So I bet you have been wondering where the heck I have been.
I know! Right?
I’m still wondering when I’m going to get my holiday card out (for 2009) and thank you notes from the boys birthdays (April) and my crochet post (October) posted.
So here’s a run down of the adventure we have been on. Yes it is epic, is going to require more than one post, and may involve some reference to boogers and or middle-of-the-night flying projectiles along the way just FYI.
It all began back in October (2009) when our fabulous au pair Rocio was preparing to return home after a wonderful year with our family. As usual, while we were preparing for her departure, we were also preparing for the arrival of our new au pair Marylin. This was also the first time we were getting a new au pair while I was working full time. I wasn’t going to be able to be with her 24/7 for the first 2 weeks, so we had her arrive 2 weeks early so she could do the routine with Rocio and not get left adrift.
Our au pairs need to drive every day and it is always a big transition for them. Usually what I do is go out with them in the first day or two for an hour or so and make sure they know all the local laws and how to get back to our house and what all the buttons and levers do in the car. Then I send them out by themselves every day for 2 - 4 hours a day to practice for a week or so. Then I have them go with me while I drop off the kids and then I have them drive home. Then she drives back to the kids and I drive us all home. We do this until the au pair feels confident in the drive and I feel confident in their driving.
I should have known that something was wrong when Rocio wouldn’t let Marylin drive while she was in the car. Marylin was so quiet and “shy” that it was hard to tell - and took a while to figure out - that something was seriously wrong.
I don’t even know how to describe it exactly, but one indicator was that she had totally flat affect. She didn’t react to things and she would stare into middle distance for very long periods of time. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I was uncomfortable enough to not leave her alone with the kids for very long at all. I started working from home the day Rocio left so I could be in the house with them and Marylin was a horrible driver so I never let her drive the kids.
One time I had to go to a doctor’s appointment and I took them with me. I left them at a playground nearby for an hour, and when I returned, the kids were running around like crazy and Marylin was sitting, staring at the ground. It was just… odd. Also, I would tell her things over and over again (plus she had done all of this for 2 weeks with Rocio remember) and she just wouldn’t (couldn’t?) do it. For example, Every day I would come downstairs at 2:30 (time to leave to pick up the kids) and ask, “Did you pack a snack?” and she would say “No” so I would say, “It is very important to pack a snack and water every day for the kids. They are hungry when they get in the car and it is a long drive home. You need to start packing a snack at 2:15.” She would say “Ok.” And the next day? No snack. It took 4 days of telling her every day before she packed a snack on the 5th day.
This made me think that maybe her English was worse than we thought, but because she was so quiet, we just didn’t know. So I began asking her to explain back to me my instructions and she had no problem. She even used different words to explain them back. So was she willfully ignoring me? Or forgetting? Or please let there be some sort of explanation for why? Then I wrote out in excruciating detail my expectations for her each day and she still didn’t do anything unless I prompted her to do so.
I would tell her every day “Take the car out and practice driving.” She would say okay and I would go to my office to work. 2:30 would roll around and I would realize that she never left the house. I would ask her why she didn’t take the car out and she would say things like “Oh” or “I don’t know” and I would say you have to take it out tomorrow and practice. She would say ok, I would remind her and she still wouldn’t do it. <arrrg!>
Also I kept telling her not to download anything on my computer and of course she would say ok and then leave the things she downloaded on my desktop. (Like I wouldn’t notice?) My antivirus was working serious overtime and finally just gave out. I had to wipe the machine and start over. Now I had a back up, but apparently it hadn’t been backing up since before Rocio left so I lost all of the pictures she had left for me of her entire year as well of lots of other things I didn’t immediately notice until I went looking.
So after 3 weeks, I REALLY had to get back to work but I knew Marylin wasn’t working out so I called my LCC (local coordinator for our au pair agency) and explained the situation. Given that Marylin was also telling me she didn’t like driving and wouldn’t drive in the dark, it was an easy excuse for a quick “transition”. The thing we didn’t know was that she was going to have to live with us for 2 weeks while she looked for a new family. That was very awkward, but we were able to couch the whole thing as a driving issue. We felt bad about dumping her off on another family, but I really needed her out of my house.
During those 2 weeks, we found another au pair (Minerva) who was transitioning as well, so was available right away. She was extending for a year meaning we could keep her for 14 months and I was desperate for coverage and she was 24 instead of 18, so I was hoping for a little more drive and independence. Just a little foreshadowing, but I guess I should have been less desperate and at least demanded to read her application and spoken to her previous host family before we accepted her.
Anyhoo, Minerva’s arrival was 4 days before Marylin’s 2 weeks were up, so our fabulous LCC (Erica), said she would take Marylin at 8:00am Friday morning. Minerva’s flight was arriving around noon, so I figured I had plenty of time to clean her room, wash the linens and have everything ready for Minerva’s arrival.
Maybe now is a good time to mention that we don’t go in the au pair’s room. The boys aren’t allowed in ever without permission and I tell our bi-weekly house cleaners, not to pick up after them just to clean what they can. That way if the au pair is neat, their room gets cleaned and if messy, then at least their bathroom is clean and they don’t feel harassed. We try to let that one space at least be their own.
So I ran the kids to school and got home to face… “the horror”.
The place was trashed.
It took 2 garage sized (30 gal? 40 gal?) trash bags just to bag up the piles of trash she had never bagged or taken out, just left in massive piles over the trashcans. The linens were ripped and stained, the toothbrush holder crusted with a quarter inch of leck, the shower caddy, shower curtain, shower surround begrimed. There were layers of toothpaste crusted on the wall near the toothbrush holder and massive amounts of hair strands everywhere.
Now I might have though she was pissed at us and trashed the place deliberately, except that it was clear this was a long term accumulation which must have begun as soon as Rocio left. I literally had to throw everything I could away and scrub what I couldn’t.
I should also mention that maybe two or three weeks before this I had been in my office one day and gone to turn out the light when I noticed a massive booger stuck to the wall right by the light switch.
Now let’s be honest.
I have 2 small boys.
This is not the most disgusting thing I have ever discovered in my house. But still… come on. That’s gross.
So I scraped it off with a putty knife and resigned myself to finding some touch up paint.
Now back to my epic cleaning of the filthy pit of despair. I had vacuumed and mopped and scrubbed and cleared and was finally ready to rush out the door to pick up Minerva when I went to turn out the bathroom light and noticed… it.
A massive booger stuck to the wall right by the light switch.
It couldn’t be.
The boys don’t come in here. Could it possibly be?……
I checked the entire house and next to almost every light switch there was a massive dried-on booger.
I…I….I….. don’t even know what to say.
This was going to make an AWESOME post!!!
But wait….it gets better.
So I picked up Minerva and since it took me so long to clean, I hadn’t had time to buy new things for her room. On the way home, with my apologies, we stoped by Target and picked out all new stuff for her room. Which, I guess is actually nice for her, since with some minimal guidance she got to pick out her new bedding etc. We got her sheets in the washer and dryer, picked up the kids, she met Captain Smarty Pants we had some dinner and CSP put the kids to bed while I cleaned up.
Also I should mention that we have an old Mac on a kid desk in the living room for the boys. It is old and slow and they basically play some little online flash games and occasionally we check movie times or recipes or directions on it. It’s just there so we can watch what the kids are doing.
After the boys fell asleep, CSP came down and for some reason decided to check something on the Mac. Then I heard ”OMG…holy s**t!!”. Of course I was there in an instant. “What?”
CSP told me to prepare myself because I was never going to be able to un-see what I was about to see - I’m thinking some youtube nonsense - when he opens a photo off the desktop….
…of Marylin dressed in her Halloween schoolgirl costume, in a pose that left it not at all to the imagination as to whether or not she was wearing underpants - she wasn’t, just so we’re clear - and on her bed upstairs in our house.
Now there are a couple of disturbing things (besides the obvious) about this.
First, who took the picture.
Second, why is it on the desktop of a computer that no one in the house except the kids really ever use.
Third, what exactly was she downloading - or uploading - from my computer that caused the total fail of my anti-virus,
and fourth, if I send it to my local coordinator (who now has to be told) is that some sort of crossing digital lines - federal offense or something?
We decided to delete it instead, but now I had to call Erica and tell her everything because she has 2 kids and Marylin is in her house.
I made the phone call, explained everything, made sure Erica fully understood and was relieved I had fulfilled my civic duty. Her response? “Man! It’s always the quiet ones isn’t it?”
I called Erica later that week to check in. And really I just wanted to hear if anything crazy had happened at her house - ok I’ll admit it, I just wanted to know if her house had been booger tagged too. So another fried computer, a flooded bathroom left for 2 days, odd hours on end of staring at nothing and 4 more booger tagged light switches later… Erica sent Marylin home to Panama.
To be Continued in Part 2…