Lolo is the 6th au pair we have hosted, and at 19, the youngest ever. We are a family of 4: two parents, a 9-year-old (Marina), and a 1-year-old (Amelie). It is a credit to the au pair program that Marina is fluent in French. We wanted Amelie to have the same advantage. But the age spread between the girls is really tricky, for two reasons. First, an au pair needs to be infant certified, and as enthusiastic about older children as she is about babies. Second, the time management to plan for after-school activities when the two kids can't play together is also challenging. Lolo has mastered it.
Lolo is always patient, usually smiling and laughing, and can be as silly as the silliest of us. She is always willing to help, and often won't stop when I tell her she doesn't need help clean up the kitchen after dinner. She will literally say, "I can't hear you" even though she can perfectly well, or will say she's stopping but then continues.
Have you ever heard of yogurt cake? No? Well, we hadn't, either. It's Lolo's specialty. It uses yogurt, as the name suggests, but it also uses the yogurt container to measure all the other ingredients. Talk about a mess-free way to make a cake! Almost no cooking implements dirtied in the cake-making.
Lolo was especially interested in finding a family who wanted to include her as part of their family. We encouraged her to go out, to use the 3rd car, to make friends, but she wasn't very eager. We were worried that if Lolo didn't make friends, before long she was not going to be very happy. Well, it turned out to be a good thing that she only wanted to hang out with US, because lockdown started less than 2 months after her arrival, so she could only hang out WITH us! And WE couldn't have had a better au pair to be in near isolation with! Lolo was more than happy to spend time with us, and only modestly discouraged to see her bucket list nearly disappear. We may have been more disappointed than she about all the things she wouldn't be able to see and do.
I work for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and things have been fairly fast-paced since the beginning of the pandemic. Lolo made it possible for us to keep our sanity through the new-COVID-normal, as one by one, each member of the household became relegated to the house. As if that wasn't an adjustment in itself, we learned that we would be moving from Ohio to Georgia on rather short notice DURING A PANDEMIC. Lolo helped with packing, helped with the kids while we packed, helped us look at houses online before we went in person, was an extra set of eyes on the houses we toured, helped unpack, and was just so even-tempered and upbeat during all the craziness.
We have about 3 months before her year is up and we are already sad that she'll be going home soon – we're trying not to think about it! Lolo has proven to be very mature and responsible despite her age. But she pointed out that her age could be an unexpected good thing: she is young enough that she could come back in a couple of years. I already look forward to that when I am feeling bummed. Every day, we are so very thankful to have Lolo with us.