Nanny Blog "Tattles" on Local Caregivers

by Judy Silberstein

(November 29, 2006) Would you want to know if:

Your nanny was meeting her boyfriend at the Mamaroneck Motel – with the 2-year old in tow? See: Motel Nanny

Your nanny, seen in Flint Park, was using amphetamines as a diet aid? See: Dieting Nanny

Your nanny, while caring for your baby, was driving your red Subaru Forrester from Larchmont to White Plains to buy pot from a dealer named Rudy? See: Pot Nanny

Your nanny was seen parked at Harbor Island asleep in the driver’s seat with the baby in the car seat? See: Napping Nanny

All four are actual postings to a nationwide blog begun in August, I Saw Your Nanny. Judging from comments also published on the blog, mothers and nannies have mixed feelings about the above behaviors, the blog and the bloggers. Perhaps there are innocent explanations for the sighted behavior – or perhaps the nannies are irremediably incompetent or even criminal in their care giving. Some of the comments are nasty, confrontational or defensive. There is also discomfort with the assumptions about who is a nanny, which often come down to race. Black or Hispanic caregiver with white child = nanny.

Asked to comment on the blog, Larchmonter Wendy Weinstein Karp said, “The anonymous nature puts it in question – it could be used to settle personal disputes.” However, "sometimes you see things that concern you and you don’t know what to do," conceded this mother of three young girls who co-owns and operates Plates Restaurant with her husband Matthew Karp.

The anonymity also bothers some of the bloggers. One of the earliest bloggings on August 26, 2006, “Abusive Nanny in Chappaqua” relates an incident in which a bystander called the police to report a nanny throwing a child around in the back of a car. Another blogger identified only as “L” commented” “Now this is the way to report something that you’ve seen that you have an issue with! Kudos for not just blabbing about it on here but actually doing something!”

The blog's anonymous host responded: “This blog was created in hopes that more people would share their observations if they were allowed to do so anonymously and without fear of reprisal.”

“The opportunity for people to comment anonymously is a great service for parents,” said Roseanne Amoils, another Larchmont mother whose children are “almost 11” and 7 and whose work as a life coach often takes her downtown. “My hope is that people use it and not abuse it.” Many of the incidents on the blog seemed trivial. “A nanny eating Ho Hos doesn’t need to be reported,” she said. “But a nanny using the family car to buy pot while on duty is clearly something a family should know about.”

Another Larchmont parent was hoping for something more positive than the nanny blog. "It's great to use technology - the Internet can be a parent enabler," said Dominic Schmitt, who describes himself as a "part-time stay at home dad" of three children, ages 13, 11 and 8. "The name itself - I Saw Your Nanny - turns me off. It seems so accusatory."

He suggested creating a network to help parents who work outside the community. "That would give them a more positive sense of control," he said.