It’s Not All Mary Poppins

I’d like to think they love me, but…

She stomps through the front door, her pudgy legs striding with two-year-old resolve.

“I brought sumpin’.”

“You did. Oh, that’s nice! What did you bring to share?” (Note the very subtle reminder of expectations.) Daddy the pack mule lumbers in behind, arms laden with a heap of multi-coloured aluminum tubing and canvas.

“Train. I brought a train.” And indeed she did. The canvas-and-tubing pops out into two small ‘cars’ and an ‘engine’, like little wagons without wheels. Each, about 20 inches wide by three feet long, holds one or even two toddlers, if they’re cuddled up snug. The pack mule kisses his tot and heads off to work.

Emma surveys the train pieces ranged around our (very small) living room. “What’s the weirdest thing anyone’s ever brought to daycare?”

I consider the options, down through the years. Apart from the standard toys, books, and items of food, there have been …

– a nursing bra. (“She can’t sleep without it.”)

– one of the child’s father’s shoes. A different one each day. I gather there was some negotiation required, depending on daddy’s sartorial requirements of the day, but always one of his shoes. For about three months.

– a potted plant. Same one, every day for weeks. It had a name and everything.

– the child’s own potty. This one was just plain annoying. I have a potty, I have a very small house. There was no need for two. He never once got to use his own potty here. I told the mother all this, but it kept right on coming. It was just plain silly. I ended up putting it on the porch. I flirted with the idea of putting it there before mom had pulled out of the driveway, but I could never quite bring myself to be so blatant about it.

– cake batter. In the bowl, the open bowl. Good thing I have cake pans, because they didn’t think to bring those.

– a pet rat. No, they didn’t ask if it was welcome. I really don’t like rats. They smell weird and their tails gross me out. This one was male, and their testicles totally gross me out, too. I mean, WHY does any male need them so large they drag on the ground behind him? Eeew.

– a same-age cousin. Which would not have been an issue at all, except they didn’t ask! Just showed up with an extra for the day!

(And they were suprised to be asked to pay at the end of the day, because the cousin’s family was, you know, on holiday. Because you don’t pay for childcare when you’re on vacation? Because when they’re on vacation, somehow I am too, so an extra child isn’t extra work, but only extra … fun? What does go on in some peoples’ minds?)

– two whistles. Can anyone who likes their caregiver send their child to daycare with whistles? I think these people hated me. They said they didn’t, but I just don’t know…

– Similarly, there have been drums, a toy piano, innumerable toys that squeak, rattle, chime, sing, and an enormous range of toys with truly annoying electronic sound effects. None of which, of course, had volume control. All of which, naturally, were factory-set to EXTREMELY LOUD. (Why do manufacturers DO that??)

But for sheer consistency of items, and for sheer consistency of inappropriate items, today’s little one takes the cake. In the past couple of months, we have had … coins, toothpicks, tiny beads (TINY beads! many, many, many tiny, tiny beads), nail polish remover (in a non-child-proofed bottle), long pointy sticks; a croquet ball, stake, and wicket; a pepper grinder FILLED WITH PEPPER which I didn’t know until my couch had been liberally seasoned … there are probably more…

The issue? Parents who cannot say no. To any request. And, since they know that I can, they avoid the fight. It doesn’t particularly bother me, in that it’s a simple matter of saying, “Okay, honey. You can’t have that here. It’s dangerous!” in tones of grave concern, and holding out my hand. Initially she threw a fit when this happened; sometimes even yet she tries a pout, but mostly these days she just forks it over. If she really hollers, she has a nap, but that doesn’t happen often any more.

But it does bother me, in that they really should get a grasp on this whole “making ‘no’ stick” thing NOW, because it is NOT going to get any easier. Try telling ‘no’ to a 14-year-old who’s never had to take it seriously before.

Yeah, right.

I predict storms ahead for the three of them. Good thing she’s essentially a friendly, happy girl who gets great enjoyment out of laughing. I don’t think she’ll go to the Dark Side, but I do think her parents are in for a rough ride. (And they think they’re getting one now. Ha.)

May 29, 2008 Posted by | parenting, power struggle | 9 Comments