Sometimes we host parents make all the right moves, and still get stuck. This host dad did his best to make a good match, got an au pair who couldn’t drive, did his best to get her to learn, got clarity that learning wouldn’t happen, did his best to initiate rematch, and now is stuck with his outgoing au pair since there is no one around who can help her. …
I’m a single dad with a 6 1/2 year old son. I hired an au pair through an agency (one of ‘the 12’) and she arrived 5 weeks ago.
Despite the fact that she has a driver’s license from her home country, she can’t drive. My primary reason for getting an au pair was to have someone drive my son to school and back in the morning and afternoon. I took her out driving the first week she was here and within minutes of starting, we had a ‘gas instead of brakes’ incident. I then had a friend of mine take her out for 1-2 hour driving lessons 4-5 days per week for three weeks. The last day he took her out, she had stopped in the middle of an intersection and, with cars whizzing around her, didn’t know what to do next. I was going to send her to driving school, but then I realized that it would probably be another 4 months until she could drive safely enough that I’d want her taking my son out.
In the meantime, I’ve had a neighbor driving him to school and back every day.
So, finally I bit the bullet and 10 days ago went into ‘rematch’ mode. She is having a hard time matching because… shocker… she can’t drive! Finally, yesterday, the agency got her infant certification information and they are trying to get her a new family.
But Monday (5 days from now) is two weeks. The agency is telling me I can keep her here after Monday and not pay her (if she doesn’t work) or pay her (if she ‘works’). Or I can drive her to the airport…but they wouldn’t start working on finding her an airline ticket until Monday. And they aren’t going to help her find a place to stay in the mean time.
My local rep is in the hospital, having just delivered her first child. She had only been on the job for about 3 weeks. The person who was a rep before that apparently is totally out of the loop now.
What should I do?
I see the following options.
1. Be a total jerk and say “Monday’s the cutoff…what hotel do you want to go to?”
2. Be a total pushover and say “Stay as long as you need to until you find a job… enjoy the free room and board!”
3. Be somewhat of a pushover and say “You can stay, keep aupairing in whatever limited way you can and I’ll keep paying you.”
4. Any other ideas?
HELP! It’s only 5 days more!
Drew, I’ve got to hand it to you for all the steps you’ve taken so far. Seems you acted quickly, with high hopes, and have come to terms with the overall next step.
If I were you, I’d be irked at the agency. Sure, your counselor is unavailable to help– but your agency should have a back-up, and they should be more helpful to you. You are, unfortunately, responsible to keep her until Monday, but after that sending her to the airport is not such a bad idea.
If you were to keep her on, at your house, I think this would cause three problems:
First, it keeps things too open-ended. If she isn’t pushed to leave, and if the agency isn’t in any hurry to move her on, who knows when she’d actually depart? And in the meantime, the pressure is on you to be the good guy even though your needs are not being met.
The second, and more important issue to me is that having your departing au pair stay any longer makes it harder on your son. He is stuck in limbo, where he may want to grow a connection with her even if she’s leaving. And, if he wants to keep emotionally separate from the au pair, that ongoing friction won’t help either.
Finally, having her at your house just makes it harder for you and your son to move on to a better childcare arrangement. you don’t mention whether you have found another au pair or not, but either way you need to get real help– the kind you signed up for in the first place.
I know I’m taking the host parent side here, but that’s my ‘job’. If you have done all of what you are contracted to do, and been kind and friendly to your au pair even though this is just a rotten situation for you, you have done your best.
I vote 1.5: Tell the agency Monday is the cutoff and she needs a plane ticket home. If they balk, and it seems like they won’t make plans in time, pradtice kind assertiveness and pressure them some more. Ask them what hotel to send her to.