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Post Info TOPIC: Reasons to be miserable


Annointed Queen of Mook - Founder and Editor

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Reasons to be miserable


Started by Alka, and refreshed after it reached a behemoth 18k posts:

Because no, it's not good to dwell on bad things, but sometimes it is good to let others know what's upset you today and in doing so, make yourself feel better.

So go ahead.

Harlan, if you read this, I said I would come visit you. I would love to come and have a little cup of tea in your home if that still suits you! I am currently working from home and a weekday visit is not a problem at all. London mooks unite.



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Mookish Deity Most High

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What a lovely clean slate! Not something to be miserable about at all.

I'm with Magda, Harlan! I'm a bit (read, a lot) swamped with uni at the moment, but after my exams finish I'd love to come and visit you. Just send me a message with where in London you are. :)

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I'd very much like to spend some time with the two of you (and any other mooks)!
I'm starting group therapy next week & waiting to hear back from the cfs team for therapy there which should be soon, but in a couple weeks time I'll see how things settle & how I'm balancing things energy-wise. I was feeling a bit blue this morning over the same lonely/sad/fatigue-y things from my post, so reading your replies cheered me up so much! Thank you both. :~)

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Harlan :-)

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Honoured Mook

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I have a fever and I cough like a seal and my Master's entrance exams are tomorrow, on Tuesday and on Friday. Thanks, Universe, it's not like I've been nervous about this for months, why not throw in a little bit more stress and exhaustion? 



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Mookish Deity Most High

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I posted a little about this in the status thread, but I'm expanding on it a little here.

I am miserable in my au pair job.

The problem, I think, is a literal misunderstanding. The parents have assured me that the oldest child understands almost everything in English. I have found that he does not, and that when I speak English around him he becomes angry (because he can't understand me!), he lashes out and hits, kicks and bites me. When I speak his native language, he still becomes angry, but for other reasons, and he calms down more quickly. But his parents have asked that I only speak English with him.

They say that I am not interacting well with him. I admit I have become more hesitant around him, because nobody likes being kicked or screamed at, and nothing I do (save speaking another language) makes a difference in his behaviour. The parents say I need to tell him to stop, that I don't want to play with him when he screams at me. I try, and he doesn't understand what I'm saying to him. I try in his native language and his parents chastise me for not speaking English. He shouts at me anyway, and runs to his parents.

Yesterday, I was put in charge of putting him into his pyjamas, which his mother explained to him and he accepted. We were sitting calmly, watching a video, and then when it came to actually putting the pyjamas on, he screamed and hit me, and then his mother came downstairs and he immediately calmed down. She was frustrated with me. We spoke this morning and she said that something needs to change. I agree.

I am not blaming the child, he is too young to understand why I am here or his parents' desperate desire for him to learn English. At the moment, I am blaming myself for him not accepting me, for being a failure with him, but I also think his parents are failing, in overestimating his linguistic ability and in not listening to me when I voice my concerns.

I'm not really sure what to do in the situation. I've tried reasoning with the parents, but they still put the blame on me (which I understand, I am the adult and he is only a child), and at the moment I feel as though my only viable option is to leave, because none of us are happy.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I think it sounds like his parents are expecting you to be a nanny rather than an au pair.  I'm not sure exactly what an au pair is supposed to do but from my understanding it's a bit like a live-in babysitter, so not someone necessarily trained in all aspects of child development and education, to help out with watching the children but ultimately the parents are still in charge. Unlike a nanny who would have qualifications etc.

 

I think I would speak to the parents, maybe write down a little list such as the language issue that he doesn't understand English as well as they told you, acceptable discipline for biting and hitting - time-out/removal of treats etc as you can't just say no and expect him to stop when he is so upset and can't actually understand you.

 

If he is getting upset even when you speak his native language, is there other causes for his behaviour?

 

What age is he? How were you introduced to him? Was there any intro time or has he just been expected to be OK with you straight away? 



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Mookish Deity Most High

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He's three, which everyone tells me is a difficult age. You're right, an au pair is supposed to help with childcare, cook simple meals for the children, and do some light housework, as well as teach some basic language. It feels to me as though they are expecting me to be a nanny and a qualified teacher, with lesson plans and all. Today, for example, they left me alone to look after the two children (aged 1 and 3) in a swimming pool. They expected me to play with the boy in the pool AND watch over the girl (i.e. stop her from going in the water), which is impossible!

Today we had a much better day, because I spoke to him in a mixture of English and Spanish. To me, that is an absolute indicator of where his frustrations are - in language. When he gets angry in Spanish, it's because he doesn't like something, for example the other day we were painting and he didn't want to wear an apron, but he calmed down pretty much straight away and now he doesn't have a problem with the apron. He still shouts at me when I speak Spanish, but only as much as he shouts at everyone else.

We were both pretty much thrown in and expected to get used to each other. His parents said he was very excited for my arrival and he was disappointed when I did come (gee, thanks). His sister is fine with me, but she's only a baby. I did tell the parents that I didn't have much experience with children so small, and they've given me some tips for how to work with him - but honestly, they're useless unless I speak at least some Spanish with him, which the parents have told me they're not happy about.

I'm going to sit down and talk to them later this week, and explain to them the situation - that he doesn't understand English as well as they think, but that I am happy to mix the two languages with him and introduce English more slowly because it stops him from getting upset and it saves me from getting bitten. If they aren't happy with it, then I don't intend to stay much longer.



-- Edited by cowl on Tuesday 19th of June 2018 06:49:48 PM

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Mookish Deity Most High

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Sounds like a good plan.

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Honoured Mook

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I'm just going to say I think you're seriously brave and awesome to go work as an au-pair. I'm a teacher and I work with young children but I can't imagine myself living in some strangers' house and taking care of toddlers. I know/have heard about quite a lot of people who've done it and overall, most people's experience hasn't been good at all. It happens very often that the children are absolute brats from hell, sometimes people even get treated badly by the family etc. I applaud you for even having had the courage to venture out and try it. 



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Mookish Deity Most High

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Thank you for all your wisdom and kind words! I spoke with the parents last night, and told them I noted the difference in his behaviour from having a mixture of the two languages, because the poor wee thing could actually understand me. They told me no, that it was my attitude that made the difference yesterday. Part of me wants to say, "Well of course, because he wasn't hitting me so we could both have a nice time together," but I don't think they'll listen to me or get the point of what I'm trying to communicate. I've started looking for other work in the area to give me some more options.

I've heard lots of horror stories from ex-au pairs too, and I've read lots of horror stories from families about uncooperative and lazy au pairs. The family I'm with aren't nasty, thank goodness, and I am honestly doing everything I can to connect with the boy, but there just seems to be a mismatch in expectations on all sides.

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Annointed Queen of Mook - Founder and Editor

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I'm so sorry, I don't have any useful words of advice at this time but I'm thinking of you and hope it eases up. It's not just about him learning English, I'd also love you to feel a bit more safe and happy in the knowledge there is no biting in your immediate future. That's enough to put anyone off their game!

The parents don't seem entirely flexible about their misplaced expectations (after all, you're not there to teach). But while you're still there, I guess you're still looking for ways to resolve that and find something that works better for everyone? If speaking English is a necessity, perhaps set times could be agreed on, so it's a daily practice but not a 24/7 one. And my friend uses free phonetics apps a lot with her 4 year old son to help him read, they seem a lot of fun. I've never tried it but this Lingokids app is apparently free and designed to teach kids aged 2-8 to learn English. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/lingokids-english-for-kids/id1002043426?mt=8 Maybe an app will feel more like a game and less like a chore for the little boy? With pictures and such to help understand what he sees/hears? And an app is more like a neutral third party. If he tried it and was able to connect with it, he might feel more relaxed about playing with English with you, with the focus being less on you and more on the app.

I honestly think it's amazing that you're doing this. If you're looking for other work and find another family I hope they're an absolute dream to work with.



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Mookish Deity Most High

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Cowl, three is a difficult age but it is old enough to know that biting is not acceptable behaviour. What discipline do the parents want you to use? If it were me I would sit the kid in time out for a minute or so BUT it seems like this is part of the problem: to explain to the child he is sitting on a certain chair for a minute to calm down you clearly need to be speaking Spanish which both gives the child the satisfaction of 'I bite and I get the language I want' and goes against the parents wishes. Hell, personally as soon as a kid bit me I would hand them straight back to the parent because that is not acceptable at all and they should see that and help you work through a plan of how to develop the language skills and encourage better behaviour. After all, kid will no doubt start school in a couple of years and they can't have the child thinking that is a way to get what they want.
As for being left in charge of both children in situations like the pool one, you need to try clearly explaining your limitations: i.e. 'l can sit and hold Baby by the pool and watch Kid playing in it, or I can play in the pool with someone else supervising Baby, but not both'. If that sort of thing is frequent, would it be worth asking if there are/ could be things to help? Like putting Baby in a playpen so they can't crawl/roll into the pool for a little while, then getting out to interact with Baby whilst say where you can see Kid and Kid can see you, or bringing Baby into the pool with a safe enough float (squidge had a chair one and a vest and both were okay to briefly let to of if needed: I could hold his hands and gently pull him around whilst still having a hand and attention for things around me). It makes me quite uneasy to think about. I only have one Squidge and I wouldn't just expect someone who barely knew him to entertain, teach and protect him in a pool even without an additional child in a different place with different needs.
I don't know how the au pair thing works: do you to through an agency to find families and such? If so, is there someone there you can contact about advice? If they are expecting more than you should be providing it might be worth getting some clarification and perhaps a neutral third party to offer support.


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Mookish Deity Most High

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Several things happened since my last post:

1. The baby fell in the pool, head-first, fully clothed, in front of the host mum. Luckily, it was right next to me, so I was able to rescue her immediately, but I think it helped her realise that playing with one child and simultaneously watching a baby is impossible.

2. The boy has accepted me, although we still have some hairy moments. I haven't been doing anything differently, so I think he just needed some time to adjust to having a stranger living in his house and taking care of him.

The parents and I had an evaluation last night, which ended up with the father (whom, might I add, has not been around very much for the last two weeks) telling me that I am not doing enough, again. It is impossible to tell them they are wrong about their son's understanding of English. The father said to me that I have been here for three weeks, and his son has barely learnt any English, that he wants his son to be having conversations with me in English by the time I leave in September - I explained to him that this is a tall order, considering that the boy hates English and barely understands it, and his only advice was, "You have to find a way."

Everything last night, from the father, was a criticism. He was telling me that I'm not doing enough, and half of what he was telling me to do are things I already do, the other half was related to having a conversation with the boy, which is very difficult because he doesn't understand me and consequently very rarely replies to me.

He also told me that he was expecting an au pair to do a lot more, including spending every moment with the children, preparing activities and games, and making English lesson plans. I explained to him that this was not they job they advertised, nor the one I applied for. At the moment, I am working 8 hours a day, 5 or 6 days a week, and my responsibilities are more than were advertised, but less than the father's expectations. They also didn't pay me during the last two weeks, and when they gave me the money last night it was significantly less than the amount we'd agreed upon.

As an alternative, my boyfriend has offered me a place to stay during the month of August, which would be my last month of working here. Honestly, I want to leave, but there are two things that are making me hesitate - my commitment to the family, who expect me to be here until September, and that without this job, I have no income.

And then I think to myself that the family's expectations are unrealistic anyway, and that money is not enough of a reason to stay in a job which involves looking after and living with children. I am exhausted from trying to make the parents happy.

Phew! What a long post. I have a lot to get off my chest, haha. The advice from ex-au pairs is "leave if you are unhappy" and the advice from host families is "honour your contract, even if you are unhappy". I will have to spend this week seriously thinking about whether I can stand an extra month of working here.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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If you were just unhappy because you were homesick or something then I could understand honouring your commitment because that's not the family's fault. The dad sounds unreasonable and he should pay for a nanny if he wants that level of education and involvement for his children.

I would probably take your boyfriend's offer and make it clear that you are leaving due to their unrealistic expectations and their requirements being far more than what was advertised. If you can report back to an agency or something at the same time so you get your side of the situation on record as well in case they try to bad mouth you.

It sounds like the boy would really probably come on with a mix of languages but his father issn't going to suddenly accept that his expectations are wrong.

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I'm on hold to the dwp and i'm NOT enjoying the anxiety and repeated playing of vivaldi's "spring"

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Mookish Deity Most High

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I hope it all went well, Florian.

A follow up:

As I was thinking of a way to tell them I was planning on leaving at the end of July, the parents explained to me that they aren't comfortable having an extra person around the house, and that they have decided they don't need an au pair after all, and that their son would benefit more from English lessons, all of which are points I agree with. They then asked me to leave, effective immediately, and gave me money to stay in a hotel.

I do think that the family and I weren't a good match, and I appreciate how nicely they went about explaining the reasons why they were letting me go - and I was planning on leaving anyway - but I don't think it's fair to ask me to leave on the same day.

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High Mookish Shaman

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That family sounds like a nightmare cowl, think it's for the best that you've parted ways but they could've given you at least 24 hours to get yourself packed an organized

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so what if i love each feather an each spangle, why not try an see things from a different angle?



Mookish Deity Most High

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^^Fuck, like... I appreciate that they gave you money to get a room but they effectively made you jobless and homeless instantly, having underpaid and overworked you already, because they realised that they made the wrong childcare and education decisions. Make sure you're paid for the work you did and learn from the experience is all I can say. If nothing else, you now know to be REALLY clear about your expectations of a role before any contract is agreed upon.

Spoilered to keep my miseries tidy. 

Spoiler



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Annointed Queen of Mook - Founder and Editor

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^I am feeling angry on your behalf about the managerial situation, but I don't see how they can possibly go over your head the next time a managerial position comes up. And although the congratulating manager should have had the basic awareness to maybe thank and acknowledge your guidance in getting him his position, I am glad that you have also had validation from managers and guests on your excellence.

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High Mookish Shaman

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I am in so much pain all the time now, I was really stupid an decided to stop taking my pain meds (coz I think I'm too young to be on this amount of medication) an the pain is now worse than its ever been

So back on the less pain sleepy time pills for me

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so what if i love each feather an each spangle, why not try an see things from a different angle?



Honoured Mook

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Looks like I'm gonna have to choose between my job and uni. It was to be expected but I was hoping I could just reduce my hours and still keep my job. They said they'd be supportive. Definitely doesn't make things easier. 



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Mookish Deity Most High

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I did something stupid. Chap left his phone in my room and I was going to take a few cheeky pictures when I noticed the last photo on his phone was boobs that aren't mine.

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Life Is A Mystery x Death Is Not = Angels and Eyeliner going to Hell hand in hand...

Mooky's Resident Cardinal of Awesomeness

 Don't make me take the shades off...



Mookish Deity Most High

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My extended family are so petty and racist that they have ostracised me because my partner is A Foreigner.



-- Edited by cowl on Tuesday 28th of August 2018 04:19:35 PM

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