When we share a bond of trust with another person, we can can handle almost any kind of conflict or difference of opinion.
For most of us, we begin our relationships with our au pairs with a foundation of ‘swift trust’, and then build on this foundation as each party meets their obligations, treats the other with fairness and kindness, and operates with honesty and integrity. Like me, you’d probably give a lot more to an au pair whom you felt you could trust 100%.
When an au pair does something that challenges or breaks our trust in them, all bets are off. We reconsider what we are willing to give and how far we are willing to go beyond the basics. And, we also reconsider how we’ve operated in the past. We wonder, is this the first breach in trust, or have their been earlier deceptions that I’ve somehow overlooked? Have I been duped?
Trust is hard to recoup. It takes a good ‘clearing of the air’, a clear sense of future expectations, and a demonstration over time that expectations are being met.
One of my most trusted au pairs surprised me, when my DH noticed that she’d been driving the au pair car hundreds of miles a week. We hadn’t noticed before, since we rarely used that car ourselves, and it was the “change oil” light that tipped him off that the mileage on the car had soared. keep in mind, we have a ‘5-mile radius, no driving on highways or to the City’ policy. We talked to our au pair and discovered that she’d been driving all over northern NJ to see her new boyfriend’s band. (Yes, on highways, late at night, coming home from bars. Not a good scene.)
We talked, reasserted our policy, got her agreement, moved forward, and I do believe she didn’t flout the car rules again. Of course, this was not a situation related to our children and her care of them, so it was easier to deal with and to repair. Even after just a few weeks, things seemed back to normal.
Not so for this DupedHostMom, below:
We are in our 19.5th month with a 24 year old au pair from Thailand. She has never been amazing, but has been mostly fine. She loves our twin toddlers (22 month), and they love her. (We also have 50% custody of a teenage, but AP has no responsibility for her) I work full time, odd hours out of the home, HD works full time, 60% out of the home. AP’s schedule is fairly regular, 40 hrs/week, 9-5, then avg. of 2 weekend days a month, with a corresponding weekday off. She is my first AP, but HD had several with his previous marriage.
A few months ago we had a mtg with the LCC and AP because she was not meting expectations: hiding in her room (or the bathroom) on the computer during nap time, rather than duties, one day left babies in cribs awake for an extra hour. Just sort of phoning it in. She vowed to improve, and made some modest improvements.
This week, the teenager was sick monday (fever/vomiting), one baby up sick all night last night (so one mama also up all night). HD is away on business. This morning, AP came down, said she felt sick and had a fever. I cancelled my day and sent her back to bed. When I spoke to HD late morning, he said AP was faking it. I went to bat for her. At 7, she said a friend (another thai AP) was stopping by to drop off some food for her, which I thought was sweet. At 7:30, AP is miraculously healed, dressed up, wearing makeup, and going out “for soup.” It is now 3 hrs later, and still not home.
I am so hurt/angry/disappointed. I’m completely fed up, and not sure how I can look her in the eye, let alone trust her anymore. I’m thinking about rematching, but at almost 20 months, is it really worth it?
Mostly I am just mad and feel like I got played.
I plan on having a talk tomorrow with her about how disappointed I was, and that I have problems trusting her. Thoughts?
Image: The joy of swinging by Brit