Is There a Nanny Cam for the Park?

Monday, July 26, 2010

I took my son to that “new” park we found a few times last week. It’s kind of what we do since we still don’t really know anyone in Montclair. We went early in the morning before the sun cranked up its swelter. We did our thing: walked the grounds, pointed out birds, made sounds like birds, pushed the toy stroller over here and then back down there, and spent a short time on the swings.

As I slowed his swinging down to get out and get a move on, I noticed a black nanny and the white toddler boy she was minding. Actually, I couldn’t help but notice them.

The nanny roughly set him down on the bench next to her. She sucked her teeth and barked, “Everything’s a problem with you. Everything! Get on my nerves.”

The boy—Harrison, she called him, sharply—was probably 2 years old, but not older than 3 years. He was doing a mix of crying and whining. Something about not wanting the particular snack she handed him. She was sitting next to a friend, another nanny, who was rather busy devouring an apple. Harrison’s nanny turned to her friend, shaking her head with annoyance. The friend chuckled.

Then Harrison must have asked for water or juice because she said, again roughly, “If you don’t say the magic word, you ain’t getting a drop.”

At this point, my son and I had moved off the swings and had started making our way out the playground. We were far enough from Harrison and the nanny that I should not have been able to hear this. She was talking at him that loudly.

I took a few more steps forward then stopped.  QB looked up at me, probably wondering why I wasn’t still walking. I wanted to turn around and head back over there. I wanted to talk to the nanny, wag my finger, and tell her that her way was no way to deal with a child.

I looked back at where they were. Harrison was off playing on the wobbly car ride and the nanny was waving at him from the bench.

So I continued walking across the grass to our car. The whole drive home, I was thinking that I should have stepped up, spoken up when I heard the nanny’s first growl. I told myself that I should have made a big deal about it. Get in her face about it. Tell her that I was going to tell someone else about it. “I would want to know if someone was mistreating my child,” I said, reasoning it out. But was she mistreating him? Did I perhaps only see half of the story?

It’s fine line between speaking up and speaking out of turn.

I’m curious, what would you have done?

  • 1
    Jessie says:

    that’s a tough one. i’ve been on both ends of this dilemma at this point: saw some strange behavior at the park and didn’t speak up, then had another mother let me know about some strange behavior by what she thought was my nanny…. turned out to be a relative, which made everything a million times worse… i think i’d always rather know. that said, saying something to the nanny in the moment probably wouldn’t make a difference–might just embarrass her and in turn make her even more annoyed with poor harrison.

    good post. got me thinking

    • 1.1
      Ms. Mack says:

      The other thing, Jessie? The “mean” nanny’s buddy–the one going to town on that apple–was one big woman. I’m tough, but not crazy. Last thing I wanted was an ugly scene at the playground while my son looks on.

      And you’re right, it’s not an easy situation. Handling it the “right” way can be a challenge.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!