Seriously. Doesn't everyone lie just a little when writing up a resumé? I mean, hopefully not where it counts. Don't claim that you were the first man to walk on the moon or something. With the advent of the internet, that sort of detail is highly searchable. But, for example, I might have stretched the truth a little when I listed that one of my special skills was speaking French fluently. I mean, yes, I do have a lovely accent when saying "la bibliothèque," thanks for asking, but I guess, when it comes down to it, I'm not really FLUENT.
But, then again, there are lies and there are LIES and it seems that some Brooklyn nannies are doing a little more than exaggerating about their linguistics skills on their resumés and it's upsetting some Park Slope moms. And you DO NOT want to get Park Slope moms mad. They might throw a clog at you. Or, if they're Amy Sohn, threaten to have sex with you. Aggghhh!
The New York Daily News reports that the website Park Slope Parents "says nannies have posed as their employers online, created fake references, and even sent friends to interviews." Park Slope Parents, which is a community site that users must pay to participate in, frequently posts listings from both prospective employers and employees in the incredibly competitive childcare game. And it is competitive. I have heard, anecdotally, of nannies being approached on playgrounds by parents who want to steal them away from the families they already work for. It's a jungle out there by the jungle gyms, it really is.
So it's not entirely surprising that nannies would seek to gain a competitive edge in the hiring process by telling small lies while applying for jobs. I'm not condoning this, of course, but plenty of people do this in all sorts of different employment fields. It's not singular to these women—many, if not most, of whom are seeking jobs where they will be paid off the books, with no benefits, sick days, or paid vacation time. What I'm saying is that it's already an unorthodox employment situation and both the families who hire nannies and the nannies themselves are aware of the tenuous, sometimes uncomfortable, situation they find themselves in.
Because it's a weird thing, the whole Brooklyn nanny set-up. Frequently you have highly-educated families looking for someone to watch their child—their precious, PRECIOUS child—and the women they hire tend to be from a vastly different socioeconomic class. Which, I have seen, can lead to discomfort on the part of employers that manifests itself in a little, or a lot, of condescension. I mean, when Susan Fox, the founder of Park Slope Parents issued her statement about the discovery of fraudulent nanny applications on her website, she didn't just mention that there had been fabrications on the parts of the nannies. No, she included this gem: "The transgressions range from outright lies to 'grammatically humiliating' posts by sitters using their boss’ name."
Oh, no! Were the parents really "grammatically humiliated?" Not that! Anything but that. I completely get why it's so troubling to find out that the woman who you're thinking of hiring to care for your offspring had lied to you. Don't hire that woman! That's terrible. Probably think a little bit about why she lied though? Maybe she's trying to hedge her bets while looking for employment? Just like, oh, everyone else does? But when the truth is that one of the things these parents are most offended by is that they have been "grammatically humiliated" it starts to become really clear as to where the real problem lies. And it lies with these condescending Park Slope parents who expect their nannies to be pristine childcare givers who act only in the best interest of their toddler charges at all times, with no agency or self-interest at all. And that is absurd. And insulting. Much more so than a few white lies during a job hunt.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen