Rematch with just 2 months to go? Or other options?

by cv harquail on May 16, 2010

An “I need advice right away” post from West Coast Mom:

201005161645.jpgDear Host Moms,

Have any of you rematched near the end of your year? We are considering sending the current AP home, after an alarming call from another Mom who witnessed some alarming AP behavior in front of the kids (followed by months of issues, some of which I have posted here).

Thing is, we have only just over 2 months to go, and we have already matched with our next AP (so we cant find a rematch and just start a new 12 month period). Our LCC is supportive and trying to find solutions, but I wonder if anyone has experience with this?

We will be asking new AP if she can start early, but will likely have a gap no matter what. Do we just suck it up and find temporary solutions? Break our match with new AP and get someone that can start now and stay for a year (which does not feel right … new AP has done nothing wrong). Thoughts about dealing with the agency?

And, if there is a lesson in this … I will not wait so long to try to work it out. Next year, at the first sign of uncorrected red flags, we will rematch. And maybe drop out of the program. This is our first “official” AP, and needless to say, it has not gone well.

See also:
How do we know when it’s time to give up?
Image: Time is ticking out from mao_lini


Lucky 7 Host Mom May 16, 2010 at 5:22 pm

WCM, This exact thing happened to us the end of March, and I did NOT consider “unfinalizing” my match with my next AP to be an option. She could not move up her arrival, and of course I am really hopeful that she is a great match for my family.

I wished the timing were different, because all the options on seemed to be starting mid to late May when college classes finished. I felt like we had given our AP a final warning about rematching already, and if we didn’t move forward at that point obviously we never would, and why should she do anything we ask if we never followed through?

I will not lie and say it has been easy to find temporary, full-time childcare, but I do not regret rematching and will also not wait so long to do a rematch in the future.

Anna May 16, 2010 at 5:28 pm

We faced an exactly same situation a year ago in April. Our new au pair was scheduled to come at the end of June/beg of July (when the current au pair’s term was over). We broke the match at the end of April, were able to move up our new au pair’s arrival to the second half of May, and had our kids in extended care in their preschool for a month.

I have learned the same lesson. No longer I will tolerate so many issues that don’t improve for months… I should’ve gone into rematch much earlier, before the event after which I couldn’t stay in the situation a day longer.

JJ host mom May 16, 2010 at 5:29 pm

This happened with us too. Our new au pair was able to move up her start date to cover some of the difference, and we flew family in to cover the rest. It was a mess, but infinitely better than sticking it out with old au pair, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

AUPAIR Momma May 16, 2010 at 5:53 pm

I dont know if this is possible and i know our agency specifically says rematch first 6 mo only. Like any job most people get short timers disease. My thought would be to suck it up and make the best of it or end the agreement early which probably means paying your aupair for the rest of the weeks….

Anna May 16, 2010 at 6:16 pm

I was with that agency. It is rematch in the first 6 months only without losing any money. Afterwards, you still can (nobody can make you keep an au pair whom you cannot work with), but you lose a portion of your money.

Calif Mom May 17, 2010 at 4:53 pm

These moms are saying that a bright line had been crossed. No way I’d suck it up and say “oh, it’s short timers’ disease”–which is a very real, but different, syndrome. Short timers usually manifests in less and less sleep, more pushing the envelope with taking the car, etc. Safety of kids is not a “suck it up” zone.

I’d ask the counselor if you could temporarily house an AP who is looking for a Year 2 family, or soemthing like that, and patch together other coverage as best I could.

yas May 16, 2010 at 5:54 pm

Sorry, but what makes you want a rematch so fast??
it´s only 2 months to go. (sometimes it´s a eternity, I know!)

Nicola aupair May 16, 2010 at 6:47 pm

I agree, 2 months is not so bad, that’s an even shorter time than the amount of notice I gave my HF when I wanted to leave (I gave them 3 months to find a new aupair because we aren’t through an agency) but it really does depend on what this aupair has “done”- if your children’s lives are in danger or someting, then sure it’s an immediate problem. If she’s making the bedroom messy, well just sit tight and prepare for damage control. If she’s withdrawing from the family, well that’s only natural in my opinion as she probably wants to go home! I mean, there’s not really any details to go on here. What would it cost you if you kept her as opposed to letting her go? This is the question you have to ask yourself.

Taking a computer lunch May 16, 2010 at 10:38 pm

If you’re sure it’s not your au pair just watching the clock – and sometimes a good chat about seeing the year through can correct this (two of my APs worked their last weeks while I was writing captions for major exhibitions and were miffed about having to work extra, much less at all, until we had a chat about all the good that had come their way).

We had a caregiver relationship collapse beyond repair with 3 weeks to go. Fortunately with an hour of time off every day on my part, and putting my son in full-time preschool, we managed to limp along until the new AP arrived.

I have been warned by my LCC that if my current AP doesn’t find a family with whom to extend, that my life will be extremely difficult in the six weeks prior to her departure home. (But all I need to do is keep thinking, is, not as difficult as living with her for another year….)

Momto2 May 17, 2010 at 8:53 am

We had a great relationship with our AP for a year plus extension year……until she asked us to sponsor her on a student visa so she could stay and work for us like “all the other host families do.” This was about 3 1/2 months before the end of her contract. We explained that while we know it happens, because of our jobs with certain federal agencies, we could not agree to do this for her. We then had to start preparing for transition, and the process of searching for our next AP. This caused our AP to become really, really bitter, and she was like a completely different person. We knew she was angry with us for not getting her the student visa, and she just became passive aggressive. We thought about terminating early when she became spiteful, but we were in a tough bind w/o other child care options. She has continued to take good care of the children, despite passive remarks she has made to them about the new AP. It feels like we are breaking up with a very bitter ex-girlfriend, whose claws and horns came out once she realized the relationship was over. We decided to stick it out, but only b/c the kids were okay and the issue was between the AP and us. We are just counting the days until she is no longer the giant black cloud hovering over our home.

anonmom May 17, 2010 at 9:31 am

To me it would depend on what the behavior was, and what I had been putting up with. Sometimes we all get to the straw that breaks the camel’s back. If you feel your children’s well-being is at issue, then it is a no brainer- the second the safety of your children are at issue, that is time to cut the cord. Obviously, there are childcare issues you have to deal with, and no one can make that decision other than you. Good luck. and, yes, if this is your first au pair, you will now know not to put up with things in the future!

TX Mom May 17, 2010 at 9:59 am

We had a 2 month gap between a rematch and a new AP coming. It was expensive and very hectic with a temporary babysitter. During the 2 months I built up a lot of anticipation for the new AP; even though we knew there were a few things that would be a challenge (her English, for one.) Unfortunately, when the new AP came, we quickly ended up in rematch again! I thought I was going to lose my mind. Although I’m confident with our decisions for rematch, I would recommend that you are very clear about your “musts and wants” in an AP and also be prepared to set the new AP up for a successful year. (Expect the worst and you’ll be pleasantly surprised!)

Deb Schwarz May 17, 2010 at 10:47 am

We just went through this! Our last au pair (#15) did something that we should have sent her home for two months ago….but my husband “sucked it up” and kept her – she left two weeks ago and we got our new amazing au pair. In hindsight, we now wish that we would have sent her on her way. Of course, it’s a major inconvenience, but there are usually some “short time” au pairs floating around (especially given that we are approaching the summer when a large number of au pair arrive). If you are with an agency with a large number of au pairs there is a good chance that you can get one of these au pairs for the two months. We once had a delightful au pair for a month – she wanted to finish her year and was grateful to come to our home.

I’d say “bite the bullet” and let her go. I only realize now (after she’s been gone for two weeks), that I harbored so much resentment and “negative energy” during her last two months – and it’s such a relief to have her gone!

Deb Schwarz
Multiples Specialist
Cultural Care Au Pair

As a mom to four children (including triplets), market researcher, realtor, and host mom to 16 au pairs, Deb has a passion for helping families navigate the au pair process and find the right fit for their family.

JessicaLasVegas May 17, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Rematch. If by “alarming behavior,” you mean behavior that alarms, you should not be comfortable leaving your children alone with this young woman. Start looking at alternative childcare immediately – Daycare, after school programs, drivers for your kids, etc. It may not be an ideal situation, but you will have peace of mind.

Honestly, I’m surprised your LCC doesn’t pull this young woman from your home immediately.

VAMOM May 17, 2010 at 3:06 pm

I agree with the posting above. If you are feeling unsafe leaving your children with this au pair, then rematching is the only option.

Should be working May 17, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Still curious about what ‘alarming’ and ‘in front of kids’ means. This doesn’t sound like endangerment, just from the language the HM used, but instead of setting a bad example. If that is true, whatever she did ‘in front of the kids’ she has probably been doing for some time now, so it would depend on what that was–e.g. if she were swearing in front of kids, I’d give her a talking-to and suck it up for the 2 months. If she were yelling at other drivers out the car window, probably the same. Even smoking–the cat is out of the bag that she smokes, so I’d just tell her to stop and ask the kids to tattle. Again, I’m trying to think of what is alarming behavior ‘in front of kids’.

This one needs just a bit more info if you want to solicit a better range of opinions.

Also, CV, I meant to add to my ‘comments on the blog’ that I’d love to be able to click on commenters’ names to follow what else they have posted. In this case, I’d like to remind myself of WCM’s previous difficulties.

West Coast Mom May 17, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Hi everyone,

Thank you so much for your responses so far. Without giving too much (AP might be reading this blog), I would say the alarming behavior is somewhere between the two extremes … not physical danger, and more than a bad example.

We have heard through friends that AP is treating the kids unkindly, albeit not physically abusive. But mean. And swearing in front of them (and, apparently, in front of other parents and nannies that we know). That’s the big stuff. And it has come to a head now because, although we suspected some of this, a friend has come forward to say that this behavior has been recently witnessed. And thus verified.

If things were going great, we might have paused a bit at this external feedback. But the sick feeling in my stomach was born of recognition, not surprise. I sort of knew, but hoped I was wrong.

Can’t do that anymore.

We’re having a family meeting soon, and we’ll keep you posted.

Thanks again,


Calif Mom May 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Treating your kids meanly is not okay. If she is doing it in front of other adults, what is she saying/doing to them when no one is watching? That she IS doing it in front of other adults tells me she’s unable to control her own behavior, and is stupid. That sick feeling in your stomach? Listen to it.

You will feel so much better once she’s gone–no matter what your temporary arrangements are–that your whole family will be relieved and you will think you were crazy to have kept her. Don’t be held hostage by someone whom you KNOW is being mean to your kids! They don’t deserve to be treated that way, and you run the risk of having to pay for therapy on top of childcare. Not trying to be melodramatic; I’m quite serious.

anonmom May 18, 2010 at 8:44 am

“sick feeling” or any gut feeling- go with it. You should have fired her immediately. Seriously- we working moms tend to let our own needs and emotions cloud our gut feelings. Not to be voice of gloom- but sad example: a toddler died in the care of an ‘illegal’ caregiver’s home in my neighborhood. The child died on a thursday, the family was pulling the kid out that friday, because of their concerns! Why wait? if your gut tells you something is wrong- there is no waiting when it comes to your children. Yes, it is inconvenient- yes it is costly, but these are your children. If it were me- she would be gone last week.

Should be working May 17, 2010 at 4:17 pm

Sorry to hear it, WCM.

Sick feeling of recognition in stomach = She needs to leave. It is hard to think that one’s suspicions were accurate.

It should be some solace to you–and was of great interest to me–that Deb Schwarz, a 15-AP LCC (post above), just had a similar experience where hindsight and suspicion were better judges than her conscious consideration.

The repeated stories along these lines make me wonder: is there a way we can train ourselves better to attend to our less-conscious, denial-prone, gut-hinting modes of knowledge?

FrenchAupair May 17, 2010 at 8:07 pm

You should definitely end the match right now. Being mean to the kids in just unacceptable and could have consequences on their self-esteem, confidence, …

StephinBoston May 17, 2010 at 8:43 pm

Agreed with everyone, especially since it’s been witnessed, I can’t imagine it doesn’t happen MORE when there are no witnesses around!

Sorry you have to deal with this but you will be much happier with her out of your lives…

Dee May 18, 2010 at 6:23 am

That sick feeling of recognition in your stomach will be replaced with a lighter feeling of relief after she is gone, and you realize how weighed down you have been by her negative presence.

Mom23 May 18, 2010 at 9:03 am


I was in a similar situation. I knew that the au pair was not working and I let it go too long. Afterwards the kids stories came out. I felt horrible that I hadn’t rematched in week 2 when I had my first suspicions.

Darthastewart May 18, 2010 at 10:40 am

Me too. I felt horrible that I hadn’t rematched much sooner. – And this was my last au-pair, when I’ve had au-pairs for over 11 years…

Should be working May 18, 2010 at 12:26 pm

I’m still struck by the fact that even very experienced HMs can find themselves in these positions of regret and hindsight. What kind of reality check could HPs organize for themselves periodically?

For me that was the function of this blog, which made it much easier to fire our first AP. Someone had written something like, “If only HPs with mediocre APs would understand how great it can be to have an AP!” and I thought, “Hm, is our AP mediocre? I don’t have that ‘how great it is’ feeling.” This was what first got me truly to consider rematch.

Darthastewart May 18, 2010 at 4:13 pm

I consider it something akin to boiling a frog. If you put a frog in boiling water, of course it will jump out. OTOH, if you put it in cold water, then turn up the heat slowly, then it won’t jump out. I know that in my case, I had to ask myself if I was overreacting or what. Sometimes outside perspective helps.

Taking a computer lunch May 18, 2010 at 9:17 pm

I have stuck out a mismatch now for 9 months, and will make it a year. I think I scared a couple of good candidates with my questions, which I admit were too intense and in reaction to an aloof AP. Why? 1) because my AP is Chinese and her skills were barely acceptable when she arrived and my LCC said, “She can’t go into rematch and I can’t send her back home. If you go into rematch I’ll be stuck with her for a year.” In hindsight, I should have said, “Sorry, but here she comes.” I did manage to wrangle some things out of the agency – like sharing the cost of her driving lessons. In the end, she was perfect for The Camel and lousy for us, and 2) it’s a pain in the neck to try to rematch when you have a special needs child. We’re not extending, and while we won’t throw her under the bus, if anyone asks, we are honest – our #1 reason for not rematching is she’s made very little effort toward getting an American driver’s license, #2 she talks at and not with my typical child, and #3 she can’t get out of the way fast enough and barely communicates with us, the HP. It turns out she’s perfect for some families of special needs children who really want a wallflower. She didn’t lie on her application, and our LCC did warn us about Chinese driving, but she seemed like the best of the candidates we interviewed. And we learned our lesson – if she’s just the best and not the one, then look at more applications.

For us, if we spend an hour on the telephone, we have a good sense of who the au pair is – not perfectly, of course, but in 9 1/2 years we only went wrong once… “How do you make friends?” turned out to be one of our best indicators this year, that and “Do you wait for friends to call, or do you organize activities for the group?” They only seem to have nothing to do with childcare…

OneMoreCAMom May 19, 2010 at 2:51 am

How could your LCC tell you that this AP could not go into rematch? Isn’t that against the rules of the program?

JJ host mom May 19, 2010 at 1:53 pm

We asked those questions about friends too and they turned out to be good indicators. Sorry your current AP isn’t what you’d hoped.

Future HP of a Chinese AP May 18, 2010 at 9:41 pm

TaCL – Sorry to interject a question, but as a HM expecting a Chinese AP in a few weeks, I’m really curious what exactly you meant by this comment:

“She can’t go into rematch and I can’t send her back home. If you go into rematch I’ll be stuck with her for a year.”

Why can’t a Chinese AP go into rematch?
Why can’t the agency send her home (for good cause, of course, not just on a whim)?
Why would the LCC be “stuck wtih her” – literally? as in the AP would live with the LCC?


Taking a computer lunch May 18, 2010 at 10:02 pm

My LCC told me that China had just agreed to participate in the State Department program and it would not look good to send au pairs back to China in the first months of the country’s participation. Therefore, if my AP had not been able to rematch within weeks of her arrival (she had a car accident immediately, she could barely understand spoken English and her spoken English was almost non-existant), my LCC intended to take her in. Yes, the AP would have lived with the LCC for the remainder of her year (I don’t think my LCC actually has APs typically, so presumably, she would have done some childcare.)

As it was, we stuck it out. We forced the issue with the driving (especially when the AP made absolutely no effort to request driving time with us – we then made her share 50% in the cost of lessons until she passed my husband’s driving test). To this day, I’m not sure she would pass the official American driving test, because I don’t think she practices parallel parking or three point turns. She barely drives during the week. However, it’s a mute point because she hasn’t taken the 3-hour drug and alcohol class required by our state before submitting paperwork for approval by the DMV.

We also had to force the issue with spoken English. Because she rarely works for us more than 5 hours per day during the school year (and on the days she has classes, she works less than 4), after four months I made it a requirement that she spend 2 hours speaking English, and I wrote it into her hours. I think she did more listening than speaking, but her English did improve. I would not consider her typical of Chinese au pairs (well having read Country Driving by Peter Hassler, I would say be careful about driving) because the few Chinese friends she has brought into our house were far more outgoing, well-spoken, and seemed more curious than she. I chalk it up to personality.

However, in February, when I was getting angry and frustrated with her lack of progress, I took my LCC’s advice and stopped talking about driving (she was enrolled in English classes), just to see if she was motivated to work on her own. It appeared not, and she made our decision not to extend easier. Because we need good drivers to get The Camel between school and endless doctors’ appointments, we’re going to stick with European au pairs for a while.

Sad to say, my son is almost 10, so we’ve only 4 or 5 years left in the program anyway…

anon HM May 19, 2010 at 7:03 am

Hey Taking a Computer Lunch– curious about two things related to your current AP. Since she is unable to drive, are you or DH taking her to all of her classes, meetings, etc? Do the other APs pick her up for social events or is she mostly at home? This is not an issue with us as our current AP drives; however, we have considered hosting a non-driving AP in the future but not sure how this would work for us since we live in a suburban area.
Also, our current AP has excellent expressive and receptive English; however, she almost never engages us in conversation–she basically only speaks when spoken to! It is exhausting to work so hard to maintain a conversation now 6 mos into our match.

Taking a computer lunch May 25, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Our AP finally passed the HD driving test 4 months into the stay, only to have us pull back because it snowed to much and she was disinclined to learn to drive in the snow. (And then we had a record winter!) So, 7 months into her stay, she was able to drive the kids again, and 8 months into her stay she was finally permitted to drive the “au pair car.” (HD and I commute using public transportation.) Our local community college gives a free bus pass, so she could use the local bus at no cost. We told her that if she wanted to drive to college, she would have to buy the parking pass (the college is on the other side of our small city – about 20 minutes away by bus unless traffic is really heavy and then 30 tops). A friend took her to the few AP meetings she bothered to attend (we told her all the free meetings were mandatory and that we expected her to attend when she skipped the first few). She has skipped a few lately, but now that we’ve matched with another AP arriving in August, we aren’t worried.

Yes, our AP, too, has a shell around her that no one may penetrate. She is disinclined toward conversation and at this point, unless she is talking about her home country, she cuts us off. Our LCC has used the word “aloof” to describe her. A houseguest, after spending a couple of hours with her, said, “She can’t get out of the way fast enough, can she?” Our AP either spends a lot of time in her room or out of the house (and although she mentions friends, I think she spends a lot of time alone.) My LCC has another AP from the same province in a household not accessible by public transport, and reports that that AP is the opposite – bubbly and outgoing.

While the driving was certainly an issue for us, the seeming disinterest in being part of the family was the bottom line. We don’t want our APs to feel compelled to join us in every family activity, but we want to share in their lives while they are here. We don’t want someone to behave like a servant – ready to duck out the minute The Camel’s needs have been met.

And I’ve said this before, it turns out that I miss my party girls (my first 4 APs), in their nightclub dresses surrounded by a gaggle of giggling friends, putting on their makeup and singing their favorite songs while they waited for HD and I to get back from date night (we’re so boring we’re home long before the nighclubs get rolling). We’ve never imposed a curfew and unlike many of you, it has always served us well.

MommyMia May 26, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Had to chuckle at your “party girls” description – that’s me & my hubby, too – our date nights always end so early (we can barely stay awake through a 2 hr. movie after dinner out these days!) that our APs still have plenty of time to hit the clubs. Plus, they have a couple of hours after they put the kids to bed to get made-up and dressed, so it’s a win-win!

Future HP of a Chinese AP May 19, 2010 at 6:17 am

Thanks for the information! I hope your next match works out better. Fingers crossed ours will also….

West Coast Mom May 25, 2010 at 5:26 pm

It’s over. Toxic presence removed from house, and despite all the drama and crazy patchwork of child care we have lined up for the next couple of weeks …. it feels SO MUCH BETTER in our house.

Thanks to all of you for your advice and support.

Although I hope there is no next time, I know that if there is, I will spot the issues and take action much sooner. And I hope all of us get a little better at listening that very wise inner voice.

Thanks again,

JJ host mom May 25, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Glad to hear it! It’s a huge relief, isn’t it?

Calif Mom May 25, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Woo Hoooooooo!

As crazy as the patchwork will be, it will keep getting better. You all need a little time to regroup and shake it off. You’ll be able to breathe freely again soon. Are you interviewing rematch candidates?

Glad we could help. What a great “happy birthday aupairmom!” gift! :-)

StephinBoston May 26, 2010 at 8:29 am

So happy for you, we can feel the relief in your post, here’s to a great experience next time!

Darthastewart May 26, 2010 at 12:37 pm

I hope that you are feeling better now- and your family is under less stress. We felt much the same way in January.

Theresa May 25, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Yeah! So good to hear!

Anonym June 2, 2010 at 11:50 pm

Hey, I lived with a family for almost 2 years now and recently my host mum lost her job… I´ve two months to go but I don´t wanna go earlier as I planned a lot of things I want to do and I´m not ready to go suddenly… On the other hand I see my host parents sad all the time. I don´t know if the financial situation is that bad or if it´s just hard for my host mum to be suddenly unemployed… I asked my hostdad if he thinks that I can stay til my departure date.. he said they are trying. Most-likely. But he can´t guarantee for 100%… Well, that didn´t make me happier.
If I see them being sad I can´t be happy but I´m not ready to go… I don´t know what to do… I try to find solutions… I suggested them to stop the program 2weeks before the actual date as I heard from another Aupair that got fired a week before her departure that she was able to stay that week.
The whole situation just makes me unhappy but I know I would be unhappier to quit and I know my host parents would have a bad feeling if they have to fire me… I don´t know what to do :(
I don´t know if I should talk even more about that topic with them… I don´t wanna bother them. but I think about that ALL day… I don´t wanna make them feel bad. But I can´t live with that feeling for another 2 months…
I try to find universities and plan my future. But I can´t concentrate. It bothers me too much.

Host Mommy Dearest June 3, 2010 at 12:22 am

I’m sorry you are in that position, but think of it as an opportunity if they do need to exit the program because you should be given 2 weeks transition time to find a new family and maybe it would give you a chance to live in a different part of the country for a short time. Keep doing a good job for the family and be supportive of them during their tough time, and seriously look on the bright side if they do need to let you go. In country APs who are not in transition for problems relating to their work or personality or attitude are in pretty high demand. 2 months on your visa would give a family immediate childcare while they search for an AP and allow lead time for arrival. If it works out it could be a mini adventure before you head home.

Anonym June 3, 2010 at 6:42 pm

But I know a lot of Aupairs of my agency that got send home as the agency thinks it´s hard to find a fam with just 2 months left… no matter how good you are with kids… :(

calif Mom June 3, 2010 at 8:20 pm

I think talking is good, but they are probably still in shock and may not have answers, which will make them feel hopeless or at least helpless. Maybe if you tell them “I know you probably don’t have answers now, but I really feel bad and want to help. I don’t know what to do, but I want you to know I am thinking about you every minute. Please let me know if I can do something to help. In the meanwhile, I will do my best.”

You should indeed work on planning what you would do if your time is cut short. I cannot imagine being placed in a new family except for a family that has a gap between au pairs and needs emergency help.

I hope that you could stay another two months; it’s hard to look for work while you are watching your own kids! Au pair in America has a guarantee that if a host loses a job, the au pair can stay.

best wishes!

Host Mommy Dearest June 3, 2010 at 9:03 pm

Well rematching with only 2 month left is something the OP here had to do, and something we had to do as well. We searched for an AP with only 2 or so months left on her visa b/c we already matched with our next AP, she could not come sooner, and we did not want to end our match. We could not get an in-country AP with only a few months on her visa so we had to fill the gap with a patchwork of childcare.

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