To say finding a high-quality nanny is a stressful experience is quite an understatement. Each person you interview can potentially have a huge impact on your child and your relationship with your child. This person is invited into your home and often is treated like a family member—your young child will think of her as family as she will spend the most time with her and potentially have the biggest influence on her. Getting it right is hard under the best circumstances, but often, we women have only a few weeks to find someone and must rely on reputation, referrals, and our “gut instinct.”
Sadly, it seems everyone has a nanny nightmare story these days. Katie Wallace writes about her frustrating ordeal in “The Not So Super Nannies.” I, too, have had my share of babysitter woes, although luckily, they didn’t occur when my son was an infant. But when my son was just three, a neighbor referred her trusted nanny, a former preschool teacher, to me. This woman cared for her three children for five years and she didn’t need as many hours from her since her children all entered grade school. I thought highly of this neighbor and hired this former college-educated preschool teacher and published poet to take care of my son on afternoons when I worked from home.
Everything she did was great. She engaged my son. She took walks with him. She was against too much TV. She liked reading to him, and doing puzzles. In fact, I really liked this woman. Her references were stellar. The family in Florida where she was a nanny for ten years loved and gushed over her.
It wasn’t until she was house-sitting for me and only taking care of our dog while we were away for a long weekend that I found out her secret. We came back one day early, due to a work conflict. I had called several times, but there was no answer. We walked into the house and were immediately greeted by two huge, empty vodka bottles on the kitchen table. Another half-empty one was in her large duffel on the floor. In the den were at least six Fresca cans. In the backyard, ten more were strewn about by a swing with another empty vodka bottle lying nearby. I remembered that she liked to drink Fresca or Sprite when she babysat—most likely the cans were spiked. Her poetry journals were strewn in the den and backyard—apparently, she had been having frustrating writing sessions. Several sheets were balled up and thrown on the floor or in the bin.
When she came by the next day to pick up her things, she yelled at me saying I was a hypocrite and that she didn’t do anything that I wouldn’t do. She opened my freezer to show me a small vodka bottle in there. What she didn’t know is that the bottle, half-full, had been in the freezer for over a year—a leftover from a Christmas party. Yes, I drink a glass of wine from time to time—but no, I don’t drink vodka. In fact, I’m allergic to it. Sadly, there was no reason to even say anything to her. I knew not to engage her and just said I wished her well.
It was unfortunate—I really liked her and so did my son. Has anything similar happened to you? Have you experienced any nanny nightmares? Any advice on finding wonderful care-givers? We’d like to know! Sound off with us by clicking: “WRITE A COMMENT.”