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The family I work for has had nannies for about 10 years, and I'm nearly the one they've had the longest. I've been there over a year. Most of their nannies only last a few months, because the cameras freak people out. There are surveillance cameras all over the house, so I feel like I have to be working even when there's nothing to do. One time I sent a couple of text messages when the kids were at school, and I was asking for a raise, and the parents said, "We're not paying you to text." I do some cleaning, but they have cleaning ladies and workmen who come every week. One time the workmen came just to change light bulbs. And there's this room I'm not allowed to go in. It's supposed to be the dad's office, but I always wonder what's going on in there. There's lots of mystery with this family.
The parents don't believe in doctors, so the kids don't get immunizations. If one of them gets sick, they treat it with homeopathic and folk remedies. Once the mom was convinced that her daughter's headaches were from fluoridated water, so she spent a day going to different stores and buying up all the water filters. She bought about 10 of them, one for every sink in the house. And to keep them healthy, the kids are supposed to stand in the sun for a few minutes every hour, while I use a timer to keep up with how long.
I think the family dynamic has affected the oldest kid the most. He's a good teen-ager. He has goals. But whenever his mom loses it, she hurls insults at him. I guess he's just found a way to ignore it or to cope by telling himself that his mom doesn't mean it.
Once I got in trouble because the mom said the little girl's clothes were disappearing, and that she [the mom] shouldn't have to see or even think about laundry, that it should just happen. But they want me to make the kids do their own laundry, and the little one will just hide her dirty clothes, because she doesn't want to do it. So I looked around her room and found the missing clothes stuffed behind furniture, and the mom apologized. And when this aunt died that I was close to, the mom talked to me about when her brother died and the stages of grieving. I know that growing up, the mom's parents never told her that they love her, so she tells her kids that she loves them all the time. She'll even leave notes in their book bags. But she'll also do things like throw a tantrum and refuse to show up at a school play, because a kid complained about the costume that she made.
Every few months I'm supposed to go through the younger kids' clothes and choose stuff to give away. Then the mom goes through and puts half of it back. But they have so many clothes. The 5-year-old has a walk-in closet and two dressers. And every day the mom gets about three boxes in the mail, stuff she's ordered online. The kid would be happy in gym shorts and a T-shirt, but her mom wants her to look cute in public. Once I took her out in a tank top, and the mom said never to do that again, because she doesn't look good in tank tops. She's not fat, but maybe the mom thinks her arms are chubby?
It's most awkward to be at work when there are family arguments. I usually try to go to the furthest room possible. One of the worst arguments was over whether or not the kids could get a sand crab. Working there can be really uncomfortable, but I feel like I need to be there for the kids. I just want to encourage them and make some kind of impact on their lives.
As told to Cheree Franco.
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