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".


  1. I like your post and it has given me a lot to think about as a mother who uses the services of a nanny. I have thought about installing a nanny cam many times but you are right, it rally boils down to trusting your instincts and everytime I have had a bad feeling about a nanny I have always been proven right. I have learned to trust my instincts more when it concerns my child.

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