13 May, 2013

ISYN Vacation Diaries, #4

I was debating which vacation story to submit, and decided on this one. If you’d like to hear another, I would certainly oblige!
 
This was a family that I had been with for about 5 months at the time. Three kids; a boy age 13, a boy age 11, and a girl age 5. The family typically took a two week vacation around Christmas. In order for both nannies to get to spend time with family we alternated working for a week at a time. I got the post-Christmas shift and my dad drove me to the airport at 4 am on the 26th. The family would be without help for almost a full day because the other nanny left that same morning, which was a disaster in the making. I was flying cross-country to get a connecting flight at LAX which would continue to Hawaii.
As I was hustling through the airport to catch my connection I received a phone call from DB, asking me if I could please change my flight to a different Hawaiian island. I was pretty baffled, and nobody seemed to be able to explain to me what was going on. After a phone call to DB’s assistant I figured out that the family had spent the first week on island one. They then flew to island two for the second week, but after a day decided that it wasn’t to their liking, so they called the plane back and flew right back to island one. After a bit of discussion with various airport employees I finally got my ticket switched and was on my way to Hawaii.
We were staying at a gorgeous resort with rooms that faced the water. The family had three rooms right in a row, and mine was on the end next to the boys. Since the family had been there for a week already they had already gotten over the jet lag and were on Hawaii time. I on the other hand was still on my east coast schedule, so I woke up before the sun. It was actually nice having the time to relax before they were awake. I was told by MB that I needed to make myself scarce unless they called me because they were trying to have “family time”. (Sidenote- this was always stated before vacation, and tended to last like 5 minutes, basically until any of the kids got bored or needed something.) So in the spirit of making myself scarce I spent my mornings at the pool working on my tan. Once MB and DB caught wind of that fact I was asked to reserve lounge chairs for the family since once they woke up they would all be taken for the day. By this time the attendants at the pool already knew my bosses as the most demanding and obnoxious of all their guests.
 
Every night before going to bed I would pack several bags for the kids. These were filled with their bathing suits, sunglasses, sunscreen, hats, and basically everything else you could think of for going to the pool. MB asked me to lay the stuff out for them to put on in the morning, so I did. And every morning, without fail, I would get a call from MB telling me to go back to the room to get the bags for them because they were on their way to the pool. I would make the long walk back to the rooms, and back to the pool, to find them lounging on the chairs I had saved. Stuff strewn everywhere, hats and shoes missing for me to find. MB would then tell me to put sunscreen on the kids. HA. The 5 year old was easy. My sweet C. She let me get her all ready and then she jumped in like a little fish. And then I spent the next 30 minutes trying to get sunscreen on the boys. MB would sit on her chair and half read, half watch me attempt to get the boys out of the pool. They alternated between ignoring me, splashing me, and trying to pull me into the water.
 
Once they finally gave in and were sunscreened, I spent the rest of pool time trying to keep them quiet. Because you see, they insisted on swimming in the “quiet pool”. Aka the pool for adults to lounge by. There were 3 other pools nearby where yelling and splashing was allowed, but the entire family felt the need to spend the day at the one pool that required quiet. And the last thing this family was, was quiet. The boys would throw each other in, scream, and take towels from the pool desk and throw them into the water. MB thought this was all great fun, and loved watching her boys “be boys”. That is not the description I would have used. I tried to play with C, but the boys followed us around trying to grab my legs and pull me under. The oldest boy was only 13, but he was about 6 inches taller than me and at least 30 lbs heavier. He would swim under and grab me, and then lift my legs up so my head went under. I really had had enough of them at this point, and repeatedly told him to stop. I could tell that the people sitting around the pool were getting uncomfortable with what was going on, but MB was just sitting on the edge observing, so finally I took matters into my own hands and the next time he grabbed my legs I kicked him right in the head. Hard. Of course he threw a giant hissy fit and acted like I was so horrible and mean, but I have to say that it felt good.
 
A highlight of every day was lunch, when I got to watch MB and DB charm (*bully*) the hostesses at the pool restaurant into giving us reservations that they neglected to make ahead of time. Of course we always ended up seated within a short period of time. I actually did enjoy the celeb sightings. They must have had their own celebrity beach or pool area, but they ate down with the rest of the “common folk”, so we ended up sitting near quite a few actors.  I spent that time pretending I didn’t belong with the family who made the most noise and the most demands, and left the biggest mess. 
 
After lunch I was usually required to play touch football with the boys, so their dad could ignore them. How he gave birth to two athletic children is beyond me. Sometimes MB would join in, running around screaming like a maniac and trying to include C on the sidelines while she happily worked on her sticker book and pretended not to be related to them. If I got lucky I was able to take C over to the kids’ pool or to get an ice cream cone at some point in the day. And if I was really lucky she managed to convince MB that she would absolutely die if she spent another minute in the sun, and we could go back to the room for a bath and a movie.
 
In the evenings I got the kids ready for dinner. That typically included- instructing the boys 67 times to pick up their wet clothing off of the floor. Searching for their dress clothes that somehow managed to walk off the hangers on their own into a big pile. Telling them that “No you can’t wear that t-shirt to dinner.” “I’m sorry if you don’t like that oxford that I packed, maybe next time you should look through your suitcase before we leave like I asked you to do 74 times.” “Yeah, no t-shirt, for real.” “I don’t know why your khaki’s are all wet; could it possibly be because you left them sitting on the bathroom floor in a puddle of water?” “I have no desire to see you naked. Go back to the bathroom and change in there.” “Seriously. Take that t-shirt off.” Eventually resorting to unplugging the TV because they couldn’t tear their eyes away from it long enough to get dressed. And all while bathing, dressing, and doing the hair of C, who by this point was pretty much a zombie from her busy day.
 
I wasn’t usually included in the dinner plans, which was absolutely fine by me! I took that time to order at least one movie, and get myself some fabulous room service, always with dessert. While I was waiting for my food I would go into the other rooms and straighten up the kids’ things for the next day, pack their beach bags (which I would inevitably end up going back to get), and sort through the laundry. MB had completely deluded herself into thinking that the boys were taking care of their dirty clothes on their own. In fact, she once told the housekeepers that they would be fired if they cleaned up the kids’ messes. However, the screaming and berating that would happen if the kids couldn’t find the things that they neglected to clean up was definitely worse, so we just let her believe that they were doing it. Not to mention the fact that MB and DB were two of the messiest and most unsanitary people ever, so their children were simply following that example.
 
At the end of our lovely trip we had a nice long plane ride, like the cherry on top of the sundae. Flying private is the only way to go with a family like this; I don’t think they would be able to deal with following the rules of an actual airport. Much simpler when you can just drive up to the plane and get right on.
 
Because of MB’s rule about screen time limits, I spent 95% of the flight entertaining someone. Considering the flight was 10 hours long, and middle boy was the king of being bored, it was excruciating. Basically I was instructed to keep him entertained, and then when I gave him a list of activities I had planned, he shot them down one by one. Followed by another lamentation of how bored he was. Luckily he enjoyed being read to, so I lost my voice by reading for 5 hours.  My smart C knew the rule about one movie, and she also knew that her parents were completely clueless, so she spent several hours starting her one movie over from the middle when it was almost finished. I certainly wasn’t going to give her away. Eldest boy spent most of the flight complaining about having to study, instead of actually studying. He was stuck studying because he had been failing his classes. Apparently having a tutor help you with all of your homework doesn’t always lead to turning that homework in.
 
Stopping to refuel in CA was another fun event. MB and DB told all of the children to wash their hands and then left me to make sure that they did it. Of course C was a cinch, and middle boy wasn’t too challenging. Eldest boy however, sat in the waiting area and refused to move. After plenty of cajoling he went inside and came back out 3 milliseconds later with wet hands, which he then proceeded to shove into my face. From the smell I was able to gather that he had not washed his hands, and he must have been keeping them in his pants for most of the flight. I eventually had to go up to the front desk and ask them to turn off the TV in the waiting area; that was the only way the almost high schooler would get up and take care of his basic hygiene. Really, I still can’t believe it.
I did go on several more trips with them, and I worked for them for another 7 months after this. They were not the happiest months.

18 comments:

Beezus said...

You kicked him in the head? Hard? That was "taking matters into your own hands?" Wrong on so many levels.
I think the older boy just doesn't like you because you don't like him and you make it quite obvious. Older children are sometimes a challenge and just because they are "almost high school age" does not mean they are going to listen to you and do whatever you want-most of the time I find that they are worse than toddlers.
Favoritism is very dangerous in the nanny world and makes you seem very unprofessional.You seem to really like the 5 year old,which is great but there are 2 other children that you are supposed to be caring for and about.Would you kick the 5 year old in the head for being annoying? I surely hope not. In my opinion you seem very curt,abrasive and detached. While I would not want to work for this family as you describe them I would NOT want you working as my nanny.

RBTC said...

this is an honest account - she worked her toosh off

the boy was extremely out of bounds grabbing her legs and trying to drown her - instead of letting him invade her physical space she started kicking and flailing her legs which resulted in kicking him away

Op - your post is very well written although i'm kind of exhausted now but - by all means - send in another story and do not listen to the haterades on this site ! lol

ps - i am 5 foot 2 and i have delt with that also - 13 year old boys that are biggeer and heavier than you, when they are agressive and act horrible - it can actually be scary!

RBTC said...

this reminds me of something that happened to me - i was surrounded by kids at a picnic and my friend and i were handing out toys/goodies - the huge crowd was jostling us and we got them into a line

a big 12/13 year old kept JABBING me in my side with his finger over and over, instead of getting in the line ( there was a bruise later)

after begging him to stop many times

without anyone seeing i simply GRABBED his jabbing hand in mine and with all my strength i did not let go for about a minute as he squirmed to get away

when i let him go - he was gone !

sometimes we have the right to protect ourselves from harm!

The OP said...

Though it may not change your opinion of me as a nanny, including some back story as to why I treated the boys that way would make me feel better. These are not your average almost teenagers. I was actually very excited going into this job to get to work with older kids because I typically relate to them well. However, these two are not typical. The oldest boy is extremely sexually "aggressive". Telling me that he had sex with my mother, walking into a room and announcing "I have a huge d*#$", and putting his hands down his pants and playing with himself right across from me and his other siblings. So him following me around the pool and pulling me under, and disregarding the fact that said NO multiple times, wasn't just him being annoying. It was one more example of his lack of boundaries, and the fact that his mother watched and did nothing made me react out of whatever instinct would make me hit ANY full size, sexually aggressive male who refused to listen to the word NO. Believe me when I say that I would have no other options when it came to "disciplining", him, because his parents didn't follow through on consequences of any kind.
Considering we played football about 15 minutes later, I'd say it didn't do any lasting damage, but it may cause him to think twice before harassing someone again.
So yeah, I can see where you would say me kicking him in the head makes me a terrible nanny, but in the same situation I would do it again.
As for the middle boy, (and this applies to the older one as well), I was just another employee to him. Just another person to keep him entertained, drive him around, and clean up his stuff. Hard not to play favorites when only one child actually acts like you're more than just a serf who is paid to cater to your every whim.

ericsmom said...

Lets admit it some kids we bond to more than others. I loved reading this. I could never vacation with a family. They would all get on my nerves. Sorry, the kid deserved a whack in the head. If he did this to a friend while fooling around you know the kid would probably kick him too. I thought it was pretty funny. Its not liked she killed him or left a bruise.

ericsmom said...

Also, is it the norm that parents act worse while vacationing with their nannies? Seems like they feel like they deserve the royal treatment. Also, like their nannies are their
indentured servants while on vacation.

noattachmentnanny said...

I see nothing wrong with this nanny's situation, especially after her further explanation. These people seem like obnoxious, entitled a-holes, who clearly do not parent their children properly (no boundaries, no manners) - it's amazing the little girl seems normal in comparison! And yes, I agree that we don't always bond to every child we care for, sometimes in the same family. I cared for a family where I absolutely adored the baby, but the 2.5 year old legitimately gave me the creeps; needless to say, I didn't go over the top in engaging him more than necessary (and he didn't really engage much with ANYONE- part of the creep factor, since his development seemed otherwise normal). I don't know that I'd be over the moon to be around a rude, aggressive teenage boy who had the ability to seriously injure me.

vacationfrom hell said...

After reading this, I knew you would get flack for kicking the little jerk but I would have done the same thing. What a spoiled rotten little brat. That vacation sounds like hell and it seems like you did great holding your cool most of the time.

Kristen said...

One ALWAYS has the right to defend him/herself with the amount of force necessary. Full stop.

Bethany said...

The oldest son's behavior is extremely disturbing and concerning.
The mother's reaction is equally as disturbing.
I hate the " boys will be boys" excuse.

Teach your sons early that No means No.


I don't know why, but while reading I pictured C as Olive from Little Miss Sunshine.
I wonder what his father's response to the behavior would have been.

nenanny said...

That situation sounds terrible, OP. How did you make it a year?

I was initially appalled by the 13 year olds behavior and his mother's inaction, but with the additional details, part of me wonders if perhaps he was or is being abused, and there is more to his behavior than being an unruly teenager that hasn't been taught manners.

Siriusly_James said...

Well said Kristen.

I feel sorry for those children - they're gonna have a hard time in the world when they get older if they keep acting like that.

However, OP, your post is very well-written and I tink you're doing everything youcan for these cildren. I feel sorry for you; you deserve a better family.

It's posts like these that make me tink that my nanny-vacations would never be read, if I were to make a post as it would be too boring ;D (Yes, I have the best family ever, and yes I am totally bragging about them ;D)

Red Cherry said...

I worked for a divorced mother with 2 teenagers. One goes to a psychiatrist and one smoked pot (now he is also going to a psych.) for the whole 2 years I worked for them.

I didn't have any problems with the youngest but if the oldest one, who I am sure tried more stuffs than pot, would have been agressive towards me, I have no doubt I would have fought back.
He was a big and tall (1.90) and I was smaller than him.
He was verbally agressive but not towards me.
He would come home with friends and smoke pot and who knows what else.
Sometimes I was honestly afraid and when the mother was away, I locked my room door.
One day his sister asked me if I was afraid to stay with him in the house and I said NO but I was clearly lieing.
As a human being, not only as a Nanny, you have to protect yourself.
I worked with children with psychological problems and they would be agressive physically. I protected myself but not with kicking them of course.
So ..you have to know who to kick and the boy that the OP talks about deserved it.

Meme said...

You are so patient! I would have quit long before that vacation...and if I did make it to the vacation I would have kicked that brat as well!

DAISY said...

I hope you find a better position! I don't think you are safe!That 13 yr old sounds like he is mentally unstable! Apathy mom sounds like she is in denial.

NanaDarling said...

Gosh, that sounds awful. I have so much fun traveling with my girl's parents! This site makes me feel so lucky to have had three great families in a row. But, then, they all had/have only children under 3. I couldn't imagine trying to befriend a thirteen year old who is suddenly supposed to see you as an authority figure, let alone one with that many issues.

Anonymous said...

Beezus - I'm wondering what you think is an appropriate response to an aggressive, sexually inappropriate teenager who is attempting to cause you physical harm? If the OP had had this encounter with a stranger, would her reaction have been considered "wrong on so many levels?" Because it sounds like this kid could easily be on a path toward becoming an abuser especially with no intervention from the parents.

Beezus. said...

Well Anonymous... OP included all of that very vital information after the fact. I think that if OP seriously felt that this boy was a threat to her safety she should not have been working for this family much less going on a long trip with them- however she did go on several more trips so I can only hope for everyone's sake that it was was a much happier experience.