It’s Not All Mary Poppins


Two o’clock. Naptime.

The house is tidy again, the floors clear, the table wiped down. The sun shines in through de-finger-printed windows, and the only sound in the room is the soft ticking of the clock, the ticketa-tack of the computer keys, and a low, gentle snore.


Yes. There is a child sleeping on the other couch. She shouldn’t be here. She was supposed to have been picked up between noon and twelve-thirty. They have a special outing planned. She was to be picked up right after lunch, so she could sleep in the car on the way to their outing. Her nap generally starts at 1:00.

Could I make sure she had a good lunch? (Of course. When don’t I?)
Oh, and could I have her in a fresh diaper, please? (Unnecessary even to ask. I always have them in fresh diapers when their parents are expected. I guess she thought all those fresh diapers baby’s been in every single afternoon for the past ten months have been one giant coincidence.)
I also always have them dressed in their outside gear if I know when the parent’s expected. Simpler for everyone. So don’t even ask.

Noon to twelve-thirty, I was told. But I know this mother. I put baby in a fresh diaper at 1:00. I put her in her outdoor gear at 1:15.

At 1:30, baby climbed up on the couch. And went directly to sleep.

I did not stop her. Mom wants baby to sleep in the car, she should arrive when she says she will.

She’s a lovely woman, smart, warm friendly, and completely in love with her child. I really like her. But she’s a terrible, terrible time manager. She always runs behind schedule. She’s reliably unreliable, so mostly I can work around the tardiness. Worse than the chronic lateness, though, is the poor communication. If you’re going to be late, you give a call. This has happened before, and there’s usually a long list of reasons why a call was impossible. I remain unconvinced. Anyone with a cell phone in a city can make a call at just about any time.

Why don’t I call her? She’s not at her desk. And it seems she doesn’t have her cell phone turned on…


February 23, 2007 - Posted by | parents, the dark side


  1. Oh, I so feel your pain. This happens to me so many times. “I’ll be there early” translates into showing up 10 minutes earlier than usual, or else they ask you not to put the baby to bed because they’ll be coming, and the baby is off-schedule and snarling by the time they finally show up. Argh.

    Comment by kelli in the mirror | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  2. You’re very sweet-natured about it, Mary, I don’t think there is any excuse for that sort of lateness and not to call either is treating both you and her little girl with complete disdain.

    Comment by z | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  3. Is my wife leaving one of my children with you and not telling me.

    Comment by Peter | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  4. My thing here is it’s so not fair to the kid to be waiting and wondering. Even with a call, I would be feeling terrible if I were her. I know life happens, and I know we have to teach them some resilience to those little setbacks, but I try to keep my word when I give it, because if you can’t trust your own parent, then what? I do hope the greeting comes with a big cuddle and an apology.

    Comment by kittenpie | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  5. And it’s not you job to call her.


    Comment by Kimberly | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  6. That’s really aggravating. I know we try our best to be on time and prompt for our caregivers. Everyone has times when you are late, but we always give a call. I also always have my cell phone on. What if the kidling gets sick or injured in some way. How would you get ahold of her?

    Comment by Dani | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  7. You know, I am THE worst time-manager on the planet. I really am. Expect me to be late to EVERYthing. BUT! I was never, ever late to pick up my children from someone else’s care (I had daycare providers when the kids were littler and I was in school full-time). NEVER.

    Comment by candace | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  8. This drives me NUTS. I always start to worry (no matter how well I know a particular parent usually runs late…) that they’ve had a car accident or some-such disaster.

    Much worse however are the parents who are due to arrive at 7:30am, and start BANGING on the door and BELLOWING for you to open it at 7:05am.

    THAT particular situation is enough to make me LIVID

    Comment by blytheswideshut | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  9. Eep! I’m a person who is almost always late. Although I would have called if I were going to be more than 15 mins late. And I would definitely take responsibility for the interrupted sleep since it was my fault. And daycare pick-ups are probably one of the very few items on my schedule that I would drop everything for (and catch a cab for a five-block trip).

    Comment by Kat | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  10. When I taught preschool, there were invariably a couple of parents who were always late, especially at the end of the day, and one of them was often quite egregiously late – 45 minutes most days. We tried fining him, guilting him, nothing worked. The owner gave him his ‘final three chances’ and was at last strong enough to tell him he had to leave when he begged and pleaded for another try at being on-time. I never could understand why someone would do this to their child, not to mention those of us who had to stay behind with him instead of getting to go home on time to our own families.

    Comment by Kiera | February 23, 2007 | Reply

  11. Kelli: You soon learn which are the clients you can rely on to arrive when they say they will – which is most of them! But there always the tardy ones. *sigh*

    As for the naps? What I’ll do when a parent is late and nap is being significantly delayed, is to put the child down for a nap and claim innocence. “So sorry! She just fell asleep right on the floor!” Imagine that…

    Because the child’s sleep is more important to me than the parent’s convenience.

    Z: Thank you. I still feel that she’s a lovely woman, but she has no idea about keeping time. She’s come late at the end of the day, in tears because she knew she was keeping me — it honestly distresses her. And yet still she does it. The lack of a phone call? That’s not so easily forgiven…

    Peter: LOL No, and if she phones and asks, I’ll be telling her “no”, now.

    Kittenpie: The baby’s young enough that there’s not much time sense yet, so she wasn’t distressed by mummy’s tardiness. She may have been a little hot by the time mummy arrived, mind you, sleeping in her snowsuit on the couch!

    Kimberly: Too right.

    Dani: I wouldn’t, would I? Thankfully, I have a couple of back-up numbers for all my clients, and one in this case is a very reliable grandma. Thank goodness.

    Candace: You should blog about that: Tips for Getting to Daycare on Time for the Chronically Late. By, One Who Knows. 🙂

    Blythes: I am horrified! I have never, ever had a client do that, and if they did? They would be an ex-client, probably as of that moment. I’ve had clients arrive a few minutes early and sit in the car until I open. I’ve also had clients ask in advance if they could bring their child early, and I’m usually quite willing to accommodate it – but that kind of disrespect? Intolerable!

    Kat: I’m always nice to my clients, even when they’re late. But I do expect my late fee… (Not in this case, though, darnit, because she wasn’t after-hours late.)

    Kiera: What was the late fee? Not high enough, nor rigorously enforced, I suspect. Mine is STEEP: $2/minute, payable on arrival. If he was paying $90 every time he was late, I think he’d have mended his ways – or found another daycare – much sooner!

    Unfortunately, because she was coming mid-day, there was no late fee applicable. That’s only for after-hours lateness.

    Comment by Mary P | February 24, 2007 | Reply

  12. You are so much nicer than I am. I’d have been so tempted to ‘worriedly’ phone Grandma, just to check that there hasn’t been an accident. Weeping with remorse to you is one thing, if she doesn’t intend to change her ways. Explaining herself to mother or mother-in-law could be harder!

    Comment by z | February 24, 2007 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: