I used to tell anyone and everyone who would listen that we probably had the best nanny in the world. She wasn’t perfect – she had her flaws, of course – but she was someone that I got along with fairly well, basically since she was as OC as I was when it came to cleanliness, and I could see Sophie took well to her from the start, too. She had been with us since November of 2010, and there were very few times when we had issues with her. Issues that ran from minor to inconsequential. If you asked me a week ago how much I trusted her with my daughter, I would have said 100%.
That is, until Friday morning. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed she was capable of doing what she did then.
As is our usual custom, I take a break for a few minutes from work in the morning to give Sophie her vitamins and watch her while the nanny prepared the stuff for her bath time. That morning was no different – when my husband came in to our room to tell me Sophie was done with breakfast, I took a few more seconds to read a work-related email that just came in before finally rising from my chair. Our room is in direct view of the living room where my daughter sat with her nanny each morning to eat her cereals while watching her cartoons. I opened the door to our room, stepped out and was just going to call the nanny’s attention to bring Sophie into the dining room so I could give her her vitamins when I was stopped short by what I saw. And I felt as though all the blood had been drained from my body.
With her balled up fist, the nanny hit our daughter on the thigh. Really hard. There was a vicious look on her face as she did so – I will never forget it – then she looked up and was startled to see me. A thousand thoughts ran through my mind at the sight of that and it was all I could do to control myself, but it was still at a slightly raised tone that I demanded to know what she was doing and why she was hitting my kid. She said it was because Sophie kicked her slippers off and let them fall to the floor.
Months ago, when Sophie started showing signs of testing her boundaries, I told the nanny that I had no problem with her chastising my girl, and if she was really getting out of hand, to give Sophie a timeout. But I explicitly told her then never to raise her hand to my daughter. I reminded her of that conversation, and, really?! She hit my kid for letting her slippers fall to the floor?! Maybe if she’d used her palm to lightly spank Sophie, I’d have been willing to let it pass. MAYBE. I was furious but still managed to maintain a diplomatic tone when I asked her how in the world I will be able to trust her with my daughter again if she hit her for such a small offense.
What surprised me and angered me even more was instead of asking for forgiveness for what she did and promising me it was the first time it happened or that it won’t happen again, you know, like any normal person would do, she had the nerve to tell me in a haughty tone, “Well, in that case, if you can’t trust me anymore, I might as well just leave!”, as if she was the injured party in the scenario.
My husband, alarmed at the sound of raised voices, came out of the room and I quickly relayed what happened. He took Sophie into our room and I followed the nanny to hers where I found her packing up her stuff. I attempted to talk to her again to get her to understand why I was so infuriated over what she did, and also to try to understand why she did it. She was a mom herself, and I asked her “Would you like it if you found out someone hit your child, too?” – to which she replied that no, she wouldn’t like it either. But instead of making an effort to appease me, she showed absolutely no remorse, and when I brought this to her attention and asked what kind of person would act this way she sarcastically spat out, “An abnormal one!” and talked to me as if I was the one at fault. She repeated her stance that since I said I can’t trust her with Sophie anymore then she should just leave.
By then, my mind was made up anyway. There was no way, NO WAY I was going to let his woman near my daughter ever again after what I had just witnessed and I told her this in no uncertain terms. Determined to have the last word, she said “Fine!” (“Talaga!”), as if it would be her pleasure to up and leave.
The image has been replaying in my mind over and over again and my blood still runs cold every time, my whole body still shakes as I type this. I am beating myself up – I trusted this woman very much with my daughter, feeling that nothing like this could ever happen. After all, both my husband and I work from home. Something like this can’t possibly happen right under our noses, right? It can’t possibly happen while we were at home, when we were just in the other room, right?
I can’t help but think: Is this the first time that she hit my daughter? When this happened, Sophie didn’t even let out a whimper or a cry, even though it was obvious she was hurt as she touched the spot where she was hit. She only looked at the nanny with a pitiful expression on her face. This reaction from a kid who would loudly complain and let it be known to all that she was unhappy being put on timeout. Looking back on it now, was that an indication that she was used to this treatment from her nanny when no one was looking? There were certainly many times in the past that we left Sophie alone with her, trusting that she will provide the best care for her. I can’t bear the thought that Sophie was subjected to more than just this one time. Were there signs that I failed to see that pointed to the possibility of this happening? I remember now that a few months ago I started seeing scratch marks on Sophie’s torso and when I asked her nanny about it, she just waved it off by saying that Sophie was just very active and probably got it while playing. I remember there were days that Sophie told me how her nanny was “mad at her” and when I probed about it, she would say it was because she was naughty. I wish now I’d probed deeper to find out what made her say that. I’m probably being paranoid, but if I hadn’t caught her today, would the hitting have worsened?
And that is why I thank God that He let me see this happen that day. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and I believe that God allowed me to see it with my own eyes to prevent any worse incidents from taking place. I know that I’d been handed a gift, a blessing in disguise – not all parents who have suffered through the same experience find out until the hitting has reached aggravated proportions and their child has suffered worse horrors. While there are those who may think that we overreacted or decided too rashly to let our nanny go, I know in my heart we did the right thing for my daughter. I do believe in giving people a second chance, but our daughter’s safety and health are things that I would never willingly and knowingly risk.
I am writing about this to serve as a warning to other parents – Moms and Dads who, like us, entrust their children’s wellbeing to others – to keep a closer eye on your kids’ caregivers. I know that these days, there really is no other choice for many of us since we have to work to provide for our families. Time and time again, we hear of nannies caught on camera hurting the children they are supposed to be taking care of and keeping safe. I also know that not all nannies are the same. Like I said in the beginning of this post, I used to believe that our nanny was the best there is, and I never imagined she could hurt our little girl. But I learned another lesson the hard way that day, and worse, Sophie had to suffer through it. We really can never be too sure, can we?
The woman we hired to care for our daughter was not someone that we considered lightly for the job. We knew her sister for a long time – she worked for my mom’s neighbor for nearly 14 years and only quit when she needed to have an operation done for a myoma. When she had fully recovered, she applied as a helper for my mom, and since we knew her to be a great person who did well at her previous job, my mom took her on. When this person found out a few months later that I needed someone to take care of my daughter so I could go back to work, she referred her sister to me, and that is how I came by our nanny.
She came, and we completely welcomed her into our family, never making her feel like she was just hired help. We wanted to make sure she cared for Sophie really well, so we treated her graciously and did everything we knew to make her feel valuable – giving her a decent salary and bonuses, allowing her to take vacations when she needed to, giving her half of Saturday and all of Sunday off so she could have time to herself, she ate many times a day as she wanted to, and even benefitted from clothes, not only from me, but from other relatives as well. Most importantly, we gave her our complete trust and always showed our appreciation for everything that she does for us. This is not someone who had any cause to want to hurt our daughter to get back at us. Like I stated above, I had a lengthy conversation with her regarding disciplining Sophie, and she assured me then that she never liked to spank even her own kids. This was what lulled me into a false sense of security.
There is nothing more scarring than a betrayal of trust. I have been betrayed many times in my life before, and I’ve learned to forgive past hurts and move on. But never have I felt more vulnerable, more deeply hurt than I am because of what the woman we trusted to care for our daughter did. I’m honestly having a hard time getting over this and I know it’s going to be a long time before I can ever trust another person to care for Sophie.
That night I lay in bed so very exhausted, emotionally, physically. When the lights were turned off and as I listened to Sophie and Robert snoring softly beside me, I was hit by a tide of raw emotions that I held in check the whole day that I was afraid to let Sophie see. It felt like a dam had burst inside me and I gently hugged my daughter, afraid to wake her up but also needing to feel her safe in my arms. I felt as if I failed her and I was, and am, so, so sorry.
I know we’re called to forgive but I’m only human and I am finding it really hard to do this. For now, I can only pray that God will give me the strength I need to forgive and let go so that healing can begin.
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August 22nd, 2012
So, my incredibly talented and, might I add, very patient husband has gone and outdone himself with [...]