It’s Not All Mary Poppins


I have a space opening up shortly, and have thus been seeking replacements. I’ve had several calls, some more probing and promising than others, but nothing beyond that until last week, when I set up an interview with a woman who is seeking care for her three-year-old son. I liked the sound of her on the phone; we agreed to meet.

Now, when parents come for an interview, they know their agenda. They want to make sure I am capable of providing safe, stimulating, and loving care to their babe. They also want to get a “feel” for me, see if my parenting style is comparable to their own. They think they know my agenda, and so they provide me with lots and lots of information about their baby.

In fact, they’re wrong. At this point, I am only secondarily interested in their baby. A shocking thought for Earnest Parents. I have been caring for kids, as a parent, an elementary school teacher, and now a daycare provider, for the better part of twenty years. The baby doesn’t worry me: There are very few babies I can’t manage. The parents, however, are another matter altogether. Much harder to train!!

A parent can quite successfully make my life a misery. Their child might try bytimes, but without success: we always manage to come to a meeting of minds – or wills, as the case may be!

This mother decided to bring her son with her. This is generally a dreadful idea for the first interview, particularly with a toddler. Mom is distracted, the child is disruptive, and the interview takes half again as long as it should. I am exasperated, because I am quite helpless. As long as a parent is there, they are the authority, and I won’t intrude upon that: it would be unspeakably rude; besides, it would be completely ineffective and thus self-defeating. So I paste my Mary Poppins patient and gentle smile on my face, and wait for them to sort it out.

In this case, though, the child was a delight. A favourable impression is being made.

Here’s what I saw that I liked:
-she arrived on time;
-her son was well-behaved;
-she was in control of the child;
-she was polite;
-she has a sense of humour, even about her child; (meaning, she is not an Earnest Mommy!)
-she didn’t quibble about my fees;
-she acknowledged my professionalism;
-thus, she didn’t quibble about my professional perks (paid holiday, stats, sick days);
-she discussed the issues intelligently;
-she asked sensible questions;
-she smiled and made eye contact;
-she responded to my questions sensibly;
-she was soft-spoken.

So, all went well. When she returned a few days later, it was to introduce her husband to me and sign the contract.

The only downside? Well, Mary Poppins I may be, but Martha Stewart I ain’t. This place sees half a dozen and more children every single day, and I have neither the inclination nor the energy to maintain Better Homes and Garden standards. (Housework with children around, says a quote in a journal I was once given, is like putting beads on a string with no knot at the end.) However, I did give the bathroom a quick scouring, just in case, and Mom did make a quick trip there part way though. After they left, I was mortified to see that the damned cat had been up there after my scrubbing, and had left muddy pawprints all over the sink!

And still they agreed to sign on. Not fastidious: yet another point in their favour!

May 20, 2005 - Posted by | daycare, parents

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