It’s Not All Mary Poppins

The prima donna emerges

I have become one of “those” caregivers.

Maybe you think I’ve been one all along. What with my mid-to-upper range fees, my tough late fees, my paid holidays, my “discretionary” days off and all. There are two former clients out there who, I’m quite sure, view me as an uppity bitch. Which is fine by me. As Pierre Trudeau once said, having been insulted by Richard Nixon, “I have been called worse things by better people.”

If that makes me “one of them”, you’ll probably not be interested in reading further.

I also have the parents provide diapers and diaper wipes, and sunscreen in the summer. Does this make me a prima donna? It’s pretty standard here, so I’m saying not. I provide vaseline and zinc creams, food, and sun hats in summer. (Because baseball caps do NOT cut it, people!) So maybe I’m a diva about sun hats, but I forked out the hundred plus dollars for two matching sets of good ones in two different sizes. Doesn’t affect the parents. In fact, they get a charge out of seeing them all in their matching hats.

So I think I’m pretty low-to-mid-range in the daycare diva sweeps. Really. I have caregiving friends who have Parent Handbooks, filled with do’s and don’t’s, lists of rules and regulations. Caregivers who ask that parents not only provide slippers to stay at the caregiver’s house, but specify the brand of slippers that are acceptable. Caregivers who demand a certain type of mitten, who refuse to deal with this brand of diaper or that style of onesie.

I have never done that. Parents can dress their child how they see fit. Now, I don’t necessarily have to do it their way in my home. A child whose diaper can only be accessed by undoing three sets of snaps (jeans, shirt, and onesie) will have two of those three sets flapping in the wind after I’ve been in there once. A child who comes with a sweater on over top of the overalls (which have no crotch snaps!) will have the sweater put on under the overall straps just as quickly. When a child is ready (generally long before it happens at home), soothers are removed at entry. A child can bring a 10-reads-a-day book to Mary’s, but if I consider it substandard, preachy, or patronizing, if it has a poor message, or simply bores me witless, I make no promises that I will read the damned thing.

None of all that affects the parents.

But yesterday, I actually crossed a line, even in my own head, when I sent out this email:

Everyone needs baby wipes. Up to now, you’ve all been bringing whatever you use at home, which means that they come in various counts, sizes and absorbencies. Thus, I go through some at three times the rate of others, which is not equitable for you, and inconsistent for me.

And of course, after all these years, I have my favourite. I was hoping you would all indulge me by purchasing Huggies, in the 160-count size (in the bag not the box) for my use here. So, yes, Mary has become a butt-wipe prima donna. Can’t deny it. I hope it’s not too much of an annoyance: if it is, feel free to bring whatever suits. (But Huggies are better!)

Huggies, in the 160-count size (in the bag not the box).”

Feel free to roll your eyes…

December 12, 2007 - Posted by | daycare


  1. As a Huggies user, box, not bag, tell me are the wipes in the bag better? Thicker, more absorbant? Or it is just more practical since who needs more of the dispensers? Seems like a reasonable request, esp since it’s pretty easy to get Huggies coupons.

    Comment by Tricia | December 12, 2007 | Reply

  2. I’m a font prima donna. I tell students that essays and assignments *must* be written in Arial 12 pt or I will not mark them.

    Comment by Kimberly | December 12, 2007 | Reply

  3. My hubby used to refuse anything but Huggies (he does all nappies when he’s at home). Then we tried Curash, then J&J, and he loved them. So now the babies use the softer brands, and the toddler uses Huggies, which is thicker. Two brands in the same family makes him, IMO, a prima donna. But, since he has to change the nappies, it’s all good with me!

    Comment by Kat | December 12, 2007 | Reply

  4. I didn’t roll my eyes but I did get a hearty chuckle out it.
    I have to admit our daycare does (on occasional occasions) try my patience. It’s just that I do not have a never ending supply of sick or vacation days and it’s tough to take no pay because of their rules.
    However (and this is a huge however) I love our center. Jeffrey’s teachers adore him. They read to him, they love him, they teach him appropriate behavior. They are a little more pricey and have a few more rules, but I would never for one minute think of moving him.
    A little bit of prima donna never hurt anyone. 🙂

    Comment by Dani | December 12, 2007 | Reply

  5. Seems to me to be perfectly reasonable to make such a request. After all, YOU are the one who has to wipe all those little butts all day.

    A chef has a favourite brand of knife, an artist – a favourite brand of paint, a construction worker – a favourite brand of boot etc…

    You just happen to have a job that lends itself to having a favourite brand of butt wipes. Hehehe.

    Comment by Sheri | December 12, 2007 | Reply

  6. In my former teachng life, at one school the middle school supply list contained the enigmatic phrase “cleaning supplies”. Which meant I got toilet bowl cleaner and kleenex along with vats of bleach and urinal cakes. Bizarre. So finally I had them write a different cleaning supply for each grade level–6th grade brought 409, 7th grade brought 4 rolls paper towels, 8th grade brought windex. We pooled our resources and everything was much cleaner.

    My daughters’ school (pre- and K-2) requires slippers (Montessori, somehow, = slippers). But they can be any style as long as there is no face. They also wear uniforms, which isn’t that much of a step from matching butt wipes.

    Comment by Bridgett | December 12, 2007 | Reply

  7. Tricia: Yes, you guessed right: it’s the dispensers. Who needs five dispensers? It’s wasteful and takes up too much space. (I don’t keep one package per child. There is one dispenser for all, refilled as necessary from everyone’s packages. When we run out, everyone provides more.)

    Kimberly: Sheri (below) makes a great point, and I think it applies to you, too. English teachers have to read so many miles of words – they should get to determine which physical form is easiest on their eyes.

    Kat: Those other two brands are none I’ve ever heard of, so I can’t weight their relative merits. Two brands for three kids seems a little OTT to me, too, but as you say: the man who changes the diapers chooses the but-wipes.

    Dani: A-HA. The first one to admit she thinks I’m a prima donna. Thank goodness all my parents get more holiday time than I take: my days off are not a hardship for them. The problem occurs with younger parents. At forty-something, with that many years’ experience, I have earned a certain number of holiday weeks that a twenty-something simply hasn’t, yet. But, though it can be awkward for them, it’s also not fair to hold me to that junior level of holiday time, when I’m twenty years older and with that much more job experience.

    Sheri: You just happen to have a job that lends itself to having a favourite brand of butt wipes. This one made me laugh out loud, because it’s funny — but it’s also EXACTLY how I see it. If anyone has a right to be particular about this particular item, it’s me!

    Bridgett: Cleaning supplies. Wow. My childrens’ schools have never requested (beyond standard school supplies) anything more than kleenex and tennis balls (to put on the legs of the desks to prevent scuffing).

    All the children wear slippers, though right now one of them is wearing a pair I provided. I don’t request that, but I do suggest it’s a good idea: this is an old house and in winter the floors are cool. An extra pair of socks would keep them sufficiently warm — but so slippery!

    Comment by MaryP | December 12, 2007 | Reply

  8. My daycare provider got sick of sub-par (in her opinion) wipes years ago and so raised her prices and buys her own! We do still provide diapers, though.

    Comment by heels | December 12, 2007 | Reply

  9. I’m a huggies fan, too. When we had Pumpkinpie in a nanny share situation, I always provided the diapers, baggies, and wipes. In fact, I was really pleased that the nanny was willing to deal with the cloth diapers, because I had assumed I’d have to switch so she wouldn’t have to have the added nuisance, but she didn’t mind, which was really nice. I mean, if I want someone to look after my child all day, and I want her looked after roughly as I would like, I need to step up, right? We even brought her lunch, since we didn’t expect the other family to provide it, and bought occasional cartons of milk so they weren’t buying it all. We brought her sunscreen, butt cream, sippy cups, slippers, hats, extra clothes, and so on, too. We still do, even at the daycare, have extra clothes and inside shoes, hats and water cups for the summer, though she is thankfully out of the diaper phase. I don’t think it’s so prima donna-ish, especially since you ask nicely and gave them the option to still use another kind if they really wanted. I just think as a parent, that it’s up to you to provide stuff for your child anyhow, and then you have no reason to worry or complain. Which is also nice for the caregiver. It works that way.

    Comment by kittenpie | December 12, 2007 | Reply

  10. This is my first post even though I’ve been enjoying your writings for a month or so now! You are such a wonderful person! I can’t wait for you to write a book! I am also a home daycare provider. I have been doing it for about a year now. I live in Massachusetts and it’s great to know that children really are the same no matter where you are! As for the wipes…I make my own! It’s the easiest thing! Here’s the recipe: One roll of Bounty paper towels (the regular, white ones), your favorite baby bath/wash, baby oil and water. You need a container that will fit half a roll of Bounty. Start by cutting the roll in half to look like a roll of toilet paper. Then, in the container, mix 2 Tablespoons of baby bath and 2 Tablespoons of baby oil in 1 Cup of water. Swirl it around and stick the paper towels in. Let it sit until all the liquid it absorbed. Then just pull out the cardboard center and dispense the wipes! It’s really easy and the wipes are great. At this point, I only measure the water. I just put in a couple of squirts of each. If it’s soapy, I just put less the next time. These work great for my daughter who has very sensitive skin. I’ve also used the ‘big’ rolls of bounty in a bigger container with 1 1/2 cups of water and bigger squirts of baby wash and oil. Then it last longer for the daycare kids. Try them out…you might like them better!

    Comment by Patti | December 12, 2007 | Reply

  11. I say you’re the boss, you make the rules, even if that extends to specifying a particular brand of baby wipes. After all, you’re the one using them. For the record, I DON’T think that makes you a prima donna, especially since you asked for them politely and didn’t make a demand out of it.

    Comment by Florinda | December 12, 2007 | Reply

  12. Since I happen to be picky about wipes (and like the same brand, even), I have no room to talk. Heck, while planning the Vienna move (off as of this morning), we were planning to purchase wipes in massive quantities to take with us!

    Heck, I might even suggest to Maya’s current daycare center that they consider the one-box-for-all approach, except I’d fear they’d use Pampers anything — which give Maya a seriously nasty case of eczema.

    Kimberly, I love people who are font prima donnas. It must be my background in Marketing; I came across a 2″ binder from the late 1990s in which I instructed our 100-person company on which fonts they were *allowed* to use for which occasions. Bad fonts make my head ache…but my new favorite is Calibri (standard in Office 2007) — it’s a semi-serif that’s fabulously easy on the eyes.

    Comment by Allison | December 12, 2007 | Reply

  13. Yes indeed, smacks of Meg Ryan’s restaurant orders in “When Harry Met Sally.” Giggle.

    Comment by McSwain | December 12, 2007 | Reply

  14. I had the opposite situation: my previous daycare provider used what I considered substandard generic wipes from a local grocery store. They were thin and very perfumed, whereas I, like you, prefer the Huggies in the bag (unperfumed). Luckily, she was fine with using whatever brand we wanted as long as we purchased it.

    Comment by Megan | December 14, 2007 | Reply

  15. Can I just say that you make me feel so much better about avoiding the reading of several books to my kids. I used to feel bad about hiding the books that bored me witless, or changing the words on stupid preachy books, but now I don’t.

    I’m not a bad momma, I’m just a momma with better taste.

    Comment by carrien | December 15, 2007 | Reply

  16. You sound pretty reasonable to me! We go to a large center (fairly pricey, and they do get holidays and in-service days), and we are always required to have a change of clothes, seasonably appropriate. We supply diapers, wipes, and butt cream (if we want it). We supply boots, gloves, hats, brushes, and rubber bands (for girls). In the summer, we need to provide a towel, bathing suit, and sun screen as well. We use Huggies wipes — we buy them in the box, but we bring them in by the bag. Honestly, even if we used one type of diaper/wipe/whatever at home, if the teachers had a preference, we would buy that. What do I care, if it makes their jobs easier? My only complaint would be if it was such an odd item that I couldn’t find it in the bulk stores, but even then, I would just probably buy it and be done with it.

    Comment by midlife mommy | January 1, 2008 | Reply

  17. Hilarious! And I say good for you, too. Huggies does indeed make a very fine wipe.

    Comment by Clementine | April 30, 2008 | Reply

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