How I became an au pair in the US… and how I survived it all (part 4): When you jump from the mud to the puddle – new life in Scituate (December 8th 2018 – August 26th 2019)
In my first three blogs I was describing how I became an au pair, what kind of paperwork you need to fill out to make it happen, I told you about my panic attack before departure, about my first three days in NYC, how was my Seattle experience and why I had to leave. I was also writing about the reason of my rematch, what was Misery of Young Nina about and the most important thing – I have started writing about my s****y experience in Scituate. Why? You will find out in the following blogs! Let´s take it easy…
My new schedule in Scituate:
7am-8:30am Main task of the morning was to get kids ready for school, make them breakfast, prepare lunches (each child likes something else and no one ever knew what they want to eat and after school all of them were complaining that they didn´t like it…), make sure that they get dressed, brush teeth (mostly boys didn´t like anything connected with hygiene), girls to brush their hair and the most important thing – to make sure that they catch a school bus. It sounds very easy but after the first week I´ve started drinking two coffees in the morning instead of one. Girls never knew what to wear, boys were (half)naked fighting on their beds and teeth brushing was always a problem. Luckily sometimes my HM was helping me to keep the order in the household because she was always the biggest authority over there… I mean sometimes they were listening to her – when she was threatening them.
8:30am-9:30am I had to make up four beds, do and fold the laundry and clean up spaces where kids were playing. Sounds easy but each of the beds had a sheet, a blanket, a cover, another blanket, two pillows and bunch of stuffed animals. Making up beds took me about 10 minutes and changing the bed sheets (I was doing either girls or boys every week although I was supposed to make all four beds every week) took me about 20 minutes…
9:30am-3:40pm Free time (time for gym, planning trips, shopping…). Usually I was also doing the laundry (sometimes I did it for three times a day!) and folding it. And now imagine the motivation for me to do actually my laundry when I was out of clean clothes. Uffff!
3:40pm-7pm Kids came home from school. I had to make them to do their homework, don´t believe all the lies they tried to convince me about (what kind of meals they were allowed to eat, what kind of TV channels they could have watched or what kind of computer games they could have played)… The best experience was when HM one day came to me and she was upset that actually they are not allowed to watch TV at all but that was something she never told me before and since she was working from home she saw that kids were always watching TV but she didn´t say anything about it… She also saw that there was a mess, an anarchy but she didn´t care… She was holding it in herself and then from time to time she asked me to talk and she was always upset why I wasn´t a successful au pair. It was my task to keep an order in that household but why kids never listen to me? Keep tracking four almost 10-years old kids and trying to convince them that even without TV and computer they can have fun was very challenging. Sometimes I was regretting that I was not IQ – infant qualified, which means I could have take care of babies. I think those au pairs are the most wanted since their host parents have to go to the work (in the US a maternity leave lasts for three months only) and if I´d have known this before leaving to the US, I could have still be in Seattle. But if I stayed in Seattle, I´d miss all these adventures and I wouldn´t travel around almost the whole East Coast…
This family wasn´t perfect at all. HM was working from home and HD was unemployed for several months but later he got a job as a high school teacher. Being able to take care of your family with a job as a high school teacher is impossible just like in Slovakia. And so at the end he got a job in one Boston´ s company and I´ve lost my only moral support in that madhouse. He was leaving the house early in the morning while I was still sleeping and he was coming back home late in the evening when I was already having a beer in my favorite bar Roadhouse. And I have already mention that few hours before my departure from Seattle I got a knowledge that this family was not supposed to be in an pair program anymore. My little monkeys (kids) told me that they didn´t know what had happened with the last au pair who one day just packed her suitcase and left. But I´ve already told you about this story…
Let´s face the reality: if I don´t mention all the fights between my host parents who were sometimes threatening to each other by their layers, with kids it wasn´t any easier either. Triplets were getting along despite all of them have a complete different character. But the youngest one was the toughest one. What you should know about Americans kids is that they have such privileges you don´t even think about. You cannot beat them nor yell at them (it depends from the way how parents raise them). They are spoiled and they can get anything they want to. For example once I wanted to do the grocery shopping with them but suddenly H said that he will snitch on me and call the police saying that I tried to kidnap him. At the end all of them agreed that they will not leave the car. Or they tell you to f**k off, yell at you and let you know that you are nothing better than an au pair and so they don´t see any reason why to obey you… Or if their mom asked me to take against their will computers/iPods if they don´t listen to you, you end up beaten and chocked. But you know that if you don´t take it away from them, their mom will be upset about you. When I told about this experience to my HM she said that she will not punish kids since at that time she was on a business trip and now it was too late to talk about it. Okay…
I don´t want to be negativist all the time and so I´ve had a nice moments at that family as well, when I knew that kids were enjoying my company. Also I know that each family has different kids. I think my kids were influenced by the bad situation between their parents and so they used to be aggressive very often. On the other side I´ve been talking to other au pair too and most of them told me that their kids are very spoiled. So at least something we had in common…
Let´s be honest now – if this was my first HF and I wouldn´t come here from the rematch, I´d probably leave within first weeks… But I was telling myself: “it´s not that bad, it can always be even worse and you can handle this”. Not mentioning that I had to sign into a school to get six credits and “successfully finish this program” and mainly – being able to extend if I wanted to. But honestly at this time I wasn´t even thinking about San Francisco. And the best at the end – in February I had already everything booked for my Mexican road trip!
Vacation is another interesting topic to talk about – by every month you spend in the US, you get several hours for your vacation. All together it makes 10 working days in a year. When I went to the rematch I have already lost one day of vacation since I didn´t go anywhere (and during your first three months you are not allowed to go on vacation anyways). If I left Scituate I don´t know what would happen with my Mexican road trip money and I´d probably lose more days of vacation. And then there was the school problem. I don´t know how exactly it works but from my previous HF I got some money for school (family is obligated to provide $500 stipend for au pair´s education) but if I leave this new family I´d have to return them some money, and then I had to pay taxes in April… Well, going into a rematch before Mexico would be a stupid idea. After Mexico my school had started and I finished it at the beginning of July. And since the end of my au pair year was in September I doubt that I´d succeed in finding a new HF for three months only. And I was also doubting that I´d find a nice family (after a six months in the US and a lot of experiences I knew what I wanted and what I didn´t want) and ideally a family that would possibly extend with me for my second year (nine months). So my philosophy was: if my HM doesn´t kick me out of the house, I have to hold on. Moreover there is a lot of places I wanted to visit and I wasn´t able to do it within one year! That´s all about my motivation, otherwise I´d go home a long time ago… At the end of this slightly opening of my coming disaster let me tell you about one of my ordinary days!
Au pair life: it was just an ordinary day… (February 2nd 2019)
7:30am-8:40am L was crying that he didn´t have time to study for his test and now in the morning it was too late and he was not ready for school. M claimed that she was sick and stayed lying in her bed. H lied to me when he said he brushed his teeth. Of course he didn´t. I packed him yoghurt M&M with lentils but every time he eats only the lentils and he doesn´t touch the yoghurt. So I wrote him a sweet note saying to eat everything. C stayed in bed saying that she wasn´t going to school today. I was lucky that HM kicked her out of the bed. I don´t have such a power. Kids don´t listen HD either so I don´t know how can they obey me… Sometimes I think that I am their slave. Only one kid caught the school bus – the one who didn´t brush his teeth.
8:40am HM was chasing sulky C to leave the bed and get ready for school. I had three kids in the house at this moment: unready L, sick M and sulky C. The unready one wanted me to drive him to school. No. HM took the sulky and unready one to the school saying she will be back soon (she works from home). Since she wasn´t coming home, I said goodbye to my group class at the gym. Natalia who goes to the gym with me texted me asking if she can take a nap. I told her not to do that since we might have made it. And if she didn´t take that nap, we would have made it. Since she turned off her ringtones I was stuck in front of her house and then I just left to Nikola´s who babysits all day. Later today my HM was upset about me why her children don´t obey me and that she doesn´t want to be the worst person in that house. When I yelled at them the other day, my HM yelled at me that I am not allowed to do that again. So I don´t know how am I supposed to handle them. Nevermind, show must go on and all I can do is just smile at them while they stay in their beds saying that they don´t go to school…
11am-1:30pm I was at Nikola´s and I was enjoying that I was one of the first people hearing “her” baby saying its first word: “mom”. Then instead of muscle workout I did a somtach workout since we ended up eating Milka chocolate with Nutella. Amazing gym!
1:30pm-3:40pm I went home to finish the laundry, make up beds, learn Spanish and finish details about the Portland trip in Maine which Nikola and I are about to do soon.
When suddenly grandma came and I told myself that it will be a madhouse after kids will come home (spoiler alert: it was).
3:40pm Kids came home. Sulky C lied to grandma saying that she was allowed to eat ice cream. Of course she was not. This situation used unready L who had an ice cream as well. I was happy that at least the one who didn´t brush his teeth didn´t like this favor and we didn´t have vanilla one at home…
4pm Kids were doing their homework – I couldn´t believe!
4:40pm Boys have finished their homework and took the computers. I reminded them if they knew what they were allowed to do there. They said yes and 10 minutes later I found them playing computer games. Moreover H (the one who didn´t brush his teeth) started yelling at me that I check on them all the time and he feels as being a small kid (what an irony). Then he ordered me to leave, then he ignored me and at the end he yelled at me again. HM came. She said that if they don´t go out from under the table on a chair, she will take computers away from them. They turned off the games and sat on the chairs.
5:30pm-6pm I was preparing dinner. My mental health was temporarily fixed by HD who came home. But in the same time I had to deal with fights of sulky C and sick M (every day the same old story…). A lot of unnecessary yelling and insults.
7:20pm HD left to pick up the sick M (who left for her sawing class… I think she wasn´t that sick) and HM left to the library afternoon saying that she couldn´t work in such a loud environment. She needed a silent place and a rest from her kids. I was watching TV with the one who didn´t brush his teeth and unready one. Sulky C was playing games on her iPod. H and L climbed on me and made themselves comfortable in my lab. For a change now I took my nap. Suddenly H woke me up because their TV show was over. By a very nice voice he told me: “Lucy, wake up.”
7:40pm HD came home and I got finally off! I changed my clothes and left to Roadhouse for one regeneration beer.
9:30pm I came home feeling much better and went to sleep immediately. Kids were still awake but it wasn´t my problem anymore. Good night!
I will see you soon with another blog. Meanwhile I send greetings from my new home in San Francisco!
Spoiler alert 2: my new HF seems to be a dream one family so far! Enjoy those blogs while you can because I think that during the following months I will have nothing to write about!!