When I notice au pairs doing things differently from the way(s) that I’d do them, it’s often unclear to me here the difference comes from. Where the difference comes from matters to me, because it guides the way that I respond to the difference.
If I think it’s a question of knowledge or experience, I’ll go ahead and explain my way of doing something and the reasons behind it.
If I think it’s a question of personality or generational differences, and the difference isn’t really important, I just let it slide.
But when the difference is cultural, I often struggle with how to respond. Is it a difference that influences my au pair’s comfort? Or my comfort? Is it a learning opportunity? Or should I just let it slide?
Let me give you an example.
Today is one of the most beautiful, sunny days of the summer. Au Pair CB decided to spend some off-duty time ‘catching some rays’ by sunbathing in our yard.
Our front yard.
The front yard that everyone sees as they walk to the park down the street. The front yard that Doug the mailman has to cross from our front porch to our neighbors. The front yard — you know, the part right in front of our house.
And did I mention that Au Pair CB is model-gorgeous, and wearing a two piece bathing suit?
Why did her sunbathing location surprise me? Is it a cultural, generational or personal difference in sunbathing norms?
Had it been me in my twenties, I’d be sunbathing in the side yard or on the back patio, shielded by our big hemlock hedge from passersby. (Me in my forties? I’m not much of a sunbather.) Had it been me being American? Again, I’d be in the backyard, maybe with music coming out the kitchen window.
But I’d never just toss my beach towel on the grass in front of the house.
I can’t quite pinpoint where the difference comes from:
Scandinavia vs. US? 20s vs. 40s? Athlete vs. soccer mom?