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Au Pair Host Family Story: Christine & John
by Christine (and John, Alex, Zara & Emma), EurAupair Host Family
My husband and I are both physicians, and we have three very active children. I am always very upfront with the au pairs during the interviewing process, warning them we run a busy life, and life with three kids, while a lot of fun, can be chaotic at times! Elise arrived in our family from France in August of 2014.
Elise comes from a multi-ethnic background. She arrived into our family open-minded, flexible and very adaptable. She came to America to fulfill a dream- to learn about a new culture, to be an integral part of a new family, improve a second language, travel, and build new long lasting relationships. She accomplished all of this, but also marked so many lives during her stay with her generous and fun-loving personality.
As soon as Elise set foot in our house, she immediately reached out to the children, always smiling and willing to help. She adapted so well to each one`s personality, which we recognize can be challenging. She was very patient and understanding with our hyperactive 11 year old son and connected well with his dry sense of humor. She understood his difficulties concentrating with homework at night and tried all sorts of things to help him focus, taking academic performance seriously. She was genuinely interested in our middle daughter`s horse passion (to the point of taking horseback riding herself!) and never missed the girls’ horse competitions. She was very creative coming up with new games and projects with our 7 year old daughter, and was attentive to all of her needs. She was also comfortable and friendly with adults, she had a special ability to connect with people, a gift.
My children are involved in numerous after-school activities and she was a big help driving them back and forth. She was organised and always punctual. She did homework and piano with them and demanded that things were well done. She took their performances seriously. Because she was mature and responsible, we felt that our kids were safe with her at all times.
She seemed to consider the kids as her own siblings, her own family. She communicated with them and understood them on their level. She knew how to bring out happy vibes yet she was firm when needed. She was extremely involved in the children`s activities in and out of school. She even volunteered to help first graders with reading and math. In doing so, she not only improved her English significantly but also got to know many children and their parents, and the teachers, most of which still ask about her. She volunteered for all the school field trips, and as such visited many places she would not have had a chance to see. She always gave herself 100%!
Elise’s initiative and open-mindedness helped her adapt to her new situation and even adopt several of our ways of life. For instance, she appreciated our healthy cooking and even started going to the gym on a daily basis. She was definitely hooked (she has maintained this habit in France). She even started Spanish lessons just like the children! She kept saying that she didn't have the impression that she was really working when she was with us. When she came along with us on various trips, including Disney World, Colorado skiing and a visit to Quebec City in Canada, she was always grateful and did all she could to be useful at all times. She made friends in many places, friends who continue to invite her back! I guess in her case, her actions really justify the expression you reap what you sow.
She was helpful in the good times and also in difficult times, such as when our 11 years old had a severe life threatening accidental chest injury one week into our Canada trip and required emergency thoracic surgery. She had such a maternal response: as I was attending my son, she instinctively took the girls away, read them stories and pretended that she wanted to sleep with them while my son Alex was rushed to the hospital, not knowing for many hours what his outcome would be (he survived and has now fully recovered). It turned to be a great exchange for all of us. We even met 10 of her family members who at one point came to visit her in Texas, we immediately connected and enjoyed a lovely crepe dinner at our home, where we somehow managed to find a little corner for all of them to sleep in! She was such a blessing to us but I think she also grew up during the year, became more self-confident about who she is, her capabilities, pursuing further studies, and finding a vocation she loves. I made her understand that if she survived one year with us, she could accomplish anything in her life!! When she thanked us at the end for an amazing year, I smiled and told her we are the ones that should be thanking her.