This is a rant post, so be ready for some long-winded grandmother stories ahead.
The reason I’m sharing this is to let others know that no matter how good your home helper is, please do not trust them 100%, not even 80%. Even if they seemed good in your eyes, you will not know what they are thinking. I'm not trying to stereotype or being unfair, but really, seeing and hearing so much horror stories, and experiencing them myself, better be safe than sorry.
We sent our home helper back to her home country on 12th September 2009, FOR GOOD.
It was heartache for me. Not when she’s gone, but while she’s here for the past 15 months.
I think when it comes to engaging home helpers it all boils down to luck. We were not lucky in our both attempts.
We sent our first helper back to the agent due to laziness; she put on 6 kgs in the 5 months she was with us. Need I say more?
When our second helper first came,
we were very happy with her. She’s bubbly, efficient and the kids loved playing with her. She called my kids “sayang” and “anakku”. My mum even suggested to offer her longer working term when her 2 years contract is completed (of course we did not let her know about this!). The only thing that was not so good about her was she made her own decisions (which often clashed with ours) and failed to inform/ ask permission before doing anything. But we thought nobody is perfect, and that as time goes by, she’ll learn to do things our way.
6 months passed,
and we started a bank account for her.
This was when she started to show her true colours. She started taking household things and used it as her own in her room, without permission. When things went missing, almost always I found them in her room. (For example, instead of using the toilet roll we gave her, she took a box of soft tissue to use on her royal butt; instead of washing her floor mat, she rotated her soiled one with the clean one in the kitchen, etc.)
We were already allowing her to call home with our house phone, but she started making phone calls without asking our permission, to other places than her home – 28 phone calls on 4 Sundays (when we’re out). When I confronted her with our bills, she said that's because she didn't have a mobile phone. Did I give her? No. I thought it will be fair if you ask for the things that you want, but not take that as a reason for your wrong-doing. I told her to continue using our house phone, but with permission.
She started to challenge my mum and demanded explanations. She started to defy our instructions on purpose, multiple times. When she did something wrong, she began finger-pointing. She began saying that the breakfast we bought for her tasted so horrible that she wanted to vomit (we ate the SAME bought breakfast without any problems). And more and more obviously, the kids stopped having anything to do with her (at hindsight, this should be a BIG warning sign to us).
We had one-to-one talks with her and pointed out things that she is NOT supposed to do. We always told her that we are staying together, working together, eating together; please be nice. I made it clear that she was here to help, not to create problems. When she started acting up again, I contacted the agent, who asked us to send her to their place for some “teaching”. We didn’t agree to that, so the agent came and lectured her in our house instead.
Of course she gave us the black face, but we saw improvement in her.
After we renewed her working visa for another year,
she was back to her old self, in fact to one that was even more hideous.
She started quarrelling with my mum, and having fights with my kids. I was furious and confronted her; of course she never admitted. Can you believe that many times when she was at fault, she would be the first person to tell-tale about my mum and HQ to me? I couldn’t believe what I’m hearing and seeing. I didn’t expect that a person can change from good to bad, to good, to bad again so easily. Everyday was stressful for mum and me; I could write a book on all the things that she had said and done…
Oh, I still can tolerate all the above. Overall, she still did her job well. But when she started laying her hands on my kids, that I cannot tolerate. I was urgently searching for a replacement then (of course without her knowledge).
my mum hid a baby hairclip (the smallest size of hairclips) on top of the refrigerator and told the helper not to bring it down for my daughter of 2 years old, fearing that she may swallow it. The next thing, my mum saw my little girl playing with the same hairclip, which she said kakak gave it to her.
On the same day, my son of 4 years old reported to mum (and me later in the evening) that kakak told him the following:
“Kalau koko telan diamond, bila balik rumah poo poo, koko akan dapat diamond.”
Malay: “If you swallow a diamond, and later go home and poo, you will get that piece of diamond.”
Oh my god!!! What was she thinking??? Can you put the two together? First, she took a small object and gave it to my 2 year old even after mum told her not to fearing QQ may swallow it. Next, she taught my son to swallow diamonds? And yes, we do have some thumb size sparkling fake diamonds that HQ plays with. Luckily my son said she “bohong” and told us; but what if she tricked my 2 year old into doing it? What if the object get stuck at the throat? I really dare not imagine…
That did it. I called the agent that night, and the helper was fetched away the very next day. On the way out, she even reinforced that she didn’t want to leave and made quite a show in front of my house.
You know what? I think she is mental. I hope we’ll never cross paths again. And I’m so glad she is gone before anything drastic happens. Come to think of it, I think she had the capacity for that.
I cannot comprehend this.
She eats the same food as us (more than even hubby, hands down!). She slept upstairs in her own single bedroom next to ours, with her own toilet and every basic need met at our expense. She called home at least once a month, sometimes twice or more. We arranged for money to be sent back to her mother. She had her share of birthday presents and cakes, Christmas presents, outings (when she wants to come along), same restaurant food when we dine out, angpows, etc.
Her job scope is only taking care of the house cleanliness and laundry. We cook ourselves, we look after and bathe the kids, and she never had to wake up in the middle of the night to make milk for the kids. Playing with the kids? Almost always they ended up fighting, so she never had to look after the kids anymore. She slept from 9/ 10pm to 6 am, even longer hours than any of us adults. We never raised our voice at her; although we did warn her strictly not to quarrel with my mum and hit my kids – we just wanted a peaceful household.
As what the agent told her, “kerja awak senang, majikan baik, nak apa lagi?” (Malay: “your work is easy, good employer, what else do you want?”). We were baffled as well; what else do you want?
My mum has declined to get another helper. Without one, our lives are less complicated, less stressful, less worries. Eventhough our days are busier with cleaning, ironing and washing, we are coping alright and happier too. What I regret are we can’t spend as much time with our kids nowadays and I could not do much to lighten my mum’s workload :-(.
© Lee Pei Yi. All rights reserved. Originally published for boeyjoey.blogspot.com. All images and text cannot be republished without express written permission.