How I became an au pair in the US… and how I survived it all (part 3)

How I became an au pair in the US… and how I survived it all (part 3)

During the past weeks I have started publishing blogs about how I became an au pair, what happened before, how was my NYC experience and what happened in Seattle. Today I will write about rematch and I will slightly tell you why I was happy about my new Boston´s HF only for few days.

Before I start writing this blog let me introduce you what an au pair program is about. Au pair (or bro pair – if it´s a boy) is a young person who lives with its host family (HF) and takes care of their kids, sometimes does light housework which is connected to the kids like cleaning the playroom (and I think each au pair unloads the dishwasher). The main aim of this program is a cultural exchange and HF should treat the au pair just like a family member. Au pair comes to her HF for a year (and then she/he can extend for 6, 9 or 12 months). At the end of the year au pair should have an amazing experience and great memories. The problem is that the reality is very often different. In my previous blog I have started talking about some problems that I´ve met with. But about my “experience of a year” I will write in another blog…

Now let´s get back to the day when I got the famous text message: “I can´t stand her, wanna rematch.” At this point I have started thinking about my HF more… After few days I realized that there was something wrong with them even during the time while I was still in Slovakia. After my HM and I agreed that I will be their new au pair I basically haven´t heard from them. And so, from my initiative, two weeks before my planned leaving to the US I wrote them an email asking how they have been and how´s the summer vacation. When two days passed and I still didn´t get any answer, I went to my agency asking them if everything was all right and if I´m really leaving to the US. My coordinator told me that everything was fine but she was also worried why my HF was not talking to me. I received the answer from my HF on the third day. And for the next answer I had to wait for few more days again. After my arrival to NYC I´ve met my great friend Maria from Colombia and she told me that her HF was in regular touch with her since they´ve matched. I think they also sent her a gift or something. After I told her my story with my HF she was surprised and she told me that there will be something wrong. And she was right. The family was not interested in me at all since the beginning and when I wanted to be a part of the family – let´s say the A kid had a soccer match and I wanted to join them to cheer for his team – my HF told me that I should stay at home because “it´s long and slightly boring”. When my HM asked me how I like Seattle and I said it is a hilly and windy city, she told me not to complain. I can continue forever… And so I decided to answer on her question “how was your day” by a typical American answer – “good.” First weeks my HF was asking me if I already have friends. When after three weeks I made some friends they didn´t like that I was hanging out with them every evening (but HM told me about this on the day when they asked for rematch). And when HM asked me how was my day and I was about to tell her what was I doing she told me that after she gets back home she is tired and so I shouldn´t talk to her. So after that I always answered: “my day was good” and I smiled. From their behavior I felt that they don´t care about me at all. I felt a little bit weird – living at somebody´s house and don´t have any connection with the family but I wasn´t complaining. And then I was being told that if they wanted someone like me (who is not interested in them – such an irony!) they would hire a nanny, not an au pair. So I don´t know what went wrong… After three months in this HF I was being told only “we aren´t a good match”. I asked them “why?” And they said that there was everything okay with me. And that they saw that my relationship with A was much better. And that they knew that kids were safe with me. But still…

Day D: Rematch

Officially it started with the text message. But let´s start from the beginning because this day went all wrong since the early morning. When I woke up I found a text message from my HM making sure that I knew I was about to work today. Since HM was at work, I went to HD and I asked him if he knows about it since I couldn´t see anything in my calendar. About 20 minutes later he told me that HM forgot to share this with me and he asked me if I can work. I said that since I didn´t know about anything I have already made some plans but I can either cancel them or do it later. He said that there´s no need to cancel them because I wouldn´t work for that long. In the same time he asked me if I could watch A and his friend who was at their house from the last night´s sleep over until his parents will come to pick him up. I said okay. About 5 minutes later A´s friend parents came to pick him up and so I asked my HD if I can go to the gym before I start working. He said “yes” and so I left. When I came back he was ignoring me and 30 minutes later I received the famous text message. What happened after you could have read in my previous blog… When in the evening all of us sat down to talk, HD apologized to me for several time and HM asked me if after this experience I still feel comfortable with them and don´t want to do a rematch. Then she also added that they were actually thinking about rematch. And how it ended up and how I´ve built a nice relationship with A just like my HF wanted to you could have already read as well…           

Rematch is an unpleasant period. If you haven´t done anything wrong, you didn´t put kids in a dangerous situations or you didn´t have a car crash, then you have quite a big probability that you will find a new HF. On the other side each HF sees that you are in rematch and then “something might be wrong with you”. If you are in rematch for the second time probability to find a new HF is lower but it´s still possible. I´ve read so many comments about girls who found their perfect HF on the third time. But if you are in rematch for the thirds time I´ve heard that LCC (local coordinator) sees a problem in the au pair. I used to read a lot of comments on Facebook where girls were complaining that HFs didn´t provide them food, didn´t pay them, used them as their cleaning lady, that HM was jealous of them (this is actually what happened to me as well…), HF who were searching the au pair´s room and their personal things, girls who overtime a lot but no one paid for that (not mentioning that it is illegal). It was just a million of stories how an au pair became a cheap working staff. I can continue forever. The most shocking story I have read was about girl who came to her new HF and two weeks after that found her HM hanged at home. Or there was a story about an aggressive HD who was raising his kids by himself. But at the end the au pair became the victim because he beat her up and she ended up at the emergency. Or another story about a girl who got an angle labial on the third day after coming to her HF and so her HF put her into a rematch because they were worried that she will make the baby sick. And there was one more story how HM and HD committed a suicide during a garden party. Last week there was hot news that in New Jersey an au pair and her HD were being murdered by her jealous boyfriend. He thought she was having an affair with HD… When I think about it right now, some families shouldn´t be a part of this program. Unfortunately LCCs get money from HFs and so despite they know that the HF isn´t ideal they let them stay in the program. Mine LCC was asking me once if my HD has ever tried something on me. I said no. Then she asked me if my HM pays me regularly. I said yes. If I overtime. I said no. Then she told me that she doesn´t have any reason to exclude my HF from this program because they stick to all of the rules. But what happened (and my LCC knows about all of it) I will tell you another day…

I´d call this program one big lottery. There is a bunch of families that treat an au pair as a part of a family, they care about them and their families, needs, take them to a family vacations etc. Unfortunately there are also families who treat their au pair as a slave… Despite that every au pair has her LCC, lot of them were complaining that they weren´t helpful at all. I have met a girl who was kicked out from her family and her LCC didn´t care about it. She was lucky that she could have gone to her friend´s house. Or mine case. On Tuesday I am leaving for my vacation but my HM told me that she will be very grateful if I won´t come back there after my vacation. I will have two days before I will move to San Francisco but I couldn´t stay at my LCC because she was abroad during that time. Luckily I could have stayed at Nikola´s place because her HM is really nice and she said that if it was necessary I could have come for a week…! People go through a lot during this year. Personally during my last two weeks in Seattle I felt that my HD was so malevolent about me.           

But let´s get back to the rematch. You get two weeks to find a new HF. If you won´t find a one (and if you have some criteria it´s not that easy) you are leaving to your home country and your au pair experience is over. I got so many offers but none of them was from Seattle and so I was interested only in two of them: one HF from Scituate (45 minutes South of Boston) and another one from LA. I decided for the Scituate family with four kids: 9-years old triplets (L, H, M) and a 7-years old C. Again, why I didn´t go for a family with two kids only from LA??!

Few hours before I left Seattle…

… I got a message from some Nikola girl. She saw my profile in the au pair Facebook group and she was happy that finally somebody is coming who she will understand to. She asked me how many kids am I going to have and how old they were. After my answer she texted me: “Do you have an address? I think my friend just left from there into a rematch.” I asked her if she knew the reason. She said yes but she didn´t want to scare me. And then she started: HD was an alcoholic, children don´t obey, HF has au pairs every now and then because none of them can stay there for a longer time, HM and HD fight a lot and a girl who just left wasn´t in a good mental condition… She just left one day and she never came back. Cool! I was frightened and so I left my room and went to the kitchen where I met my HM. I told her everything and for the first time since I came there she showed some interest in me. For a while I felt that she felt guilty that she sent me into a rematch. We called to our LCC trying to find out what were my options. At the end we dealt that since my flight was literally in few hours I will go there and if the situation over there will be bad we will figure it out together…

Few hours later I came to Boston Logan Airport where my new HM with M picked me up. We came home and an hour after us came home my little crew: C, L and H. They just came back from bowling with their grandma and uncle. I asked my HM where is HD. She said: “In Switzerland.” Then I asked her: “When is he coming back?” And she replied: “I don´t know.”

On the next day, on Saturday morning I was talking to my HM in the kitchen. When suddenly the door opened and some kind of a man appeared there. HM stopped breathing, I was looking at him with a surprise in my eyes and then he came closer. He looked at HM, pointed at me and asked her: “Who is this?” – “Lucy, our new au pair,” she said. He left without any other words to greet his kids. And now I know – this was exactly the moment when I was supposed to go upstairs, pack my stuff and go to another rematch. But I stayed there…

What happened during the next 9 months you will read in another part. But you will have to wait for it for a little bit because I am leaving for my vacation in two days and then I´m moving to my new HF in San Francisco!

See you later!