When we use the expression “there are no words” to describe the horror of a crime, like this one of the nanny suspected of killing two children in New York City, it’s incorrect. There are actually too many words — shock, anger, sadness, rage, vengeance and back to unfathomable sadness. And our emotions go from one to the other to the other without break or respite.
The facts in the case are still emerging, but the New York Times wrote something today that I have to comment on:
Parents go to great lengths to be sure they are hiring safe, reliable and loving caregivers. They do reference checks and background checks. Some install nanny cams and pull a few surprise visits. But once a nanny is hired, a profound level of trust steers the relationship. And parents forgive caregivers small things because of the way in which they see them love their children.
This can’t be further from the truth. What great lengths to parents really go to?
How many nannies are in this country illegally? How many nannies are paid in cash to avoid Social Security taxes on the part of the employer/family? How many parents really know what their nannies do with their kids all day? I had a friend who caught her nanny stealing from her on Long Island. The nanny had new employment rather quickly, even though the new family knew of her crime (unreported to the police.) The new family’s reasoning was that this was the best they could get and they’d just be careful about leaving cash around.
Here’s a test: Go to one of the playgrounds around New York City. Try Riverrun playground on 83rd and Riverside Dr., near where this crime occurred. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent in that park with my kids when I lived in New York and my firsthand experience, watching the nannies interact with their charges, only reinforced our decision to send our kids to a daycare rather than hire a nanny.
When you take my test and go to a park, count the nannies on their cellphones, texting or talking to friends or who knows what. Pushing the kid in the swing while looking at the phone. Not paying attention while her “job” is on the slide. Sitting there chatting away with the other nannies while children whip each other around on the small merry-go-round. These were not isolated incidents. This bad behavior on the part of the nannies occurred during each one of my visits.
Here’s an old post from a site called “I Saw Your Nanny” from the park I’m referencing:
83rd and Riverside at Riverrun Playground in NYC
Received Tuesday, June 12, 2007
This happened yesterday (Mon. 6/11) between 12-3 pm:
A red-headed two year old named Scarlett with an older sister was being minded by a heavyset nanny with a Caribbean accent and a scarf covering her hair. The nanny had Scarlett in a McLaren stroller and spoke to her with such disdain and deep unpleasantness that it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. At one point, she tried to hand Scarlett some pretzels. “Do you want these?” she said. “Do you? Do you want these? Do you want them? Scarlett? Do you? DO. YOU. WANT. THEM?” And Scarlett burst into tears, for which I don’t blame her. “Tell me what you want!” the nanny said. She almost never stood up, even when she finally released Scarlett from the McLaren and she ran off to be around her sister. At one point, though, she noticed me watching her and then she got up to interact with Scarlett. There was no abuse, but there was no love — she seemed almost to hate this child.
Again, the above happens daily.
Are there good nannies? Yes. Do parents sometimes try to do the right thing and hire only legal immigrants and pay their taxes as dictated by law? Yes. But not all of them.
We live in a world where we bathe our kids in hand sanitizer and scold them for riding a bike sans helmet, yet leave them in the care of a person they hardly know.