Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Dilemma, Part 1: When There's An Elephant In The Room

Let’s 'idiom-ize' here and cut to the chase; lay the cards out on the table; get to the point; make no bones about it; call a spade a spade; get down to brass tacks, and not beat around the bush: It ain’t getting any better here. Please excuse my French but, Mon boulot me faisait chier[1] (See footnote)

Here’s the thing: I’m used to doing a good job. I’m used to people recognizing that I do a good job. I was that kid in elementary school that rarely ever had to change their behavior card from green to a yellow warning. Likewise, I’m also a good Au Pair; I know that, but something isn’t working. I’ve never met kids like this before (correction: A kid—I only have problems with one of the two). A kid whose whining would make you jealous of the hearing impaired, whose demeanor beckons for a beating, and who talks to me the way the 16 year-olds on MTV talk to their parents when they don't get a BMW for their Sweet 16. Then again, I’ve never met French children before so perhaps, therein lies my explanation.

If this was my first time working with kids, I would wonder, Maybe it’s me? But I’m no newbie; I know for sure, It’s definitely me. I go out of my way with them; I try to make them like me, but in a culture that is content on consistently being discontent, it's a no-win situation. You may get more bees with honey, but if they’re French bees, they're still going to sting you. I continuously go out of my way, to the point of making Ms. Poppins appear apathetic. Some mornings, I’ll get up early to make them French Toast ; they don’t want it, they want regular toast. An hour later, they want the French Toast. I offer to butter their bread and Nutella their toast; they don’t want it… That is, until their mom enters, to which of course, they conveniently change their mind. “Lauren, why didn’t you do this for them?” uhhhh really?!? No, but seriously, really?!

Games, puzzles, toys; you name it, I’ve tried it. I offer up ideas of things to do that a “normal” kid would happily agree to: “Want to go play outside?” No. “Want to go jump on the trampoline?” No. “Want to go to the Zoo?" No. “Want to make a fort? Make cookies? Make me a drink, then?” No. No. No. But wait, here’s the kicker: “Want to go get ice cream cones at McDonalds and play in their 3-story play-thingy?” uhh… wait for it….. No. So you just want to sit here and continue to be miserable? How very French of you.

And that’s just the kid(s). With home life, I don't want to be difficult, because well, I like to please.  I buy my own food because I know that I eat more plants than animals, and I don’t want to hold them back on their quotidian ham consumption. Some nights, I’ll make my own dinner, but it feels awkward being the outcast. Other nights, I’ll try to “take part in their culture/family” and cross my fingers that it isn’t going to be their infamous Pasta Surprise (surprise being that it’s the same ham and crème-fraiche sauce as last night). Pocket-size Kleenex: check!

But like I sid, my job is making me shit. Figuratively, my job is crap. I'm not sure if this is going to work.

  • The weather reached, wait for it... 60 degrees. In-cred-ible. The little boy and I had races outside: Scooter vs. Foot.
  • I bought the "Lonely Planet's Guide to Europe." I was sold on their books when I read one in Corsica and it read, "Don't waste your time with City X because it's actually quite ugly." Thank you, Lonely Planet, for being honest!
  • Babysitting this weekend for kids that aren't mine!
  • A clean room.
  • Some exciting plans in the works.


  1. Haha, my job is making me shit. I want to say that too. Actually, YOUR job is making me shit.

    I'm sorry it's been such a pain lately. You came up with a lot of idioms. I'm impressed and intrigued.

    I hope we can catch up soon!!! I love our yahoo chats :) Thinking of you!

  2. while the last one brought tears to my eyes, this one made me laugh-and i needed it-thanks! love, mom

  3. jeeeezus. get outta there girl!! i'm glad you're not going to put up with being treated that way anymore. sadly i don't have any good connections to hook you up with in uncle is an unemployed gay bachelor lol. he's fun but not too helpful. hope you can tough it out for the rest of your time with them( i know you can!) and take it easy with the ativan, though i know how tempting it is lol

  4. Aw I am torn between empathy and laughing my butt off at the french translation! I am really sorry that things aren't working out in your job. Maybe it's just a personality clash, you know? Along the lines of, you are lovely and they are miserable crazy people. I really hope you can find another job in France because I would hate for this to be your lasting impression of Europe. We're not all grumpy and critical! I think you're a star to have stuck it out so long ;) and I will eagerly await to hear what comes after the to be continued...

  5. are there any bloggers in paris who will take you in??? umm, and i would SOOO go live with stef's gay unemployed uncle.. major improvement over bratty punks!
    kids are hard.. they are probably like that with every single person they come in contact with who isnt their parent. and parents tend to have blinders on when it comes to their kids. have you tried talking to the parents about their behavior? sticking up for yourself when they say something like, "why didnt you do this for them?" "um.. hello because your kid is a freakin brat and changed her mind because she saw YOU!" (maybe not those words exactly.. lol)
    im waiting to hear what you have to say next!!

  6. I find that most problems can be solved with a well prepared dinner and a little Rat Poison.

    Here is an imaginary hug... I hope you feel better

  7. oh my goodness... girl, you got willpower to do that. i had to deal with hellians for 3 summers one time- these kids were your run of the mill wild children who lived on the side of a mountain and all their kin lived around them. they even tried to start my MANUAL car and drive it DOWN the mountain. the house had guns, bow & arrows, animals everywhere. you name it, these kids did it. they were SO BAD and they did it on purpose for attention and knowing that their parent would simply scream their heads off at them(which obviously didnt help) and smack them around. while i felt bad for the,, soemtimes i wanted to smack them myself!

    what i have learned- make them earn your trust and respect. they have to respect you before they will be interested in you

  8. love your writing! love your story.

    and to be continued? ughh...need to know!
    did they buy you a car?? ha, i'm sure that isn't
    the case. but what would be a rather sweet gesture, no?

    i would be SCREAMING to get out.

    hand in there, i'll be crossing my fingers you find something better so you can get out of the hellish mess!