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.


The Scary Mommy Community is built on support. If your comment doesn't add to the conversation in a positive or constructive way, please rethink submitting it. Basically? Don't be a dick, please.

  1. Maria says

    I’m really proud of you for the way you’ve handled this. This girl boggles my mind though. It’s extra crazy to see that kind of ignorance in people.
    .-= Maria´s last blog ..potential =-.

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  2. swirl girl says

    You did the right thing – for your circumstance and for your children.

    Maybe all you had to do was have the conversation with her to let her know what a powerful effect her casual comment had on you and your son, so that maybe next time she let’s something roll off her tongue, she might think about it first.

    A lesson for all of us…
    .-= swirl girl´s last blog ..the one in which she thinks e.e. cummings had a personal trainer** =-.

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  3. Angie says

    Maybe this is an opportunity to see that Jewish families, homes, kids, and mommies are just like, well, everybody else. Maybe this can be an educational opportunity.

    (That being said, if a nanny said that about my Asian husband and our half-Asian kids, I don’t know what I’d do!)

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  4. Kell says

    Loved, “not the brightest candle in the menorah” comment!
    You are a really good person, and though you probably didn’t think the nicest things about her (and maybe still don’t) I think you have handled this situation very elegantly. I admire that. Because of the grace you’ve dealt her maybe from this point on “this” (as in your family) is what a Jew will look like to her…not that anyone, not Jewish, or Christian, or Hindu, or whatever, should look a certain way. But nonetheless, I think a very beautiful point has been made.
    Kelli @ SustainingCreativity

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  5. Cara says

    Honestly, that doesn’t sound like bigotry so much as just plain ignorance. Which, no surprise, the foundation for bigotry is typically ignorance, but as you said, it doesn’t sound like there is any anger or hatred in this girl. That doesn’t make what she said any more acceptable, but maybe it takes a teensy bit of the bite out of it?

    Anyways, here’s to a successful move and a new school! (Which I say just a wee bit selfishly because I look forward to hanging out when you move up here!)
    .-= Cara´s last blog ..Four =-.

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  6. June says

    I’m glad I got to read yesterday’s post and today’s post in one sitting.

    I certainly don’t know exactly where you’re coming from, because I don’t have the same life experiences as you do. But I suppose I can relate. Ethnically, I’m chinese. But whenever anyone asks me, I say I’m american (well, if I’m feeling sassy. otherwise, “my parents are from china”). My husband is Jewish. But he’s kind of semi-practicing. It’s more from a traditional perspective rather than a religious one. ANYWAY, with 2 halfsie kids I think sometimes about all these racial/religious issues. But mostly, I think that it’s only as big a deal as you make it out to be. I grew up in a very white rural town, and I’ve been made fun of for my ethnic features by kids who ended up being great friends of mine in the end. Some battles are worth getting in a tizzy about, but it seems like this one wasn’t, for you. I hope that your relationship with the nanny ends up a positive one, and maybe maybe you will rub off on her in a great way. Like my Christian Bush loving friends do on me (we just don’t talk politics :)

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  7. Kristina says

    It’s too bad that it didn’t register with her how offensive this was and that she didn’t apologize with much sincerity, it seems. I don’t blame you for just hanging on for the short term. It’s hard to create child care upheaval.

    She will probably not throw that term around again but it sounds like she’s not clear on why she shouldn’t. *sigh*

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  8. Kathee says

    I think you handled the situation professionally, and with quite a bit of intelligence. Your nanny is obviously simply ignorant to other cultures and religions, and it is unfortunate that she is not alone in this world. She seems harmless but ignorant, and I guess be thankful you only need her for a few more months!
    .-= Kathee´s last blog ..What I Meant to Say Wednesdays: My Grocery Shopping Trip =-.

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