It’s Not All Mary Poppins

I Generally Manage these things well…

(An interview from a year or so ago, which I’m only just getting around to hauling out of the draft files for your entertainment.)

It was an odd interview. I never did hear back, and doubt very much I will. (Nope. Never did!) In part, this was because they found my rates too high. You can tell, you know, by the way they don’t look at each other when you quote your price. Very stiffly don’t look. The eyes flicker towards each other, but they don’t want to do the tell-tale meaningful eye contact thing. Then there’s the little eye-twitch thing, where the eyes are trying to bulge in shock, but are sternly kept in the eye sockets through the force of the iron will of face-saving.

And then we discussed my holidays. More stiffness. More eye-twitching. More eye-contact avoidance.

Doesn’t bother me. If those things are an issue, it’s best to know up front. We’re better off not trying to make a team of ourselves. I don’t argue about my fees and benefits. Happily, I don’t have to, since most of the time, I have a waiting list.

But it was clear they didn’t like my fees, they didn’t like my holidays. And then, for the trifecta, there was my very own moment of lunacy.

They were sitting on the couch, mom holding baby. I was sitting across from them. They’d been here 20 minutes or so, baby had had a chance to scope me out. I generally make a point of asking to hold the baby at some point in the interview. Some babies you just can’t wait to get your hands on, they’re so sinfully adorable; others, not so much. I always ask; I get a teeny sense of the child (though their friendliness at six months has no predictive power over their attitude at twelve, when they’ll start with me, and I know it), but more importantly, the parents get to see me in action with their baby.

So I’m going to ask to hold the baby. I always do. If nothing else, it’s good PR. Everyone wants to know that their caregiver loves children. And that they particularly love theirs.

I’m going to ask to hold the baby. Except something weird happened in my brain. Some bizarre neuron mis-firing, because I don’t ask. I mean, I’m still intending to ask, but somehow I found myself upright and looming over mom with my arms outstretched before I said, “May I hold the baby?”

Mom, not surprisingly, cringed away from the looming lunatic before saying, uncertainly, “Yeeess?” Poor woman’s probably afraid to say no. God knows what I might do next.

(My brain. What happened in my brain?)

Instead of showing them the respectful, loving, skillful baby person I am, I proved myself to be a potential baby-snatcher… And now I sort of want to step back, away from the mommy and say, “Never mind”, but then I’ll show myself to be a potentially schizophrenic baby-hater.

Eesh. Not one of my finer moments.

And no, I didn’t get that baby. Hardly surprising. But given that I turn away far more than turn me down, I’m confident that I manage these things all right. Just not every time…

November 1, 2007 - Posted by | daycare, parents, the dark side


  1. We all have those moments when the body (or the mouth) starts working before the brain has time to react. I find myself in that situation fairly frequently. It’s a good thing my job doesn’t depend on person to person contact. God only knows what will fly out from my lips.

    I have to giggle at the image of you as schizophrenic baby snatcher. Great levity to begin the morning. 🙂

    Comment by Dani | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  2. One of those “doh!” moments. Great that you are able to share it with humor 🙂
    I’m a general lurker around here, but enjoy your blog quite a bit (the hilarious things-kids-do stories are my favorite I think). I just started a blog of my own and would love to link to you in the sidebar. Ok with you?

    Comment by Tali | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  3. Bah. i’m ALWAYS a gormless fool in interviews. I don’t know why, but my brain just falls out at the door, so I know how you look back and kick yourself after that!

    Comment by kittenpie | November 2, 2007 | Reply

  4. I’d be interested to hear about what qualities would cause you to turn potential parent-clients away. Assuming they agree to your terms, what would be the red flags that signify a bad match?

    Comment by Lucy | November 5, 2007 | Reply

  5. Dani: That poor woman just didn’t know what to make of me, but I’m quite sure she left my home convinced that I’m a little unhinged…

    Tali: Glad you enjoyed it. Linking is fine, of course. I hope you don’t mind that I don’t have a blogroll, and so won’t be able to link back.

    Kittenpie: It was like I was watching myself. Watching myself totally lose the thread, and thereby unnerve a perfectly nice woman. Eesh.

    Lucy: That’s a good question, and probably would make a good post. Some things are entirely personal to me, others would be more representative of caregivers generally. I’ll mull it over and it will probably be a post later in the week. Thanks for asking.

    Comment by MaryP | November 5, 2007 | Reply

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