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Au Pair problem - help me calm down before I talk to her

(121 Posts)
Weegle Wed 12-Aug-09 19:11:49

Ok, so current AP not the best, but thought DS seems to be happy so that's the most important thing...

I have just found out the following (via DH who obviously wasn't thinking when he found out yesterday, so only just told me now).

Yesterday I was recovering post-op in bed. So AP had DS (3.2 yrs) all day, with plans to be out 9.30-3pm ish. She was given instructions (complete with timetables, cash etc) to take the train short ride to next town, take DS swimming, buy him lunch in the cafe, play in the playground then catch the x train home. I find out today that she apparently missed the train home (not a big deal, she could have waited for the next one) so called her AP friend (why not me/DH is beyond me if she genuinely thought missing the train was a problem) who she got to come with her car and pick them up. First point: I've never met this girl, or her host family. I don't know if he was in an appropriate and not damaged car seat. I don't know if the girl is a capable driver, her age, anything about her. Then, instead of being brought home they went to the friend's house (host family on holiday). I don't know how long they were there for - I'm suss about the missing train story because the drive would have taken longer and so there wouldn't have been time for a detour. I don't know anything about this house, AP etc. Apparently he was trampolining (DS mentioned this tonight hence it's all come out) - I don't know if this trampoline is enclosed, I don't know if the girls were properly supervising him. I don't even know if the family have dogs - DS petrified of dogs after being bounded over by one.

I need to calm down before AP comes home (has had a day off today). I've NEVER before with an AP felt that my DS' safety has been compromised. And I have to admit I'm fuming. DH is now being very contrite - saying he just didn't think but now saying of course it's not ok. I don't know if the reason I feel so strongly is that as a child I was in a car accident with an AP and lost my hearing in one ear. We don't have our own AP's driving DS. I'm really shaken by what could have happened to DS, what if we'd had a phonecall to say they were in hospital etc - I don't even know (although assume) the girl is insured.

In our manual we have things like "please don't have friend's round whilst you have sole care of DS", "please don't have prolonged phonecalls whilst in sole charge etc" - but I haven't explicitly got anything that would cover this - I even have "please introduce your friend's before having them around our house" etc - you would have thought if I want to meet them before they are in my house it would be clear common sense I'm not going to be happy for DS to be DRIVEN by one of them. Not that my manual seems to matter as it's been ignored on several (much more minor) points so far.

Help me calm down and know how to approach this so that a) I don't lose it (I'm not normally easily angered!) b) nothing like this ever happens again and c) relations stay cordial.

I'm very concerned that this might also not be an isolated incident as a friend of mine mentioned seeing DS and AP outside the leisure centre the other day looking like they were waiting for someone - yet knowing the timings they couldn't have been - they should have been inside.

Please help!

nannyL Wed 12-Aug-09 19:19:13


you say you dont know if the car seat was damaged.... which implies he WAS in a car seat?

TBH i think you are making a mountain out of a mole hill...
she went to a freinds house and the friend gave them a lift and it sounds as if they used a car seat.

"you dont know if whe was spervising him" well if you dont trust her then why let her look after your child?

"you dont know if they have a dog"... well there was probably more likey to be a dog in a park..

"you have never met them" My bosses havent met and dont know half of the nannies / family homes that i go to with my nanny friends. The children know each other, the nannies know each other but the parents most certainly dont!... again my boss trusts me to look after her children which includes trusting me to take them to appropriate palces and supervise accordingly.

Bunch Wed 12-Aug-09 19:23:32

I feel sorry for your AP to be honest! So many rules! If you don't trust her to make the right decisions over ur DS then look after him yourself.

K999 Wed 12-Aug-09 19:23:57

You either trust her to look after your ds or not - if you dont trust her get someone else.

Jujubean77 Wed 12-Aug-09 19:25:52

You need to calm down.

I have read your post twice and as a very hyper sensitive and extremely cautious Mum myself I can't see what she did that was so terribly wrong. The dog comment is just..well baffling.

It sounds like you instruct her by the bullet point what you want her to do with her time. You need to trust her more if you chose HER to look after your child. You were assessing all sorts of things about her at interview. Ultimately there are going to be re-arrangements that you will not be in total control over.

you sound like you need to come to terms with leaving him in someone elses' care and what that actually entails.

Jujubean77 Wed 12-Aug-09 19:27:14

Also, very important - you said your DS is happy, that really speaks volumes about at AP.

Jujubean77 Wed 12-Aug-09 19:27:32

an AP

Weegle Wed 12-Aug-09 19:30:16

I don't know if he was in a car seat. I haven't even thought how upset I'll be if he wasn't.

A trained nanny is somewhat different from an AP. She was given explicit instructions on what to do for the day. I would have thought it was fairly important for me to know who my DS is with? Where he is and when? And who is driving him? And that they are insured? And that they are safe and capable of driving in a foreign country?

And Bunch - I was in bed post-operatively. How do you suppose I looked after him yesterday? Hence she was given very explicit instructions on what to do. I also trust her that if she runs in to difficulties (e.g. misses a train) her first thought would be to contact me/DH. She isn't a nanny - she is a 19 year old looking after kids in her gap year...

Fair enough if you think my 'rules' are extreme - please explain as I'm open to hearing why - none of my previous AP's have thought we've been anything other than relaxed.

Millarkie Wed 12-Aug-09 19:34:23

but Nannyl - if your boss gave you extensive and implicit intstructions on how you were to spend your day with their child (ie. take train etc) then wouldn't they also trust you to carry them out?
Au pairs are not trained childcarers as I assume you are - that is why they are given more instruction and supervision than nannys (by sensible host families anyway).
Weegle - It's understandable that since your au pair has 'lied by omission' and her trip has only come to light because ds is talking about it, that you question everything else (car seats, dogs etc) but try to stay's just as likely that there was a good car seat, no dogs etc.
The most important thing is to impress on your au pair that your ds is not to be driven by ANYONE except mum and dad, and that if she has to change her plans she is to RING you imediately (assuming you have given her usual mobile phone credit).
Our last Au Pair did something similar - drove our dc to school in the snow in my (non-snow tyred) fiat when the school bus rang to say that it was unsafe to drive down our lane..despite dh telling her to ring him if there was a problem so he could take them in his (snow equipped) car. She took a while to understand what a risk she took.

Weegle Wed 12-Aug-09 19:34:53

DS would be happy - she feeds him jam sandwiches and ice lollies for lunch! That's the sort of thing I 'let go'. I accept I need to calm down (hence my post) but are you all really saying it's ok that she took him in a car with a driver I know NOTHING about? Whether he even had a car seat (she's not English - how would she know they English car seat laws?)?

I fully accept I might be being a tad extreme if that's what everyone really thinks - I'm pregnant with twins, hormonally all over the place and just had an extremely painful operation.

AtheneNoctua Wed 12-Aug-09 19:36:27

I think what you need is stiff G&T. And then you need to consider whether you are really prepared to turn over the care of your DS to someone else. As a nanny employer, I have had to learn to accept that the nanny wll not always do things exactly as I would. I need guidelines. It is my job to communicate to her those things that are really important to me (and I must choose my battles and not dictate every second of the day or she will rightly leave due to her control freak micromanaging boss). If you are not prepared to let her make some of the decision (who to hang out with, what train to get on, etc.), then I think having a childcare is perhaps not your cup of tea.

All of the things that have outraged you in your OP would not even feature on my radar. But, of course, I'm there are things I consider very important that other parents wouldn't even notice.

K999 Wed 12-Aug-09 19:36:45

You said it yourself...she's not a nanny...she's a 19 year old who is looking after kids in her gap year. Sorry, but you know this and then you get upset when things dont go according to your plan? I think you are being over-sensitive and I've said before if you dont trust her, get someone else...perhaps a trained nanny??

growingout Wed 12-Aug-09 19:37:37

Message withdrawn

nannyL Wed 12-Aug-09 19:38:11

TBH i dont think its essential that you know exactly where your child of every moment of every day...

so long as he is being cared for by someone you trust then trust them to look after your child.

I really think you are being way OTT

(oh and when i was 19 and untrained i had a 16 week old, 4 year old and 7 year old for 2 weeks while the parents were on the other side of the world)...
and we all had a great time and were fine smile

Weegle Wed 12-Aug-09 19:38:46

thank you Millarkie for understanding where I'm coming from. I think that's the thing - I trust her to carry out my instructions. And yes she has an English mobile with credit (but that's another part of the manual which she chooses to ignore but I now remind her to take it with her whenever she goes out).

But yes, I need to calm down. I accept that.

K999 Wed 12-Aug-09 19:40:09

Are you sure that she actually understands your manual - perhaps she is not very sure??

Millarkie Wed 12-Aug-09 19:40:41

Just seen other posts - have any of you posters hosted an au pair??

Trust is not a black and white issue, you can trust someone to look after a child under certain conditions (e.g. at home with their own toys around them and mum in the next room for one end of the extreme) but not trust them under other conditions (i.e. out of the home, at a strange house, parents not within easy distance).

(Just like I would trust dh to do the shopping with a shopping list but not without (unless I wanted to live on wine and fancy crisps for a week)).

nannynick Wed 12-Aug-09 19:42:24

Try looking at the situation differently. List the positive and negative aspects.

For example... a positive is that your DS and the AP did get home, eventually.
Another positive is that the AP didn't involve you (you may not see that as a positive but in the event of something going wrong... would you prefer the AP to just call you, or try to sort it out. If the AP had called you, what would you have done... if you were in bed post-op).

Weegle Wed 12-Aug-09 19:44:26

ok - hormonal check, thank you.

But I'm still not happy about him being in a car with whom I don't know the driver or car seat arrangements and I will be (calmly) pointing this out.

I don't micromanage her time normally - normally she's an extra pair of hands for me (disabled) - which is what AP's are.

nannynick Wed 12-Aug-09 19:45:24

Once you have produced a list of positives and negatives, you can then use that to have a chat with the AP. As you will have some (though maybe not many) positives, you can start the chat with saying what you did feel went well, then what you felt didn't go well and how the AP can improve on that in future.

K999 Wed 12-Aug-09 19:45:37

MIllarkie - I wouldnt hire an AP for that very reason - they are young and inexperienced therefore I would not trust them to look after my dcs. I am sure some are very good but imo its not worth taking the risk. smile

Grammaticus Wed 12-Aug-09 19:45:45

Oh weegle poor you - you must be feeling really rubbish. I don't think what has happened to your DS is that bad (we all have to lighten up about lifts in cars when they are older and start school, tbh). But I can see you're feeling really upset and I feel for you. Is this AP to be involved when you have your twins?

I guess you need to talk to her, about this and generally, but the specifics of the incident don't sound too bad to me.


barleycorn Wed 12-Aug-09 19:46:08

Your main (and IMO understandable)concern seems to be about the car seat. You need to speak to her and find out. It is really important that children are not travelling in a car unrestrained...the law's there for a reason.

Apart from that maybe the problem is that you don't trust this 19yo? Maybe you should be considering alternative childcare?

Grammaticus Wed 12-Aug-09 19:47:01

Agree with nannynick - cross posted.

Millarkie Wed 12-Aug-09 19:48:18

but AtheneNoctua - she feeds him jam sarnies and ice lollies for lunch (aren't you shuddering at that )

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