Andrea Mara

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A new kind of childcare betrayal

My lovely nanny Silvia moved on to a new job in a new career as a writer last week, as mentioned here.
The kids sobbed, I sobbed, Silvia cried too on her last day.
But happily for us, we found a fantastic new nanny last week – she started on Monday, and I was beyond delighted at how well the week went.

The kids were certain that they wouldn’t like her and I was certain that the kids would misbehave and inadvertently send her on her way, as described here.

But I secretly had a good feeling about it – she has an unusual name, let’s call her Amelie, and the night we interviewed her, I switched on TV only to find the film Amelie coming on that night (only not really Amelie but you know what I mean). It was a sign, and I love signs.

The kids were skeptical, but Amelie soon won them over.

She brought a badge making kit so they made lovely homemade badges on Monday. On Tuesday they baked. On Wednesday they went to the park for four hours. On Thursday, another park and more crafting. Lots of stories. Lots of energy. Lots of fun.

I was amazed – the kids were in fantastic form each evening – Amelie was like a breath of fresh air, a ray of much needed and unexpected sunshine and we were all basking in it.

She can cook – very well, and the kids ate everything. She can drive our car, she knows the area around our house and our local town. She was confident about the upcoming school run. She told me she loves fresh air and getting the kids out to parks and playgrounds. Music to my ears.

At the end of the week I asked Clara and Emmie how they felt it went. “Great!” they said. No more tears from these little girls who felt their world had come crashing in just one week earlier.

It all felt too good to be true. I met some friends for a drink last night and said as much. I kept touching wood. I said I was sure something would go wrong – she might not be as good at the school-run and homework as I hoped, or maybe she’d have some sick days. But for now, she was perfect.

And indeed, it was too good to be true. I checked my work email at 7pm this evening, and saw a message from Amelie:

“It is with regret that I must notify you that I will unfortunately not be returning to the nanny position on Monday…”

No explanation given, but she had left the house-key in a folder on the counter – I hadn’t seen this before now.

So she must have known when she left yesterday evening that she wasn’t coming back.

When she said with a smile “see you Monday! Have a great weekend!”

When she walked out the door with the money I had given her for her first week, a week where I had worked from home in order to be there to help her with questions and show her around and ease the kids into it.

I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach, I felt physically sick. This sounds dramatic. But it was such a shock, and more, it was a cold, emotionless slap.

What did we do wrong? I don’t know, I can’t figure it out.
I had worried that the kids would throw tantrums and cause our new childminder to question her wisdom. But they were fantastic – they warmed to her almost immediately, they were happy, smiley children all week. Children who enjoyed interaction but didn’t demand attention. Polite, friendly, open, gentle children – at times I wondered who they were this week, and thanked the universe that I’d found a nanny who could, against the odds, against a backdrop of upset, bring out this lovely side in them.

Is it our house? Is it me? Were the hours too long? Was it too much work? Was the money not enough?
Did she get a better offer with fewer kids, a bigger house, shorter hours, more money?

I don’t know. I replied to her email, asking if there’s any possibility the can come on Monday for just next week, as I now have no childcare and am due in work on Monday as usual.
I asked her if she could let me know what went wrong, and told her I thought she had been wonderful with my children, because she was.

No reply. I don’t know what I’m going to tell the kids.

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