Home > City mama, motherhood, the playground > A question of ethics and practicality

A question of ethics and practicality

Last week, The Child and I went to one of my favorite playgrounds, on the Cambridge Common. It’s nicer, a bit, than my usual local place, and it’s often full of hot gay dads in tiny shirts, so bonus! Plus, and this is the real reason, it’s a stone’s throw from Burdick’s chocolate.

Burdick’s hot chocolate is like heaven in a cup. For $5.50.

Anyway, when I walked in, I noticed a woman, young, pretty, blonde, reading on the bench, making marks in a notebook. My first thought was that this was a stupid place to do homework. Other park benches were much quieter. And clearly she wasn’t a mom or nanny — she wasn’t looking up often enough to be taking care of anyone young enough not to be in school.

As I thought this, an older child of Asian descent — maybe 7 or 8 — ran by. I nodded to myself that clearly she was this little girl’s nanny or mom, that the little girl was old enough not to need immediate supervision, and sort of let the whole matter fall from my brain.

I started chatting up one of the other mom’s, a cool-looking woman with excellent hair and overalls and a cute kid with a griffin on his sweater. I love griffins. She was nice and we sort of talked whenever our kids came into orbit around each other. (Her son was a bit older than The Child and capable of mastering the dreaded Wobbly Ladder, which is well out of The Child’s reach. Literally. She can’t touch the rungs.)

Anyway, she pointed out a little girl — I’d say maybe 3? — who was running around without any apparent adult supervision. The park was pretty thinly populated, so it didn’t take much thinking to realize that this little girl was clearly associated with the nanny doing her homework.  What had been okay, if a little dodgy, behavior in the nanny with a 7 year old was totally unsafe with this 3 year old.

But what could we do?

We talked about it and the cool mom talked with the little girl, got her first name. But then we became stuck. Outside of A. calling the cops, who couldn’t do anything because the kid wasn’t being abused B. confronting the nanny and how much good would that do you? or C. keeping an eye out for the little girl with her parents some day to rat out the nanny, what could we do?

I’m facing a similar situation, though of somewhat less dire proportions, in my own backyard playground. (Cambridge is about 3 miles away.) There’s a nanny I see a lot — she’s young, bleached, hot, wears slinky sweats and belly shirts all the time — who is just awful. She totally fails to interact with the kid. He will sit on her lap at the library story hour and scream and she just sits there. She parks him in his stroller at the playground and just sits there. Since the child is still not mobile, I don’t imagine there’s a lot that the neglect will do to physically endanger him. But I plan to figure out who the parents are and let ’em know that this is a crappy nanny. I know that won’t be a problem because I live in the area and will eventaully bump into them without the nanny. That wasn’t an option with the little girl at the Cambridge Common Playground.

But I still feel guilty about not doing anything. I just don’t know what I could have done.

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  1. October 1, 2007 at 8:05 pm

    Ok, I tried to comment but left a link so WP thinks it is spam. Anyway, there is a site to report Bad Nanny behavior in my other comment. 🙂

  2. Wendy
    October 1, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    I was going to say the same thing as Karrie. It is worth a try.

  3. October 3, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    I always thought those “How’s my Nanny Doing?” things – the kind a particular parent signs onto – were a little creepy… but now I’m thinking about it in a new way. There really isn’t any way for us to get in touch with this kid’s parents, without some kind of mechanism like that. Maybe next time we could sneak a note into her coat pocket? Hey, that has potential. 🙂
    Cool blog! (And flattering description of self and son. 🙂 Good to be blog buddies.

  4. October 4, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    The only thing I can think of is posting about it on Craigslist under the childcare section–with descriptions of the parties involved. Even if the parents don’t see it, maybe someone they know might…

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