Tuesday, July 10, 2007

maid hunting...

The hunt is on! And in this one instance, the excitement of the chase is just not there. All the hunters would much rather the perfect quarry just fell into their laps.

I'd written earlier about my gem of a maid, Muruga. who was quitting to get married. She quit, but managed to get me a replacement- her sister's MIL- Muniyamma.. After the first week, I had made up my mind- the lady was ok in housework, but was hopeless at looking after Sonny boy. And I was more bothered about the latter than the former. But till I had ample reason to shift, I was happy to sail along, not rocking the boat...

And then the bubble of discontent blew bigger and bigger and AMPLE.

1. She would just not make the effort to get him to do the stuff he should- eat his food, drink his milk, wash him...
-Which did not go toward giving me any ease of mind.

2. If she let him go to neighbouring houses to play, she tended to forget that he was her responsibility, and would calmly sit on the staircase outside both houses, waiting for the maid in that house to get tired of looking after three charges- her two and another.
-Which made me irritable, since I have always believed in not plonking my kid on to others and vice versa.

3. She would take him down to play like the other mothers/maids, but would not run after him like them. She expected Sonny boy to follow the herd mentality and go with the herd. Unfortunately, Sonny boy was not a follow-the-leader person. He was a let's-experiment-till-caught person.
-Which made me paranoid that one day I would come back to find Sonny boy hurt in some accident or the other.

4. She was not really bothered about that extra bit of cleanliness, so that when I came home in the evening, Sonny boy would sometimes be in the same set of clothes he had worn to school. I started laying out the clothes he was to change into, but I was never sure if he changed into them after having had his hands/legs and face washed.
-Which also made me wonder if she washed his mouth after each meal ...

5. Soon for every slight I caught her out on, her excuse would be that Sonny boy didn't listen/allow her to do whatever... Lady, you are a 6o- year old grandmother, and he is a 3-year old kid, surely you can reason with him, and admonish him to do whatever is absolutely required?
- Which made me get irritated with her excuses, and look out for things to catch her out on...

6. The ultimate was when Muruga, my earlier maid returned. Her wedding had been cancelled, the guy was a fraud.(that's material for another post) So she would really like to return, but Muniyamma was her sister's MIL, so domestic problems were sure to crop up. Already were, for the MIL was refusing to speak to her, or acknowledge her presence. This could be because Muniyamma saw in her a threat, to her income of easily treble of what she used to be earning.
For someone who used to be so full of talk about how the wedding had got cancelled, and how the sister was responsible, and how Muruga was a paavam, Muniyamma said not a word about her return. And there was I , longing to get Muruga back, but not knowing how, for I didn't want to throw the old lady out... and even if I did, Muruga might not come, for fear of causing problems for her sister.

The bubble ballooned, and the irritation spread to issues other than Sonny boy, which hadn't really mattered much to me till then- issues on housekeeping, cleaning, gossipping, etc etc. Small things to which I would have blindly shut my eye earlier, but which now began to add salt to the wounds.

Clothes were dumped onto the spare bed and not immediately folded. They lay there crumpled, for more than a day. Which led to the room having an unkempt look.

Sonny boy's toys were never put away, and the house was never, ever spic and span- as much as could be maintained with a toddler inhabitant.

In case I forgot to tell her to prepare the ingredients for dinner, she never reminded me about it when I called her in the afternoon to check on Sonny boy. I would have to come back tired in the evening, and prepare everything from scratch, with no time to spare for Sonny boy who would cling...

She was never able to tell me exactly anything with respect to Sonny boy- when the school van came to drop him back, how many kids were there in the van, how he got that bruise on his arm/leg..

One day when I called her to check if Sonny boy had eaten his lunch, she told me that Sonny boy had fallen down while climbing the stairs, and cut his lip and that he had cried at all the blood, and had not eaten and was sleeping. I panicked, called the husband, and got him to go home and check, as I absolutely couldn't take off from work. He rushed home and reported back that it was OK, Sonny boy had only cut his lip. Apparently the lift was being repaired, and Sonny boy and she were climbing up the stairs and Sonny boy fell and cut his lip on the steps/railing... I yelled at her that day, that she was to be more careful with Sonny boy, that that was what I was paying her for, not to do housework!

I think the balloon finally became more ample than I could bear, when I called two days consecutively and she didn't pick up the phone in the afternoon. I was darn worried, and came home early from office the first day, only to be told that she had been in the house and hadn't heard the phone ringing. Now Sonny boy has these times when he picks up the phone to chat to his Ammamma, and does not put it back on the hook. So I thought it must be that and let it go. But that evening, when I checked, the phone was ok.The next day again, I call and nobody picks up. Evening I ask and she tells me she was washing clothes. And that she hadn't heard the phone owing to the running tap.

That was when I knew that she was telling lies. For the madam always washed clothes in the morning itself, while I ran about my kitchen chores. Which used to irritate me no end, for I used to always wonder why she could not help me in the kitchen then and do the washing later, after we had all left, and she was alone in the house. So she was lying but why? What had she been doing that she had to lie about it? And what was Sonny boy doing in the meantime?

I was extremely pissed. But she was an old lady, and I had no solid proof that she was lying. And my dear Sonny boy was no help either.
And then by chance, the next morning I was looking for the remains of some puttu I had made for breakfast the previous morning, and it was not to be found. There had been enough for a solid meal for two, not so little that it could have been thrown away. So I asked her if she had taken it/kept it anywhere else.. and she said no.. and then when I persisted in searching for it (normally I give up and cook something else) told me that she had given it to Sonny boy.
This made me sit up and take notice, for I do not encourage Sonny boy to be fed leftover food. Not by her, for I was not sure that she would warm the food appropriately.
Nor was Sonny boy so fond of puttu that he would eat it in the evening.

"Sonny boy ate puttu? When?" I asked her.
"In the evening."

"But last evening, I came home early, I was here before Sonny boy awoke. You did not even give him milk, I did. And he certainly didn't have any puttu!"

"Yyesss...Nnnooo......, I gave it to him in the afternoon". Shifty eyes.

"And in the afternoon, he had puttu and he finished all his rice too...?" For she had already told me that he had finished his lunch..
"yyyess.. "still without looking me in the eye.

I stopped enquiring, and sailed out of the kitchen. That morning, for the first time, I did not prepare any breakfast for her. We could eat from out, and I didn't care what she did. I fumed all day, and in the evening, was home earlier than usual.

I had some fresh greens with me, that I had bought. Muniyamma was getting ready to leave, but I requested her to clean the greens before she left, so that I could cook it at night. And while I was going about the preparations to light the lamp, I saw that my tulsi was flooded. The pot had been full of water the day before too, but I had thought that probably both she had watered it just before. So I asked her if she had watered the tulsi that day. She nodded her head and affirmed confidently. At which I asked her in ominous tones if she hadn't seen that the water was nearly overflowing in the pot, and had been for the last couple of days. She blustered.
I bent down and investigated, and found that the pot was full of old oil wicks and agarbatty sticks! All courtesy dear Muniyamma, of course.

I lost it. We had dustbins in almost every room and she had to dump stuff in my Tulsi pot, of all places? I silently cleaned the pot, sifting out all the rubbish. And then muttered aloud that everything she did had some fault or the other. And that I didn't know why she couldn't apply herself better to the jobs she did. She did not attempt to justify herself this time.

The next day Muniyamma was AWOL. We did not enquire into the reasons.

For now, the hunt is on for a new maid. A new companion for Sonny boy, who will also help me in the household chores. My dear bloggie friends, can any of you help me out? Do any of you know of any good maids or agencies that supply babysitters-cum-workers?


~nm said...

Wow! I admire your patience with that Muniyamma. I would have blasetd her off and kicked her out long ago.. But I guess when you do not have any other open option, we do tend to adjust to the not so good option that we have in hand.

So why don't you ask Muruga to come back and join work at your place?

Fuzzylogic said...

Your maid Muniyamma did seem like a trouble maker. Atleast I'm glad she left before you had to suffer because of her negligence with Sunny boy. I do hope you find a good replacement.Maybe you should seek out Muruga again.

Swati said...

hey JLT..sorry I have not yet read the full post , but only the header. Are you looking for a full time maid for sonny boy. One of friend has moved to US and her maid is very good. Its already a week but you never know , she may be still free.I can give you her number. Can I mail you somewhere ?

Just like that said...

Swati- can yo mail me at notquitejustlikethat.com?

Just like that said...

Nm, Fuzzy- You're right, when nothing else was in sight, I had no other option, but to wait and watch...
I too would LOVE to have Muruga back (And so would she) but this Muniyamma also happens to be Muruga's great aunt or something, and is already very nasty to her DIL, Muruga's sis, so Muruga does not want to complicate matters for her sis, who she is very close to.

Just like that said...

Swati- sorry, in my hurry forgot the gmail! notquitejustlikethat@gmail.com

Poppins said...

JLT ! I swear you have too much patience with that lady ! I couldn't have worked one moment in peace. So WHAT did she do with the puttu?

Don't take this the wrong way, but couldn't you do a day care outside the home? Rather than a maid. I mean it's OK if you find someone with great references but otherwise an excellent day care outside might be a slightly more safe option.

Preferably close to your work place, so you can drop in and check anytime.

Gauri said...

God - That muniamma really is a piece of work !!
Since she left on her own accord, would that not be a sufficient carrot to entice Muruga back.
I mean, you guys did not ask her to leave. She left on her own !!

Just like that said...

Poppins- Of course I wouldn't take it the wrong way. I have thought of it too, as a better bet than Muniyamma types. But Sonny boy's teacher at school told me last year that he was pretty disturbed with his Mom 's sudden absence... recently she told me that he seemed to have adjusted better, so I did not want to force another adjustment with strange surrroundings and strange people..

But the overriding factor is that the only one near our house stays open only till 6.30/6.45 and I reach hom earliest by 7.30, so it is kind of difficult.

Gauri- Muruga's joined another household,:-( and the father is off travelling, and will only return in a month, and Muruga does not want to ditch all of a sudden... that is one of the things that is nice about her- she takes her responsiblities seriously, that girl. Have spoken to her, but nothing resolved as of now. :-/

Moppet's Mom said...

I can't believe you put up with her for as long as you did - although I do know it's hard to find good help.

A suggestion: how about splitting the responsibilites of housework and babysitting between 2 maids? That way you can find someone best suited for each task, and they will also sort of keep an eye on each other... (they should not of course be related or known to each other)

Just like that said...

MoppetsMom - :-) I'm beginning to feel like I'm either a saint or a total wash-out! Everybody's asking me how I managed to put up with her for so long...

I managed it for 2 months, and I had no time to train her, for it was summer vacation time, and my house was on overload with guests. So the first month, I attributed her poor show to my lack of training, by the end of the second month, I was fuming, by the third, she was out!

Hmmm... Two maids- I will let you into a secret- I am very bad at managing maids, can just about manage one! My husband has remarked on my behaviour with some of the maids, that I act as if i'm the maid and she's the madam!!

upsilamba said...

hope things work out for you out there...

Is your Mom home now?