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Kicking myself re new au pair - advice please!

58 replies

fistfullofnappies · 23/06/2006 19:25

Our au pair left today, and a new one is coming tomorrow. She is 17 years old (coming for the summer only). I've emailed with her, and talked to her on the phone, and she comes across as level-headed, conscientious and intelligent. She goes back to college in September.
Anyway, tonight, I phoned her to get the exact time that she will be arriving tomorrow, and got her mother, for the first time. Her mother was ever so nice, and then dropped into the conversation, that she had also booked a plane ticket, as the opportunity to have a weekend with her dd was too good to miss, and could I recommend a hotel near our house!!!
I was completely taken aback, and on the spur of the moment, said But of course, you must stay with us! Instincts of hospitality made it impossible for me to callously recommend the expensive hotel at the end of the road.
Suspect I am about to be had. Mother is now going to have the chance to inspect everything, and advise her dd to leave if all is not to her liking. If she is not a realistic person, there is a good chance that I will be without an au pair on Monday morning.

She may just want to see if I have a live in boyfriend who will assault her dd, or she may be an over-protective nutter who cannot let her dd get on with her life.

I am well pissed off and kicking myself for not thinking of a better reply. Does anyone have any ideas about handling this?
At the mo, my first idea is that they will both be on the plane home if I have any nonsense.

I once had an au pair with a nutty mother before, it all ended in tears. Coincidentally, they were from the same country, and I have a horrid feeling of deja vue.

OP posts:
fistfullofnappies · 24/06/2006 12:47

well thanks a bunch - now Im an exploitative employer. If you can't understand why I felt that I had to offer hospitality (which she was clearly angling for, whatever you may think), then I certainly cant explain it to you.

thank you dooby that is reassuring. of course, we have had very good APs too. Ive never recruited anyone as young as 17 before - she did come across as very good, though.
Mother probably is just worried that we are the front guys for a sex slave scam. Hope that 5 minutes with my children will reassure her.
It occurred to me in the night, that she may not be intending to come at all, she may have just tried it on to see if I was happy for her to see our house or not.

oh, that last AP's control freak mother has a lot to answer for.

OP posts:
SSSandy · 24/06/2006 14:17

You're obviously really nervous about this and I don't blame you, I wouldn't fancy the situation either. It's hard not to worry about people judging you and your situation because people generally do just that, don't they? We all do if we're honest and you're reliant on your au pair so I understand it's all a bit fraught.

You are offering the girl a safe place to stay whilst she practices her English in return for some help with the children, in the home. It's a fair deal. It doesn't matter whether your home is luxurious, whether you have a car or whether there is a man in the house.

Have they arrived yet? How are your first impressions? Come back and let us know how you're getting on when you find time. Good luck with it all.

SofiaAmes · 24/06/2006 16:11

I agree completely with chandra. What country does this aupair come from. I do think you aren't making enough allowances for how different cultures communicate. I am an Italian American and while I lived in England, I found myself forever insulting people with my "forwardness." Generally I was just asking for things in the way I would be expected to do so in either Italy or the USA. If I had a spare bedroom and my aupair's parents were coming to town and booked into a local hotel without asking for a recommendation, I would have been insulted that they didn't ask me for a recommendation and upset that they were spending money on a hotel when they could have stayed with me and hadn't even given me the opportunity to offer them a room. It's all about culture! How abou the possibility that the last aupair (the crying one) was overwhelmed by the "reserve" of the english and found herself not knowing what was expected of her because it didn't fit into her culture. I lived in london for a year when I was 17 and I found it really difficult to grasp what people really meant when they said things to me (and I was an extremely well travelled 17 year old from a bi-culture family).

I also think that meeting the aupair's mother may tell you a lot about the au pair. If she has a strong, healthy relationship with her mother, then chances are she will be a good "mother" to your children as she has had a good example to follow. Also, I think it's very wise that the mother is coming to inspect the place where here 17 year old daughter will be staying for the next 3 months. You said that you found her on the internet (?). How does this mother know that you are really a woman with children and not some male pervert, tricking her daughter into coming out to england?

hattiel · 24/06/2006 16:21

However you ended up inthis situation you are clearly not happy about it. I think you could just make an excuse, and book mother into a hotel.

I would feel better getting to know new Au pair and establishing a bond when mother is at a distance i have had similar experience with an Au pairs eldest sister, in hindsight I would have invited her sister maybe 2 months later, when i got to know my Au pair better. They were constantly talking in polish at the dinner table obviously about the kids and us, it was difficult trying to explain our routine ect.

MaryP0p1 · 24/06/2006 16:25

Well said Sofia. My youn gest sister is 17 now and she not very worldlywise, even though she thinks she is. If she had decided to become an au pair for the summer in Italy, where we live, I woud be inspecting the place of work to ensure she was safe and secure. I'm not an overprotective parent BUT in this day and age its better to be safe than sorry. I sure you agree fistfull, no?

doobydoo · 24/06/2006 19:57

Probably best that the 17 year old didn't put herself forward on the internet to be an aupair.Or she and her mum could have been upfront from the start re their concerns etc

MaryP0p1 · 24/06/2006 20:00

Maybe she didn't know prior to the 17 yr old announcement. Knowing 17 yrs, very likely situation!

HappyMumof2 · 24/06/2006 20:19

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SofiaAmes · 25/06/2006 02:07

I wouldn't let my 17 year old go off to be a nanny for someone she met on the internet. But then again I wouldn't hire a 17 year old that I had met on the internet to look after my children. But all of that adds up to what I was saying, different people have different ways of doing things and different ways of saying things. It doesn't make them wrong or evil, just different.

SSSandy · 26/06/2006 10:04

fistful- any news?

DevilsAdvocado · 26/06/2006 14:17

how did it go???

LoveMyGirls · 26/06/2006 16:40

would like to say that some 17 year olds can be responsible i had my dd1 when i was 17 ok so i wasnt a very responsible 16 year old but i took the consequences of my actions and its not like the girl is going to be in sole charge anyway.

golds · 26/06/2006 17:02

I don't blame the mum for wanting to come along and check it all out - I'm surprised that anyone can employ someone on a friday and be happy to leave their kids with them on the monday

moondog · 26/06/2006 17:06

How have you been 'manoeuvred into it'??
You're a grown woman who made a choice!!!

arfishymeau · 27/06/2006 03:24

I can see why you felt obliged to offer the mum a room, I would have too in the same situation, it's like a knee-jerk reaction.

I think this could go either way really, although I wouldn't panic about your house being so bad that they will both leave on Monday unless there's something you're not telling us?

If having her mum arounds helps your au pair settle in then that will be a good thing.

Do you have a welcome binder ready with everything written down in her own language? If you are welcoming then I'm sure everything will be fine. Perhaps the mum will stay one night and then move to a hotel once she's decided you're not a hairy trucker? Especially if you leave a couple of brocures in her room .

arfishymeau · 27/06/2006 03:25


SSSandy · 27/06/2006 13:31

I was wondering if brocures were some kind of a nasty bug.

HappyMumof2 · 27/06/2006 13:35

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doobydoo · 27/06/2006 13:39

Hi Fistful hope it all went well.Do let us

fairyjay · 27/06/2006 13:41

When I left to au pair in Germany at 18 - many moons ago - my dad contrived a business meeting there, so that he flew over with me. We were met by the 'family' at the airport, and all went back to their home. Dad was happy and able to report to Mum that all was well, and spent a couple of days in Germany on business.

I think I would do the same if dd was ever in that position.

arfishymeau · 29/06/2006 14:28

Any news?

fistfullofnappies · 03/07/2006 22:22

hi. thank you for further thoughts.
well, it all went off OK. Au pair's mother turned out to be a very nice woman. AP herself is v good with the children, but unfortunately lacks the essential qualification for my APs, that she cant stop them from demolishing the flat while Im out. Still, they like her a lot, so she's in for the summer.

In the end, it didnt really make any difference whether I offered to put her mum up or not. I could hardly have refused her entry to the flat, so effectively, I was interviewed in my own home, on my suitability as an employer, which does piss me off a bit. AP's mum knew she was pushing it, that's why it was sprung on me at the last moment, imo. If she thought her dd was too young, she could have not let her take the job.
my conclusion is, I probably wont recruit anyone under 18 again, because they probably wont have left home yet. Even a 19 year old has a v different outlook on life.

(moondog, if you thought that I had a choice in such a situation, how on earth do you get on in Turkei??? )

OP posts:
arfishymeau · 03/07/2006 23:54

Glad it all worked out for you FFON.

MrsRecycle · 04/07/2006 09:22

Glad it wasn't too bad. When I had AP's Mum and sister to stay it was a godsend - like having 3 APs. In fact, they keeping on asking when they can have dds to stay with them in Holland!

However, as part of my recruitment process, I always build up a relationship with the parents as well as the AP (and I tend to recruit someone whose Mum is very similar to me). I don't disregard due to age (had a lovely 18 year old) but I do disregard if the parents aren't happy with them AP'ing (that is always one of my first questions to them). I know I would be petrified if my dds wanted to AP when they were older but my mind would be put at rest a little bit with getting to know the Host Family first.

ks · 04/07/2006 09:31

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