Mama Bear came out today but I reined her in kiasi. Let me explain.
I have a new nanny. She started about a month ago. When I compare her to my holy grail of nannies (Betty took care of Austin from when he was about 7 months to when he hit 2 years and 4 months), she was okay. I learned that I should not expect her to match Betty in effort, initiative and activity so I was open to seeing what her work ethic and deliverables would be.
Today, I stayed home and worked from home. Well, truthfully, I spent most of my day decluttering my room and arranging Austin’s clothes properly. Austin piped up at some point that he wanted to go to the playground. I asked him to ask his ‘auntee’ which he promptly did. She told me she was going to take him for a walk. I said okay because last time they went for a walk, they went around the block. I had previously warned her to avoid the main road because of crazy drivers and too many cars; it is a busy main road.
I continued my decluttering efforts.
60 minutes went by without a peep from her, no call or anything. I have watched a lot…A LOT…of Law and Order. I checked to see if her purse was still around (check). I checked to see if I had missed a call on either of my two phones (nada). I called her first line.
I called her other line and she picked up. She had laughter in her voice when I asked her where they were.
Tunakula fruits, tunakuja.
We are eating fruits, we are on our way back.
It had been almost 90 minutes at that time. A walk around the block takes all of 20 minutes. I told her to bring him home because he has a schedule and he needs to sleep. If my guy does not take his afternoon nap, he becomes a very intense child in the evening. An intensity that I would not wish on anybody.
When they walked back in later on, Austin looked very excited and he told me how he ‘falled’ and promptly showed me his skinned knee. I asked her where they went.
I told her well, next time you say you are going for a walk, please tell me where you are going.
I felt my temperature begin to climb.
We went to set him up in his room for his nap. Austin looked up at me and said he was on a piki piki.
My heart dropped, the temperature climbed up and threatened to crack the glass ceiling and I felt Mama Bear rise up, eyebrow cocked.
I looked at her and asked her with that one raised eyebrow.
She said she looked up and it was 3pm and she thought time had flown too fast and so she popped on a motorbike (WITH MY BABY) and hurried home.
The ‘no’ that flew unguarded out of my mouth was of a medium-level intensity but with a firmness that barely contained my anger and I watched as her eyes widened and a silence descended over her entire body. For people who have not seen me mad, it is usually not a pretty sight and it takes a lot to get me there. The one exception is if it is something that affects Austin negatively. And this? This was the worst trust-breaking move that she could have pulled.
She essentially wrote her resignation letter with that move.
Now, what irked me even more was her lack of apology. I told her I would rather that she had walked back and taken that time to come back on foot. You should have called me to say you are walking back and it will take a while. She just looked at me.
No apology. I felt like she didn’t and wouldn’t admit that she was in the wrong. Or that she had colored outside the lines.
I told her I don’t want my child at 3.5 years old to be on a motorbike taxi anywhere. Helmetless. Even I would NOT in a million years, put him on a bike.
I worked in the ER for many years. I saw many bad things. I saw many bad things that had happened to children. I saw many bad things that happened to children who were riding helmetless on motorized vehicles, unaccompanied and sometimes accompanied.
She said she knew the boda driver. I retorted quietly that I did not know him.
And I thought: And what if something had happened to them? What if this was the day that a matatu driver had decided to tap this boda driver that she knew? What if my son had hit the tarmac road and split his head? Did she know First Aid or would she run screaming into the crowd that gathered? Would I have had to go pick up Austin from the morgue? I was pissed that she did not tell me where they were going. Cardinal rule number one for anyone, including my relatives. If you are leaving to go somewhere with my offspring, you have to tell me where you are going, for how long you will be gone and when you plan to be back. Because she had said they were off for a walk, I knew they were going around the block. I didn’t think someone would think it would be okay to disappear for almost two hours with somebody else’s child that you are paid to take care of and not think anything of not telling the mother where you are and when you shall be back.
I was pissed.
But I held it together and did not go off on her.
She knew I was pissed because she quickly made his afternoon porridge and took off shortly thereafter to go home. I sat there wondering if I had overreacted or if I should just have gone psycho and yelled at her. I kept my cool in front of Austin but I realize that he sensed something was off. Later on during bath time when I asked him (as I do every day) what he did in the day time, he avoided answering me about the walk. I was nervous, thinking of was he taken somewhere where he was unsafe? Was he with exposed to strangers who could have done something to him?
C’mon, I write. My mind flies very far.
He looked okay, save the tan from walking in the sun. But I was pissed.
So I sat there and pondered over all this. I talked to my little village of people and the reaction was unilaterally clear across the board. Disbelief. The collective reaction was “Ayayayaya…how?” and that did it for me. I had not overreacted. I have my boundaries that I have set for my son and his caretakers, like I don’t give him sugar, candy or let him hit anybody else. I also don’t expect his nanny to not follow my rules. His safety and health are the most important things to safeguard in this house.
How would I ever leave the house and leave him in her hands again? How sure was I that she wasn’t having people over or taking Austin back to Kibera or some place somewhere I did not know?
One thing I am sure of is she is not working for me any longer.