Upon meeting in culinary school, Sandra and Andrew quickly developed a deep connection fueled by their mutual Italian heritage and love for Italian cuisine.
After graduating together, they resolved to follow their shared passion and opened a small restaurant. Their partnership extended beyond the professional realm, as they wed and welcomed a son, Matteo, into their lives.
However, as the restaurant’s popularity grew thanks to glowing social media reviews, the couple found themselves increasingly stretched thin between work and familial duties.
“We could use some help with Matteo and managing the house,” Sandra acknowledged.
After considering their options, they decided to enlist the help of their neighbor’s daughter, Anthea, who frequently appeared to be available. They tasked Anthea with picking up Matteo from school and caring for him until they returned from the restaurant.
“He’s a great kid and easy to handle. Just make sure he’s content and well looked after,” Andrew instructed Anthea.
Sandra and Andrew’s restaurant was doing great. The reviews were positive, and they were fully booked for weeks. With Anthea taking care of Matteo, Sandra felt relieved that they wouldn’t be late to pick him up from daycare.
However, they were usually done with work around 9 p.m., and by the time they got back, it was almost bedtime. Matteo, being a soft-spoken child, never complained about Anthea to his parents. But one day, Sandra got a call from Matteo’s daycare teacher, Mrs. Deborah.
“Hi, Sandra. I wanted to bring something to your attention,” Mrs. Deborah said. “Matteo seems to be upset every time Anthea comes to pick him up. I noticed this happening on three occasions this week, even when he had a great day. I just thought you should know.”
Sandra was taken aback. “Really? Matteo has never had a problem with Anthea before. I’ll talk to him and get to the bottom of this.”
Sandra and Andrew decided not to overreact but to talk to Matteo and Anthea to understand what was happening. When they got home that evening, Sandra read a bedtime story to Matteo and asked him about his day.
“Matteo, how was daycare today? Did you have fun?” Sandra asked.
“Yes, I did. I played with my best friends Patrick and Freddy, and Mrs. Deborah was nice to me,” Matteo replied.
“That sounds great. What about Anthea? Do you like her?” Sandra asked.
Matteo silently nodded to Sandra without expressing any emotion. But Sandra’s intuition told her that Matteo might not be telling the whole truth about Anthea, she felt that there was more to the story.
The next morning, Sandra phoned Anthea before the restaurant opened and questioned her about Mrs. Deborah’s worries. Anthea responded, “I’m sure Matteo misses his mom and dad, that’s all. I’m sure he’ll warm up to me soon enough.”
Sandra felt uneasy and restless throughout her shift, which Andrew picked up on. Sandra suggested they track Anthea and Matteo after daycare the following day to ensure everything was okay. Andrew agreed and arranged for the restaurant floor manager to take over while they were gone.
The next day, Sandra and Andrew played detectives and observed from a distance as Anthea collected Matteo from daycare.
Despite Matteo still playing with his friends on the floor, Anthea refused his plea to stay for five more minutes and demanded he leave immediately. “That’s unnecessary. It’s not even late,” Andrew commented. They trailed them back to the house, where they watched from two houses away as Matteo played alone and unattended in the front yard.
Andrew drove nearer to their house and noticed Anthea was inside applying makeup, playing dress-up, and recording herself. At no point did she check on Matteo or bring him something to eat.
“This is unacceptable, Andrew. It’s as if she doesn’t even acknowledge Matteo’s presence. He looks so bored and lonely,” Sandra told Andrew. They promptly left the car, greeted Matteo, and entered the house. Anthea was surprised by their early return and couldn’t justify her conduct.
Andrew fired Anthea on the spot, and she left with her belongings. Sandra contacted Mrs. Deborah to express gratitude for notifying them about Matteo’s unhappiness.
“You know, I wish you had asked me for help before hiring that girl. I know some professional nannies around town, and I can put you in touch,” Mrs. Deborah responded.
Within a few days, Sandra and Andrew secured the services of a professional nanny named Gabriella to care for Matteo. Although Gabriella was more expensive than Anthea, Sandra didn’t mind the cost since her son’s well-being and safety were her top priorities. Sandra checked in with Mrs. Deborah every week to ensure that Matteo was content.
She also made sure to ask Matteo for his opinion. “Do you like Gabriella?” Sandra inquired.
Matteo’s face lit up as he responded, “She’s amazing. She even played with us in the sandbox after school. She’s just like Mrs. Deborah.”
One day, Gabriella decided to bring Matteo to the restaurant just before closing since it was on their way home. Since then, it became a regular practice for the four of them to have a meal together at the restaurant after closing.