Working parents must report bad nannies

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Just read this forum on WSJ.com in which a working mother says she reported what she saw as the troubling behavior of someone else’s nanny. The woman, who says she works in a building with a large common space where nannies and their charges often gather, noticed one pair in particular:

As I watched, the nanny ignored the child, a toddler, who was always bundled up for outside — despite the 70-plus-degree temperature inside. The child’s pleas for the nanny’s attention were ignored. She would try to talk to the nanny and then give up and sink back into the stroller, sometimes in tears. The nanny would stare off into space. After seeing the pair a few more times, I reported the sighting.

She doesn’t specify which site she reported to, but one such is ISawYourNanny. One report posted yesterday reads, in part:

I repeatedly run into a nanny that cares for three children on the Upper East Side in the 60s. … The nanny leaves the children with other nannies and has asked me twice to watch the baby while she runs upstairs of uses the bathroom. … I had NEVER seen the nanny before and didn’t understand that she was leaving the area for a few minutes. I wasn’t sure what she had said to me before she ran off.

As a working parent, this is the kind of thing that just throws your heart into your throat. Hiring and managing a caretaker is one of the most anxiety-fraught ordeals for us, and that’s even when the caretaker turns out to be wonderful.

Such was my case. I interviewed a dozen women before settling on one who lived right in our town. It was only days later when I learned she had a really bizarro tattoo all over her body: of fetuses in various stages of growth. Gaaah! Right? I learned this from the working mom who lives across the street, and who had seen my babysitter in town. Turns out everyone (but us) knew her as the Tattoo Lady.

Of course, I freaked. But then I called the sitter’s friend and neighbors and other people who knew her, and all attested to her devotion to her own children. I met her family. I watched her with my infant, and she was uniformly warm and attentive. Oh, it still broke my heart to leave my child with her to go to work. But at least I knew she was in good, safe hands.

Would I want to know if someone saw my sitter in the park leaving my baby with a stranger? Are you high? Of course I would. Would that be enough to fire her? I doubt it; I’d investigate first, confront her next. But first I’d need to know.

I heard Peggy Orenstein on NPR last year talking about her book, Waiting for Daisy. She said her heart used to reside in her chest. Now that she had a child, her heart lives outside her body, as her child is her heart. I’d argue most parents feel that way. Imagine your heart being ill treated, and the rest of you not knowing. Whether it’s on a web site or, better yet, to the parent directly, we owe it to working parents everywhere to report bad nannies.

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