Hiring a nanny is nervewracking. You want someone who's great with kids, who can speak three languages, and who has impeccable virtue, yet you also want someone who will work for free. It's a delicate balance.
One Queens couple has a very specific idea of the kind of adult in whose care they will leave their children: a lost soul who's willing to tackle the epic quest of slogging through their 65-question survey.
Grab your umbrella! You are a magical Mary Poppins, a wizard, or a giant spiky Triceratops. You love to play, pretend, create, teach, and nurture. You are reliable, warm, and fun, but also know how to say "no" when necessary.
The questionnaire, linked from a Craigslist posting, opens by asking for basic (if perhaps illegal) info: What's your name? Are you a U.S. citizen? Would you ever go to Queens?
Then, all of a sudden, your doctor is involved.
6. Will you be able to provide a letter from your primary care doctor stating that you are in good health and able to perform the "rigorous job of caring for two small children?"
7. Will you provide a letter from your doctor listing all your current prescription drugs?
There are questions about how often you bathe, and how often you wash your hair. Questions about how many countries you have been to ("More than 30?") and about whether you will become homesick and need to return to your non-American family. About traffic citations, and where you fall in the birth order of your siblings, and whether you have ever been placed in "a Youth Detention Center or 'juvie.'"
Then, there are the drug questions.
Now, make no mistake. The king and queen of Queens are down with the kids. They know that you might think it's cool lick a pill or drink some "cough meds," and they know all the different slangs.
"How often do you smoke weed?" asks question 25. "How many smokes do you typically have on a social occasion?" comes next.
28. Do you take any of the following prescription drugs or their derivatives? Choose all that apply:
Ritalin, Percocet, Adderall, Vicodin, Tylox, OxyContin
Question 29 is composed of three colums. One for drugs you did more than 5 years ago, one for drugs you did between 1 and 5 years ago, and one for drugs you are probably on right now as you're filling out this survey. :
Which recreational drugs do you do? Check all that apply.
Here are the choices:
- Cough meds
- Other (Please write below)
Now, here is the question burning at the heart of this survey, in the soul of Queens:
Do you reward the honest meth head, one year sober, who, in the spirit of full disclosure, did pop a tab of ecstasy in celebration of the great new kids (your kids) he can't wait to learn and laugh with?
Or do you go with the folks who at least had enough sense to lie on your very-easy-to-lie-on Internet survey?
And who, if not drug addicts, are you trying to attract by posting your listing on Craigslist?
Following the drug bust, there are a few dozen more questions of varying degrees of difficulty: What was your high school GPA? What age do you feel is the oldest a child should cease breastfeeding? ("3 months?" "2 years?" "Whenever the child and mother agree to wean?") What would you do during naptime?
Oddly, the most perplexing question of all concerns what would seem a pretty straight-forward subject: washing hands.
9. Choose the following instances when you would wash your hands with soap and water, or clean your hands with a hand sanitizer (No, we're not expecting you to choose them all. Just answer truthfully):
- Before eating
- After eating
- Before bedtime
- Upon waking
- After touching a public door
- After going to the bathroom
- Before feeding children
- After playtime in the park
- Before changing diapers
- After changing diapers
- After cleaning the house
- When hands are visually dirty
How should you answer this? They say they don't expect you to choose all of them, but don't those all sound like pretty good situations in which to wash your hands, now that they mention it? Is it possible the "don't choose all" warning is a trick to weed out the Unclean? Or will selecting all of those instances make you look like an OCD hand washing enthusiast who will scrub the tender palms of their children until they're raw and red? Maybe the answer is "none of the above" — to boost the kids' immune systems?
Good luck getting this nanny job, would-be nannies.
You are not qualified.
[Image by Jim Cooke]