Monday, January 25, 2010

Are you talking to ME?

So, I got my first negative comment this week. On this site, I mean. Hell, I have been getting negative comments for as long as I can remember." Euww, you have freckles" and “I’m ethereal. You are like the 'real' version me" are two that come to mind. No, this was in response to my open admission of enhancing the referrals I gave of a not so great nanny to three other couples:

"Anonymous said...
I cannot begin to understand how you could possibly justify recommending a negligent, borderline-abusive nanny to other couples. This is precisely the same reasoning that sends abusive priests and teachers to other school districts: a shapeless, desperate hope that these people will just go away. All you did was redirect your misery toward other couples so you could avoid the faintest hint of confrontation. You should call every one of them and apologize for your naked lying.

Shame on you".

January 18, 2010 12:04 PM

Now, this individual isn't wrong, but I already know that I should feel badly about it. I guess they didn't read the entire post or they chose to disregard the part where I said that I was truly sorry. I can't call them all and tell them since I don't have their numbers anymore. The part that pissed me off was where Anonymous likened me to someone who shelters pedophiles. Not to mention that "shame on you" is never easy to hear.

So I wrote a comment in response:

"Well, Anonymous, thank you for your kind and forgiving words. As for the nanny being "dangerous and borderline-abusive", I think that is an extreme depiction. I never would have left my child with her if that were the case. Lazy and self serving, perhaps, but certainly not dangerous. I was trying to help someone who was in dire straits find the right fit. If I had wanted her to go away, I would have asked her to go away. She turned out to be someone that can't be helped. No, I shouldn't have referred her, but I actually thought that with the right family, she might thrive. To liken my actions to those of someone sheltering a pedophile is ludicrous and inflammatory. Shame right back at you".

The weirdest part is that I probably know this person. My blog is not exactly sought after reading. I have made no attempts to publicize it other than through Facebook, so unless some random stranger happened to search "nanny, nightmare, third child"(my labels), and my post popped up for them to revile, then it is a Facebook friend who thinks I suck. They are obviously entitled to their opinion, though they weren't there to see how it really went down.Aside from the paranoia I now feel about every single friend I have on Facebook, it struck me that this sanctimonious tone seemed very familiar.

A few years back, when we first got on the babysitter circuit, there was a lot of talk about price. I happen to believe that paying more is better. I can recall the numerous times that someone else gasped when I said
"Fifteen an hour", and then replied condescendingly "we pay ours nine!".I always felt like the butt of some parenting joke because I was continually hearing about other couples who paid next to nothing for childcare. My husband came home one evening and casually said “you know, we pay too much for the sitter. My friend Ned (not his real name, of course, now that I am paranoid), has a full time live-in for 750 a month". By the time I worked out the math, the poor live-in that he referred to was a making not quite 38 dollars a day for cleaning and childcare, minus weekends. If you break it down into a typical twelve hour day (7-7 is the norm for a lot of families) then she was earning three dollars an hour.

That is called slavery, people, and it is against the law.

It can't be healthy to have someone, who is ostensibly your slave, be left in charge of your children. It has to have a bad outcome eventually. Resentment does funny things to people. I imagine that some of the nannies that get caught abusing their charges are not bad people- they are probably just over-worked, under-paid and frustrated. I am neither over-worked nor under-paid, and I am plenty frustrated, so I can only imagine what goes on in homes all across America.

Anyway, during this babysitter competition period, I saw this post on a mommy group site that I frequented:

"does anybody have a teenage babysitter they can recommend? we need somebody for occasional evening babysitting and i don't want to pay $15/hr when the kids are asleep most of the time.

i don't know what teenagers charge these days but i'd like to pay around $10/hr. could go up to $12 for someone really special."

This struck me as a little short sighted for a two reasons:

First of all, the difference between twelve and fifteen is three. Three dollars per hour times four hours is twelve. That equals a couple of vente lattes and a brownie at Starbuck’s, or valet parking, or the cost of one Arclight matinee ticket. It is hardly a savings that is worth risking the safety of your child by leaving it in the care of someone who doesn't even have a fully formed frontal lobe yet. Second of all, teenagers are already notorious for poor judgement. They simply don't have the experience in the world that an adult does. I am sure that there are plenty of level headed teens out there that would fare better than many adults. However capable, it my not so humble opinion, a teenager is not the best choice for childcare. What happens if there is a fire? Earthquake? Break in? Flood? Angry boyfriend? Has no one seen "When a Stranger Calls" for Chrissakes? I think if the babysitter in that movie were an adult, she would have gotten the fuck out of there with the kids asleep in the car. The teen babysitter stayed and kept answering the phone. We all know how things ended:

“Sir, the trace is in. The calls are coming from 132 Bell Avenue, Sergeant"

"What? 132 Bell Avenue? No, no you've got it wrong, dispatch. The calls are going to 132 Bell Avenue. Where are they coming from, goddamit!"

“Uh, Sir, it appears that they are both coming from and going to 132 Bell Avenue, Sir"

"WHAT? That’s impossible, you must have gotten the number wrong...unless, oh my GOD....he's in the house...HE'S IN THE HOUSE!! GET OUT OF THE HOUSE! GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!!"

Yeah, I STILL get hairs standing up on the back of my neck just thinking about that movie moment.

I would rather pay and feel confident that someone is more likely to make the same judgment call that I would make,so naturally,  the rationale of the parent seeking a special teen sitter was maddening to me.

I replied with this:

"I don't mean to sound negative but you are trying to save 3 dollars an hour.does it make sense to leave your kids with a teenager to save maybe 15 bucks for a shift?They may be special and seem mature but did you read the story in the news this morning about the 19 year old who put her 18 month old charge in a sleeping bag and ran around the house with him over her shoulder?She slipped,hitting his head on the door frame,killing him.Clearly a mistake and an accident,but perhaps a more seasoned caregiver would have made different choices.I think having someone who is an adult,with adult responsibilities and a fully formed frontal lobe should be watching your kids.Most of the good ones I have encountered are 15 an hour.
I guess I am tired of people looking for a bargain when it comes to their kids.I meet people all the time who act like I am getting taken by our sitter because she makes 15 an hour and no she doesn't clean my house. what you are paying for is the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the person watching you kids is invested in it because they are earning a decent wage for a very important job.that is my opinion."
Wow, fuck me. Maybe Anonymous and I will be great friends, though I didn't throw out any shame bombs. I suppose it is implied, but please, what was I thinking? Obviously, I was having a mommy moment and saw an outlet. Soon after, another mom replied to my response and firmly but kindly said:

"WOW! I don't think that a posting for a teenage babysitter from a fellow mom deserves an unsolicited scolding. Peachhead should be a place where moms feel safe and unjudged.
I am sure if you think about it for minute you will agree with me and maybe want to rephrase your posting."

Her name was Beth, and to this day, every time I encounter a mom named Beth I wonder if she will recognize either my name or my kid's name from those emails. I was actually grateful to her for waking me from my sanctimonious stupor long enough to realize that it was none of my business. I was really unfamiliar with who that person was that felt the need to judge someone else so flagrantly. Behind their back is bad enough, but I was acting like someone's annoying Mother in a Law. I suppose I was still recovering from the story I had read about the sleeping bag nanny, but there is really no excuse for that sort of thing. I did apologize with another email but stopped frequenting the site out of sheer embarrassment.

So Anonymous, if you do know me, I hope you don't key my car, or continue to punish me when I have sufficiently punished myself. I hope you have a nice life, since I can assume that you have never done anything that you regret. You are obviously a person who,unlike me, embraces conflict (albeit anonymously) and would never have jeopardized the lives of those families by doing what I did. I hope someday you will tell me who you are, so I can say this to your face:

"SUCK IT. Read the Bible, you sanctimonious prick- the part about casting stones. Then, take a good long look in the mirror and try and recall the last time you had something nice to say about anything".

Oops.. did I say that out loud..?


1 comment:

  1. Please, please, please answer in kind, Anonymous! I am dying for something to replace the late night talk show wars and this could be just the thing I need to fill a hole the size of Nebraska.