Horror stories abound about ayis. Everyone seems to know someone who knows someone whose ayi did something truly outlandish or unconscionable. Here we take a look at a few of the most common horror stories and what you can learn from them. If you’re still considering hiring an ayi, check out this article for information on how to make the right choice.
Mrs. Zhang was perplexed when she found a mysterious bottle of unlabeled pills in her cabinet and, knowing that neither she nor her husband had purchased any new medicines recently, immediately suspected her ayi. She took the pills and had them analyzed at the hospital and it turned out they were a type of sedative similar to valium. Under pressure, the ayi admitted to drugging the couple’s six month old baby so that she could get household chores done without the baby making a disturbance. Mrs. Zhang immediately filed a report with the police but the ayi had already disappeared.
Another story involving ayis and drug abuse: Mrs. Hu wondered why her elderly father’s nightly dosage of sleeping pills was no longer working. It seemed like the elderly man needed more and more pills to get to sleep, even though he’d been on the same dose for years. It turned out the ayi she had hired to care for her father during the day when she was at work had been giving the old man sleeping pills at irregular times, and not only that, she had increased the dose from 2 pills to 3. The Hus fired the ayi but did not press charges.
The moral: Watch your children closely when you’ve hired a new nanny and note any changes in their behavior. Do not allow the ayi to administer any medicines that you have not authorized, even Chinese traditional medicines for warding off colds or building the immune system. If you suspect anything do not hesitate to confront the ayi and use a hidden camera if necessary.
Most ayi horror stories center around ayis with light fingers. One woman had an heirloom camera that her father had left to her stolen by the ayi. Another woman looking for answers on Baidu said that their ayi had stolen all of the candy from their house. The candy she was willing to forgive, as the ayi had two young sons and the woman figured she’d probably taken the candy for her children. However, the ayi had also taken 300 RMB in cash from the unlocked master bedroom. Of course when things go missing around the house the ayi is usually the first to take the blame, even when she is not at fault. An American friend said that she wrongfully accused her ayi of taking her wedding ring and dismissed her, when the ring in fact turned up about a week later.
The moral: Keep your cash and valuables in a safe place, at least until you feel entirely comfortable with your ayi. Seeing cash out in the open can prove to be too much of a temptation for some people, so the best thing you can do to prevent theft is to make sure you’re not facilitating it. If you do suspect your ayi of taking something, make sure that you are fairly certain before you accuse her. If you decide to take legal action, you need to make sure that you have fairly strong evidence – the ayi caught on tape, for example.
Sarah in Shunyi had a story about an ayi named Rose who would hock loogies and spit them into the kitchen sink, blow her nose into her hands and wipe her hands on her jeans rather than washing them, and who loathed to change a diaper or give the kids in her care a change of clothes. Mrs. Li was similarly exasperated by an ayi who wouldn’t wash her hands after using the bathroom and who would let Mrs. Li’s son urinate on the floor rather than helping him use the potty or putting him in diapers.
The moral: Many Ayis come from the countryside and may not have the same standards of cleanliness that city-dwelling foreigners or middle class Chinese folks do. If you see your ayi practicing poor personal hygiene do not feel embarrassed about telling her what the rules are in your house. If she refuses to cooperate then you may need to find a new ayi. Not only is it unhealthy, but your ayi should be adaptable and should follow your rules as you lay them down.
The ayi Rose, above, not only was unhygienic, but she refused to clean up her act, and took it a step further, challenging Sarah about the housekeeping. When Sarah asked Rose to clean the bathroom on Friday, Rose refused, saying the bathroom had just been cleaned on Tuesday. Rose’s previous employer, Anna, confirmed Rose’s stubbornness, saying that Rose called Anna “weird” for wanting the house cleaned daily. Another ayi working for an expat family, Xiao Lu, would dress their child in multiple layers of clothing even on warm days, as is common in China. When Xiao Lu was asked to dress the child in lighter clothing, as she wasn’t used to being bundled so warmly, Xiao Lu got angry and told the parents they would make their child sick.
The Moral: It is natural that there will be some cultural differences that arise between you and your ayi, so a certain amount of leeway is called for. You may have certain ways of doing things that are different from what she is used to. However, you’re paying her salary and you have a right to call the shots regarding your kids and your household. If your ayi continually gives you attitude when you ask her to do things a certain way then that is grounds for dismissal.
A British woman, Lucia, in Chaoyang, told us that when she fired her ayi her ayi refused to leave the house and demanded several months pay in compensation, and even threatened to sue Lucia. Eventually the ayi had to be escorted off the premises by compound security guards. Sarah’s unhygienic ayi Rose made a huge scene when she was fired, screaming at Sarah and threatening to bring in friends and to harm Sarah’s family. Other ayis have actually called the police on their employers and have threatened to get foreign employers deported. Most stories involve ayis wanting to be paid a sort of severance package and creating a huge fuss in hopes of obtaining a last bit of money from employers. These ayis were all ayis who had issues in the first place, which is, of course, why they were fired.
The moral: Make sure that your contract with the ayi clearly states what will happen if the ayi is let go – under what circumstances, if any, is she entitled to compensation. Do not be intimidated by the ayi’s threats to call the police or get you deported, in fact, the police most likely will take your side, especially if you have followed the contract you had with the ayi. Threats against your family or physical threats should be taken more seriously, and if your ayi resorts to this sort of behavior call the police at once.
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Keywords: what to do with a bad ayi how to hire an ayi china china childcare horror stories ayi horror stories China childcare tips
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I think a great solution is for people to clean their own places and raise their own children.
I could afford an ayi, but I gladly clean my own apartment rather than deal with a peasant woman trying to take control of the place -- what a ridiculous concept. I don't want anyone honking up lugies in my place. See enough of that on the street.
Why can't expat people take responsibility for the own messes and theor own children anyway?
Jul 01, 2011 02:04 Report Abuse
well, you see for those of us without kids, the idea is kind of amazing. having some lady come in once a week to wash dish, sweep and mop, wash the clothes and take out the trash is splendid. it's the first thing i'm going to get when i get my next pay check
May 10, 2012 03:24 Report Abuse