Thursday, January 20, 2011
Keeping My Mouth Shut
I kind of wish I was more of a talker sometimes. But the truth is I'm an introvert who sometimes manages to seem like an extrovert for awhile, but after a time my learned traits like carrying on a lot of small talk, and calling up someone to go see a movie or go to the mall with me go by the wayside, as I realize they are just not natural to my personality. The world seems to love extroverts - I'm learning to accept it, and to keep working to find my truest voice in social situations.
That being said, I am really good at keeping secrets - the good kind of secrets, anyway. When something is an obvious "need to tell" type of thing, I almost always find the courage to talk. Well, until this week anyway.
Something came to my attention recently regarding the "nanny" (Ms. H) of a local acquaintance of mine (Ms. S). (Note: to me, a real "nanny" is someone who actually lives on your property and works at least 40 hours/week. Anyone else is a "babysitter" or "day care provider/teacher." IRL, I would never, ever try to correct anyone on that point because, first of all, I'm not even sure my definition of "nanny" is technically correct. I just think the mis-use of the word "nanny" **in certain contexts** can sometimes make people seem overly pretentious and self-important. Not always, but sometimes, and in certain situations. I just think "babysitter" is so much more palatable, IMHO.)
So anyway back to my story. Another babysitter (Ms. D), who works for a local friend of mine (Ms. B) witnessed Ms. S's babysitter, Ms. H (an early-20-something with no kids of her own), treating one of Ms. S's four daughters inappropriately at a local indoor play gym. Ms. B told me that Ms. D told her that she saw Ms. H yelling across the gym at Ms. S's 6-year-old daughter, and refused to get up off her ass and actually go talk to the child about whatever she was doing that Ms. H felt she needed to scream about. So the little girl was running wild, Ms. H was yelling publicly, and Ms. D didn't like it one bit, but she also didn't say anything to Ms. H nor to the management of the play gym. (Sorry for all of these Ms.-so-and-so's, I hope this is not too hard to keep straight). Ms. B asked me what I thought she should do...
BTW, Ms. B and Ms. S are colleagues who do not know each other well; and Ms. D is in her 50's with 3 grown kids, and used to run a daycare that Ms. S's girls used to attend, before she sold the place and took up part-time babysitting.
I told Ms. B that I thought Ms. D should have addressed it directly with Ms. H or someone in authority, either at the time it happened, or immediately thereafter, if she really thought what she saw was so "inappropriate." I also said that I have seen Ms. H behaving very lovingly at this same gym towards two of Ms. S's other daughters, and I know Ms. S thinks the world of Ms. H and has taken her on several family vacations. Also, several of Ms. S's neighbors who are stay-at-home moms regularly play with the kids with Ms. H, and I have to imagine would report back to Ms. S if something were amiss.
Ms. B mentioned that this is a hard topic for her because when she used to live somewhere else, someone once reported to her that they saw her babysitter behaving inappropriately, and so she immediately fired her - but had nagging doubts about it. I agree that the "reasonable parent" when confronted with a report like that would probably have to let the sitter go immediately. I know I would - but part of the reason would honestly be not wanting to look like a crappy parent in the eyes of the person who reported the behavior to me! But on the other hand, no one can prove a negative. It would be like Ms. S saying to Ms. H, "prove to me that you did not scream at my kid in public."
I left Ms. B by saying she could call up Ms. S and let her know what Ms. D saw, and say something like "maybe you should talk to Ms. H about how you expect her to discipline the kids." I don't know though. My read on Ms. S is that she doesn't want her boat rocked and probably wouldn't fire Ms. H over this. I hate situations like this!! I feel like the so-called "right" thing to do here is eluding me. What say you, parenting goddesses?