Two weeks ago, a CCTV footage surfaced on the internet and later went viral of a nanny in Uganda handling her boss’ baby recklessly. I don’t think there is anyone who saw that video who didn’t get angry. Angry that a human being will think it okay in her heart to harm someone as innocent as a baby. Judging from the comments I read, even men were seriously appalled. Some talked as though it was happened to them and swore to unleash fire and fury on the nanny.
Another reaction I noticed was fear. I could understand clearly why anyone would be scared. Imagine the thought that would go through your mind after watching this video, and you know you leave your baby at home with the nanny every day, and you don’t have a CCTV installed in your home? I won’t be surprised if, for that whole week, you are filled with so much suspicion that you are unable to concentrate until you have called home every hour.
Some people’s succor was that they didn’t leave their babies at home with their maids/nanny but at a creche, which they believed to be safer. But trust Nigerians, there were others who were quick to point out to them that creche sometimes could be worse, and they backed up their point with personal experiences; from giving their babies cough syrups to make them sleep to mishandling and beating.
When I encourage maid employers to listen to the experiences of others, the most important thing I want them to do is LEARN from them. Viral stories like these have a way of releasing fear into the hearts of people and rather than learning from them, it creates an adverse reaction which most of the time turns back to hurt them. People either say they will never hire a help or unknowingly start to act harshly towards their existing maid. They do the latter with the intention of instilling fear in the hearts of their maids, even when she is an excellent one.
If you decide that because of stories like these, you will never hire help even when it is obvious you may need one, then I can assure you that something will end up suffering; either your career, your home or your kids who you are trying to protect in the first place.
On the other hand, if you decide to be so harsh to your maid, you will over-react one day, and cause lasting damages you may live to regret.
Whenever you react in any of these two ways, you are affirming one thing: the maid you are about to hire or already have in your employment has power over you. You have agreed to the notion like many other Nigerians, that you are helpless when it comes to hiring a maid – “Just manage whoever you get”. It is because of this fear that many maids have the audacity to carry out the actions that they do. People who have bad intentions prey on fear. Why? Because fear paralyzes its host. It robs its host of the ability to think of a way out of the situation.
The first thing you should do when you see stories like these is to think of the circumstances that created that situation and then secondly find ways to block the loopholes.
Could the person have hired from a more credible agency? If the main purpose of hiring was to take care of a child, could the person have hired a trained nanny who has a genuine love for kids, rather than a maid who she assumes that because she is a woman, she can take care of kids? Was it possible that if she further pressed with strategic questions during the interview process, she could have discerned some things? Could there have been a better relationship cultivated such that if the maid felt stressed with her work she could have expressed it? Could the maid have been fired earlier before it got to this point? Maybe the employer overlooked several signs.
You may wonder why so much responsibility has to be placed on you rather than demanding it from the maid. It is because you are the one who has something or everything to lose. Your home, your kids and sometimes the loss could even spill over to your career. Employer-ship is responsibility. Secondly, your maid will naturally take the form of the structure she is presented within your home. If she sees that you know what you are doing and have everything under control, it will enforce strict discipline in her.
This is in no way trying to excuse the evil act committed by the maid. But just as there are bad maids, there are bad people in every other profession. For example, we don’t stop putting our monies in banks because some bankers steal neither do we stop driving our cars because there are reckless drivers on the road who don’t mind sending people to their early graves.
It is okay to be scared for a little while. But realize that your fear is your heart sending a signal to you that you may not have everything under control. Fear is not the enemy, it is the compass.
So my question to you is this: What is your fear calling your attention to? And what are you going to do to make sure that what you fear is not realized?
P.S This article was first written and published on Bella Naija HERE