How I became an au pair in the US… and how I survived it all (part 6)

How I became an au pair in the US… and how I survived it all (part 6): when it´s almost over 

Recently Natalia asked me why I haven´t gone to the rematch again. During her au pair year she went through two rematches and she has never had a problem to find a new family. Well, at the beginning I was telling myself that it wasn´t that bad (when I think about it now, it was a hell) but I had two main reasons why I didn´t want to do another rematch: I wanted to finally go on my vacation and I wanted to make a school credits if I decided to extend in this program. And that´d be difficult if I moved to another side of the US again… When after three months in the US I had to move out from Seattle to Boston, I lost 1,5 days of vacation. Moreover I started attending a school and so I´ve lost a part of a school stipend the family provides to the au pair. To fully finish my education part of the program I had to pay from my own money. Talking about vacation I was thinking that if I go in February, straight after that I can do rematch. Unfortunately I got my vacation dates in April and at that time I was already enrolled at school. I can tell that my HM was trying to push me out of there but there was no way to leave at this point. During evenings I used to go out and have few beers to forget about the whole day and in a good mood, gently under influence of this lifesaving drink I was coming back home.    

I started writing these lines during August and my staying in Scituate was almost already over! Sometime in June I decided to stay in the US for a little bit longer – for 9 more months! My requirements for a new HF were easy: either I will find a family with teenage kids or a nice family from California. And it looked pretty bad for me and I was telling myself that maybe I will go home at the end. Surprisingly one day I opened Facebook and I found a post from one Russian family living close to San Francisco looking for their first au pair. Honestly, I´d never say that one day I will react on such a post and despite the family was looking for a girl who speaks English and Russian, I texted them. I told them that I can´t speak Russian but I can read it. We dealt on a Skype interview. From one interview there were two and after two interviews and a few nice messages we matched and I became their au pair!

Let´s get back to the times when I was excited about coming back home because I didn´t have any families I´d like to match with… One day my HM came to me and asked me how was I doing with a new family searching. I told her that I didn´t even have a potential family and I asked her why was she asking me. She said that she was already talking to one girl who could have come immediately. I looked at her and my eyeballs almost came out of their place again and told her that if I find a family that would like me to join them earlier I had no problem to do so. But I was having my vacation at the end of August (my HM gave me these dates) and so there was no way that I´d leave before that. Later, when I found my California´s family, she was asking me if I could leave straight after my vacation. Luckily my new HF wanted me to come as soon as possible. But do you know why did she ask me so? Because HD and kids left for their vacation in Switzerland in August 20th-30th (during my vacation) and she said that she might go somewhere as well and so she would be very grateful if I can move out before my vacation and then never come back…    

… Luckily Nikola´s HM didn´t have any problem with me staying at their place after my vacation. Why did I have to stay there? Because I came back from vacation on August 25th but my flight to San Francisco was on August 27th. But my HM didn´t care about that and so in the evening August 19th she took away the phone she provided me and on the following day she basically didn´t even say goodbye to me. Now you might wonder: how something like this can happen? In such a case, when au pair has no place to go, there comes a LCC on the scene – the local coordinator. Mine was great she was interested in my situation, I texted her several times asking what to do when I was desperate and once I came over to talk about my options if I decide to leave this family… If an au pair has no place to go, LCC usually takes her to her place until her situation doesn´t solve out. Unfortunately at this time she was gone in Germany and so I had to go somewhere else…  

Let´s sum this up: I had a new family, place to stay, my vacation fully planned… Now I just had to survive the last two weeks. Make up a plan how to send a big box full of clothes back home (thank you Polish companies for your cheap services), handle being underestimated and ignored from my HM (I wish she didn´t work from home at least…), pay for the phone repair (I dropped it for about 30 times all together and I completely destroyed the display – thanks God it wasn´t an iPhone!), survive last few days with my kids (who I love the most but sometimes I´d kill them) and look forward to be August 19th when I will move out from here! And how did my last days look like? Hm…

July 31th: Thanks God I got an old Motorla from my HM. Repair was not even $60 what wasn´t that bad. In the same time my HM just reminded me today that I was her employee and I crossed some lines when I was talking to “her husband”. That´s actually pretty funny since she didn´t even wear the wedding ring and they were getting divorced. And she wanted to accuse him that he was abusing kids. If she was a Pinocchio, her nose would probably grow back to its original shape before her plastic surgery… Anyways HM hates me and I was scared that if I do something wrong, she will text me to move out immediately. Of course the bad luck was following me these days and one of the kids hurt itself. Fortunately she was fine but all the circumstances went against me. I took M and C to a jumping water castle to another au pair that my HM didn´t know. When we came there, we found out that I accidentally forgot to pack a bottom of M´s bathing suit. C was already in the water and au pair where we had been at promised me that she will watch her while I go home with M to bring the bottom of her bathing suit (there was also her HM, grandma and she lived 5 minutes away from me so I was pretty naïve thinking that nothing can happen…). When we came home, my HM ran out of the house, she was pissed off and yelling at me how could I leave her 8-years old kid alone at some strange people. I apologized and we went back there. C was all right. M had almost a breakdown in the car (after her mom yelled at me) but straight after we came there she forgot about everything. And then this moment came when I had mine breakdown and crying called Nikola to tell her what happened. I told her that I got into a trouble and that my HM might kick me out. But Nikola gave me an amazing question: “And don´t you think that if she kicks you out, you will be finally happy? You can always come to our place and you´ll be finally free…” And she was actually right. But what happened later today… L and H were in a summer camp and so we had to go to pick them up and we went to the pool. When suddenly C came to me saying that while M and I were gone, she fell in the jumping castle and hit herself and now it hurts her and she thinks there might be something wrong. On the other side it didn´t hurt her that much to go home because she wanted to stay in the pool. At this moment I got dizzy as f**k, I told all my kids to leave the pool immediately that we were going home. C was laughing at me that I was freaking out so much and L, H and M were confused because they didn´t know what was going on. When we came home my HM checked C and she said she was all right. I went to my room and was hypnotizing my phone expecting a message from my HM. Well I have never received the message about packing my stuff and leave and so I could get some more energy to survive my last 10 working days during the following weekend…     

August 19th: My last working days! Jay! I started at 8am and I didn´t stop until 8pm. As long as I was there I had to work, right? But to be honest, I spent the whole day with kids but I didn´t care anymore. And my HM was aware of that. And I think that was the reason why she left me in the evening home alone with C. L and H were with HD on a football practice and HM went somewhere with M. She said they just went to bring helmets to boys who forgot it at home but that wouldn´t last 90 minutes. And at the end I got upset, let C watch TV and I had to pack my suitcase. And the best comes now – when I was sending home the box full of clothes I was thinking that my suitcase will be half empty. I don´t know how I could think so because I had problems to close it. Nevermind, I packed everything in there! As I was carrying this heavy suitcase down the stairs, I met my HD. He gave me a surprising look asking me where was I going to. I think my HM forgot to mention him that she basically kicked me out and I forgot to tell him as well. And she kicked him out of the house too but that´s another story… So she can live there happily as a Snowwhite and her four little dwarves. And talking about her, so as I was on the staircase suddenly she stopped me and said: “Lucy, I need your phone.” I gave her a horrified look and asked her: “Can I give it to you in the morning?” And she answered: “No, I need it now.” I said OK, completely deleted everything in it, left it on a kitchen table and upset left to Nikola´s and then to my goodbye party to Roadhouse… For the last time I drank there several beers and I had to go home to get some sleep because in a few hours I was leaving for my vacation to Atlanta and New Orleans. On a vacation where I go with my Slovak phone that works only on wifi. Great…      

Augut 20th: My HD promised me that he will drive me to the Hingham Terminal – a ferry that took me straight to the airport. But before that the time to say goodbye to my four little monkeys came. We hugged, I came to a conclusion that I will actually miss them, C didn´t want to let me go, we kissed… Then I came to my HM´s office. I slowly opened the door, she looked at me and I said: “I´m leaving.” And her reaction? “Okay, bye.” And she waved at me. That was fast. Well, on August 21th I received the final payment from her and there was a note: “Final payment. Au pair. Thank you.” So at the end she thanked me… HD hugged me and wished me all the best and my new adventure could begin. How I enjoyed Atlanta and New Orleans you can read here! And meanwhile my new adventure in San Bruno has begun!   

Let´s see how it is to be on the other side of the world: when you suddenly don´t have your family and friends around you

One of the biggest challenges of being so far away is coming to an environment where you don´t know anyone. You will realize very quickly that your mom is not there when you need her and your friends probably sleep while you need to talk to them. I remember while I was in Seattle my HF was asking me all the time: “Have you already made some friends?” It sounds like it´s so easy. In the whole Seattle I was the only Slovak au pair! There were few Czech girls, actually I came here with one of them but she never had time or energy to hangout when I called her out. I used to go to the gym where I met some people but they never became my real friends.   

During the evenings I was usually just walking around Seattle streets listening to my music… And then one day I found on Facebook another Slovak boy living in Seattle! He greeted me with his friends – most of them were parkourists and at the end I´ve started doing parkour with them. Other than that he greeted me with more friends we used to bake cakes, play games and eat tons of food.  

Another coincidence brought me even more amazing people into my life. One rainy day I was walking around University district and I have noticed a sport bar filled up with young people. I told myself – this looks like a cool place, I should come here some day but definitely not today (I was so shy and so I rather went to the bookstore). On the other day I was walking around Seattle´s parks and suddenly I came to the University of Washington. And soon after that I came to the very same street as I´ve been to the last evening. And then I found it – the bar Earl´s on the Ave – few hours ago filled up with people and now half-empty. I went in, sat behind the bar (because that´s what people in the movies do), ordered a beer and started responding to my friends´ messages. One hour later a man sitting next to me started a conversation with me. And then a man sitting next to him started talking to me. And a while after that I was talking to the bartender as well. Suddenly a boy came over and asked me if I play pool. I said of course. And so this was the day when I met my great friends Benny, Cruz, James, Bradford, Matty and Devan. Exactly, that Devan I was dating one month later and I was hoping I´ve met The One. But that is another story… At the beginning I used to come to Earl´s only on Sundays – because you can play pool for free on Sundays here. But as time was passing by I started coming more often and at the end I spent here almost every single day. And then, when I finally made some amazing friends, my HF told me that they didn´t want me anymore… Ouch.   

In Scituate it was a completely different story. Scituate is a small town with few bars and there was no pool table in there. No University district and I was surrounded by deer, turkeys and coyotes (during the first two weeks I almost crashed into three deer and one squirrel). I don´t know how but during my nine months in those woods I think I killed only one chipmunk.

But I was here by myself – I mean not really – because there had to be more au pairs, right? Starting with Nikola who texted me even before I arrived! I wasn´t walking around Scituate woods by myself… My new friends became girls who were just like me, au pairs. With the very same struggles just like me, poor just like me and I had so much fun with them! And now I am very happy that I met those girls, I love to hang out with! Other than that I used to go to the bar Roadhouse in the evenings to chill out from the madhouse I had at home. Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I could have played pool for free. First months I used to come, asked for non-alcoholic O´Doul´s and played pool by myself. By time people started talking to me and asking me if I want to play with them – so I wasn´t lonely all the time. And how did it end up? I used to come for one non-alcoholic beer and tree rounds of pool… Now I come here for three beers and sometimes a round of pool! I mean, not on Thursdays. On Thursdays I was hanging out with my friends, we played pool, drank and were enjoying life. And correctly, on the following day I had to get up and survive working Friday. You know what people say – you can get used to everything. I just couldn´t stay in that house for one more year…

So don´t feel desperate – it is difficult to find some good new friends but who searches, finds. I found two perfect friends Nikola and Natalia. Natalia and I used to go to the gym everyday and I took care of her hair. For example: one day she ran out on the street with scissors in her hand and said: “Lucy, please, cut my hair. But do it right now before I change my mind!” She gave me the scissors and I cut her hair. Few seconds later she was terrified and said: “Oh my God, why did you cut so much?! Nevermind, they look healthy now, right?” And at the end she was satisfied! Nikola and I went for trips to NYC, Portland, Niagara Falls… and now I think we plan just Havířov, Bratislava and possibly San Francisco! Did you think that we were done with our friendship only because she stayed on the East Coast and I am on the West Coast?!      

Few words for the end…

Who doesn´t try, doesn´t get the experience. When I come home, I am not planning to be nanny again. From some kind of weird reason I still want to have kids one day. During the past year physically and emotionally I´ve been through a lot and I have had a lot of bad days. For example once when my kid H wanted to stab me with a knife and then beat me with a baseball bat. That was a day… Once I´ve read a joke: “Do you know how it is when an au pair has a flu? It is a regular flu but no one cares.” It is so true. I went through days when I couldn´t sleep at all, I was dating, breaking up, I saved up some money and travelled around, improved my English and met amazing people from all around the world. I got confidence, new experiences and defeated my fear from driving! And if I didn´t want to travel around the West Coast a little bit, I´d say it is time to go home. On the last minute I found a HF living close to San Francisco and so I decided to stay here for a little bit longer. And next summer I´ll come home. It is not a bad experience but you know the saying: “Home, sweet home.” And you have only one home. And I can´t wait to be back there.

Lula