! WHY????????, but she's so sensitive I can't ask her! Eventually DH after searching the house, going outside to the tumble drier, looking in the airing cupboard gives up, asks her, she produces them from her room and then flounces out "I need to go and get chocolate".

Weegle Mon 13-Oct-08 20:22:12

Her pros:

She is nice, and friendly when she's in a good mood which is most of the time if I haven't needed to pick her up on something.

She is good with DS and will take him to the station and watch trains for HOURS - I can't be arsed to do it for more than 15 minutes

She is generally quite clean around the house, does her chores in her own way meaning they are mostly successful

She's there when I need ad hoc care at the drop of a hat (reasonably frequently), so that's why I need her, and for that she's great really.

She is OK - it's just this one thing driving me bananas because I don't like walking on eggshells in my house. I want to say "you dozey pickle, how many times do I have to say you do x,y,z" but she will burst in to tears.

blueshoes Mon 13-Oct-08 21:28:50

Those are good points. I can see why you have put up with it for so long.

I am trying to think of ways to manage her sensitivity at being 'pulled up'. How about trying to pre-empt her known quirks? For laundry hoarding, could you say can you put the laundry here, rather than 'don't put it in your room' which she will see as a criticism in her state. As for ds' strops, in a calmer time that is not the morning rush hour, tell her you need her to be there on Mon mornings especially if ds is not co-operating brecause you need help more than ever and some spiel about how young children act up and it is not personal.

It is quite a lot for you and dh not to be able to point out her errors in real time so as to avoid a strop. 19 years' old is not a child. What do you think would happen if you and dh just pointed out in a matter-of-fact way every time something needs to be said eg please don't leave sharp objects like the scissors around where ds can get hold of and hurt himself.

Sensitive or not, the strops sound quite manipulative, like she is trying to shut you up when you have a legitimate reason to speak your mind. Living in someone's home is not easy and communication is key. She sounds immature, sorry.

blueshoes Mon 13-Oct-08 21:34:52

Have you observed what she is like with her friends?

Weegle Tue 14-Oct-08 07:48:58

Thank you blueshoes. Some good advice. I certainly think I can run with the positive comments rather than negative ones. I used to very much do the running commentary type of thing, but she clearly saw it all as criticism and I guess for an easy life I pulled back and now the very little I do say is seen as even worse! I agree she does seem very immature, but I don't want to be responsible for destroying her confidence (she does seem quite fragile). But we're a happy home, she's very much a part of the family life, and so she has no reason to take these things so personally. But I do need to start bringing things up - another small problem has arisen this morning because of something I didn't pick up yesterday (basically DS has wet the bed two night's running and because yesterday's sheets haven't been washed yet there are no clean sheets to put on the bed, despite me saying bedding must be washed that day if it's been wetted). She took a very long time to make any friends and took a lot of encouragement from me - she's getting there with a social life but I haven't actually witnessed her with any of them yet (she tends to meet them in town). I think I am going to have to start saying more again and if it becomes apparent that she gets stroppier with it then I will have to sit her down and say something I think and explain that these things aren't criticisms but a way of making sure everything runs smoothly. Thank you for your help, I feel so much better for getting it off my chest!

blueshoes Tue 14-Oct-08 09:02:41

Hi Weegle, totally understand the need to get things off your chest. Living with someone in your personal space can be grating if such issues are not addressed. At least you and dh have managed to stay calm, which is a big big plus.

About the wet sheets, I can see how her managing to 'forget' previous instructions are a problem - this sort of thing drives me mad. Would you consider saying during your chat with her that you understand how when people are busy little details can escape their attention, but that is the nature of running a house and how you cope is to 'write things down'. And then either encourage her to write it down on a notepad you provide her or (I would probably do this) say you are going to write it down for her and add to the list as you go along. Leave it in her room and pin up on notice board. Next time she forgets, you can point to that piece of paper.

These can then become houserules for the next aupair - who hopefully will be a sturdier character.

Weegle Tue 14-Oct-08 09:26:42

Yes, all good points. We re-wrote her "list" last week as it was clear since starting college she wasn't getting stuff done on the days according to the list so we took a few things away, made a few changes, and shifted some days around. I've now put that up on the noticeboard in the kitchen. I think the most frustrating thing is - I wouldn't mind reminding her if she took it graciously. But like this morning I just said when she got up and she's hanging up the laundry DH had done "please put the sheets in the tumble drier as DS hasn't got any to go on his bed for his nap" - she mumbled and then went in the shower. So half an hour later with me realising there isn't enough time for the sheets to not be put in the TD now, I go and start doing it myself and explained to her why, so she then comes out of her room and virtually pulls it all out of my arms, "I'll do it". Well she clearly wasn't and we're going out in less than an hour, there isn't exactly much time for drying the bedding and getting it on the bed for when we get back as DS' nap time. If she had just graciously said "yes" and gone and put it in the TD when I asked, it really wouldn't be a problem!

Fortunately we're not seeing much of each other today which I think is a good thing as I feel like I need some space. Then hopefully we can start tomorrow again and see if both our moods have improved!

blueshoes Tue 14-Oct-08 10:04:28

Honestly Weegle, if it had been my aupair, I would just have just knocked on her door and asked her to put the clothes in the tumbledrier as you were going out etc.

Fair enough her grip on logistics of getting sheets onto bed in time might be not as strong as yours, but it is almost impossible for you if (1) she does not know or remember; (2) does not allow you to do it yourself without getting huffy; or (3) does not allow you to remind her without her getting huffy.

I would be itching to sit down with her and have a chat about her behaviour. It is your call. But I see issues with your/dh being held hostage in your own home and gagged to boot because of her insane (I almost wrote 'abusive' but that is not right) behaviour. It is passive aggressiveness to the hilt. Agree that some space apart before tackling the issue would be good. Even if moods improve, this issue will not go away.

Her lack of social life is telling.

blueshoes Tue 14-Oct-08 10:17:24

Thinking about it, weegle, after your chat, the next time she flounces, I would call her bluff. She gets away with it because she knows you don't want conflict with her.

You and dh need to show her that you are not afraid of her moods. In the nicest, calmest possible way, ask her if there is a problem as you can see she is not happy. Ask her how you can talk to her so that she does not get upset (but you WILL talk to you and you WILL sort it out even if it means being late for whatever you are rushing to). It might take a few times but once she knows that no matter how busy you are, you will hang around to ensure she does not outwardly strop in your presence because it is unacceptable in a grown person of her age, I think you will see less of it.

She needs to mature to survive in the real world and you are helping her on that path. What are her plans after aupairing?

Weegle Tue 14-Oct-08 13:02:05

Yes you're absolutely right. I will gather together my resolve and deal with this more appropriately. I have to be able to feel I can give her instructions and correct her if she is wrong, and that is not an unreasonable expectation on my behalf. She's hoping to go on to Uni after AP'ing, and you're right she needs to deal with this else she'll never survive in the real world. Thank you for helping me with this, I do appreciate it. DH just rolls his eyes and ignores, but it doesn't directly affect his life as it's me who has most contact with her and picks up the pieces!

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