Ignorance is alive, and it’s watching my child

First of all, thank you all for the thought provoking and supportive comments on yesterday’s post. This experience has been eye opening, to say the least, and I am grateful to have had this community to share it with.}


This morning, I had decided. I was going to fire Nanny B and she was going to know why. And that was the end of that. I toured a preschool first thing in the morning, and though I didn’t love it, it was affordable and they could take him as early as next week. Done.

But then she walked in, and Evan ran to her. She greeted us cheerfully like nothing was wrong. I decided, rather than shove the cash I had just taken out in her hand and bid her adieu, to retreat upstairs to get some work done. A few hours later, I came downstairs to find Evan napping and her pairing up a dozen socks. It was my moment.

Nanny B, I began, I want to talk to you about something. (No look of recognition swept across her face.) Yesterday, I continued, when you called Evan a Jew-boy… that was really offensive. She looked back at me blankly. I just meant that with his dark eyes and hair, she responded innocently, that he looked that way. As if she had compared him to a doll.

I explained what an offensive term it was and asked if she had a problem with our religion. Because if she did, that was a big problem. She responded that she had nothing against the Jews, and years ago had actually discovered that her mother’s grandparents were in fact, Jews. She even looked like a Jew in her childhood pictures. {OY to the VEY.}

That brings us to tonight.

After going back and forth, weighing and debating, and much agonizing, I’ve concluded that she isn’t evil. She isn’t ill-intentioned. She isn’t a bad person. She’s certainly not the brightest candle on the menorah, but for the moment, she will suffice.

I don’t think she will ever understand where I am coming from, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t think that I’m making ground breaking progress in the quest for acceptance. But we are hoping to move in the next few months and there is a new school waiting for all three kids. I just need someone to get me through the days until then. And if all goes as planned, my children will be enrolled in a Jewish day school. Although I have never considered myself a religious person, I will be proud to send them in a way I wasn’t before.

And I thank my nanny for that.

About the writer


In addition to being the founder of all things Scary Mommy, Jill is also the New York Times bestselling author of Simon and Schuster’s Confessions of A Scary Mommy and Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies)


Anastassia Pronsky-Stojanovic 2 years ago

It's true I don't…I don't care if smb makes a comment about me being Russian or not looking/looking Russian… I really like this women – she created the most hilarious and awesome blog and it involves KIDS – the least hilarious and awesome subject lol

Zhenya Stekovic 2 years ago

Whatcha doing reading mommy blogs? :))) On the topic – us jews are very sensitive to such things….I get it….

Anastassia Pronsky-Stojanovic 2 years ago

Well it just seemed to me it’s her “style”, to say things like that. She will probably be saying something along the same lines to the “Italian looking” boy or “Chinese looking” boy :) She definitely doesn’t seem like an mean person, more like blissfully ignorant when it comes to such notion as being politically correct:) Now if you think about it, it’s kinda funny even…I’ve heard a lot of comparison to other nations too, some I didn’t like but bottom line I always moved on shrugging shoulders and uttering “idiot”…However I’m not a mother so maybe hearing something like that about my child is a different cup of tea :)
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Anastassia Pronsky-Stojanovic 2 years ago

Well it just seemed to me it's her "style", to say things like that. She will probably be saying something along the same lines to the "Italian looking" boy or "Chinese looking" boy :) She definitely doesn't seem like an mean person, more like blissfully ignorant when it comes to such notion as being politically correct:) Now if you think about it, it's kinda funny even…I've heard a lot of comparison to other nations too, some I didn't like but bottom line I always moved on shrugging shoulders and uttering "idiot"…However I'm not a mother so maybe hearing something like that about my child is a different cup of tea :)

Megan 4 years ago

I hit the random post button and found your first post, then read your follow up. Good lord am I going through something similar! Good luck and I hope your kids are liking Jewish School!

    Scary Mommy 4 years ago

    They are really enjoying their school. Hope everything works out for you, too!

Samantha 5 years ago

Wow. I just read this and my mouth is hanging open. Though I can’t say I’m in shock as I’ve experienced my share of ignorant and racist comments from similarly-minded people like this nanny. The sad and pathetic part is that she was oblivious to the fact that she was completely offensive and ignorant. Not sure if that bothers me more than her comment or not. And then to kind of brush it off with a ridiculous explanation…I mean, obviously you were upset and even if she was clueless (and racist) when she made the comment, she should have realized in the fact that you called her out on it that she was wrong. But she didn’t. As you so rightly said, “not the brightest light on the menorah” and racist to boot. What a catch.

Ilseken 5 years ago

So, just to play Devil’s Advocate for a second, what makes you think “Jew boy” is in her book a negative thing? Maybe she means it the way I would mean it when I say “I’m whiter than white, I’m so damn white I glow”. There is in fact, a characteristic “look” to traditionally jewish people, and I think it’s something to be proud of. Haven’t you ever made the comment that someone “sure looks like ” her mom/dad/cousin/whatever ? After all she didn’t say “he sure ACTS like a jew boy”, that might be a valid reason to set you off. Not to sound too Holy here, but no one can offend you without your permission. Just maybe you are reading something into her comment that wasn’t there.

Tanya 5 years ago

Shocking to say the least, I think you handled it well. As least you broached the subject and let her know that you found the term offensive. It should be unbelieveable that in this day and age people can come out with comments like that, but is it really?

Tiffany L. 5 years ago

WOW!!!!! I cannot believe sometimes that there are still people who are sooooooo astoundingly ignorant and inconsiderate. That is crazy!!

Jen 5 years ago

I had a similar experience with our ex-pediatrician. When informed that we were moving to a border state he turned to my sweet, beautiful, innocent baby boy (who is bi-racial) and said: “So your mom’s going to take you to be with all the other brown babies.”

F-ing fabulous. My baby doctor is a racist.

    Ilseken 5 years ago

    wow. speechless.

Brian Curtis 5 years ago

Racial ignorance has manny faces, and not all of them are sinister. As a black man I’ve been involved in many “Teachable Momments” in my lifetime, and sometimes you just want someone else to be the teacher. As innocuous as her statement seemed to her how could you not know that terminology would be received negatively? She must be from Rome, and you know what they say about Rome… “When in Rome do as the Romans do”.

janice 5 years ago


Tammy Hendricks 5 years ago

There are no words…….

MsM 5 years ago

I’m surprised that no one else seems to have remarked on this…

It’s all well and good that she wasn’t trying to be malicious, and that you’ve decided to give her a chance; I appreciate that. But there’s still a problem. Your child is going to be interacting with an authority figure who has this flawed viewpoint.

I would be concerned that her possible off-hand comments in the future could influence your child’s way of thinking. I know you will teach him the best, but sometimes, things like prejudice and narrow-mindedness can get planted deep down in a growing mind, and develop in an insidious way. We know that children simply don’t know any better, and by the time they’re more mature, it will be very difficult for them to exorcise any ingrained assumptions.

I would be deeply concerned by this… especially if the person would have close, regular contact with my child, not to mention from a position of authority. I don’t think I would be comfortable letting the nanny stay.

    Tiffany L. 5 years ago

    I agree with your comments, but I do not know one adult who does not have some flawed viewpoints. Children usually have multiple teachers at school, adult leaders at church, coaches in sports, etc. Most of them have different points of view than our family. It is important for children to learn about these different views and then for the parents to explain them further–the good and the bad of it. If you have a good enough relationship with your child, s/he will come to you with questions about the things they see and hear.

    Having said all of that, I do not know that I would be able to make the same decision that she made. I think I might have ushered her out of my home as quickly as possible.

Pam 5 years ago

Good for you for keeping her around. Her comment and her reaction to your response made me throw up a little bit in my mouth, I don’t think I could handle having her in my house so kudos to you for doing what sounds like the right thing.

Joie 5 years ago

What a crazy comment! I just read this one (just found you – yay me!!) and I actually had to find a picture of Evan to see what the heck I had missed in a ton of his other photos…Jew Boy? Ummmmm….really?

Well, I guess if Jew Boy means super cute with lots of moppy hair all disheveled and freaking cute as hell….Go Jew Boy! If I convert, will I get kids that cute? Sheesh….People are absolutely fascinating sometimes!

    Ilseken 5 years ago

    Count me in on the converting part if I can get a cute baby like that!

debi9kids 6 years ago

Good for you! Much wiser and more responsible than I think I would’ve behaved.
Hang in there.
.-= debi9kids´s last blog ..Business 2 Blogger =-.

Jessica – This Is Worthwhile 6 years ago

“Accidental bigot,” indeed.

This whole situation is crummy. I really commend you on your bravery to bring it up to her and explain to her why you were upset. I’m not sure I could have done that.
.-= Jessica – This Is Worthwhile´s last blog ..The nuclear family is not my friend =-.

Ashley 6 years ago

Honestly, I would have done the same thing. I think that we are presented with opportunities every day to inspire, encourage, and enlighten those “ignorant” people. We must not forget that we play both roles in this life at one time or another. For you to realize that she is not “evil” was the adult thing to do. She is misguided and seems rather sheltered. I, too, am Jewish. I can’t tell you how many times someone has made a remark about my “religion” in a somewhat finger pointing way. I always let them know that I am Jewish before they dig themselves into a bigger hole. I don’t allow myself to hold onto the feeling of anger for long because honestly, they are not worth it. Live by example and lead with integrity. You go girl!
.-= Ashley´s last blog ..Couple’s Retreat Trois =-.

Paige 6 years ago

I admire your restraint and thoughtfulness in this situation. I’m not sure I would have been able to get past being angry and uncomfortable. It seem like you made the right decision for you and your family. Thank you for sharing.

Tiaras & Tantrums 6 years ago

blame her parents for her ignorance!

Bethany 6 years ago

It sounds like you made the right decision. As a former nanny, I’m surprised by her words, especially if she’s been around a while– but, if your child loves her and is well cared for by her, and she’s, like others have said, clueless but not malicious, it sounds like you can keep her at least for a little longer. Still, I’m sorry this happened!!!
.-= Bethany´s last blog ..Photos of the Day =-.

Loukia 6 years ago

Sigh. Tough situation you are in, but I’m glad that you have made a decision. I still can’t believe what she said. It’s wrong on SO many levels, you know? But then like you say… she is great with Evan… you get your work done… sigh.
.-= Loukia´s last blog ..Two! =-.

Traci in GA 6 years ago

I’m a few days behind the curve, but it sounds like you did all the right things. Evan is happy and you kept your cool, good for you.
Congrats on the new job!
.-= Traci in GA´s last blog ..Yikes! =-.

Jane 6 years ago

“Although I have never considered myself a religious person, I will be proud to send them in a way I wasn’t before.

And I thank my nanny for that.”

I just love this line. Isn’t it the truth? The life-defining moments for us creep up so unexpectedly. Thank you for sharing with us how you handled it all, how well it was received, how you’re feeling about it now. You’ve helped me to sort through some feelings I’ve had regarding our mixed race family and how we’re perceived by others. I truly appreciate your brave posts.
.-= Jane´s last blog ..Trading Spaces With One Of My Neighbors =-.

patois 6 years ago

I am beyond relieved to see how it went. The stress you must have been holding in? Thank God you were able to release it. You’re a good soul, lady. A keeper.
.-= patois´s last blog ..Brace Yourself =-.

Erin 6 years ago

I am humbled and impressed with how you handled that situation. I think that the term she used is incredibly offensive and I would have had the same initial reaction that you did.

I am reminded of my grandmother who was in her mid-80’s when she died. She had Parkinson’s and lived in a nursing home for the last few years of her life. Many of her nurses were of different ethnicities than her. Whenever she spoke about them, she would always include their race. For example, she would say that “those Asian nurses are so friendly” or “that coloured nurse is so helpful”. I think she grew up in a time when racism was so common that it was just part of who she was even when she was saying something nice.

I think the way you handled the situation is the antithesis of prejudice. You were offended by something she said and yet you didn’t write her off and assume she must be evil. Instead you talked to her about it and looked at how she interacted with your child to make a decision about her worth as a person. How far we have come!

    Scary Mommy 6 years ago

    It wasn’t my gut reaction AT ALL. I was really close to calling her and just telling her I’d mail her what I owed her and didn’t want to see her again. You guys really made me think long and hard about my actions, and I am thankful I made the decision I did. :)

Heather 6 years ago

She is clueless that is certain. Putting aside the whole prejudice issue and ignorance. Regardless, just because you have a thought in your head doesn’t mean it should come out of your mouth. But then some parents may neglect to have that talk as well:) Good for you for telling her plain and simple its offensive and not ok…ever.
.-= Heather´s last blog ..Life as a Mommy =-.

Maria 6 years ago

I think you did the right thing. If you had fired her and never addressed the situation, she would have walked away just as ignorant as she came. You are teaching her a valuable lesson, although she may not even realize it. I wish everyone could get over their biased thoughts on race and religion and just accept the fact that we are all human… each a unique individual with our own personalities and ways.
.-= Maria´s last blog ..Nielsen is back – Be one of the lucky few! =-.

parenting BY dummies 6 years ago

Good for you. I’ve never confronted any of the small brained people who have been so inclined to make comments (intentionally or unintentionally) that I found hurtful. It’s sad but I guess it’s just the path of least resistance that I’ve been taught to follow. You are brave in ways I will never be so be proud of yourself for that and rest assured that if nothing else she is probably not gonna use the term Jew boy again. Okay, strike that last part, she probably will use it again, but at least she won’t use it around you and maybe she won’t be half as surprised if another person alerts her to its offensiveness.
.-= parenting BY dummies´s last blog ..Randumb Reality =-.

Barb 6 years ago

Sounds like you did the right thing for you and for your family. I don’t think firing her would have helped.. in fact, would have given her fuel for her fire. I’m sure it was helpful to you to voice your concerns even though she still didn’t “get it.” Your son will still get the care he deserves and you’ve let her know that what she said is not acceptable.
.-= Barb´s last blog ..Falling Iguanas =-.

melissa 6 years ago

you’re right. she didn’t get it. she won’t ever get it. she is clueless, not malicious.
and he ran to her.
that’s the clincher.

    Scary Mommy 6 years ago


Jen 6 years ago

You know what I love about this? You paused. You took a breath. You put your child first. And your behavior, your reaction to this strange and awful and unexpected situation–the way you are dealing with it now–will teach your child more than if you just fired her. Your son is safe. And he is happy. And he is not going to learn everything he needs to know from this one woman. But she can care for him while you need someone to care for him. And that is enough, because you trust that she is not a bad person. She is ignorant. But not evil. Thanks for sharing. Really!

Em 6 years ago

It chills me to the core that someone, still today, needs to be taught that “Jew-boy” is offensive, but congratulations to you for finding the teaching/learning moment in this. Just think of the difference you will make in her life – to show acceptance in the face of ignorance – I hope she takes that lesson to heart.

Idiot nanny. (sorry, I couldn’t resist)
.-= Em´s last blog ..F.F.F.T. – Yeah, I know it’s Thursday. =-.

Miss Behavin 6 years ago

Sometimes when we’re unsure of what to do, the best thing to do is nothing. Sounds as though you handled this whole situation incredibly well, as emotional tormenting as it was.
.-= Miss Behavin´s last blog ..You Have My Permission To Expose Yourself =-.

Keyona 6 years ago

I know I commented yesterday to fire her but you showed much maturity. Guess I have some growing up to do. You made the right choice because you followed your instints!
.-= Keyona´s last blog ..She’ll Keep Your Secret…At Least Until You Get Sent Home =-.

Mama Kat 6 years ago

I’m SO glad this ended well. At least as well as it could have. I KNOW you would have had no problem letting her go, but I think you’re making the right decision. Evan loves her and a school just wouldn’t be the same as having him at home with you.
.-= Mama Kat´s last blog ..Writer’s Workshop =-.


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