Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nanny Changes

Well, after a month of Calliope entirely ignoring the new nanny in my presence, but crying when I left for work... and after the playschool teacher commenting that Calliope and Eleanor didn't seem bonded to the nanny "yet"... and after my coming home and finding the girls eating apple slices while buckled into their high chairs, unsupervised, with the nanny was locked in the bathroom for ten minutes... and after being twenty minutes late to pick up the girls from playschool on only their second morning without her... and after hearty doses of encouragement and advice from the amazing SMC community, Amy and I fired our new nanny.

It sucked.

Because I liked her. I related to her.

The problem was, Calliope didn't relate to her. Or rather, the nanny didn't seem to have the motivation to get down on the floor and truly interact with Calliope. She fed her and changed her and walked her... but her heart wasn't in it. Whether it was her personality, her cultural background, or the fact that she was in school four hours every night plus all day Saturday... her heart was not with our girls. And Calliope is a keen judge of character. Or at least, a keen judge of who is actually interested in her as her own little person versus a child to pat on the head and send to play in the other room.

She wasn't terrible. Just not quite good enough. Which made it all the harder.

You know how it's easy to dump a loser, but so much harder to break up with an almost-right boyfriend or girlfriend?

That's how this was.

And the actual "break up" was hard. Amy and I had a script, and followed it, but then Nanny just kept sitting there, silently. While the girls played, oblivious, around us and Amy and I looked at each other in pained silence.

Finally she said, "I wish it didn't have to come to this."

I wished that, too.

But I feel like I shouldn't have to teach the nanny that she can't leave the girls eating unattended. Or that she has to be on time when picking them up from school. This should be obvious.

And my girl, Calliope? She's not the cuddliest one around, with people other than Mommy, but something about her total indifference struck me wrong.

Amy's daughter, Eleanor, seemed more attached, so that was hard. Nanny C left before Amy got home each day, in order to get to school on time, so that meant Amy was mostly relying on my observations. Eleanor's dad saw the nanny in the morning when he dropped Eleanor off, but he didn't linger for long. Though he lacked concerns about Nanny C. Except for them eating unattended. And not liking that Nanny C wore headphones while pushing the girls in the stroller. And that she was late to pick them up.

Luckily for us, my friend's nanny was available and looking for work. I'd been hearing about this amazing nanny for years. The parent of my friend Emily's students, hand picked by Emily because the children of this woman were so studious, polite, ambitious, and loving toward their mother. Emily's daughter is in kindergarten now, so doesn't need a nanny. But they still travel to the Bronx to visit her.

We had Susie come over to interview with us on Monday night. We explained our current situation to her. The interview seemed okay, but nanny interviews are the weirdest. Because every potential scenario has the same "correct" answer:

"How do you discipline children?"

"However you tell me to."

"What do you feed children?"

"Whatever you tell me to."

But she seemed kind. Of course, Nanny C seemed warm and kind also. So mostly we were going on the fervent recommendation of my very close friend Emily.

We hired Susie on Monday night. Tuesday night, we fired Nanny C. Wednesday, I stayed home from work to orient Susie to the girls. Wednesday afternoon, I left the girls playing with Playdoh with Susie while I went out to run errands.

Nobody cried. They were too busy pressing shapes into their Playdoh "pancakes." When it was time for Susie to leave, Calliope willing hugged her goodbye. The next morning, on Susie's arrival, Calliope scampered into her arms again.

My heart, bruised and battered from the firing, melted. I went off to work and Calliope eagerly turned to Susie and asked for Playdoh.

It's been several weeks now, and the girls are clearly thriving. Susie is slowly transitioning to speaking to them in Spanish. The girls now greet me with "Hola! Como estas?" when I get home, and are fond of ordering "Ven aqui!" ("come here!")

Calliope is content when Susie arrives in the morning, and has yet to cry when I leave, and loves the new tradition with Susie of looking through the peephole at Mommy as I wait for the elevator.

Susie takes out the trash and cleans the kitchen and cooks for the girls without being asked. She is early every morning and stays late every afternoon (I feel badly about this but she's waiting for her husband to pick her up). Unlike Nanny C., who was occasionally late in the mornings and always had to leave ten minutes early. She even offered to cook for me!

Best of all, and the only thing I really care about, is that she is warm and affectionate and playful with the girls. It's wonderful to see my girl blossom under her loving care.


  1. I can just imagine how hard that was, to let the nanny go. But the new nanny sounds fantastic - I'm so glad you were able to find someone so fast - especially someone who comes so highly recommended!

  2. congratulations - its always hard to let someone go. You did absolutely the right thing! I had to let someone go in similar circumstances - very difficult!

  3. The 'right' nanny makes all the difference in the world! I completely understand!

  4. Ooooh, awkward! Good job, though. Sounds like you did the right thing, especially for C.

  5. ward but needed to be done. The kids know what's what. Sometimes people respond to kids that are cuddly, the ones who are naturally less fulsome get left out.
    The new nanny sounds beautiful.

  6. Sounds like you made a good move with the new nanny, as hard as it must have been to let the old nanny go. But Calliope seems happier, and that's all that matters, right?!

    I'm in the throes of figuring out child care for Jordyn right now, and it's so stressful! Congrats for finding a good fit!

  7. Not easy to do but it sounds like the right thing to do. Sounds like your new nanny is wonderful.

  8. I had a bad nanny breakup about a year ago. To make matters worse, she is a neighbor. In the end though it was the best thing that happened to my son. I found a wonderful woman to watch him. A few months into the arrangement, I just blurted out--"You've given him his childhood back" Hope this situation ends up being as serendipitous for you!