The Downside of Expatriate Life

Now that we have committed to staying another year, I find myself strangely homesick. It’s weird. I really wanted to stay another year but now that we have decided, I find myself missing my friends and family. I also find myself just missing American culture and “how things are done”.

I think it’s exacerbated because we have three kids. I know that overall this is a super positive and life-enhancing experience for them, but I still worry about the negative aspects of the culture around us that we see every day – the plethora of teenage parents, the sexism, our nanny’s ten year old who wears lipstick and high heels and proudly announces that she is going out with a boy and is soon getting a Blackberry (Blackberries are really big here and all kids want them and many get them!)

I think I am especially down today because I have come to the end of my rope with our nanny. We are paying top dollar by Colombian standards to get somebody who is educated and has worked as a teacher and what I see is minimum effort and a poor attitude. I know that she has bigger aspirations than to be a nanny, but that’s really not my problem. I would be happier with somebody who is happy with being a nanny, with being paid well and treated nicely. I also really don’t respect the way she parents her own daughter (may be none of my business but who my girls have as an influence in their life is my business) and the influence her daughter could have over my girls. Plus, it has come out after a lot of passive/aggressive behavior on her part, that she no longer wants to do sleepovers on the weekends.

No problem, our housekeeper was thrilled when I asked her if she would be interested in baby-sitting on either Friday or Saturday nights. She will make in one night twice what she makes for a whole day of cooking and cleaning and all she has to do is put the kids to bed at 8 pm, sleep in our house, and get up and make them breakfast. And she can bring her kids if she wants. She quickly replied, “Si, Senora. That would be great and would really help me out. Thank you for thinking of me.” Sleepover problem solved but the passive aggressive way our nanny handled the whole thing over the past month (telling me at the last minute that she has to leave super early in the am or telling me at the last minute that she can’t do it when we already had plans or sending Siena to wake me up early to tell me that she has to leave without mentioning it the night before and then not even calling me back after I call her) really left a bad taste in my mouth.

I keep thinking that if we were in the States, I would have fired her a long time ago. But here, everybody cautions of abusive, untrustworthy nannies and of course, that has made me wonder if maybe I should just leave well enough alone. Plus the girls love her. She is like the “cool older friend” who lets them do whatever and lets her own daughter do whatever. Great for my girls but again, not what I am looking for in a nanny.

So I decided to stop living out of fear that there might not be anybody better out there, and start looking around. It doesn’t hurt to look. I have contacted all of my friends here to see if anybody knows anybody who is educated or at least has experience working with kids, likes to play with kids, is loving, responsible and reliable, and most of all, wants to work and will appreciate having a job where she is well paid and treated kindly.

As for missing friends, family and the comfort of my culture, I guess that’s just a normal part of expatriate life. I suppose it will come and go throughout our stay here.

This entry was posted in Life in Colombia, parenting in Colombia, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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