A few days before Christmas, we had to fire our nanny suddenly.
The timing wasn’t great, but when would it ever be? Between us, my boyfriend and I have two businesses, one of which is a demanding new restaurant, and two kids, one of which is a very active one-year old.
We’d had suspicions that our nanny wasn’t being honest with us, and one day while my son was home for winter break and we had plans for lots of holiday family happenings, we confirmed that nagging feeling: She was lying to us several times a day, and in doing so, putting our toddler in harm’s way repeatedly. Our baby was physically fine, but there’s no way the damage of lying could ever repair the relationship. She had to be let go. Immediately.
You don’t need the details to understand the pit-in-the-belly feeling of realizing the person you’ve entrusted with your child has blatantly disregarded the code of care between a family and their babysitter, nanny or teacher. I felt it well up so much that I ached at the core. How dare she put the most vulnerable member of our family at risk? I was upset and nervous to confront her the next morning when she came into our home as if all was well.
My boyfriend was blunt: “This is what you did and why we are letting you go today.” And she responded with candor, admitting what she’d done. In the pause, I exhaled. Then she began rattling off excuses and threatening she wanted to be paid for hours we’d already compensated her for. She stiffened defensively as she spoke. It all sounded so prepared. And that’s when I got mad — composed but enraged. I was having none of it.
Finally, in the middle of a sentence, I told her we were done and it was time to leave.
We collected our keys and saw her out. She lives only six blocks from us, but we have not seen or heard from her since. I launched back into the holidays and recruiting college students to babysit over their break while I worked from home, and we pieced together a safe, happy transition for our children and for us. By some grace, a happy, structured, reputable daycare opened a new center a few blocks from our home (at nearly half the cost of the in-home nanny), and our daughter got the last available spot. We were moving on, and I decided to accept the gift of more time with my kids over the hectic holidays, working late on client needs if I had to, and trying to trust that it would all work out.
And it has. So why go back and rehash? Why wake the churning in my stomach? Why bring up the awful nanny experience we had when my family is thriving in our new normal?
Several days ago, I got an email from the childcare site where we’d found that nanny, informing me that I no longer had access to her background check. I don’t need it, of course, but it reminded me that she’d had stellar references, whom I’d called diligently before we offered her the job. She had no arrests or DMV issues, was CPR-certified, showed no red flags of the problems we encountered.
That thought was then replaced by an overwhelming need to inform other parents — mothers or fathers who might be in a scramble to find someone wonderful to care for their young child, or who are fed up with being stood up by nanny candidates or receiving dozens of emails from highly unqualified parties — of what happened when I hired this great-on-paper caregiver. I returned to the site to report her or review her, whichever would carry the most weight with potential employer-parents and the site itself.
As I waited on hold to speak to a guest services agent for the site, I posted on Facebook. Would you?, I asked, write up a bad nanny?
The comments poured in, and overwhelmingly, the answer was “YES” and “PLEASE.” The responses came primarily from parents who’d been there, either seeking information about someone they are considering hiring for childcare, or those who’d had their own horrible endings to a caregiver relationship.
“I’d want to know,” I read over and over. Of course, there were clarifications — advice to keep it brief, stick to the facts, use professional language, be sure not to slam her character.
I got all of this. I knew better than to let the fear or rage take over as I typed. But then I also was advised by a couple of friends to just move on rather than risk her fighting back in any way.
I heard all of it, and held it close as I soothed the sadness and (still) disbelief that this all went down the way it did. There’s not a right answer to how to react when someone has betrayed your parent-trust so flagrantly. But I wonder, what would you do? What’s the right answer for your family?
Would you take the time (and energy and gut-punch emotion) to give a poor rating or honest review to a babysitter or nanny?
Have you been in a similar position? Did you file a report or warn other parents in some way?
Would you? Should you? Is it fair to report a nanny you’ve fired?
This post originally appeared on alpha mom.