Readers, I can’t really preface this one with anything but a request for some wisdom —

Dear Au Pair Mom —

We have just had an au pair debacle that we are trying to sort through and I was wondering if anyone has any advice.
27594932362_0daa769e36_mOur au pair asked to use our car to go to a nearby town with a friend for dinner. Since she’s covered on our insurance and takes the car from time to time we said sure. She’s 24, had a great relationship with the kids and seemed responsible. I felt like she was a great addition to our family.

The night she drove our car we went to bed assuming that everything was fine and received no calls or messages that night. The next day at 11:00am my husband and son went on an adventure to Costco to get a churro while I stayed home with our baby. Five minutes later my son came back inside our house crying and I hear my husband calling our au pair to please come downstairs because our car is missing.

Our au pair came downstairs with a post-it indicating where our car has been taken to impound and informs us she was pulled over for going 40mph in a 25mph and presents a speeding ticket. She came home with no car and did not tell us. She informs us the officer could not understand her so she was taken to the police station. Her English is pretty good and it didn’t make sense to me that they would impound our car for this reason. I asked her if she had been drinking alcohol and she says she was not drunk and had 2 beers in a 5 hour period.

My husband proceeds to go to the police station and impound lot with our au pair. After talking to the tow truck driver and police officers, he established the following:

She picked up two friends and went to a bar to drink. She and both friends decided to go to another bar where they ordered pitchers of beer and drank more before she got in our vehicle to drive them home. She was pulled over by the police and received 8 separate tickets for a DUI:

-she was speeding in a school zone
-she failed to yield
-she failed to present her insurance and registration in the glove box of our car
-she was cited for reckless driving
-she did not pull over for a police officer
-she drove erratically in a construction area
-she failed a field sobriety test
-she failed a breathalyzer test several hours later and was over the legal limit at the time of release
-there was a small dent in our car and tree branches hanging on the front of the vehicle

The police officer explained that he could not give us his notes for court but there is no chance our au pair had a misunderstanding about what happened.

I questioned her upon returning and she gave me several changing stories but failed to tell the truth.
As a result of such poor judgement and lying we had to rematch. I know it was the right decision but felt very sad.

Then things got tricky.

Our agency cannot send her home until after court. She cannot however work in the meantime.

After this happened, she had planned to travel so she delayed her court date for a couple of weeks to go to New York City and Disney World (happiest place on earth) for vacation. She’s now staying with an agency coordinator who called us asking for our insurance and registration information to help her out. The coordinator is trying to get her a lawyer and help her.

I feel awful globally that she lied and made such poor decisions.

Also, I’m told that a crime like this usually doesn’t revoke a J-1 visa — because it’s commonly not considered something called “a crime of moral turpitude”.

Does anyone know if after court the agency will send her home or do you think she will rematch to another family?

While I realize everyone makes mistakes I’m conflicted about the idea. If she gets community service will she stick around locally maybe? It’s very awkward.

Do you think we should send the insurance and registration information to help her out? (She was fully covered but I’m questioning whether paying a ticket for not showing registration because she was drunk is worth it if our insurance premiums skyrocket. I’m not sure if she would pay her fines or if it’s a great idea at this point to give her access to our personal information.)

At this point I’m not sure if we should have any more involvement in this process.

I am not sure what is typical in these instances… unfortunately I know other people have had Au Pair DWI experience. Any advice?

Sad host Mom

{ 35 comments }

Teach Kids to Apologize to The Au Pair

by cv harquail on February 6, 2017

Hosting an Au Pair presents us with one opportunity after another to teach our children how to be kind.

In many of our conversations here on the blog, we worry about being kind proactively.

As adults, we Host Parents spend a lot of time thinking about how to be kind to our Au Pairs, to say “no” only when necessary, to offer explanations of tough decisions, and to be generous when we can.

We also try to model kindness after the breach — when feelings have been hurt, folks have been angry, or even just a little too self-centered.

I know that time and again I’ve said “I’m sorry for ______” to an Au Pair, and done this in front of my girls. I’ve wanted them to see that apologizing — being kind after having been hurtful — is a normal part of being a good family member. I wanted them to feel like they could mend a breach that they had created.

Finding Proof

As I was clearing out a drawer over the weekend, I found this envelope addressed to Clara, our Au Pair from when my girls were 10 and 12-ish.

The handwriting was obviously my older daughter — the one who’s just gone off to college. When I opened it up, I realized it was a concrete piece of evidence of one of my child’s magical qualities —

One of the things I’ve loved about my older daughter is that she is a model of saying “I’m sorry”. As a girl, she’d be angry or mean like any other kid who wants things her own way. She’d argue, get flustered, and occasionally stomp off to her room. All that is common.

What’s uncommon, though, is that even as a little kid she’d return a short time later and apologize. And really mean it.

I can imagine the situation that could have triggered this note — an unmade bed, laundry on the floor, a direction to put the book away NOW and turn out the light.

Even though it’s a little stilted, a little formal,  I can hear my 12 year olds’ voice saying the words, sincerely and with love. And I’m proud of her.

Clara is, too.

Are there ways that your kids have surprised you by being kind to your Au Pair?

{ 2 comments }

Hello Au Pair Moms!

I am in search of our 3rd au pair, perhaps someone from Central or Latin America.  We really loved the German Au Pair we had, and would love another just like her… but I’ve noticed the European Au Pairs are not as available.

latin-america-political-mapI live in Chicago, which has a large Hispanic population that should feel welcoming to an Hispanic Au pair.

We had a Columbian au pair, but we rematched within 3 months. There was dishonesty, a series of miscommunications, homesickness, and a little more emotional hand holding and neediness than I had expected.

So with that being said, I’m gun shy on South/Central American girls, even though I’m sure many are wonderful, they might not fit with our family’s style.

Other moms have experienced some of the same issues, and I know our independent and direct family style of communication may not blend well. But I may be wrong.

Any of you host mamas (and dads) have great South/Central girls? Any tips on questions or how to weed out the ones who may be super needy or too homesick? Should I look for ones from larger cities? Any specific countries where the girls may be more independent and want to really enjoy their time in America?

And as for reference, we live in Chicago and have a 3 and 1 year old. Set schedule with weekdays only, and pretty flexible. Laidback and liberal. Not a lot of extended family nearby so just us.

Appreciate any advice and insight!

{ 21 comments }

With Your Au Pair’s Social Life, Be Caring Not Controlling

by cv harquail January 28, 2017
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If you can trust your Au Pair with your children, can’t you trust her with her own Saturday night plans? I wondered this, when I read the email (below) from the OverMonitoredAuPair. I am a BIG believer in knowing how to find your Au Pair in an emergency during his/her off-duty time. I am a […]

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How to Help Your Au Pair Appreciate the “Au Pair Car”

by cv harquail January 20, 2017
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We all want to be generous, and we all want to be appreciated. And, there’s nothing like having a third car for your au pair to use to make you aware of the tension that can exist when you want to be generous and want to be appreciated. When we bought our first Volvo wagon […]

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Au Pairs, Don’t Even THINK About Driving For Uber

by cv harquail January 18, 2017
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When I saw the first mention of this in the comments several weeks ago, I was surprised. Au Pairs driving the Host Family car as a second job? What Au Pair would even presume s/he could use the Host Parents car to drive on off-duty hours to earn some extra money? With the Host Parents’ car?  […]

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Choosing an Au Pair from Her Video: An example for your feedback

by cv harquail January 14, 2017

A prospective Au Pair from South America emailed last week– she has applied to be an Au Pair with Cultural Care, but hasn’t found a family.   She’s wondering — is there anything about her video that might be turning families off? Is there anything she could do to improve her video? I don’t want to […]

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How to Make the Most of the #WomensMarch on Washington or Anywhere: Tips from Feminist Activists

by cv harquail January 13, 2017

In a rare bit of cross-posting, I want to share with you something I wrote for my consulting blog at FeministsAtWork.  I know that not everyone in the AuPairMom community is interested in progressive US politics, so for some of you this post won’t feel personally relevant.  However, since all of us stand to benefit […]

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Finding an Au Pair: Too Much Detail in Our Host Family Letter?

by cv harquail January 3, 2017
choosing an au pair

When it comes to writing the materials you use to find and match with an Au Pair, I’m all for being comprehensive. I’d much rather lay it all out for a candidate (and for myself) so that s/he can make an informed choice about whether or not to pursue an interview with us. I’d prefer […]

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Can Foster Parents Host Au Pairs?

by cv harquail December 31, 2016
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Over the transom comes a very rare email — one with a question we’ve never addressed before!  Good way to start things up again, methinks. A Foster Mom writes: I was recently told by an agency that they are unable to work with our family because we are foster parents. We feel discriminated against. Is […]

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