The drama with this whole nanny situation is long and drawn-out, with lots of back story. In a nutshell: Riley’s first nanny, Cecil, was awesome. I really felt like she was an extension of me. Not only did she do things exactly as I asked of her, but she knew to fill in the blanks, too. I didn’t have to tell her to teach Riley new things or to be patient with his eating habits or to make him feel special all the time. These are things that are such a given in child care that they had slipped my mind to mention, but Cecil knew.
Then she left for vacation and was supposed to be back on May 17th. On May 16th, I texted to ask if she was on her way. She said she was waiting for travel fare. I replied by asking “From who?” because we gave her two months’ advance on her salary and she never said anything about needing additional travel fare. Then the texts stopped. Most cell phones here are pre-paid, and I figured her load had run out.
Fast forward the last couple of months: Our housekeeper, Joy, who’s a total sweetheart, received a text that was supposedly from one of Cecil’s kids. The text accused Joy of saying bad things about Cecil to me and my folks. This text devastated Joy, since she has been nothing but loyal to Cecil.
Meanwhile, Cecil texted me once in a while to say how much she misses Riley. And then, two weeks ago, Rose showed up as Riley’s new nanny.
My aunt, who I love to death and who has the best of intentions, is responsible for sending Rose our way, so I was compelled to give Rose the benefit of the doubt – despite the fact that she’s only 17 years old. Maybe she’s really mature, I thought. Maybe girls in the Philippines know more about child-rearing at a young age than do girls back home in the States.
Negative. On both counts. Even though she has a 1 1/2 year old son. (She lets him roam the streets with other little kids, for crying out loud! I don’t call that cultural, I call it bad parenting.)
She’s been with us two weeks and she’s constantly calling Riley “lazy” and comparing him to her own 1 1/2 year old son, who apparently is a saint. Here’s the thing: Riley’s 10 months old. He’s no sinner. And she doesn’t get that. I constantly tell her in a friendly but firm way not to say negative things about Riley – and she just doesn’t comply. Then, this morning, Riley was giving her a hard time about walking, and she called him stupid. It was the first time I’d ever heard it, and it took every fiber of my being not to beat her from here to Sunday. How long has this been going on?, I kept thinking. What else is she doing that I disapprove of?
Thankfully, she’s being replace today. The same aunt who sent her my way is sending an 18 year old girl to replace her. I want to keep my mind open to the possibility that this girl knows better, that she and I can quickly develop a shorthand, that she will love my baby to the best of her ability, and that the best of her ability is worthy of Riley.
But this experience with Rose has made me doubt that. A lot. Rose is a 17-year old mom of a baby, so now I’m weary of replacing her with a teenager, or the mom of a young child. I realize that I’m generalizing, and there is a possibility that a teenager may have the maturity and ability to care for my child the way I’d like. But I’m not willing to risk that. Not yet. Not until I know for sure there aren’t any other options.
The new girl arrives this afternoon. She only has to be a stopgap because Cecil is supposed to come back on Wednesday. I’ve agreed to start from scratch with Cecil, to forget the past and simply deduct a small fraction of her pay to make up for the money she took. Is this unfair to the new girl? Sure. Am I certain that Cecil won’t pull the same stunt again? Not at all. But am I sure that Cecil takes wonderful care of my baby, that he flourishes under her supervision, that he feels loved, adored, and respected under her care? Yes. Absolutely and without a doubt, I am certain of that. And that’s all that matters.