This may be quite a long OP, because essentially I'm 'unloading' and also, a certain amount of background is necessary - apologies in advance).
The background. From about the age of 3 months (when my wife went back to work) our nanny (we've had a total of 4) has slept with our daughter (14 months). The reason for this is simple: money - not that we make loads but that we haven't got any and if we're ever going to make a life here we both have to work. The last nanny (who left yesterday) had been with us for about 8 months and had been generally fantastic. Our daughter Cat loved her, she spoke basic English (good for me) and had a certain degree of maturity, high-school education etc. Naturally , she and my daughter had formed a strong attachment, but this was never percieved as a problem by myself or my wife. Essentially we trusted her with Cat and that's all that mattered. She was paid 10,000BHT a month (all bed and board natch) and was also paid 500 for her day off (if she got back that evening). She didn't do any cleaning, cooking - only things relating to her charge (Cat).
On Friday we all went down to a hotel in Pattaya (our first beak since Cat was born) intending to stay till Sunday; in fact we (fatally) extended our stay till Monday. We had a kind of one-bedroomed flat type affair (big living area) in a very nice place in Nuklua - 50% discount with the wife bro-in-law's C-Card. We got an extra bed dragged in and made up a bed for Cat next to it.
Right from the off, the nanny was in a bit of a wierd mood (not like her at all) and the weather (cool & thundery!!) didn't help matters. On my birthday (Sunday) she was in a bad mood from the off after I suggested she go and have breakfast alone (and Cat, Cherry and myself would follow). We were cutting it fine for the 10 o'clock cutoff (wife still in shower) and I was concerned she wouldn't cop her brunch after having fed, bathed, walked and Cat since 6/7 (she usually eats when Cat has her morning sleep). She interpreted this as meaning I 'didn't trust her' to take Cat with her to breakfast. Idiotic: I merely questioned her abiliyt to negotiate a multi-table buffet (and enjoy its yields) with a 14-month-old.
It is true however that I'm something of a nazi about my daughter's food. Having seen Thai parants buy pot noodles for their 2 year-olds, worked at a school where they allow comapanies to hand out free MSG-loaded snacks in front of the kindergarten and having bought any amount of (to my mind) 'savory' products - chicken pasty, tuna sandwich etc, etc - only to find them sweeter propostions than Paddington Bear's suitcase, I feel I have enough justification.
Food had been a point of conflict with this girl. I make (and freeze) the majority of Cat's food. One day I caught her tipping about a desertspoon full of nam pla into a small tupperware box of my defrosted food - which my daughter needs no invitation to consume (I worked in the food industry for years and know about both taste and nutrition).
The only other point of conflict with Mae (for that is her name) was when I caught my daughter 'wai-ing' the elephant-laden ancestors' shrine in the moo-ban. I realised Mae had taught her to do this and I expressed my disapproval. Like most people I've always been a bit indulgent of Buddhism (seeing it as a relatively benign and non-didactic religion) but the Thai version appears to me to be as much about self-enrichment as self-knowledge and seems to underpin an immensely effective form of national mind-control which tips its adherents the wrong side of the acceptance/quietism dividing line. I'm on the other side of this line of course, so when I say 'expressed my disapproval' one ought to read an implied adjective (such as 'forcefully'). On occasions since this moment (when in a taxi on my way to work), I have seen my daughter's pushchair plonked in front of the shrine - her hands presumably pressed together in greeting - and I've let it go.
However, on my birthday, it's natural I feel to allow oneself a Leo or two and, after spoiling the day with her moody, truculent face, Mae copped a bit more 'disapproval' in the beachfront restaurant when, as I was chapreoneing my toddler, she (Cat) tore off towards the restaurant 'house spirit' wai-ing in a crazy kind of sawing motion of (to my mind) extreme supplication.
This is a 14-month-old child. I'm afraid Mae got both barrels - 'how dare you?' 'mumbo-jumbo', 'you don't know anything' and probably the clincher: 'my child, not yours'.
Even thought the place was deserted, I caused her to 'lose face' and hence she decided to leave half an hour after we returned to Bangkok, plunging us into a bit of a childcare nightmare.
Her prerogative, of course; I merely start this thread as a way of, as I say, 'unloading' some of my thoughts/frustrations about living here, but also out of genuine interest as to what people's reactions are. Of course, there'll be no lasting damage to my child (if she does end up growing up here, I'll make sure she knows just what an insidious system of brainwashing exists) and I'm genuinely regretful Cat and Mae's wonderful relationship has been sundered because of such a triviality, but at the same time I felt shocked at seeing my own toddler doing this stuff.
Last edited by tropic of cancer; 28th October 2008 at 22:48.
You did exactly the right thing. If you become complacent in the care of your daughter, she will become what others make of her. I further commend you on your dietary profiency.
Trying not to generalise, Thai's sometimes seem thrive on thinking they know everything about food and what is good for you. Some will even dump things in your food for you, because it's the way they like it. I personally hate 'pat see uut' with a spoon of sugar and peanuts on it. It taste great with just a dash of vinegar and peppers to me. To each their own.
When you find anothr nanny, try to lay down ground rules before you hire them, sit down and make a list with your ol' lady and translate any that need be, and ensure the new nanny knows before hand how you want her raised....good luck
Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out.
You will be lucky to find a nanny that doesn't push Buddhist dogma on your child. Keep an eye on the next door neighbors and the mom and pop store owners as well. It is indoctrination training your child to wai unconditionally at hollow idols but it is what the nanny has grown up with and she sees it as 'right' or 'proper' behavior and you as being ignorant and stupid for not recognizing it.
How does your wife feel about this dogmatic behavior?
Are you sure it didn't come from her? (assuming she is Thai)
I chose not to use a nanny and my wife stayed at home happily for my sons infancy. It's your family but these first few years are very important in terms of what bonds, behaviors and expectations your child has about you and the world. It's a special time and you and your wife should be with her. Consider lowering your income and one of you staying at home with her instead. Roof and food are all you really need.
We could all sit outside on banana lounges discussing the best way to rebuild a 4WD transmission and agree, through shared stories of conquests supporting our assertions, that there is no basis to the proposition that those least assured of their persuasions are the first to condemn others for theirs.
I don't have any kids, but I am sure if I did I would have reacted in the exact same way that you did. Talk to your wife about this (assuming she is Thai) and when you interview the next nanny make sure that your wife sets strict ground rules.
Sorry about that incident and I hope you can find a new...and improved...nanny!
Reading the OP, I have a few questions of my own:
What of your wife's feelings about all this?
Is she a Thai Buddhist?
Does she have any say in the upbringing of her child?
You are living in Thailand, after all, with a Thai wife (presumably) and a Thai nanny, steeped in her own culture, who has little or no knowledge of your ways.
Ranting here is fine and I agree your predicament is unsettling...but please remember where you are.
...majestically enthroned amid the vulgar herd...
I guess I wonder what difference a cultural gesture makes (yes even towards a shrine), when compared with the ideas, feelings, actions, etc... her mind is/has been exposed to.
Your daughter's been made witness to a hasty (nasty?) departure of someone whom she seemingly could "love," whereas before this fallout she was only doing what the grownup (who spent the most time with her) does.
One the one hand, I agree that NO religion should ever be forced upon any child, (moreso a child that isn't yours to begin with!) but you can hardly ask the nanny not to follow her own routine of devout behaviorisms.(however hollow you see them to be) And then classic modelling just takes over.
If so, she will learn about these things, one way or another.
Better to stay focused on her mind, (diet great!!) and other such things rather than where she puts her hands. Just my opinion of course.
Last edited by jimbo; 29th October 2008 at 08:23. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
The core of the problem is that you're not there. Never would I leave my child in someone's care, especially an ignorant voodooist. If you can't be there to educate your child don't have children. The nanny is only human, she has parental drives, motherly instincts. You can't expect two people in contact for all those hours in a day not to bond. Children are like ducklings, following whomever leads.
This is something that is becoming a problem between me and the Mrs
.................I have no answers yet ..................................
I will be looking at all comments and thoughts on this page very deeply.
Thread of the year nomination. Very worthwhile ( except for the title )
Last edited by re_fuse; 29th October 2008 at 09:39. Reason: God said So :-)
Good luck getting a new nanny.
I love to hear from aging One.
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ถ้าหากมั่งมี แล้วพี่จะคืนมาใหม่, ไม่ว่าจะอยู่แห่งไหน จะนานเท่าไร ยังไม่ลืมบาง...
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Most Misleading Thread Title of the Year Award
troppo ,,,, dun tink too much
Mae wuz jus doin wot cums naturally 2 her
lay down da law,,, b4 da next nanny starts work
instead of jus layin down wiv da nanny,,,
As for diet, did you explain it to her? Most of my Thai neighbors and friends no longer eat half the shit they used to due to my admonishing.
Finally, in regard to wai-ing and such, how do you feel about how your daughter will be perceived (assuming she is at least half Thai) by not showing respect for her own customs and traditions (if she is half Thai). How she is perceived by others means everything in this culture.
If your duaghter is not Thai, I would recommend a fillipina, the ones I have known make excellent nannies, but the teach christianity when you aren't around.
"Having sex is like playing bridge. If you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand."
- Woody Allen
This sounds a genuine tale of woe for sure...but what is the answer?
Now that I no longer live in the LOS and have met many farangs with Thai wives back here, the one thing I would not like to do is to marry a Thai without having lived in the LOS to get used to the way of life...let's face it...nothing is the same in LOS...absolutely nothing.
The guys I know love their slim little model but struggle with the cultural differences...I do not struggle with some of the things they do...but I do struggle, often with a sleepless night coming to terms with things. So I acknowledge the OP's need and right to vent his spleen amongst friends...but I don't know what to say in response...I can see the Thai side and the farang side...and the one thing I know for sure is that Thais don't change easily...if at all...and if they changed would they not become like a farang woman...and what would we do then?
Riddle me this brother can you handle it
Your style to my style you can't hold a candle to it
Equinox symmetry and the balance is right
Smokin' and drinkin' on a Tuesday night
It's not how you play the game it's how you win it
I cheat and steal and sin and I'm a cynic