What They Don’t Tell You About Being An Au Pair In Paris
The Candid Au Pair.
You have arrived and met the three little angels you are to look after. Your bedroom is nice and the bathroom is clean. You are bonding with the kids, learning their schedule and perhaps a few of their cute quirks like Sandrine can’t take her bath without her stuffed toy poodle …..awh !
Question for former Au Pair in Paris Jillian (name has been changed to protect the guilty).
Jullian, what was your first impression of your host family?
When I originally accepted the position with the family I was told there were two kids to look after, one girl aged 7 and one boy aged 9 who had ADHD. When I arrived however, it was quite clear there were actually 3 children ! They forgot to mention the third child ! Also, I’m American and when someone in America tells you their child has ADHD, they really mean that they need help concentrating and will probably need a push to complete their homework….not so much in France ! This ADHD boy greeted me by tonguing my neck and squeezing my boobs, the perfect welcome!
Your world doesn’t start to come crashing down around you until the next school day. Let me set the scene for you. The parents, who are lawyers (because they are all lawyers) have their bedroom at one end of the luxurious 150 square foot apartment, whilst your bedroom is at the other end, next door to the kid’s. You are rudely awoken at stupid o’clock in the morning by three little monsters who are ready to torture their new guest. You spend two hours trying to get the kids to be quiet and go back to bed to no avail. You admit defeat and decide it’s best just to stay up.
At breakfast, the mom explains to you that all three kids have to be in school by 9am but they each go to three separate schools 15minutes apart. The youngest one can’t be trusted on his own so you will have to wait until the teacher comes, which will inevitably make you late for the 9am curfew of the next school.
After being shouted at in French by the school teacher for being late and exhausted from your early wake up call, bed and a silent house is calling you. You vow to try harder tomorrow and fall fast asleep. Before you know it, school is out and it’s time to pick up the kids. The second round of being shouted at in French begins as of course, each of the three kids gets out at the same time and you cant be in three places at once. To make matters worse, the middle child decided to start walking home by herself, giving you a minor heart attack before you finally caught up with her. All three angels are moaning as you drag them to their afterschool activities whilst feeding them their snack as you walk. You try to sneak a biscuit yourself, as you haven’t eaten all day due to stress, but the kid catches you and the guilt sets in – no problem, you’ll enjoy your dinner tonight!
How did you manage getting all the kids to school on time?
Every morning was like a brush with death. It started with the first tantrum of the day when the boy would throw a fit because he wasn’t allowed to take his micro scooter to school. Already late, I would eventually give in and spend the journey to the bus stop screaming at him to slow down and stay on the footpath. There was never a seat on the bus and he refused to hold on to the pole, so with one hand on my pole, the other holding the scooter, I spent the entire journey trying to hold him up with my leg. After two months, I decided he would learn better if he just fell, then maybe he would hold on properly – all this did was incite dirty looks from the other passengers for letting him fall, whilst the girl would point at everyone she saw and scream BANANA at them… ideal.
Every kid is screaming, two of them are running naked around the house attempting to strangle the other one and the mom has just called to say she will make dinner tonight so will be home early! You are losing control and you just need this to be done so you bring out the big guns… candy! You bribe all three kids with chocolate and candy and eventually everyone is dressed for bed, just in time to hear mom’s key in the door.
Question: Tell us your worst shower time story
Even though we rotated who’s turn it was to go first in the shower, there was always a tantrum. The worst episode was when the little girl ran to the kitchen and exclaimed that she was going to take a knife and cut her sister for not going first in the shower ! She was 7! Thankfully I managed to stop her before she grabbed the knife. Needless to say, nobody got showered that night and I drank copious amounts of wine after dinner.
Mom is home so you can shut off for a while, finally eat something and plan to skype your friends at home to tell them how mental your day has been. Your starving brain is dreaming of hearty french food, a big roast chicken with gravy and fresh bread but that is wiped clean when a plate of grated carrot is presented to you. You wait and wait and wait a little more, hoping you’re mistaken, but no. Everyone else digs in and you accept that this is all you are getting for dinner. If only you knew you’d be getting sliced courgette tomorrow night and plain over cooked pasta the following evening. Ma Vie à Paris!