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2008-09-13 - 11:36 a.m.

...perhaps we expect too much...

K and I faced the unsettling truth this week that we're not certain that we trust Nanny enough to leave her alone with Susi. We're not quite certain of how to face this situation. On the one hand, we do have rather high standards. At the same time, we've already had one nanny (Mary) who performed above and beyond what we expected. Not everyone is going to be a Mary, we know. Still, how long do you give someone to settle in, and when do you just give up?

What have the problems been? Well, a lot of little things. She's very slow on getting things done, taking as much as 4-5 times longer than we do to perform simple tasks (such as preparing diapers), and then she never quite finishes up the task. For example, she prepares them - or prepares half of them - and then leaves them in the basket rather than putting them next to the changing table. Or, she burns food on the stove. Or, she works in the kitchen with the music on - loud enough so that she cannot hear Susi if she starts to cry upstairs. She takes Susi out for a walk - or actually, she takes Susi out to meet her boyfriend for a coffee. She says that it would make sense for her to leave early...and then mentions that she would really like to get down to some french festival downtown, which makes us feel like she just wants to leave and isn't at all concerned for Susi.

Then there are the quite worrying things to me - she's left the gas stove burner on twice. I came home and found the burner just running, long after she had left. This happened a second time, when she burned green beans on the stove and scalded the pots - and then was prepared to puree them for Susi. Either that or she was just going to avoid telling us. She leaves and doesn't lock the door, although I've told her to do this three times. And she just leaves her things here - her iPod, her charger, her clothing. It doesn't give me faith that she is changing Susi's diapers in a timely fashion - does she just FORGET? I don't know.

She doesn't seem to have common sense about normal things. If you need to leave the house at 2:30pm with a child, you should begin your preparations at 2pm, especially if it is your first time going out with her, because you need to be sure that you have everything that the parents have specified you should have. You do NOT show up at 4:30 and expect everything to be miraculously in order.

She doesn't see obvious hazards. Last week she crunched Susi's finger - to the point that it was bleeding and Susi was screaming - in a strap on the highchair. I didn't think that I needed to tell her that this was a potential hazard - it was obvious to me. And now I see that it wasn't obvious to her. Nor was it obvious that when I later found her the first aid kit and said (as I was running out the door) you will probably need to unwrap the plastic and have a check what is inside for next time. I came home and found the first aid kit in the same place - still wrapped. She didn't hear.

I've heard Klaus tell her something, and then 30 minutes later, she's come to me and asked me the same question.

Each and every one of these things alone strike me as things that could happen to anyone, but it's the cumulative effect that has me concerned, and these are the larger roots of the problem. I don't have confidence that she can hear and follow our instructions; in the absence of our instructions, I don't feel like she has common sense to act appropriately on her own. I guess I expected more of a college graduate - silly me for tying common sense to college degrees. I should know better.

She doesn't remember her own work hours that we've told her multiple times and written down and posted on the fridge. And when we say that, no, she's supposed to work until 4:30pm, she confesses that she wants to go off this festival (she's done this twice..). We're paying her more than $1000/mo, and sometimes I feel like she is creating more work than helping, at least in terms of my confidence in her.

Anyway, I'm a little uncertain about what to do. I've written a pretty damning assessment of her up there, but I wonder, through my own stress and view on this, if I am being unduly harsh.

In any case, I think that we should have a meeting with Nanny right away on Monday and express our concerns. We need to be serious about our concerns, but I think we need to give her the opportunity to adhere more closely to our wishes. I have some ideas of how to say this...but I'm still trying to figure out the best way to go about this. Sigh. Nobody likes confrontation, I guess. I'm open to suggestions and perspectives, from people on either side of this - employer or employee...

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