Tonight we had the pleasure of having dinner with one of our first Au Pairs, Kookai.

The twins are almost as tall as Kookai these days!
The twins are almost as tall as Kookai these days!

Now living in Connecticut and married, Kookai was actually Au Pair number 2 for us – yet in so many ways set our expectations super high for future Au Pairs. We’ve had 8 Au Pairs since the twins were born and we’ve appreciated the effort and care each have tried to provide for Stone and Ty during their time, but some (like Kookai) established strong ties to the family that will always keep them a little closer to our hearts.

I’m not sure Kookai even knows or understands how important she was to us when she became our Au Pair in 2006 when the boys were only 9 months old. Renee and I were both like so many other parents of twins – paddling furiously trying to keep our heads above water with all the new demands. Throw into the mix my attempts at launching a start-up and a tumultuous initial experience with our first Au Pair from Poland and you had two parents near wits-end when we connected with Kookai.

When we hired our first Au Pair from Poland, we admittedly did not put enough time or thought into the hire. Frankly, we were desperate for any help we could find and the fact that we were able to match with a girl who was willing and able to join us was fine with us. Being naive, we didn’t know or understand that she might have an anterior motive to taking the position – that is, to find an American to marry so she can stay in the US. Suffice to say, Au Pair #1 wound up in a relationship with a soldier from Yelm that left us feeling very uncomfortable (mostly because he was unwilling to meet us in person and refused to pick her up in front of our house). So we agreed to part ways and we had to find a new replacement quickly.

Kookai’s application immediately intrigued me. Her childcare experience consisted of helping out at an orphanage run by an American woman in Thailand so she was very familiar with American child-rearing principals (and more importantly, songs such as Old McDonald!). Also impressive: she majored in English in her university and her application was very well-written. We emailed Kookai and arranged for a phone interview – her English was as strong verbally as it was written and we were impressed by her personality and experience and offered her the position. Luckily for us she accepted.

She arrived in the US on September 18, 2006. I remember picking her up from Seatac Airport and thinking to myself that this young woman has no idea how important she was for the future welfare of our family. We desperately needed someone who could step in with the childcare help immediately (and calmly). And Kookai more than delivered. Nothing ever rattled or flustered her – no matter the situation. Given the chaos that came from twin babies, this was a welcome reprise. And an even bigger bonus was she loved to cook – and would often treat Renee and I to full Thai meals – far better than anything we had in restaurants. Her love for cooking also helped with the boys. She successfully got them to eat a full complement of fruits and veggies (something we’ve never been able to duplicate) in their meals. We also have fond memories of little Kookai (she can’t be more than 5’1) pushing the boys in their double jogger up our very steep hill every day.

Thanks to Facebook we’ve been able to stay in touch with Kookai and she has been great about getting together with us during her visits back to Seattle. She is now a full time nanny for a family in Connecticut but never forgets her first American family and for that I’m very grateful. Even though the boys don’t remember her as their Au Pair they very much know who Kookai is and understand the special role she played in their lives.

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