A new host mom sent a long email about several challenges she’s experiencing with her Au Pair (and we’ll get to them in the next week or two).
Her concern about her new Au Pair’s swimming skills stood out to me, maybe because my neighbors down the street — with a new au pair– have just opened their backyard swimming pool. Walking by their house with my dog, I could hear all kinds of shrieking as the three boys splashed about, and I wondered how their Au Pair was holding up.
My own family spends a lot of time in the water– in granny’s pool, splashing with the dog in the river, out on my sister’s boat (sometimes jumping into the river from the boat), and boogie boarding on the ocean waves.
Every single one of our au pairs was a capable swimmer. This was something we insisted on.
NOT because I thought an Au Pair could ever stand in for a life guard, at the beach, the town pool, or in the river.
NOT because I thought having an Au Pair on the boat meant that any one of us could go without a life jacket. We swim in the river in life jackets– adults and kids.
We insisted on a Au Pair who could swim because we wanted someone who was comfortable in the water– who could be safe *herself*.
We wanted someone who’d happily wade into the water with the kids to play. We wanted someone who wouldn’t be scared to come out with us on the boat or on a jet ski. We wanted someone who’d see Granny’s pool as a treat and a chance to relax when she was off duty. We wanted her to be able to enjoy being out by the water, on the water, or in the water.
We asked our Au Pairs to sit on the edge of the town pool as the kids played, serving as an extra pair of eyes. We expected that — god forbid there was an emergency — she’d scream for the certified professionals to rescue anyone. (Now, I wish I’d asked her to wear a whistle…just for that reason.)
All this said, I was wondering what the new Host Mom of Swimmer was hoping for from her Au Pair.
We’re surprised by our new Au Pair’s swimming skills. While we were interviewing her, she told us that she had just recently learned to swim. She was actively taking swim lessons and continued her lessons until she arrived.
Now that she’s here, it turns out she really can’t swim. She can basically just not drown. For the most part. While holding on.
And we need a swimmer. My kid is a fish and her swimming level is well beyond what you would expect for her age. We don’t need a star swimmer for AP, but if she can’t assist my child at the pool without drowning herself, then that’s a big deal.
Our neighborhood pool has a very deep end (9+ feet). Once summer is over she will be using an indoor pool that is only 5 feet deep. So we could bend over backwards and just white knuckle until the end of summer. But I’m not sure. Going to the pool will be a big part of their activities during the day.
For reasons other than the swimming thing, I’m suggesting that this host mom prepare for a rematch (you’ll see why, in the next set of posts).
What do you expect when you ask for an Au Pair who knows how to swim? What do you want that Au Pair to be able to do?