The Harsh Reality of Being an Au Pair: Part III (Setting the Scene)

When we first moved into this house, I had a feeling that it was too good to be true. It was absolutely huge, we had a pool and a tennis court, and so much land to explore. Other than Sonia and I, there were 8 other tenants – all from Taiwan. There was also a Finnish au pair, and a mom with her 15-year-old boy and 7-year-old girl. The boy spent most of his time in his room playing video

games so we never saw him, but the girl had stuck to Sonia like glue, and unfortunately the last thing we wanted to do after a 9-hour workday was keep a 7-year-old entertained while the mom sat on her phone all evening. I often saw Chloe trying to get her mom’s attention, while Ali ignored her because she was sitting on her phone. While Chloe can be a good kid, she never gets disciplined and she knows that she’ll always get what she wants so we’ve found ourselves hiding out in our rooms more and more as our time here has passed. Chloe often missed at least 2 or 3 days of school each week because she was “sick,” but we later found out it was because she’d get in trouble at school and then she wouldn’t want to go back. She’d always be eating huge chocolate bars right before bed and was constantly jumping and flipping around, doing handstands in front of the tv while Sonia and I were trying to relax (keep in mind we were told that this was OUR living area, along with Yeh and Karina’s, because the family’s living area was downstairs). The last long weekend we had (Labour Day weekend), Sonia and I came home early on Labour Day, only to find our living area a complete mess (and the worst part about it is we had done the chores the day before). There were flower petals all over the floor and throughout the bathroom, and toys all over the couches and floor. We decided not to use our living area until it was cleaned up and ended up having to spend the next week in our rooms because it never got cleaned. Ali asked if I had cleaned the bathroom that week, and I did but her daughter had completely messed it up right after. I think she may have been expecting us to clean up after her, but that wasn’t going to happen. The next weekend (when Sonia and I finally had separate bedrooms), Ali came home on Friday at 8pm and asked if Sonia could go back in my room for the night because Chloe (the 7-year-old) was having a sleepover that night and she didn’t want the girls sleeping in her bed because she had had a long week. Sonia moved into my room (and was not impressed about it) and we ended up having to listen to the girls talk, giggle, and jump off the beds until 2am. I luckily passed out at about 9:30 (my normal bedtime) but was jolted awake at 1am because they were making so much noise. The au pair came and told them to be quiet twice, and the 15-year-old brother came once and took Chloe’s phone. Never once did the mom come, as she was fast asleep (must have been nice…). We FINALLY fell back asleep only to be woken up again at 6:30 because the girls got up and started singing and dancing right outside our room. Needless to say, we were completely exhausted the next morning and when we told the mom what happened, she only got mad at the friend because Chloe “would never do anything like that.” No more sleepovers and it was all Savannah’s fault.

Ali has never had tenants in her house before we moved in, but she has also never made any house rules, and then she’d get mad when people did the wrong thing. Everything was always someone else’s fault, and she never took the blame for anything. She gave each of us a weekly chore to do, which was fine since that’s normal when you rent a house. However, she’d constantly complain to us about “The Asians,” instead of actually talking to them. She’d get the au pair to check on them to make sure they were mopping the floors properly each week. We quickly took note of what she liked and didn’t like. We also began to question anything that came out of her mouth because she seemed to constantly over-exaggerate and lie to get attention. As time went on, she’d start making more and more passive aggressive comments, which would make everyone feel uncomfortable. When we first moved to the house, Sonia and I bought toilet paper because we had run out of it in our bathroom, but the au pair said that we didn’t have to, and that Ali should be supplying it. Ali also mentioned that we could use the air conditioning if it got too hot in our living area (and it often did since it was on the upper level) but then would get upset when we used it. She also saw Sonia using the dryer to dry her work clothes and said that she’d have to start charging her extra if she was going to use the dryer (when she never had mentioned that we couldn’t use it in the first place). During our time here, we’ve also noticed some of our groceries go missing. The first weekend, Ali’s friend came over and made omelettes and we realized that half of our mushrooms and some of our asparagus was gone. We also came home one evening and Ali said she had used some of our carrots cause she didn’t have any, and she’d buy us some more (which she still hasn’t). We also came upstairs after dinner while the family was watching a movie in our living area (even though we worked early the next morning) and Sonia saw that Ali was drinking a diet coke. She then went downstairs to check the fridge and saw that her only diet coke was gone. The thing that’s most annoying about these missing groceries is that everyone knows that we don’t have a car and we’re only able to go grocery shopping once every week – it’s not like we can just hop in the car and get something when we need it. Sonia brought up the diet coke with her and she said she’d buy her a new one. She then went on to say that she had bought a big box of almond milk (knowing both of us only drink almond milk and we’ve NEVER seen anyone in the family drink it) and it’s went missing, and she was wondering if we had seen it (although it felt to both Sonia and I that she was implying that we took it). We said that we only buy one almond milk each week and we haven’t seen anything, while she “casually” looked in our bedroom closet! She also once said there were too many shoes in the house, and she threw everyone’s shoes outside (including my $400 insoles), and then piled the family’s shoes (at least 20 pairs) in a pile on the front entrance table, which have now been there for about three weeks. 
Every weekend, I’d be the first one up and she’d use it as a venting session, telling me to come look at the downstairs bathroom because it was so disgusting (when we don’t even use that bathroom). I would feel so uncomfortable and try to hint that maybe she should set up a list so that people had a cleaning schedule and knew what the rules were, but she never took the hint. She would constantly say that she might have to kick people out if they didn’t change what they were doing, but she wouldn’t tell them what to change. The feeling of “walking on eggshells” came back, and I was instantly reminded of how I used to live with the family in France. This past weekend, I went downstairs in the morning to hang up my laundry and Ali came and asked if I had seen the microwave. I said that yes, I had used it the day before for one of the first times and it wasn’t very clean. She went on and on about how disgusting the microwave was and she stated that from now on, no one was allowed to use the microwave. She also started to complain about how everyone was using her toilet paper, which I was under the impression that she was supplying it for us but apparently not. That was the beginning of the long weekend and we had no toilet paper left. I knew we wouldn’t be able to last three days without toilet paper so I decided I’d have to walk the 1.5 hours into town and 1.5 hours back in order to get some. She said that she was almost to the point where she was just going to tell everyone to leave because everyone was being disrespectful. I wasn’t sure if she was including us in the “everyone,” but I still felt uncomfortable having to listen to it. It has been a very tense environment and for the past few weeks, I have been looking to see if any new accommodation in Warragul has come up (which is very hard to find). This past Monday, Ali, Chloe, and the au pair were leaving to spend the week in Melbourne but right when they were leaving, Ali noticed that her purse was missing. We heard her talking to the au pair (Kat), saying it was probably one of the other au pairs that had come in, and she told Kat to text them saying they had CCTV cameras everywhere and to lie in order to scare them. Ali then came to Sonia and I to tell us that her Burberry purse had gone missing – “It’s a $4000 dollar purse and now I’m going to have to claim it under insurance.” Maybe she shouldn’t be leaving the house unlocked when there are 13 people living in it and multiple people coming in and out to ride horses every week? (Side note: It was found in a closet from when one of the au pairs cleaned the kitchen). It was like we were living with a 44-year-old who still acted like a teenager. One time, she was telling us about her past, and she brought up going out with friends and them smoking and doing coke, and her 7-year-old chimes in, “My daddy drinks SO MUCH coke!” before Ali continued her story. Sonia and I couldn’t believe she told us everything while her 7-year-old was sitting right beside her, obviously listening to what she was saying.
Luckily, she seems to like us so she never actually got mad at us for anything (she’d really only make snarky or passive-aggressive comments), but it was very awkward around the house because we didn’t know what mood to expect from her. The way she treated her au pairs was a different story…

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