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


  1. Holy cow! These parents are going to reap later.

    Comment by Bethany | May 29, 2008 | Reply

  2. Unbelievable! I can’t even choose the strangest item.

    Comment by Alison | May 29, 2008 | Reply

  3. How very odd. Very very odd.
    My sons daycare changed the rules of ‘toy day’. It used to be just Thursday and Friday but it became every day of the week. This is fine but it means that the routine of picking a toy, writing a name on it and then ensuring that it makes it to day care and back from daycare also changed to every day. And that’s annoying. So P. has to pick three of the five days and is responsible for remembering it. However, when the other kids heard of this we got a LOT of ‘But every day is toy day!!’. Sure kids, however, we’re trying, in our little way, to teach limits. If we don’t do it now (he just turned four, this has been the routine for about six months) we might as well never do it!

    Comment by Alison | May 29, 2008 | Reply

  4. The potted plant is cute…it had a name and everything.

    The personal potty, not so cute.

    Is it just me or is there some kind of new parenting trend about avoiding, at all costs, saying “No” to toddlers?

    I just don’t understand how people can think that they’ll be able to put limits on their adolescent children when they’ve never before said “No” to them.

    Comment by Zayna | May 29, 2008 | Reply

  5. Yikes, I can’t get over all the stuff that headed your way, especially the cousin!

    Agreed, parents need to stick to and utilize saying “no” or they’ll be paying for it later. We try to here, honest, we do.

    Comment by mamacita tina | May 29, 2008 | Reply

  6. The cousin bit was amazing, i cant believe their train of thought “well, one more wont matter will it, she’s just sitting around all day…” lol, I’ve been very lucky with all my parents during the past few years although I could write a book on my live in nanny experiences, I think the best was ” If you could not take food as its ours, maybe you could eat what the kids dont…” and I wasnt allowed take away food as it smelt, wasnt allowed to eat in my room or the lounge and they didnt like me eating with them in the kitchen as it was family time, not entirely sure when or what I was supposed to do for food…!

    Comment by jenny uk | May 30, 2008 | Reply

  7. Whistles…. ha-ha. We have some general rules about whistles and harmonicas and the like at our house so when our daycarista gave the kids noisemakers she had to laugh when my kids immediately headed for the door to put on their shoes…. because those are outside toys, right?

    My kids do love to take treats to share and there aren’t any allergy issues at their daycare so sometimes we do that…. does a good plate of brownies make up for any major parent flaws?? And flowers from the garden…. we try to “appreciate other people the way you want them to appreciate you” by doing nice little things often.

    The toy-taking rule for us is, “Will you be able to stand it if this toy gets broken? Because when you share it with the little kids it might….” and that usually ends the discussion. I’m not sure how I’d react to the desire to take a pepper mill…. although it would be fairly normal to find a small person playing with an hand-crank egg beater in the bathtub at our house….. so maybe a pepper mill isn’t a stretch….

    Comment by K @ The Homestead | June 2, 2008 | Reply

  8. Oy. Yes, I don’t think it does a child any favours to avoid saying no. They’ll hear it at some point, so they may as well be prepared, and it may as well be by someone who they can securely know loves them, which is at least a secure setting for it.

    And personally, I just figure that anyhting that goes to daycare must be expendable, because it is not the teachers’ jobs to look after our toys, so I generally don’t let anythign go except when we have been asked to bring in books, CDs, or show-and-tell. There are plenty of kids, and there are bound to be one or two whose parents wouldn’t notice an extra toy slipping home with them… It’s not that I don’t trust the daycare or the other kids and parents, it’s just that things happen. I may in fact be protecting her from that loss a bit overmuch on the flip side, but there is plenty of time for that ahead, I figure.

    Comment by kittenpie | June 4, 2008 | Reply

  9. I’m right there with you on the whole NO thing. Learn it. Use it. Kids need to hear it and understand it. (They also have to hear a lot of ‘yes’ too, but that’s much easier, isn’t it?)

    An extra kid?? Yeesh.

    Comment by nomotherearth | June 9, 2008 | Reply

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