Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Fight with Yoselyn Ortega and the Critical Mom

Friends have told me of summers spend slaving away as au pairs, sent to wash stacks of laundry and hang it all out on the line--while watching four or five children.  One told me of feeling sad at being far from home and being told by her employer: "I don't want to see your unhappy face!  You go in there and smile at my children."  This particular friend, because she was young and less disturbed than Yoselyn Ortega, swallowed her sobs, grit her teeth, and pasted on a smile.  Can't we assume that the children for whom she cared would have been happier if she had not been forced to fight her sorrows alone?  If the nanny has an unhappy face then she's an unhappy person taking care of your children.  If only for their sake, you owe the nanny a conversation and an attempt to discover why she's unhappy.  You owe her even if you're not interested in the nanny and don't give a damn about her.  You owe her because you want her to feel interested in your kids.  Believe me, if you don't give a damn about the nanny and how she feels, she'll figure that out and why wouldn't she take it out on your kids?  The happiness of the nanny decides the happiness of the kid--or if not, then you're lucky.  I can't understand why anyone would want a woman who's an emotional wreck to take care of their children.  The latest tidbit about Yoselyn Ortega is that she had an argument with Marina Krim the day before the murders--that they were yelling at each other, the mother demanding that Ortega "interact" more with the children and not feed them junk food.  These are red flags.  If you're yelling at the nanny, you're yelling at the person who is supposed to protect your treasures.   Not at someone who is doing faulty work on an assembly line and who can be bullied into picking up speed.   
Why is it not obvious that a mother has a vested interest in keeping her nanny happy?  The first thing you look for is a cheerful person.  Competence comes next.  The first thing you notice is the moment when the nanny isn't her happy self anymore--In I Feel Bad About My Neck, Nora Ephron develops a theory about babysitters--that after a few years they wear out the way anything wears out.   Childcare wears you out even when you love your children and they're the light of your life.  They're still the ones you yell at when they forget to flush the toilet for the thousandth time, use cuss words you told them not to say, or throw a towel on the floor after using it once even though they know they are supposed to hang it up.  Usually we don't murder them for things like this--and usually neither would the nanny.  But we don't want to take any chances with a babysitter who feels undervalued, underpaid, or exploited.   No matter how irrational the demands of Yoselyn Ortega, they should have been taken seriously for the sake of the kids.  The Krim children are the victims of parents who failed to see that a nanny could possibly be as unhappy as Yoselyn Ortega.  A profound failure of imagination fueled this tragedy.

6 comments:

  1. You see the Krim children as victims of the parents because they "failed to see that a nanny could possibly be as unhappy as Yoselyn Ortega"?? What an outrageous statement to make. The mother tried to help this woman by giving her extra duties so she could make more money. Mothers and nannies disagree, they may even have a heated arguements. 99.9% of the time, the nanny doesn't kill the children in retaliation to the mother, nor does the mother fire the nanny immediately, worried that on the off chance - she might stab her children to death. So your point is absurd. There is no way on earth that mother or anyone else could have forseen the pathology that was and is present in Yoselyn Ortega. Ortega's own family didn't detect the extent of her disturbed mind. To place blame on the parents for a perceived lack of foresight is utterly disgusting. This nanny wasn't merely 'unhappy' as you tritely put it. Unhappy people hand in their resignation and look elsewhere for employment.
    This individual is a narcissist. In every classical sense of the word - shifting the blame onto others, seeking revenge for perceived slights or imagined wrongs, never taking responsibility for their own actions. From her hospital bed she shifts focus from herself back to Marina by stating "Marina knows what happened."
    Not only is she a narcissist, but also a psychopath with sadistic tendencies. She murdered Leo while he slept by slitting his throat, then transported him to the bathroom to join his dead sister. She wanted Marina to find them like that so she could see her reaction - before she began to stab herself. Otherwise she would have killed herself sooner. Call it mental illness or pure evil, but Yoselyn Ortega was fully aware of her actions that evening. Her intent was to kill those children and to make sure that the mother found them so she could watch her reaction. A dangerous offender who needs to be locked up for life, undeserving of our sympathy. The only victims here are the Krim family; Marina, Kevin, Lulu, Nessie and Leo.

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  2. I've posted a lengthy comment: tried to do so here but what I had to say took up so much space the "HTML" would not let me post it. See today's post, and thank you very much for your comment.

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  3. MOST childcare workers are overworked and underpaid. Let's face it: people don't want to raise their own kids anymore and they want to criticize the inexpensive laborers who get paid pitiful sums to watch over other people's children. And $32K/ yr salary for 50 hrs/ wk work in NYC sucks!

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  4. Yes--Ortega was making a mere $18 an hour to care for three children--that seems low by NYC standards. But it seems the salary wasn't really the main issue--it was the bad feeling that developed between Krim and Ortega. Have the feeling that for a kind word from Krim, Ortega would have fallen at her feet. But Ortega must have been unstable for a long time, and her aggression must have gone unrecognized

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  5. It's not that unusual for nannies to dislike, even hate, their employers and charges. Most are professional enough not to show their true feelings, and get on with their job. This case IS unusual because the nanny acted on her hatred. She must have been mentally unbalanced, though that does not excuse the crime.

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  6. Yes, I can well imagine nannies hating their employers, but when the employers are so oblivious to the feelings of the nanny--then there's always potential for trouble. This woman must indeed have been psychotic to kill the children she'd cared for for so long. But I have a feeling that the employer must have failed to perceive how crazy Ortega was, and I believe that failure, if you can call it a failure, comes from never having been really exposed to unbalanced people before. The employers assumed a degree of mental health that was clearly not there.

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