Unfortunatly for us, our present Au Pair Jan's year is comming to an end, and we are starting our search for another one. We love Jan, and wish she would stay longer, but her grandmother is sick back in Thailand, and she wants to head home.
For those of you who do not know, an au pair is part of a cultural exchange program set up with the U.S. government. Refering to my favorite source wikipedia,:
"An au pair (plural: au pairs) is a foreign-national domestic assistant working for, and living as part of, a host family. Typically, au pairs are girls or young women and take on a share of the family's responsibility for child care as well as some housework, and receive a small monetary allowance for personal use. The title comes from the French term au pair, meaning "on a par" or "equal to", indicating that the relationship is intended to be one of equals: the au pair is intended to become a member of the family, albeit a temporary one, rather than a domestic servant. In the best circumstances, both parties benefit from learning about the other's culture."
So far we have had two au pairs we have absolutely loved, and we will definitly always consider them to be members of our family. Our first au pair was from Poland, and she stayed with us for 2 years before getting married and moving down the road from our own home. We still talk with her and visit her regularly, and she is now expecting her own little bundle of joy. Jan is from Thailand, and she has been absolutely great also. She makes the best nut free, egg free Thai food ever!!! Everyone loves her and we are hoping she comes back to the area for school in the near future.
The reason this is all so scarey, is despite these two absolutely wonderful experiences we did have one terrible, horribe nightmare in between them.
(we call this one Vicky from the Fairly Odd Parents to protect her identity)
Vicky lasted for 4 days, and that was generous. The final straw for me was when we decided to head to a local swimming pool one afternoon. At that time I had two 4 year olds, and an almost 3 year old, none of who could swim very well. When we got to the pool she looked at it in horror and said "there is chlorine in the pool......I refuse to get into a pool with chlorine" My response was "excuse me...I thought I just heard you say you refuse to get into a pool with chlorine in it. I am sure I must be mistaken" Vicky put her nose in the air like I was asking her to jump into a vat of boiling water while I tried to figure out why it was a bad thing to put chlorine in a pool, and what other options there were to keep a pool clean. Vicky also called all of our food dog food, and once ran off crying because we have crackers here that come in the shape of goldfish. She could not understand whether they were a toy or a food or both. Even after we decided she was just not the right match for us we had to keep her in our home for two weeks, freeze our long distance so she could not make thousands of dollars of calls and lock up our valuables.
Finding an au pair is stressful enough without adding on the issues of life threatening food allergies and asthma. I always worry I am going to find someone out back tied up to the play set while my three little angles dance around her. Then on top of that you have to try and explain the situation to someone whose english may be a bit questionable, and there you have it
I had one person once think I was joking when I said we don't keep eggs in the house. The nuts she could understand, but not eggs!! How could anyone possibly survive without eggs??? (obviously she has not tried Veganaise) The horror!! Then you need to explain the epi pen, emergency protocol and everything else, and hope they get it. And they have to be responsible enough to handle an emergency. Yikes!!
And so my search begins. Wish me luck. I will keep you updated.........