SuperHost Mom and contributing AuPairMom Advisor TACL (Taking a Computer Lunch) noticed that the blog has been rather quiet of late. Using her Masterpiece Theatre Poirot and Holmes skills, she correctly deduced that I’ve been overwhelmed enough by work that I haven’t been able to keep up. As always, lots of work is good for me and my consulting, but not so good for AuPairMom.
As is her style, TACL has jumped in with a terrific contribution:
Ending the Year on The Right Note
Having hosted APs now for the better part of 10 years, I know how hard it is to say goodbye.
Sure, your AP said goodbye to her friends and family before she came to the U.S., but it was more of a “I’m off on an adventure, see you later!” goodbye.
Having watched 6 au pairs say goodbye to us, and countless of their friends say goodbye, I realize what an emotional roller coaster it is very everyone. For those of us with school-age children, we watch their anxiety and separation. As host parents, if it’s not going well, we find fault with every little thing our AP does until we reach the boiling point. My own mother had a theory that it was easier to say goodbye to us as we went off to college if she was mad at us – same may hold true for APs.
And, I think it is worse for the APs. Of course they’re going home to see family and old friends, but they are leaving you behind, your kids, and their new friends. For the first time for many of them it isn’t “I’m off on an adventure, see you later!” — they really don’t know if or when they will be able to return. (And if you’re mad at them, of course they won’t be able to return and it really is goodbye – how isolating.)
DH and I hosted a barbeque for our AP and her best AP friends. Although our AP doesn’t leave for a month, my own children are heading off to sleep-away camp and the number of free days was running out.
We asked them the same questions we ask at similar events every year: What do you most miss about home?, What meal are you going to ask your mom or grandma to make? What surprised you most about the U.S.? What will you miss most? And I will tell you, if you’re an AP at my table, you’re a very thoughtful young woman who speaks almost fluently in English (especially compared to the first time you showed up in our house in September). Going clubbing and partying were not among her answers.
I realized that as much as the bbq was a means for me and my family to say goodbye to my AP’s friends, it was also a goodbye for my AP and her best buddies.
They all met at orientation – they’re not even from the same cluster.. One is going to hit the road while her HF goes on vacation and will be gone before my AP returns from her own travel month. Another will head home almost immediately after her last day in the U.S., as her family needs her to use the money she has saved to pay for some university expenses at home.
And the 3rd? Her HF is leaving on vacation soon and ordered her not to be in the house when they return home, so her last goodbyes to her HKs will occur before they leave on vacation.[how cruel, says cv]
(And yes, she will arrive at our home just before her HF returns because our AP asked and we said yes – she is a sweet girl, perhaps still immature, but of all our AP’s friends, she is the one who is most communicative with us when she is our guest.) Personally, it makes me sad that she is cut-off from her year in the States. If she is to return to visit, then she is more likely to stay with us than her HF.
Why do I write this? Because I know how hard it is to stay on an even keel as HM as your AP does the count-down.
As they get ready to depart, APs need to have one last party, one last good-bye, while we as HMs still need the childcare. But think of this – not only is your AP an ambassador from her country – and her behavior will shape whether you say yeah or nay to a young woman (or man) from that country again — you are also an ambassador.
Have a final relationship-building check-in meeting
I’m not advocating bending over backward, or even giving in to every request. I’m advocating taking a deep breath and sitting down and having an honest conversation about what you want from her in the last 4-8 weeks of her year. Do this without getting angry or cutting her off from the rest of your life. Do this with the idea that it’s a chance to reinforce all the good things she’s done with and for your family.
Acknowledge that she has some very emotional goodbyes of her own to share.
My AP’s best friends are all from her country, but that doesn’t mean that it will be easy for them to get together. Each young woman has her own course of study at a different university in mind. They will move on – they are all adults now. From this point onward, friends will come in and out of their immediate lives and they will have to work hard to remain in contact with those with whom they had a close emotional relationship here during their AP year, at university, in their first job, etc. Just as we HMs and HDs do. However, at this point in their lives, it’s very hard to say “goodbye” and really mean “I don’t know when or if I will see you again.”
If you have less than 4 weeks left – it’s time to have one final check-in.
The 2nd Best Goodbye Gift You Can Give Your Au Pair (also by TACL)
“Her Next Adventure”: Telling your kids that your Au Pair is leaving
Saying Goodbye to an Au Pair you Parents really love
Goodbye Gifts for Your Au Pair
Phases of the AP Year
A Good Au Pair Relationship Requires Your Emotional Investment
Images: Kathi ci marcherai (we will miss you) cake, by electricblue86