Thursday, 9 December 2010

I want the truth not something beautiful - lying is incompatible with childcare

Warning - language may offend..

It started with small things, implausible, minor things - denying any knowledge of something she had definitely done, strange things - 'catching her belly button piercing on railings', mimicking my back pain symptoms. Telling me stories that just didn't quite hold water.

Then it started to escalate, our new Au Pair Ruby* said she wanted to visit her aunt and I believed her, even said she could finish early for the week-end so she could get there at a reasonable hour. She got back late on the Sunday and told me they'd been to Chatsworth, weird, because it's closer to Manchester than her Aunt's.

The following week-end our lovely ex-Au Pair Ellen* was visiting from university and a Christmas Market outing and family dinner planned, including Ruby. Ellen and I were out having a coffee while the girls were at Stagecoach when we got a tearful phone call - Ruby's uncle had had a stroke and could she go? Alarm bells started to go off for me - too elaborate an explanation, for something that needed no permission. Poor Ellen swallowed it hook line and sinker.

Supposed to come back on Sunday, Ruby texted me to say all the trains were cancelled because of snow. I texted back telling her to go back to her aunt, she confirmed later that was there. Of course I checked - no, the trains weren't cancelled...Luckily I worked at home on Monday - she didn't get back until 4.30 so I had to pick the girls up. 'I was at the hospital all morning' she said. Stinking of cigarette smoke, she was wearing her hair extensions - strange, I thought, to remember your hair extensions when you're on a mercy mission...

I started to track her Facebook photos. Not my 'friend' she had befriended Ellen and that gave me access to her albums. I noticed she had recently posted a new profile photo, from Chatsworth and with it were comments from someone she had never mentioned, someone clearly not her Aunt, planning the trip at the week-end. And, Euwww, photos of her newly pierced belly button. Her twitter feed regularly said she was going back to bed - at 9am! 'because that's what I do..hehe'

Macca and I agreed we would ask her to leave at Christmas, when she went home to Canada. We said we would do it on Sunday. But then came Friday, Friday sealed her fate. She came bouncing into the kitchen as I cleaned up after dinner. 'That was my uncle, he's so much better, a bit groggy but better. You know, I think I'll go and visit him'. Fine, I said. While she 'packed' I texted Macca 'uncle made a miraculous recovery, going to Nottingham to visit him, she must think I'm a fucking moron'.

I met her in the hallway, looked her in the eye and asked her if she was lying. She denied it so, so completely - But I told her that in case she didn't come back, I wanted her keys. She gave then to me unquestioningly. texting me from the train she said 'I feel so bad That you've had any doubts about me and horrible that you can't trust me when you can 100%. I'm going to work really hard to prove you can'. She really did think I was a fucking moron..

On Sunday I called her Aunt, No she hadn't been there the previous 3 week-ends, she never turned up for the one week-end she had arranged and never gave an explanation. No, there is no uncle, Aunt is divorced.

I told her that we were sacking Ruby but we wanted to make sure she had somewhere to stay until Christmas. Aunt agreed, and contacted Ruby's mother who also called me. Both were mortified but told me I was doing the right thing, that I couldn't have someone who so routinely and blatantly lied to me looking after my kids.

Her mother said she felt so sad and at the time I did too... But then, dear reader, Ruby came back, and did not bat an eyelid to find her stuff packed up and waiting for her in the hall.

Nor did she show any emotion when we confronted her with the terrible state her bedroom and bathroom were in - she clearly spent all her time lying in bed eating sweets and dropping the wrappers on the floor, she had never taken out the rubbish, changed her bed linen or even rinsed her sink after spitting toothpaste in it. Of 10 drawers only one was occupied, everything else was ON THE FLOOR.

We told her she had to leave because she could not be relied on to tell the truth. She told us she understood, she told us she 'wouldn't take it personally' WTF? She was the one who lied...

The final straw came when she left. We made her give back the our Blackberry. Always remember your employer's tech belongs TO YOUR EMPLOYER. There it was, the entire sorry history of her deception,her texts to her friend saying she'd 'They've gone for coffee, I'll give them a few minutes before I call' 'I'll pretend cry and tell them someone is sick', the forwarding of her 'sorry' text to her friend and my terse response 'fine, we'll talk when you're back. Have a good week-end' (subtext - cos it will be your last one, bee-atch). The 'OMG, what have I done? Ah well,I won't let it ruin my week-end' (why not? You may have ruined your life - jobless and homeless 1,000s of miles from home - go figure) and the clincher 'I so want to get high'.

We so did the right thing.

*names changed

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. OMG..... You SO did the right thing! And so nice of you to check that she had someplace to stay! I think I might not have bothered.
    I have thought about the whole au-pair experience a lot over the past few years. We went through several while still living in the UK. A strange thing to welcome a total stranger into your home, hand over keys to your home, car, access to computers,etc. But most importantly, hand over a share in caring for your children. I felt so guilty doing it, but I have to admit to reading emails the girls sent friends/family occasionally to make sure all was 'above-board'.
    On the whole, we were lucky with our au-pairs. I do think, however, your *Robin would have got on brilliantly with our *Helene (name not changed), who would come home reeking of smoke and alcohol after being out in my lovely Renault Clio. Catching her smoking in her room and complaining bitterly about us (and kids!) to friends via email sealed her fate.
    Hey, if you don't at least LIKE us, see ya. We didn't like you that much, either.
    Demworkingmum, I'm sure you'll find another *Ellen soon.

  2. It's an awesome responsibility to be an employer. I really believe that the reason some entrepreneurs don't grow their businesses, is (unconsciously) because they don't want the strain and hassles that often come with employing people. And add childcare to the mix - wow! I don't know how parents do it!

    Your story reminded me how blessed I am to have such a dependable and honest Personal Assistant. Fortunately, it is possible to find good employees!


  3. Thanks Mich, thanks Dane. My fault in some ways, Hubris after having some lovely girls who were like daughters - see the 'Ellen' link. It took a long time to face up to what I deep down already knew,, purely because I didn't want to believe this was happening...

  4. That is just ridiculous. How dumb not to try to clear that stuff off of the Blackberry.

    All good proof that Social Media can be visible to everyone. Watch what you say. Watch what pics you're tagged in.


  5. Seeing the date on this I realised I missed the whole drama because I was away on business at the time and not checking in on Twitter etc. What a little terror! :(