My Crazy Au-pairs.

Miriam, is slovenly and messy.  Her room is a pigsty, and she leaves a trail of cups and plates around the house.  No matter how many times I ask her to put them in the dishwasher she seems to think that they all disappear because the fairies spirit them away...well...I'm that fairy! I put up with it as I like her.  I've had au pairs since the boys were about 5.  I thought that would be a good age as they could tell me if the au pair was mean to them, locked them in cupboards or burnt them with fag ends.

In the early days we had one called Ildi.  Ildi was older than the average au-pair (she was 28), and I found her on the the net.  She looked presentable and spoke very good English...and she had eyes that reminded me of my ma's dog.  Probably not a good reason to pick an au pair, but Oliver (the dog) was kind and sweet  so I thought perhaps she would be too. She worked for a family nearby and was leaving for "reason unknown".  I'd never thought to question the mother as I thought that perhaps they didn't get on.  That sometimes happens. I hadn't had an issue with them not liking their previous family.  So I offered her the job. I explained what I wanted from her, and told her although she'd be in control for a couple of days, there would be long periods of time when I wouldn't need her, only perhaps for the odd night baby sitting and walking the dog.

So Ildi moved in .  For about a week she got to know us and seemed to like the kids. On the day I was due back at work, Ildi came sobbing into the kitchen. She was inconsolable, and couldn't speak for the snot and tears running down her face.

"I need tranquillisers!" she exclaimed. " me!"

Earlier that morning she seemed fine. She'd breezed into the kitchen, prepared her breakfast and stepped outside to smoke a cigarette or two.....and now she was in pieces.
"Ildi, what's happened?"

"I keep having a recurring nightmare. It's awful. I need tranquillisers. Please. Help. Me."

"We have Calpol..will that help?".  She laid her head on the table sobbing and weeping. "Do you think you might be over it in an hour?" I asked.

I was freaking out. I was due to leave the house in an hour and was to be away for a few days. What the fcuk was I going to do? I employed her to be at home for when the kids came home from school just for a couple of hours until BH got home, but now it looked liked it was going to all fall apart. At that point I felt concern.  Concern I was about to leave my kids with an unstable, crazy woman....and I couldn't do it.

"Look"  I said. "Don't worry. Don't worry about the kids. I'll get someone to collect them and look after them until BH gets home. You relax. Go and see a Doctor. Get yourself sorted. We'll chat properly when I get home from my trip."

A quick call to sis, ensured my kids safety for a few days. And Ildi was free to recover, my expense.

On my return it seemed that all was normal. Ildi was cheerful, and assured me that she was fine. There was nothing I needed to know and she assured me that she was perfectly able to care for the kids. When BH returned from work he told me that when he returned that first evening with the kids, Ildi was getting ready to go out. She'd cracked open a bottle of (our) wine (I didn't say she couldn't but neither did I say she could!), and was entertaining a couple of girls in our kitchen (I didn't say she couldn't!) so BH and the kids took themselves off to Pizza Hut for supper. The next evening, when BH came home with the kids, Ildi was getting ready to go out...again.

I sat her down and explained that as I assumed she was unwell, she needed time to recover for her horror (what ever it was) and that by me rearranging the childcare meant that she was given that time to sort herself out. She rightly told me that as I had re-arranged the child care, she was free of duty to do as she pleased. got much worse! Me and my cowardice took another 5 months before we parted ways with her, and I swear it was probably the most challenging time of my life.

It seems like I'm still learning. No matter how many times I lay out the rules and boundaries, with each one I seem to have a further 20 rules to add to the list.

How have you dealt with au pairs? Have they become a big part of your life and could you do without them? Do you put up with their behaviour because you can't face the alternative....and what is the alternative?

I wasn't due back at work for a few days so I thought it would give her

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