Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Who's gonna watch my kid?

Drama Drama Drama... (it's a long one...woah!)

I think I left off about a week ago saying that Ada is done with day care, we were off to interview nannies, yada yada yada.

Thanks to help from my friend Colette, we contacted a nanny/caregiver search agency and they sent over three very nice women to interview to be Ada's super nanny. Candidate #1 had no prior experience with infants - even though that was part of what I requested. And boy did we ever look dumb in the interview! My husband and I had no clue what we were doing. We weren't prepared, didn't print out a list of questions and I just kept saying, "hmmm, what else do we need to ask about. Umm..." Like an absolute moron. Thankfully Rick is better at making stuff up and asked some good conversation questions. Here is a mini list to get you started in case anyone ever has to interview a nanny. I'm told the trick is to sit down and figure out what you want from them beforehand as it is a real help. (Which I did but the printer ran out of ink.)

Nanny Interview Questions

Why do you want to be a nanny?
Are you looking for full time or part time?
Do you know CPR? First Aid?
Are you willing to do the baby’s laundry and dishes?
How do you put a baby down for a nap?
What do you do when they are fussy?
Are you willing to give the baby medicine? What kind?(Prescription, OTC, teething gels --For liability some won’t do it at all.)
What is your prior experience with infants?
What is your education level? Are you in school? What are you studying?
Are you typically on-time, late, early?
Are you available from 8am – 5 pm?
Can you stay 15 minutes late or a half hour if we’re running late?
Will you sing to the baby? Go on walks? Play? Listen to music?
Can you teach her a foreign language?
Can you lift more than 30 lbs?
What will you do with the baby during the day?
What is your hourly rate?
What days can you work? What times?
When are you available to start?
Can you drive? Do you have a car?
Can you baby sit at night occasionally if needed? Weekends?
Do you watch TV?
Do you have references we can call?
Do you smoke?
Do you have siblings?
How would you get here? Drive/Public Transit?
How long does it take to get here?
Where do you live?
Will you be supplying your own meals?
Can you swim?
Do you have kids?
And most importantly – watch how the interviewee interacts with the baby and if the baby likes her/him.

So as I was saying... Nanny #1 was nice but had no experience and was holding Ada all wrong. The kid was so uncomfortable it was just bad. And her English was mediocre.
Nanny #2 was great. Even though I am really against smoking, she does smoke but never while at work and she didn't smell of smoke. She had experience, good personality and spoke English well.
Nanny #3 was okay. Her experience was with her nephew or something. She was a little late, nervous, and just didn't have any confidence. She is married, lives with her parents, wants kids, wants to go back to school to be a nurse or something... tons of ambition but no backbone to actually do anything about it. That bothered me. Plus I already liked #2.

I called the agency back the next day to report on the interviews - which we scheduled for a 1/2 hour each and that was just right. I'd do 45 minutes each next time just so we aren't rushed in between. We got the references for #2 and she checked out. I called to offer her the job but she had two more interviews for full-time work and we were only offering part-time work so, she'd have to let us know. My gut said she wouldn't pick us so I went to plan B -- which I also have to credit Colette with.

Being a member of a million mommy groups does have it's advantages. Colette's friend had a niece looking to babysit this summer. She's a student at Depaul, babysits a ton, has two younger siblings. Great. I contacted her to come over for an interview. If the nanny came through, I'd be able to use her as a night/weekend babysitter as needed. We met and she was really impressive so I hired her on the spot, without my husband. He met her at the end of the interview and liked her too. After she left, I asked him if it was okay that I hired her because I was sure the nanny would fall through and he said "Honey, I trust your judgement." -- Straight out of "How to be a good husband and father 101". I laughed at him and said "good answer". The catch with this deal is that this babysitter can only watch Ada 2 of the 3 days I needed her. But, she's in a sorority and knows 2 other people that could do Thursday. Great. So I set up a meeting to meet and train them both the Monday before they start.

They showed up a 1/2 hour late. Mind you she was 1/2 hour late for her first interview too but I had been wish washy about the interview time and said I was free all night and she called to say she lost track of time, just got out of the shower and would be right over. Okay. So she isn't punctual. I know and can prepare for that. Rick and I go through the training stuff. All goes well. Her friend is super nice and Ada seems to like them both. We make plans for them to come at 7:45 on their given days and they are off on their merry little ways. BUT... before they leave, Rick gets in a little "Please be on time and if you are running late, be sure to call so we can plan accordingly."

It's Tuesday, 7:45. She's not here yet. 8 am. Not yet. 8:10. Serious? WTF? 8:13 the phone rings. "OMG, I am sooo sorry. My alarm didn't go off. I am coming over right now." 8:30 She finally gets her and apologizes. What can I do? I'm 45 minutes late for work at this point and still need her to watch my kid. So we'll deal with it later. I walk to the bus, and wait. Ten minutes pass and I get on the bus. At 9:30 I finally get to work. An hour late at this point but whatever.

I work. La te da. La la la. 4:30 I leave for the bus. Get to the bus stop. 4:40 La la la. See a bus. Nope. Not my bus. 4:45 my bus arrives, full, and doesn't stop to pickup or drop off any passengers. Hello CTA! I have to be home at 5 to show my new babysitter what a good example of a punctual person is. This whole bus crap isn't helping! I wave down a cab and pay $14 to get home. I arrive 5 minutes late. So much for the example.

Upon getting home, the sitter downloads Ada's day for me. All went well on day one. Baby is in one piece and alive so the sitter gets credit for that. Then I ask, "Are you usually late?" And she says, "Oh no. Never. It's just that the two times I've come to meet with you I was coming from my parents house in the suburbs and miscalculated traffic, and this morning I tried to use my alarm on my palm pilot for the first time and it was confusing..." So I made a few jabs and references to being on time and here by 7:45 for Wednesday and she assured me she wouldn't be late.

It's Wednesday. 7:45. She should be here but that would be a miracle. 7:50. Really? Not again please. 7:55 she pulls up and buzzes the door. Then she proceeds to ask if she needs to move her car because 1/4 of it is overlapping with the temporary loading zone. Ug. If she just would have gotten here at 7:45 like I told her to, there was a nice spot open right across the street. So I suggest she moves her car. But we don't see any spots so I suggest that we drag Ada outside in the car seat so I can set her on the sidewalk as I pull out of my spot to leave and she can take my spot and then bring Ada back inside.

As soon as we get outside, a prime spot opens up, but once the sitter starts to pull out, Joe Schmoe takes it. We do the car in/out switch and all is well with the world. (Mind you my car is covered in Mulberries as I parked under a Mulberry tree. Yuck!) I must digress here as my morning was kind of interesting. And to back up to Tuesday night, Rick and I sat down and did a cost analysis to see if it was worth it to take the bus vs. the car to work and surprisingly the car won. Yippee! I don't care for the bus and get motion sick if I read. Anyways... I'm driving my berry covered car to work while aggressively using the window wash and wipers to clean the gunk off the windshield as I go. Fifteen minutes later, I pull into my soon-to-be new daily parking lot--except the lot attendant isn't there. I debate leaving my car with a note, coming back later to check on it and paying the guy if I see him but don't want to chance it as towing fees are huge. So I circle for a meter. While circling, I almost run over a bicyclist. I was turning left at a stop light and he was oncoming through the light, I think he was hidden behind some traffic, and I was so worried about avoiding the orange scooter in oncoming traffic that I didn't see the bike until I was about 4 feet from him. I stopped knowing that I wasn't going to hit him but he freaked out and put his foot down and was so sure he was a pancake. He may have wet himself. Then he gave me the finger and rode away cursing me. I had the windows open in the car so I took that chance to yell back at him that he was in my blind spot and I stop four feet before hitting him, so there. Fifty feet later a guy on the local construction sight yelled "You almost hit that guy!" So I yelled back "He was in my blind spot and I still had four feet to go!" I wanted to yell "oh go shove it up your @$$! but I didn't." Of all people, I know how serious it is to watch for bikers. Another digression -- hang on -- my coworker just saw a biker get killed about 3 weeks ago by a car so that is still fresh on my mind, not to mention my first week in Chicago when I flipped a biker over my trunk while being stopped at a stop sign partially blocking the bike lane, I was stationary for that one, mind you. And I myself am a city biker and know how bad it is. Plus, I once got up in a biker's face for saying the F word to a kid on Michigan Ave that he almost ran over because he was going too fast and the kid wasn't watching the walk signal. I really let that guy have it.--So don't tell me that I'm an insensitive driver when it comes to bikers in the city. Whew... Okay. Back on track, which is still off track, but we're almost there. So I am looking for a parking spot and notice the cheap meters are open -- some are $.25 gives you 15 mins, some give you 30 mins. This was a 30 min. Yes! Lucky day. I missed the biker and get a good meter 1/2 a block from work. All is well. Then I notice throughout the day, after thinking I'm momentarily imagining things, that the meter really is eating every third quarter I feed it. But not consistently. Over the course of the day, the meter "accidentally" ate a random quarter here or there without giving me the 30 minutes for it. Whatever. Can't rain on my parade.

And we're back to the regularly scheduled program... It sounds like today went okay but Ada didn't take an afternoon nap and was pretty fussy. The sitter called at 3 for suggestions on how to calm her since she was out of ideas. I suggested milk and that may have worked a bit because it sounds like things got better. I got home (after checking on the guy across the street who just so happens to have had a car run over his foot because he was riding his bike on the sidewalk and she didn't stop soon enough - he was doing okay and headed to the ER for some x-rays) and Ada was famished and fussy but still alive, healthy and happy. So, I'm going to give the sitter another shot next week. Two more days to see how things go and after that, I don't know what I'll do. But I didn't know what I'd do when I pulled her from day care either.

Moral of the story: Boy scouts know what they are talking about when they say "Be prepared", otherwise you tend to look like an idiot. Have faith that things will work out in the end, they always do -- just not always how you'd like them to. And try your best to just go with the flow. You can't control the world so don't stress yourself out trying.

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