How Many is Too Many Household Accidents Before Rematching an Au Pair?

by cv harquail on July 30, 2016

I’d say however many it took to get you to write this email, SafetyConsciousHostMom.

Any email that asks “how many kitchen fires are too many?” gets my automatic reply “Rematch Now”.

8372040203_a9f4f62c68_mWe are a family with an 18 year old bro pair who’s been so-so. He’s not super great with the kids or the chores, but he’s been tolerable.

In his second month with us he broke his arm so badly he needed surgery — recklessly skateboarding sown a hill. I had thought that that might make him become a bit more cautions, but no.

So far our au pair:

Broke a kid’s bed, roughhousing with the child
Broke his own bed frame — don’t even ask how
Blew out an electrical circuit in our house using too many appliances at once.
Ruined the washing machine by overloading it

And last week, he caused a small fire toasting bagel sandwiches in the oven.   

This morning, I awakened to the smoke alarm. I ran into the kitchen to see flames coming out of the oven and smoke everywhere. Our au pair had tried to toast a bagel sandwich, again, but this time using the same cookie sheet on which he’d broiled bacon. The pan was full of grease, and caught on fire. I grabbed baking soda and dumped it on the sandwich while my husband turned off the alarm.

Our au pair was remarkably relaxed and unconcerned about it all.

 I am very touchy about fire safety, since I lost a house to fire as a teenager. The au pair and my husband both seemed to think it was not a big deal and that small kitchen fires are a perfectly normal part of life. I do 90% of the family cooking and have never once started a fire. Much less twice in someone else’s house.

Even looking at the bigger picture, my husband thinks this level of carelessness is very normal for an 18 year old boy. He may be right, but I am at my wits end.

I am frustrated. I am concerned my children (8 and 13) aren’t safe. And I think I need this au pair gone.

My husband thinks I am overreacting because of my own experiences. What do you think? Is there a number of fires or accidents that should be allowed before I can set my foot down and say, “You’ve got to go!.”?

In addition to that obvious answer, there’s also the question of how you can get support from your Host Dad partner for taking some action. Host Dad thinks you’re overreacting while you feel he’s not being sensitive about your legitimate fears… and this is something to address, too.

Moms and Dads? Au Pairs?  Weigh in, below:

Image: What’s the problem, by hehaden on Flickr

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Taking a Computer Lunch July 30, 2016 at 9:25 pm

I’ve never had a bro-pair, but AP #8 had absolutely no common sense. My LCC warned me that she wouldn’t gain common sense in a year, and because DH was gun-shy about going into rematch (as parents of a child with special needs, rematch usually means going out-of-country) we learned that she still didn’t have it in month 11 of her year.

There is a sweet spot between adventurous and stupid. Your husband says adventurous, you say stupid. Since you’re someone who lost everything she owned as a teenager due to a house fire, I say you win. Rematch. Your bro pair already broke his arm and had a grease fire (which he didn’t help stop). Call your LCC today, because he has no common sense and you don’t need the stress of having an AP who does not have enough common sense how to stop a grease fire, much less how to prevent one in the first place.

He might be perfect for another family, so don’t throw him under a bus – explain, very simply how you lost everything as a teenager and cannot tolerate grease fires (believe me – every HM with any common sense will read between the lines).

And show my response to HD. I agree, your current AP has absolutely no common sense, and is unlikely to develop it in the year he lives with you. If DH loves you, then he will agree to rematch – you have had enough stress in your life not to have to worry if your kids will be safe with someone who does not have enough sense about how not to start a grease fire – much less about how to stop it! (And it that doesn’t fly with your DH, then ask CV for my email – she knows it.)

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Full Circle July 30, 2016 at 10:34 pm

Oh rematch!!! To me lack of common sense is a huge problem. This is the person who will be making decisions on a day to day basis about what is safe, appropriate, etc for your kids. I recently rematched because of lack of common sense (coupled with inability to drive, cook, swim and put the phone down) but it was the lack of common sense that did it for me. I can teach many skills, I can pay for extra driving lessons, I can teach someone the basics of what we need in the kitchen BUT if this person lacks common sense then their ability to learn those things is far behind what would be expected and requires way more effort than I was willing to invest. This AP has shown it in many areas, I wouldn’t trust him to make the right call in an emergency or be effective in risk assessment.

Now the HD question: we had that issue here too. Hubs thought she could learn it, but he was away and didn’t really see what I saw. He also didn’t see how some things were a big deal, like my child falling and hitting her head and AP sitting immedeately next to her did not move or look up from her phone. For the whole 5 minutes HK cried and I held an ice packet to her head. To me, that said all I needed to know about that AP. Hubs didn’t think much of this incident and the many others in the short few weeks she was here. What I did was have a really honest conversation with HD. I first acknowledged that it was possible that this girl would learn, that she would be an ok AP after a big learning curve and this would pass – very strategic starting point :-p but that the whole thing made me way too uncorfortable and that we would both hate to look back after an accident and have to say “if we had just…” I told him I needed him to back me up on this even though it wasn’t the easy short term solution. And he totally got it.

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EVC July 31, 2016 at 2:16 am

As a former male au pair (I cannot call myself a bro pair, it sounds awful to my ears), I
Would say rematch. I am always one to advocate for male au pairs, but this number of incidents points to a Complete lack of common sense. One let two of them, I would say we all make mistakes. This many avoidable accidents suggest a lack of judgment though.
I wish the best in figuring it out

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Aupair Paris July 31, 2016 at 8:51 am

Oof! To me it’s the response to these accidents that’s the real issue. He broke his arm being a bit stupid – ok, fair enough – but then he went on rough housing and having accidents. Thinking a fire is no big deal is a bit strange. I mean, when I was a kid I did much the same thing – I was grilling sausages and the grill got too greasy and caught on fire. I put it out – but it absolutely terrified me, and I was SO careful every second after that. Acting like it’s nothing is really weird.

When I was an au pair, I messed up really badly in the kitchen once, and burned a pan mark onto the expensive kitchen surface. I apologised profusely, was really upset and did my absolute best (but ultimately failed) to fix it. Surely that’s the appropriate reaction to breaking something in someone’s house – let alone putting the actual house in danger.

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WestMom July 31, 2016 at 9:19 am

You had me at: ‘He’s been so-so. He’s not super great with the kids or the chores, but he’s been tolerable.’ That alone would lead me to rematch.

Then the amazing lack of common sense seals the deal. Don’t even ask yourself the question twice and rematch. As far as your husband goes, he needs to understand that this is affecting your sanity and ultimately it will impact your family life. If you phrase it that way, I would expect some empathy (and his desire for peace in your home).

Your husband is not wrong. This doesnt sound atypical for an 18yr old boy (I.e. Still a child!). I’d stay clear next time around.

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Quirky July 31, 2016 at 9:21 am

Rematch. He’s not your kid. If he were your kid, you’d be stuck trying to teach him common sense and understanding the reasonably foreseeable consequences of his actions. But he’s not your kid — he’s the young (very, apparently!) adult you’ve entrusted with the physical care and well-being of your own kids. I wouldn’t trust him not to be careless driving, or careless watching them swimming, etc. with the level of inattention he’s demonstrating.

I think he needs to go home, not just rematch to another family. You should document the incidents he’s caused (as well as the monetary damage) for your agency, so that he’s not just recycled onto another unwitting family.

And I really do want to know how he broke his own bed…..

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AlwaysHopeful HM July 31, 2016 at 1:58 pm

I tend to agree with your husband that the lack of judgment is not atypical for an 18 year old, and that small kitchen fires are fairly common (judging from my own upbringing that involved several over the years). That said, I also think you should rematch.

The average 18 year old has not fully developed the part of the brain responsible for judgment, impulse control, etc. Of course that’s “average” and you’ll find some young people with more maturity and common sense than a 30 year old. It is not necessarily a character flaw that your au pair’s biology has not caught up with the requirements of the job, but it is a problem. As you wrote, you’re at your wit’s end. What else is there to talk about? At that point, there is no choice but to rematch.

TACL has remarkes in the past that many au pairs are going from being a child in their family to an adult in another. I’ve thought a lot about that, because it matters in many, many ways. Even if he had ably handled some areas of responsibility before bwcoming an au pair, the transition can be spotty. At 18, your au pair may just not have been ready to make the transition to being an adult all day, every day, for a whole year.

I would not necessarily advocate that your au pair be sent home.He’s made mistakes, but they are ones that may be acceptable in another family. I know he would not be a good fit for my family, but I can’t judge what might work for others. Good luck!

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Seattle Mom August 1, 2016 at 6:13 pm

This is such a good point. An 18 year old au pair needs to be exceptional for their age. A 25 year old can be average, maybe even a 21 year old.

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2 kids and a cat July 31, 2016 at 5:02 pm

I work with this age group, so yes, it can be normal. But it doesn’t mean you need to keep paying and housing someone who can’t meet your needs. What conditions need to be met for him to stay? Does your DH have time to teach him to cook? If not, then AP is restricted to preparing cold foods. Is that a living condition he’s willing to accept? After a second car incident, we put strict restrictions on driving during a mediation. Our LCC balked, but our position was that this was the arrangement we were comfortable with in order to keep the AP, and if she didn’t like it she could rematch. If you and DH don’t have time to move your AP to a less independent (more parent helper) position, then you need to rematch.

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WarmStateMomma July 31, 2016 at 9:06 pm

It’s not inherent to hosting teen boys that they behave stupidly, recklessly or with complete disregard for your possessions. I hosted two 16yo male exchange students who never did anything like this in the 10 months they lived with me – and they were VERY active kids on the soccer team. They did their own laundry, made their own breakfast and lunch, and otherwise managed to live in the house without destroying anything. If they’d damaged anything, there would have been profuse apologies instead of more destruction.

How much more destruction are you going to tolerate this year? Do you want your kids to think this kind of behavior is normal? He’s an overgrown child and you need an adult. He should go home until his parents teach him how to act his age.

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Nina August 31, 2016 at 12:28 am

Maybe it’s just that he IS acting his age. 18 year old BOYS (yes, most of them are still that!) in their majority act irresponsibly and recklessly.
With that being said, I would never entrust the care of my kids to a kid!
I was an au pair myself 10 years ago at 20, and even though I was a pretty good one, now that I am a mom, I look back and know I could have done things differently…

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Kathy July 31, 2016 at 10:08 pm

He absolutely has to go. I have had au pairs for 10 years and one thing I have learned along the way is that if the situation doesn’t feel right, rematch. In my experience it NEVER gets better, just worse. My husband would typically take the path of least resistance, but always supported me when I said it was time to rematch. Don’t be afraid of rematching, I have gotten all of my best au pairs through re-match! Rematch au pairs have usually adjusted to living in the US, are committed to staying here, have improved their English dramatically, are accustomed to driving in the US and they are very appreciative when they find the right family!

While your guy au pair’s behavior may be “normal” for an 18 year old boy, I just think that means you should either get a much older boy or get a female au pair. It is a fact of life that girls mature faster than boys, but that doesn’t mean that you should suffer because of that. Remember this: an au pair is there to make YOUR life easier, if that isn’t happening on a consistent basis, and the au pair isn’t giving you peace of mind, then he needs to go, yesterday. Don’t wait another minute to start the rematch process, you don’t need this additional stress in your life.

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SA_Au Pair August 1, 2016 at 8:17 am

Overall his behaviour just shows that he has a total disregard for your property/possessions. Some things can be overlooked (such as overloading the washing machine for example), but the fact that these things keep happening is proof that he’s not learning from his mistakes (or doesn’t care to learn). I honestly wouldn’t feel secure enough to leave this person with my younger siblings.

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Jennc August 1, 2016 at 9:29 am

Rematch! Yes I think his attitude is typical for a guy and his age but a big reason why I’m not pro matching with an 18 year old especially a “boy” because he is obviously a boy. I guess my own experience with younger brothers helps me in this feeling because my youngest didn’t even somewhat mature until age 27 and still makes stupid decisions that cause all of us stress. Your gut is right and it is better to part ways before something bad happens with the kids . Would he have known what to do with that fire if you hadn’t been there? Because you guys jumped into action not the aupair , that could have turned into a catastrophe quick. My husband early in college had a fire like this happen and it turned into a kitchen fire with damage ! Accidents happen but sounds like he sucks in general and not worth keeping .

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HRHM August 1, 2016 at 11:31 am

If you had stated that he was stellar in all other ways (engaged the kids, kept the house spotless, had taught your kids a foreign language, had connected closely with a kid who was difficult to get close to, etc) then I’d say just stop having him cook or use anything involving heat/flame. But you didn’t, you said he was a meh AP at best and a meh AP with no common sense is actually a BAD AP.

Rematch.

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Mouse August 1, 2016 at 12:33 pm

I’ll join the choir of “rematch”
You do not want to hold on to this lad. You are only(!) 2 months in, you still have 10 more months to go… If he managed to harm himself and your furniture, plus having a “minor” fire in the house twice. (I agree, one time is an accident. But twice within this short amount of time! – Oh no no no)
So rematch and get a new au pair, for the safety of yourself, your house and the most important thing: Your children! I don’t think your overreacting, your seeing to that your children is safe.

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5kids=aupair August 1, 2016 at 5:01 pm

Rematch, but thanks for the laugh.

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Fortysomething HM August 1, 2016 at 6:33 pm

Agree with the chorus of rematch. It is really only academic whether this is typical of a young male/person this age. I agree that accidents and mishaps happen but (a) there have been a lot of accidents/mishaps in a short time, some of them very serious; and (b) his reaction to the fire doesn’t sound like he was going to jump into “solution” mode when faced with a serious emergency – and APs need to be able to stay in control and solve problems both small and big when necessary. Therefore, whether well intentioned or not, or whether typical 18 year old or not, I wouldn’t want this to continue if it were my AP. I’d be a nervous wreck.

This is particularly the case because you also have not described him as a great or even good AP otherwise. It would perhaps be a closer call if he was great with the kids (although maybe not even). Since he’s meh at best otherwise, this is a no- brainer.

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SafetyConsciousHostMom. August 1, 2016 at 7:58 pm

Many thanks for your feedback. I lost the debate with my husband and we compromised on giving him a stern talking to. He’s been a bit better since then, no fires at least. And we upped our insurance cover considerably. Sigh.

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NoVA Twin Mom August 2, 2016 at 10:07 am

I realize I’m late to the party, but recommend that you document absolutely everything at this point. Write down dates of what happened in the past and write up what you said in the meeting. Email your LCC now with the list of what has happened in the past (if you haven’t already) to document that. Also keep track of anything that happens in the future and email THAT to the LCC too. Photos would also be good.

You want to make sure that the next time ______ happens – or when your husband has finally had it too – you can move to immediate rematch and not have to have “two weeks of trying” before moving to rematch. The only way this will likely happen (barring a huge safety issue) is if documentation of ongoing efforts to “make things better” already exists.

You also might want to set some parameters with your 13 year old about when to call 911, even if the au pair is telling them not to.

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Quirky August 2, 2016 at 12:28 pm

Why on earth does your husband want to keep this kid around? I think you get to veto your husband in this case. How are you going to feel that your kids are safe for the rest of the year with this AP?

My husband is an engineer who works in railway design. After he was tasked with supervising and signing off on the design of life safety systems of an underground subway station in NYC, which involved significant continuing education on fire safety, he very nearly refused to let us have a Christmas tree ever again.

He is a complete fanatic about having a fire safety plan and the appropriate fire extinguishers, especially in the kitchen, where we have not only a multipurpose fire extinguisher but also a special purpose kitchen fire extinguisher wall-mounted within five steps of the stove. Part of our AP training involves specifically training in kitchen fire/fire extinguisher use.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries. Fire is so freaking scary. It can be a matter of a few minutes before the flashover point is reached. Just look up YouTube videos on “kitchen fire flashover.” For example:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEVl8R9Q9EM

I will also note that in our last house, a house down the street burned down (as in nothing left after the fire and the water damage from the fire department but a shell) because of a clothes dryer vent fire. The family’s son, on break from college, overstuffed the dryer and it overheated, causing sparks that set the lint in the vent on fire. The fact that your AP ruined your washing machine by overloading it does not give me a lot of confidence in his laundry safety skills. Everyone should ensure their dryer vents are clean, but it is a real safety requirement to clean out the dryer lint filter (and not overload the machine) each and every time.

You are not at all being unreasonable or paranoid; your husband is the one being unreasonable in this case. I think you should get this AP out of your house now. I would not trust him to have the good judgment not to start another fire and I certainly would not trust him to know how to deal with it appropriately if he does start a fire. If your AP throws water on a grease fire you could lose another house and — much worse — someone could be badly burned or killed.

At an absolute minimum, I would demand that your husband directly supervise your AP in taking a fire safety course. Not just — here’s a link, go watch a course on your own time — but your husband sit there with him the whole time and make sure he GETS it.

I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this, but I do not think you’re overreacting in the slightest.

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hOstCDmom August 2, 2016 at 5:45 pm

+1

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Mimi August 3, 2016 at 10:33 am

Regardless of gender, age, or ethnicity, some APs don’t have the common sense that are needed to be effective as an AP. Common sense is affected by culture, too. This level of carelessness may be normal for this age, but at some point there needs to be some personal accountability for repeated negligence and his apparent blase demeanor about the fire leads me to believe that you won’t see it in him. There needs to be a clear line about what is not acceptable and although he’s been better, please take to heart the advice here that talks about documenting issues and developing a clear exit plan for when something else happens (and I mean when, not if).

I had a similar issue with an AP we sent into rematch. We had a second incident related to our (then) infant’s health/safety and the deciding factor for going into rematch was her attitude about it. (In this case, it was also my oldest HK who ended up making a call when the AP ignored how sick his sister had become so I also encourage you to talk with yours about when they need to be the ones to make a decision about safety.)

Going forward I encourage you to talk with HD about how you can better deal with AP issues and present a more united front when dealing with AP problems. HD wanted to wait out our situation, but I had to draw the line. HD doesn’t manage the APs so he doesn’t see most of what I deal with and often can’t understand my frustration with an AP unless he’s directly affected by something. Some APs will pick up on this and use it (consciously or not) to their advantage. Dealing with it is good practice for when your kids become teenagers. :)

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ExAupairNowHM August 2, 2016 at 10:43 am

Rematch. Sounds like your husband has you convinced that the au pair deserves another chance, don’t.
I had a similar situation a few years back. Au pair had (first of multiple minor) car accident(s) in first few weeks, too many broken dishes to count and plenty of “accidents” all around. It didn’t get better. I tried to stick it out. After 4 months I made a surprise visit to the house and found her sleeping on the couch while my three year old was climbing on furniture. She didn’t even wake up when I walked through the door (meaning my kid could have just walked out)!
It’s not just a disrespect of your things. It’s an attitude problem, lack of maturity and not being a responsible caregiver. Don’t wait until something really bad happens. I went against my husband’s wishes and called for a rematch.

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German Au-Pair August 2, 2016 at 10:59 am

Well…I disagree about the “conern about other people’s properties” part because I do think some thinks are not predicatble. Example: How do you know how many electrical items are too many in a house? I mean in our apartment there are three computers, two TVs, an oven, phones charging, an electrical grill….the list goes on and sometimes they run at the same time with no problems. in my HP’s giant house the AC and ovens and the five or six computers and the washing machine and dryer and all the lights etc were on at the same time. Since I highly doubt that a single person can turn on MORE than that, I wonder: could he REALLY have known or expected what would happen, or was that beyond his knowledge?
I’m sure the definition of roughhousing is debatable but I wonder if the way he acted with your kid was so careless that the fate of the bed was predictable given that American beds are usually much heavier and more stable than what I am used to. I also have a friend who keeps destroying chairs by sitting on them because she cannot comfortably sit without putting her feet on the chair with her and she’s constantly moving. They are HER chairs, so she does care what happens to them but it still keeps happening.
I do wonder how you set the kitchen on fire twice, though…I am super clumsy and sued to be even worse and destroyed a lot of my mom’s kitchen utensils when I started cooking but I never managed to set a bagle on fire. :D
So no, I don’t necessarily think he’s reckless and doesn’t care about your stuff but I do worry that he doesn’t seem to feel bad about it.

I do think that giving him another shot is fair but you should be prepared to pull the plug if he keeps worrying you. It’s not so mucb about HIS character for me but more about his character combined with your fears. You need to feel like your children are safe with him. If you don’t, that doesn’t mean he as character flaws but it does mean he is not right for you.
And yes, maybe your fears are stronger because of your personal experience but that doesn’t mean they are less valid! Maybe another HM, a more rational Hm would feel fine but you don’t and that is something you cannot change but thinking about it rationally. So if you do keep feeling like your children aren’t safe and he keeps getting intro trouble, do explain to your husband that he may be right that this is normal and that it’s not as bad as you feel it is but you still feel that way and that’s why he cannot be your AP anymore.

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HostMomOverandOver August 2, 2016 at 5:05 pm

German AP – you remind me of an AP who we decided to send into re-match. When you say “maybe another more rationale HM would feel fine” invalidates the OP’s concerns about safety. While the spirit of the AP program may include that an AP is a family member, please keep in mind that this means being a member of the HOST’s family, which includes respectful consideration for the HF’s habits, rules, and possessions. I don’t think there needs to be a rule in the family handbook that specifies “Please don’t cause fires” or “Please do not destroy furniture” (even if setting fires and breaking stuff is not a deal breaker in your own/your parents’ home).

In my situation, the AP was okay with my child jumping from the top of the stairs; AP stated that it was “natural” for children to want to climb and jump. He took offense to my setting limits with my kids and my request that he supervise my children according to my expectations, not what he considered normal or acceptable behavior.

To the OP – I encourage you to have another conversation with DH. Try for a time when you are not feeling totally stressed about AP’s behaviors. Perhaps you can ask DH his reasons for wanting to keep AP in place (my husband really dislikes discussions about re-match because he feels that finding a new AP is a huge hassle); make an agreement that if AP does XY or Z (or breaks something valued over $_) then you go into re-match.

I have seen on this board, and have lived it: If the AP isn’t making your life easier, then move on. It gets harder to make the decision to go into transition the farther you get into the year.
Good luck.

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AlwaysHopeful HM August 3, 2016 at 7:47 am

Hmm. Well, I can let German AP speak for herself, but I read her comment as being supportive of the OP and saying “it doesn’t really matter if your feelings are not rational. That is a meaningless question. If you fear for the safety of your children and home, rational or not, you should rematch.’ Discussing rationality was just picking up on OP’s statement that, because of past trauma she was especially ‘touchy” about fires. I agree with the view GAP expressed, and see that similar views were expressed by others on this page.

More importantly, I want to note that GAP has been a thoughtful, helpful, supportive member of the AuPairMom community for years. While I haven’t always agreed with her viewpoint, I have appreciated her willingness to offer it in an open, honest, respectful and contemplative way. I was a little taken aback by what felt to me like a personal attack on GAP. We are all guests here on CV’s page, and have always been kind, even when tough on each other. I think that perhaps you didn’t intend your statement to be an attack, but that GAP’s words triggered a bad memory for you.

Again, GAP can speak for herself. I was just surprised by the discourse and felt the need to also speak up.

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WarmStateMomma August 3, 2016 at 7:52 am

+1, AlwaysHopeful

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Mimi August 3, 2016 at 8:28 am

I agree. The OP is having an emotional reaction to the idea of fire which in no way invalidates her conclusion that this AP is a danger to her family and GAP clearly acknowledges that.

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Fortysomething HM August 3, 2016 at 9:20 am

+1 also.

German Au-Pair August 3, 2016 at 5:43 pm

Thank you for clarifying that AlwaysHopeful! That is exactly what I meant.
I was trying to say that all of this doesn’t HAVE to mean that he is careless and has a flawed character and that it all COULD just be a couple of accidents so he might be a good AP for someone else.
Having a traumatic experience does usually make you less rational -I have an absolutely unreasonable phobia, I know what I am talking about- but it doesn’t matter WHY the OP feels unsafe with AP. What matters is that she does and therefore she should rematch if this keeps happening.
Thanks for speaking up, and thanks for the nice words. Missunderstandings happen, I’m sure HmOaO only read parts of my comment. Sometimes you get blind for the rest if you develop a certain expectation.

@HostmomOverandOver
Please do not take quotes out of context. Right before your quote I said “And yes, maybe your fears are stronger because of your personal experience but that doesn’t mean they are less valid!” so clearly my statement was not invalidating anyone’s fears.
Was just trying to offer a viewpoint where the Op should definitely rematch but the AP might not be as terrible as some seem to conclude.

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NoVA Twin Mom August 3, 2016 at 8:12 am

I do worry that he doesn’t seem to feel bad about it.

THIS is what worries me about this situation. If all of this had happened and the au pair was absolutely mortified, researching how to fix the bed and what to do if another kitchen fire happened – I would be more confident. If the au pair had tried to put either kitchen fire out or to contain it (or – our kitchen has an exit to the backyard – even if our au pair was headed out the door with the burning object to keep the fire from spreading inside) I would be more confident.

This one seems to have a very “hands off” attitude – well, these things happen. But really, they don’t often happen. Kitchen fires happen rarely and shouldn’t happen more than once to the same person in a few months, more like more than once to the same person in a lifetime. We’ve been updated that HD wants to keep the au pair, so hopefully whatever discussion happened will “scare the au pair straight.”

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SA_Au Pair August 2, 2016 at 11:31 am

I do believe that people make mistakes and that second chances should be granted (no one is perfect). However, if someone was living with me and kept making mistake after mistake and seems to be nonchalant about everything, I’d assume that they simply didn’t respect my stuff. I was taught that when you respect something, you take care of it/or try to do better next time (after breaking the kid’s bed, I’d think he would have learned something from that). Bottom line is that I wouldn’t trust this person to be alone with my 7 and 1 year old siblings. He seems careless, and carelessness doesn’t mix well with children. I’m sorry if this seems harsh, but that’s just how I feel.

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HRHM August 2, 2016 at 2:41 pm

I will say that if DH is firm that you need to stick it out with this AP, then DH needs to be prepared to deal with the consequences. This includes retraining said AP on how to do the laundry, cleaning up any future broken furniture or fires, taking him to doctor appointments for injuries, etc.

If it were me, I’d be signing off for AP management since DH seems to think all is fine, he can be in charge. Sort of like when my husband insists on buying pets I don’t want…

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FullCircle August 2, 2016 at 10:45 pm

I see your point but if this was my family, my issue would not be the willingness or effort in training the AP. That’s not the issue although that can be frustrating. The problem is safety. I would rematch because I wouldn’t trust the AP judgement, so my argument with DH would be about safety only. I think both in terms of immediate solution and the possibility of long term solution happening. So if DH wanted to take time off work to train AP, that might make me feel ok while DH is home but I would still worry about the AP’s ability to learn so much so quick that would make me trust my kids to his care. I don’t know…I’m not a safety nut. We are pretty loose actually. But the AP’s reaction to an accident tells me a lot.

With all that said, if OP is comfortable with this than she is. I’m sure some families wouldn’t care as much, while others would have AP in rematch after the first accident. Here, he would be in rematch for sure and would not be working during the 2 weeks. It seems just thats serious to me. With DH training or taking all the responsibility or not, he would still be out.

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HRHM August 3, 2016 at 11:32 am

My initial response, upthread, was to rematch. But when she came back and said DH insists on keeping the AP, that’s when the handing him over to DH to manage was suggested. I still think she needs to rematch but if she can’t/won’t veto DH, then it should all fall to him…

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txmom August 3, 2016 at 12:12 am

I don’t think that it’s fair to say that you are overreacting because you suffered a fire as a teenager. That is your reality, and you should be able to live in your own home without fear of fire or other disasters – trusting that the members of your household will play a part in keeping each other safe and secure. Rematch. Your peace of mind is worth it, especially BECAUSE of your past experiences, not in spite of them.

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Miata Mom August 3, 2016 at 10:47 am

One of my favorite quotes: “Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me.”

The thought that because you’ve been through a house fire makes your opinion matter less due to “emotions” is infuriating. House fires aren’t as uncommon as people think, this isn’t some mythical boogyman that you’re worried about! My parent’s house recently burnt down, and since then we’ve met A LOT of other people who have also been through house fires in recent years. The cause is always something seemingly minor that you wouldn’t expect to lose your whole house over. My Dad was home at the time of the fire, fire trucks were on the scene within minutes, they had a fire hydrant in their front yard, and they still lost the whole house – over a faulty circuit in their outdoor hot tub. Fires get out of control very quickly, and someone with a reckless attitude who doesn’t appreciate that is a danger to your family. Having been through a fire makes you a MORE knowledgeable on the subject, not less. You learned things from your experience that your husband and your au pair haven’t. They shouldn’t be resistant to you teaching them what you know.

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IndianaAdventure August 3, 2016 at 12:49 pm

From reading through the comments, I’m mostly just repeating what everyone has said. Mistakes happen and I’m super laid back about a lot of things, but frequency and nonchalance is an issue here. One or two things in the first couple of months, okay bad luck. But this is A LOT. It shows that he isn’t mature enough for what you need from him. And since he seems to think it’s not a big deal, he isn’t going to make the changes to prevent similar issues going forward. We aren’t talking about a second chance at this point…we are talking about a 7th or 8th chance.

Rematch IS a hassle but so are frequent ER visits and general stress/worry. Maybe if he was am amazing au pair (maybe but probably not) it would be worth overlooking these major issues and lapses in judgement, but you are saying that he isn’t that great. You don’t need a third kid. You need a helper. Also, he’s not being a good role model for your kids, which is important at their age.

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momo4 August 3, 2016 at 2:00 pm

I am an extremely laid back HM, but I agree with the other posters that this combination of factors is worth rematching over, regardless of personal experiences. It’s not so much the events as the attitude toward them that is concerning.

I grew up in a house where we flipped the circuit breaker on a regular basis in the winter since all it took was the addition of one appliance to overload the system. Old house, inadequate wiring. It happens. No big deal.

Overloading the washing machine? Classic rookie mistake. Should be easy to learn how to load the machine correctly — assuming he’s willing to learn to do it correctly. But of course that’s the issue. Is he willing to learn to do things correctly? Not really sure here.

Broken furniture… Happens. What kind of furniture are we talking about? But I would expect the AP to be absolutely mortified and apologetic. Want to fix things… etc.

Kitchen fires? We just welcomed our 10th AP, and we’ve never had anything more than a few small flames in the oven when something was too close to the broiler, and this was usually my doing, not the APs. No real extinguishing needed. And we’ve had a few burnt pans, annoying but not dangerous. Our biggest fire danger wasn’t in the kitchen and I didn’t find out about it until afterwards. I went to plug in the vacuum, and it wouldn’t turn on. Looked at the outlet (which was behind a short bookcase) and discovered that the plastic was melted/blackened. Totally freaked me out! Turns out the AP had noticed the outlet was smoking and forgot to tell me!! Talk about dodging a bullet. My AP at the time was a very sweet woman from a culture where smiling and saying yes whether or not you understand/agree seems to be the norm, and there were significant language barriers and other cultural differences. I think she just didn’t grasp the seriousness of the situation. In any case, since then I have felt more comfortable hosting AP’s from the EU. There’s enough orientation to do without having to explain things like “a smoking wall outlet is really serious and the entire house could burn down! Get everyone out of the house and call us immediately if this happens”.

Anyway, if the OPs was describing an AP who was otherwise great with the kids, fit in well with the family and had a good attitude and work ethic then I think it would be reasonable to work on re-training. Given that he sounds otherwise mediocre at best, and especially in light of his apparently casual attitude, I think the best option is to rematch.

If HD is insisting that he stay, then I think you really need to sit the AP down and lay it out for him point by point. Avoid getting emotional, just stick with the facts concerning what is and is not acceptable, and what your experiences and real concerns are including your concern about the fact that he doesn’t seem to think any of it is a big deal, and how if this is true, it may just be an AP-HF mismatch. Listen to what he has to say. Maybe he is actually really embarrassed and doesn’t know how to express this, maybe he thinks that he is just staying “cool and calm” which is what may people think they are supposed to do in difficult situations. Who knows? Good luck.

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