I stood waiting with my two year old son, Luke, squirming on my hip and my 9 month old daughter, Sydney, whimpering on my shoulder; it's almost time for her to eat. I am waiting for the arrival of Biljana, our Au Pair. I Skyped with her for the first time while on vacation in Florida. I was impressed with her command of the English language and her interest in Tae Kwon Do. She piqued my interest when she asked for pictures of each child and a paragraph about them. She showed a genuine interest in each child. I had two babies in my arms but at home were two very active boys, Benjamin 7 and Ethan 5. I remember thinking maybe Tae Kwon Do would help her in caring for the tumulus activities and chores that come with four children. I was both anxious and apprehensive about having an Au Pair, it was the first time we attempted this and I wanted it to work.
Biljana arrived on May 24, 2013 and upon seeing her for the first time my heart stopped and my stomach flipped. Standing in front of me was a tiny girl, with a big smile who looked no more than twelve. She will never be able to handle four children for an hour much less for a day; I thought to myself, this was one big mistake. I smile, hugged her and introduced Luke and Sydney to her, neither of which responded positively. We headed home and all the way I was thinking that this young lady has no idea what caring for four children was like. How would she be able to deal with the fighting, the tantrums, and the competition for attention, not to mention changing diapers for two? What about the meals, nap schedules, sport schedules, homework and time working with the little ones on letters and numbers. No I was convinced that this was not going to work. As unsure as I felt, I was not alone my husband was equally dismayed and insecure about leaving her with the children. However we both felt that it was only fair to give Biljana at least a try. We would watch closely. We did just that and to our wonderment we discover an amazing young woman.
Biljana entered our home and instantly with a gentle calmness and control she won over each child. Sydney proved the easiest, the baby. She adores Biljana and looks for her at every turn. To see the two together is like looking at pure love. Luke an active toddler who is just learning to communicate and whose favorite word is NO! can be counted on for at least one tantrum a day. Biljana is his 'go to person' for everything he needs or wants. We have to ask Bika (the children's name for her) to interpret what he is saying. She makes special dishes for him to eat and he likes to cook 'real' food for her on his stove. Ethan was the most difficult; he is hyper active and goes through the house like a tornado. Her effect on him has been nothing short of incredible. With her he is calmer and she has an amazing way of soothing him with her soft, gentle voice. She helps him express himself. She takes him outdoors for special workout time, which he looks forward to; it's his reward for good behavior. Benjamin, the big brother wasn't thrilled to have another person tell him what to do, but again Biljana showed her abilities to work with children by enlisting his help and advice and then took him outside and played hockey with him. He taught her how to play American baseball. It was quite funny to see them interact. She has an amazing sense of how to get the best out of our children. She navigates sibling fighting and always finds the one on one time each child needs.
She is nurturing, compassionate and loving. Our family life has benefited from her in every way possible. She made a chaotic home one that is orderly and manageable. She takes her duties seriously and has helped our children learn about responsibilities. She gives of herself freely and we considered her an indispensable member of our family. She is a team player. When I arrive home at night we divide and conquer to get through the rest of the day. We sit together each night after everyone is finally asleep. We eat dinner and talk about the details of the children's day. She keeps me on task for all the upcoming activities at school and sports. I know where to go and when because of her organizational skills. To both my husband and me she is our older daughter, our friend, and our partner in the welfare of our children. To our children she is an older sister, a trusted friend, a loving caretaker.
With all that Biljana faced when she arrived in our country, new people to live with and children to care for, a language that she spoke but didn't always understand and customs completely foreign to her, she embraced it all. She plays all kind of sports with the children. She dressed up for Halloween and was part of our 'pirate family'. She has introduced my husband to some delicious Serbian dishes. Her smile is infectious and she learns and enjoys new things on a daily basis. She loves walking on the beach and has discovered museums that she enjoys taking the children to when the weather doesn't permit outdoor activities.
She has mastered driving on Long Island. Just a few days ago she had her first American Thanksgiving and as only Biljana can do, she exhibited genuine interest and excitement to all the stories and the different foods, as well as the people around her. Anyone meeting her for the first time is awed by how easily she became part of the family. My husband and I are filled with gratitude that Biljana is such an integral part of our life. An amazing young woman, an Au Pair extraordinaire, Biljana has enriched our life and we know that she will continue do so in the coming months.
WE LOVE OUR AU PAIR "BIKA"