Saturday, April 30, 2005

Something I did not write about last week because I was so overwhelmed with joy at all the love Nutmeg was sopping up from her FOUR grandparents in town to celebrate her birthday. A crisis came up last Thursday when I was foolishly stopping in at work, with a sleeping baby in the stroller and a bundle of flowers for the party and a cheesecake for my mom's birthday in the stroller basket. I checked my email at work and found out that Vida, the woman I'd spent a month getting to know, CHANGED HER MIND AND DIDN'T WANT TO BE NUTMEG'S CAREGIVER AFTER ALL. This was two weeks before the planned start date for said childcare. That start date is now five days away, but I'm no longer panicking because it looks like I have a couple of very good options lined up.
Here's what happened with Vida, the stay-at-home mother of two with the native Mandarin and the degree in child development and the lovely big apartment full of toys. The second time I met with her, I asked her if she would be OK with us running a background check on her. She said fine. So the next time I saw her, when we did our test afternoon, I dropped off some information about the state Trustline program, which keeps a registry of caregivers whose background is clear of child abuse and felony convictions. I asked her by email a couple of times after that if she was interested in registering with Trustline at my expense, or if she would prefer that I hired a service to do the background check. EAch time she said she hadn't gotten around to looking at the info yet. When she finally did, about two weeks later, she said that it looked like a criminal background check and "my husband and I are certainly not in that category." I explained to her that while they were obviously wonderful people who were certainly not crooks, this was a fairly standard step in the process of hiring a caregiver, and that being registered -- on my dime -- would actually help her get more childcare work if she wanted it.

She then sent me the email saying she'd pass on the opportunity to care for my brilliant and adorable child. In a subsequent phone conversation, she explained that if I couldn't trust my instincts and trust her, then it just wasn't going to work out. Never mind that my friggin' instincts told me that no matter how nice someone seemed, I'd better get a damn background check just to be safe.

Aside from the outrage that ANYONE would turn down the chance to GET PAID to spend all day with the adorable Nutmeg, I was obviously outraged that this woman would leave me high and dry after I spent a month getting to know her, and leave me with just 2 weeks to find somene to take care of Nutmeg. And it didn't help my nerves any for this to happen on the day all four of Nutmeg's grandparents were arriving, when I was supposed to be packing up and loading the car with her strapped to my back and driving up to the Russian River to put together the biggest event of her young life.

Now that I've had some time to think about it, I'm realizing that even though she was wonderfully qualified, this Vida and I probably would not have gelled. She was going to call all the shots, even when it came to decisions I should have made for my own child. I doubt she would have listened if I had asked her to change anything she was doing with Nutmeg during the day. After all, she's the expert.

Anyway, tomorrow a highly recommended nanny is coming to our home to meet us. She's also Chinese, and I found her through an ad her current employer posted on Craigslist. Their kid is going off to preschool. Of course, we can't afford to pay a nanny all by ourselves, but there is also a Chinese/Jewish family with a 16-month-old coming by who are interested in share care. So everything may be falling into place. And as another option, there is a home daycare that I'd been checking out all along -- another Chinese lady -- and I just got off the phone with a mother who has had her kids going there for 7 years and loves her and considers her a second grandmother to her children. Funny thing is, the nanny would cost us much more than we planned to pay, and this place is much less -- just $25 a day. I don't know, maybe I could send her to one of them one day a week. Or something. More tomorrow.

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