Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Big Mother Will See you

A few days ago I met a mother who confessed to be using a nanny cam, or, as we were standing around the snack table at a 4th birthday party, it was a comment on the state of good nannies more than a apologetic
Apparantly she had had to fire her nanny because she caught the nanny administering Tylenol to the 14 month old child on camera, and now she was looking for a replacement.
I wish I had asked her questions, but the context of the discussion humbled me, and kept me dipping Dorritos in Mexican salsa instead.

Was the child ill? In pain? Was it crying?
Had she confronted the nanny, asked for an explanation?
Had she given the nanny instructions on how to act in a situation where Tylenol might be required, were she to call for instructions first? Had she, the mother, been available for communication?
Had she had previous reason to suspect this nanny of malpractice, or was the nanny cam something she wouldn't do without regardless?

I'd like to think that the person you are hiring to look after your child fills you with such confidence in their ability to do this task faultlessly, that you would not ever have even a grain of need to be spying on them behind their back as they go about their work.
There is no other way to go about this, but to use your gut feeling. No resumes or merits in the world will tell you if your nanny is the right fit for you, your child and your family. Plain, old fashioned gut feeling is the only thing we have to rely on.

I have not been in a position where I have had reason to suspect malpractice. I was blessed with an amazing nanny who stayed with us for two years and who never gave me the slightest ounce of doubt in her capability of taking care of my kids.
Yes, she was young. Yes, she made mistakes.
Yes, sometimes I had to take a deep breath before explaining to her why we need to actually cook the chicken before we serve it on the plates.
But she was kind, loving, fun, energetic, nurturing, and responsible. She had a good head on her shoulder and 99,9% of the time she used very good judgement. I trusted her, and she always confided in me if she felt out of debt.

Later, after she stopped working for us, and moved on to other families (may I add that 5 mothers that had seen my nanny with Leo tried to pinch her even before she'd worked her last day), she has said that one of the reasons she was so happy working for us was that both me and my husband was approachable.
She never felt that she would bother us if she had a question, no matter how silly it was. She explained that most families assumed she was a mind reader, expected everything to be right, but always got angry if they where bothered with questions.
"Imagine what kind of a boss they are at work", I said.

Bottom line is, if we are employing someone to do a job for us, we need to manage them accordingly. We need to be available for questions and support.
They are taking care of our children - wouldn't you rather they called you one time too many than risk making one mistake no matter how small?

I can't put myself in a position where I would have to worry for the safety of my child while I am away, the thought of it makes me feel sick. So far be it for me to criticize this mothers choice on preventing something form happening.

But I can't help but feel that the nanny cam has become our own excuse for our bad management style, rather than a valid preventative tool.
If we were feeling safe in the knowledge that a nanny cam will help us act fast, before it is too late, is it because we are seriously suspecting our nanny to be a malicious, abusive, beer drinking, silver stealing crook who sleeps on the job, or because we are worried that we have thrown them in the deep end and need to catch them before they sink, only to throw them right back in the water again when we got the life buoy back?

Was the mother's reaction too strong? Should she have fired the nanny for giving her child Tylenol? Again, we don't know the circumstances, maybe she had reminded her ten times to call before doling out the painkillers?
Or maybe the camera had given her a sense of control over her home life that she didn't really need in the first place?

In this world where we are used to be everywhere, all the time, even if we can't physically take care of our kids, we still need to feel that we are with them all the time.
Maybe the nanny cam is just a good old fashioned gadget for the mother who has too much time on her hands even when she busy doing "other stuff".

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bringing up the baby

Are French mothers the new Tiger moms? Are they stricter than the British equivalents? And if so, is it working? Are French kids better behaved and educated? Are they happier??

This article from the Guardian raises some interesting observations regarding child raising, but I can't help but feeling that the core of the issue has nothing to do with nationality, but simply in differences in attitude amongst conflicting groups of parenting styles.

If children are being let to run free to discover the world and make their own choices, are they harmonious or disruptive?
If they are reared in a more strictly confined space, where some one is scheduling every step they are allowed to take, will this benefit them in their adult lives?

We can argue for the sake of arguing for as long as we like, but the bottom line is, parents will not always agree on the art of bringing up the baby. There is no point in dressing it up as a matter of nationality - we all come form different schools of life.

You go, girl!

Kate got her yellow belt in Aikido last night, after only 3 months of practice. She is the only girl in a group of 15, and it's taken most of the boys over a year to get to the same point.
I don't want to brag -

Show them that everything they can do we can do too - and with dignity to spare.

I am so proud of her:)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A new year

I don't really know where to begin, but I hope you have had a good holiday.

Today is Kate's birthday, and she's turning 10.
I have been a mother for a decade.

But it is not about me, it is about this gorgeous, funny, smart, cool and very special creature that is my daughter. Who I am so incredibly proud of.
Happy birthday, Kate.
I love you so very much.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


How do I keep my calm with a near 10 year old girl who is impossibly sloppy and disorganized with everything that comes her way.
Jackets. Sweaters. Been through dozens. They all end up somewhere in a school yard, and never find their way back home. Or to Lost and Found for that matter.
She can't find a pencil sharpener or eraser on her desk if her life depended on it.
Practice sheets for french test? When she finally tells me they actually have a text (the day before), she forgets to bring it home.

I'm tearing my hair out!
Please, help me - what do I do???

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Parent teacher conference today.
Am gearing up for a bit of an argument with Kate's teacher. He's in to collective punishments and shouts a lot at the kids in class.
Wish me luck.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Big mouth

I unwillingly raised a few eyebrows in Kate's Aikido class yesterday.
There is an Alpha-boy in the class who is always voicing his own greatness (he also happens to be in Kate's school class, so I have had ample time to study his behavior...), and also letting others know that girls are no good at anything. They can't kick a ball, they can't do team sports, they can't do maths, etc etc.
Yesterday, while doing stretches, the boys were slacking off, not taking it seriously.
- Look at Kate, Sensei said. That's what your meant to do.
(Kate is flexible, and stretches the pants of all the boys.)

- That's because she does ballet, whines Alpha-boy.

- So? I hear my self say across the room.
Everyone looks at me.
- SO?
Every one is quiet.

The other parents are uncomfortable.

I wish I kept my mouth shut.
I just can't take attitude, and laziness, at the cost of making the girls sound weaker. As if ballet is a bad excuse.
But I wish I kept my mouth shut.
I can't fight her battles.

I have a big mouth.