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Struggling with new au pair

(36 Posts)
DeeMc Sat 29-Aug-09 17:12:12

OK. This is a bit of a rant but I am prone to dramatic flounces and hyperbole so need to run this past other Mumsnetters who have had an au pair.

Our au pair has been with us nearly 3 weeks. she is very quiet. I pretty much don't get a response about well, anything really. She's not surly or moody just quiet and reserved. It is quite hard work but I think it's cultural and I am willing to work on this BUT...

It is my son's birthday today -- 7. He's been sooooo excited all week, we made/iced a cake yesterday etc. ect. and I told the au pair exactly what we were going to do today. Grandparents coming down, party at a farm park. She was welcome to join us.

Well, basically, we all left the house at 10:30 this morning and she didn't even put her nose out of her room to wish my son a Happy Birthday. I am fuming. I completely understand that weekends are her own time, and while it would of been very thoughtful of her to offer to help us get picnic etc. ready this morning when we were under pressure, I appreciate that Sat/ sun are her own time. HOWEVER, I am very annoyed that she didn't think to even wish one of her two charges Happy Birthday, let alone buy him a card, let alone come with us and meet some of the friends / Mum in his class.

We got back at 4, she is now out. needless to say no card etc. etc.

AM I being unreasonable by being upset by this?

nbee84 Sat 29-Aug-09 17:32:32

I think we had a similar thread to this recently. Au pair/charges birthday/not joining in/no card.

No, I think that Yanbu to feel a bit upset by it - but I think the other thread pointed out reasons (some cultural I think) why she may not have joined in.

I'll go and have a dig around and see if I can find the other thread.

ReneRusso Sat 29-Aug-09 17:35:32

You are not being unreasonable at all. She sounds like she is a bit lacking in any basic social skills. We had an au pair like that, thankfully for quite a short time. She just saw the whole set up as somewhere to live and didn't take any interest in the children. However, maybe she will surprise you and show up with a card and a present later on?

LaurieFairyCake Sat 29-Aug-09 17:39:41

If I was an au-pair and young I would probably not come out of my room to wish him Happy Birthday as I would assume that it was family time and not to interfere/intrude. I would think you were only being polite by inviting me.

I would instead ask on my next working day whether he had a good birthday.

Frankly I think you have no right to ask anything of anyone who is not working on that day. It seems from your post that you would have thought more of her if she had offered to help you pack a picnic/offered to come/wished him happy birthday.

She is either working or she isn't.

DeeMc Sat 29-Aug-09 17:52:30

Yes, I would have thought more of her if she had wished him a Happy Birthday. Is that so terrible!?

As I said in my post I fully understand that weekends are her own time and I completely respect that. I have been very careful to ensure she understands that wekeends are her own time. If she'd offered to help with picnic I would have been, yes, very very grateful. But I wouldn't expect her to have offered.

All I wanted was her to poke her head out and say Happy Birthday, have a good party. Simply to bond better with my son. BTW she's worked as an au pair for a year in the US.

mummalish Sat 29-Aug-09 17:54:40

You should remember that she does not love him the way you do, or have tremendous feelings for him (probably hard for a mum to understand).

Also, being young, it probably did not even cross her mind to help you prepare your picnic, the way she thinks is probably very different to the way you think.

She may be just trying to get to grips with living with a family, finding her feet etc. She clearly doesn't have social awareness yet, but if she is very young, and has just come to a new country, what do you expect?

LaurieFairyCake Sat 29-Aug-09 17:56:39

Of course it's not terrible. Those are your feelings and are perfectly valid.

However her choosing not to do it is also ok as she's not working.

Hopefully you are happy with her work when she's working - you haven't said if you are happy with the way she's bonding with your son during work time?

FabBakerGirlIsBack Sat 29-Aug-09 17:57:15

YAB a bit U.

She has only been with you for 3 weeks.

There is still time for her to wish him a happy birthday. She might be out getting him something.

I wouldn't expect she wants to spend her weekend free time with people she doesn't know and why should she help make a picnic for you?

Bink Sat 29-Aug-09 18:10:30

I think:

- she might have been embarrassed about not having got him a card (nearly 3 weeks, in a new job, new place, new family, new everything, is not too long to have missed the time to get a card) - hence keeping out of your way entirely;

- she might have been meaning to get to know him well enough to think of a present, and has not been able to find something, and is now embarrassed (all as above);

- she may not feel she knows you well enough to tell whether you meant it when you invited her, so is keeping out of your way because she's confused;

- she may not feel she knows you well enough to trust you not to have made it a "working" day if she did come with you - perhaps she's been taken advantage of before and this time she wants to protect her down time right from the beginning;

- she may have been left out of birthday stuff in her previous family, so thinks it's appropriate to leave you alone this time. This isn't so improbable - I know lots of nannies who get left out of their charges' birthdays parties - the parents think it's fine, and the nanny's really hurt.

DeeMc Sat 29-Aug-09 18:35:51

Thanks for your input everyone -- you've given me lots to think about.

She came back a while ago and asked him how his party went.

BubbaAndBump Sat 29-Aug-09 18:41:08

I was an au-pair many moons ago, and definitely got involved with family things and eventually felt very much part of their family (so much so they were invited to our wedding), however the beginning few weeks were a bit daunting with a LOT of info to take in and learning a new language was knackering. Could she have any linguistic reasons for maybe not having understood? Also, are you sure she was at home and awake when you left? Also, the family always asked me to join them on family things at the weekends, and sometimes I joined them, other times I desperately needed a break from their (four) gorgeous children.

See how it develops. I certainly wouldn't confront her about it as it'll not help at this early stage, but, on the whole, YANBU for being upset - I'd expect a stranger in the street to wish a happy birthday to one of my DCs if they knew it was their birthday...

DeeMc Sat 29-Aug-09 18:45:19

PS. For the record, I NEVER expected her to make me a picnic. I did expect a "Happy Birthday!" that's all.

Does that really qualify me as YAB?

FabBakerGirlIsBack Sat 29-Aug-09 18:47:27

You did say you were hoping she would offer to help with the picnic

Would you want to work on your day off?

DeeMc Sat 29-Aug-09 18:58:48

Er, I actually said...

"I completely understand that weekends are her own time, and while it would of been very thoughtful of her to offer to help us get picnic etc. ready this morning when we were under pressure, I appreciate that Sat/ sun are her own time. "

I didn't say "I was hoping she wold offer to help me with my picnic this morning"

Whatever. Thanks to everyone who gave me really constructive insight and advice.

Libra Sat 29-Aug-09 19:00:12

It can be a cultural thing as well. DH is Danish. He never does cards, etc. His family do not do them, neither do his friends. They all seem confused when I send them out at Christmas, for example.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Sat 29-Aug-09 19:05:46

It is her day off.

She doesn't have to think about you at all.

catepilarr Sat 29-Aug-09 19:37:23

how is she supposed to know to get him a card? i found this a very british (and weird) thing to do. in my country you only send cards to people who are far away, not the ones you live with.
how is she supposed to know you would have liked her to join in the celebrations? or even that you would have appreciated her to help? while i would love to celebrate my charges birthday if i was not invited i would feel it was not appropriate to join in on my days off.

DeeMc Sat 29-Aug-09 19:45:56

Please see original post. She was invited.

However, can I be clear... I did not expect her to spend her day with us, send cards, make me picnics etc. etc. ... BUT

I DID EXPECT her to wish my son a Happy Birthday.

I'm just trying to figure out if that was too much to expect on her day off?

ingles2 Sat 29-Aug-09 19:59:18

Having had many AP's in the past, I would have been very upset for my son not to have a Happy Birthday greeting from the AP. I'm not talking presents, cards just a greeting.
It's not hard for an AP worth her salt to understand what a huge deal it is to the dc's that there is a new temporary part of the family, that they are involved in birthdays etc.
I know things have changed recently and AP's are more employees now, but in the past I've made a big thing when it's the AP's b'day, cake, tea, presents, the whole shebang, because they're not with their own family.
It's just basic rudeness to not bother wishing your son a Happy Birthday and shows just how little regard she has for her charges I'm afraid.

kittymax Sat 29-Aug-09 19:59:34

We lived in Spain for over 3 years and the children went to Spanish schools. I got the impression that the Spanish don't do cards, or maybe far away relatives/friends. We mixed with people from other countries and it seems it is only the British who send cards. I think its a cultural difference, that's all.

Bink Sat 29-Aug-09 20:06:41

ingles, I think that's not quite fair given the circs - it sounds as if as soon as the AP saw the son (which was in the afternoon)she DID acknowledge the birthday (by asking after his party).

It sort of boils down to whether the AP ought to have known to get up in time to wish the boy happy birthday before the family went off for the day ... I don't think that by still being asleep at 10.30 she was doing anything so very bad!

catepilarr Sat 29-Aug-09 20:19:29

ingles, have you ever thought about that they might not like you doing a big thing on their birthday? i know i am in minority here but i would hate that.

nbee84 Sat 29-Aug-09 20:20:12

And as youngsters like their sleep, 10.30 would have been way to early to get up just to wish the birthday boy a happy one.

limonchik Sat 29-Aug-09 20:20:15

She was probably still asleep at 10.30am on her day off! She did ask him about his party when she saw him.

I expect she values family-free time on her day off, and probably feels you value au pair-free time at the weekend and didn't want to intrude on your family day. Maybe the family she au paired for previously didn't want her joining them on their family time - lots of families don't want to spend time with the au pair in the evening or at weekends.

I don't think it's unreasonable for her not to buy a present, and buying cards for someone you see on the day is quite a British thing. I have been an au pair in the past, and my boss was similarly upset that I had chosen not to stay for one of the children's birthday party on my day off - but from my point of view I saw the children all week, the last thing I wanted to do on a Saturday was hang out with 15 overexcited toddlers!

Summersoon Sat 29-Aug-09 20:48:39

@ DeeMc:

I don't think that you are being unreasonable in the slightest. Wishing someone Happy Birthday seems basic - very basic - good manners. I think that your AP's social skills seem rather underdeveloped.

I hope that things will get better; otherwise this could turn out to be trying year for you.

And I hope that your son had a GREAT birthday anyway!!

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