It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Word to the Wise Parent

A request from your childcare provider.

When you are preparing to leave for daycare at the beginning of the day, you will probably chat with your child. You will talk about what you’re eating for breakfast, which clothes you will wear. You’ll maybe speculate on the friends s/he will play with, and the activities s/he might enjoy during his/her day.

All perfectly sweet. All developmentally and emotionally appropriate.

Do not, however, lead your child to believe that these speculations are, in fact, plans. Do not encourage this notion by saying to your child “Go to the library? What a good idea! Let’s tell Caregiver what you would like to do today!”

And then, when you arrive at daycare, do not prompt your child, “What did you want to tell Caregiver today?” (“Tell” Caregiver. Not, oh… “ask”. Hmmm…)

And when the child CAN’T REMEMBER, do not REMIND him/her.

“Remember, honey? You said you wanted to go tooooo…”

“The lie-berry?”

“That’s right, honey! You wanted to go to the library!”

“Lie-berry! YAY!!”

Do not then look at the caregiver and say, “I hope it’s okay, but s/he really wanted to get out another CURIOUS GEORGE BOOK (right honey? you wanted a Curious George book!!)”


Do not do this, because:

1. Your caregiver might have made other plans for the day. It’s not that she can’t redirect your child (easily, once you and your expectations have gone), it’s that she shouldn’t have to.

2. Your caregiver, regardless of whether she’s made plans for the day, might prefer to be consulted about her workday’s agenda.

3. Your caregiver might have philosophical concerns about confirming a two-year-old’s notion that s/he is The Boss of the Universe.

4. Your caregiver might take offense at the implication that she does not take Precious to the library often enough.

5. Your caregiver might be annoyed that you assume that Precious’s wants should take precedence over any or all other children in her care.

6. She might further be annoyed that you seem to have less awareness than Precious that there are other children in the daycare with their own wants and needs. Kids, who, perhaps, enjoy, oh, the park as much as Precious enjoys the library.

In short, it will Piss Your Caregiver Off.

Don’t do it.


October 16, 2008 - Posted by | daycare, manners, parents, power struggle, the dark side | ,


  1. Oh boy! Yikes.

    Reminds me of the summer I was caregiving for 5 kids (not including my own two) and the parents of three brought treats for only their own kids.

    Swell! I had to kindly enquire if there was enough for ALL the kids (even though clearly there wasn’t) and then ask them to take them home and save them for later.

    I couldn’t believe that I had to explain how it wasn’t fair to the other children (or me for that matter – how to make the caregiver the bad guy).

    It’s not like I had the time, even if I had the inclination – which of course I didn’t, to whip up a batch of yummies for the others.

    Some people’s parents…sheesh.

    How rude. And training their kids to be rude, too. Honest to pete.

    Comment by Zayna | October 16, 2008 | Reply

  2. I can’t even IMAGINE doing that.

    But I also don’t like to play the “tell Mary what we talked about” singsongy games with my kids.

    Toddlers hardly ever remember the conversation a parent remembers from the night before, yet parents keep on trying! Some days it’s harder to be patient with the parents than the kids…

    Comment by Bridgett | October 16, 2008 | Reply

  3. This happened to me recently…a parent arrived and said to her son, “Tell Clementine what you want to try today! Tell her you want to wash Babydoll’s hair in the sink! You won’t let me wash your hair at home, so maybe you can work on that today with Clementine. Wash Babydoll’s hair–it’ll be FUN!!!”

    Hoo, boy! Fun times all round! As Zayna says, “Way to make the caregiver into the bad guy.”

    On the flip side… I recall a child, two years old, who used to come to daycare with his hair all spiked with gel. I really dislike putting teen styles on toddlers. Really, really dislike it. You know, it’s funny how often that boy needed to get his hair washed at daycare, for one reason or another…

    Comment by Clementine | October 16, 2008 | Reply

  4. Some people really do think that they are the Centre of the Universe.

    I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum – The Mummy Killjoy. Here are sentences I repeat almost daily:

    “You can take your breakfast with you in the stroller, but you must finish it by the time we get to daycare, or it gets thrown out.”

    “There are enough toys at daycare, please leave that here.”

    “I can’t give you your snack till we leave the daycare because I didn’t bring snacks for everyone.”

    “You can only bring a book on Show and Tell day.”

    Yep. I’m a lot of fun.

    And I love you for it! Bet your daycare does, too. Taking the long view, those adorable little boys of yours will be better Citizens of the Planet for it, too. Because, really, what mother truly wants to raise the child that everyone else avoids?

    Comment by No Mother Earth | October 16, 2008 | Reply

  5. Bad day?

    Bad start to the day. After that, it was fine! Writing is very therapeutic, you know?

    Comment by Evil HR Lady | October 16, 2008 | Reply

  6. It would never have occurred to me to do that. If I wanted to tell a caregiver what to do, I’d fork out for a nanny and give my child into his or her sole care.

    Good point. I hadn’t thought of that (mostly because I was too busy grumbling in my corner).

    Comment by Z | October 16, 2008 | Reply

  7. I can’t imagine that either. I have told a teen babysitter coming to my house to watch only my kids what the kids wanted (in my case a tedious board game), but that is a different matter, I think. I would sometimes suggest things my toddler would want to do at daycare, but only things that were easily done – like “maybe you’d like to do a puzzle”, knowing that they had a bunch of puzzles and that they always were in the room for the first 30 minutes.

    Giving a sitter (or a nanny, as Z pointed out, above) in your home directions is a different matter, I think — though I’m sure any nanny can tell you tales of parents who crossed even that more generous line! Suggesting a boring board game hardly seems unreasonable. It also seems reasonable to suggest to the child something you know they do every day. No harm in that at all, in raising pleasant anticipation of part of the child’s routine.

    Comment by Katherine | October 16, 2008 | Reply

  8. Yes ma’am. 🙂 I’ll remember should I ever hire a caregiver. Though I admit to doing a version of this to their grandmother, but it’s much more vague.

    “Mommy, I want to do X when I go to Beema’s house.”

    “That will probably be alright, but you’ll have to ask Beema when you get there, because she’s in charge.”

    Come to think of it, that’s not at all the same is it?

    Not at all! Had this parent approached it like that, I’d have had no issue with it at all — and no post! 🙂

    Comment by carrien (she laughs at the days) | October 16, 2008 | Reply

  9. Wow. When I read stuff like this I think that maybe I don’t ask enough of the world. I mean, if OTHER people think the world revolves around THEM…

    Meh. That’s how wars start…

    Comment by lisa | October 16, 2008 | Reply

  10. Were you tempted to send the child home with a counter-agenda? *evil grin*

    I need you, sitting on my shoulder like the tiny devil in cartoons! This DIDN’T EVEN OCCUR TO ME. But it will from here on in, you may be sure!

    Comment by Kat | October 16, 2008 | Reply

  11. I am too terrified that my caregiver would kick me out to do things like that! A good day home is harder to find around here than, say, a purple zebra. I’ve totally lucked out this year (Boy Terror’s in a new day home since last spring) and I adore the caregiver.

    The thing is, this parent is in fact a truly well-meaning person. (I know s/he doesn’t come across that way in the post, but that’s because I was venting negativity. Emotions are not always 100% fair-minded…) Truly well-meaning, but just… socially oblivious. “The library is a fun place to be! Wouldn’t it be fun to go?” The implications of that beyond the idea of “oh, fun!”, just don’t trickle down… If s/he were obnoxious with it, the child’s space might just be in jeopardy.

    Though, in all honesty, not likely. I’ve only “fired” two families in twelve years. Does this make me a saint, or just very, very stubborn?

    Comment by Tammy | October 16, 2008 | Reply

  12. I’ve been asked to go to the bank, buy a present for grandma, take them to doctors appointments, good job I’m friends with the parents!

    One keeps asking that their son doesnt get mud or dog poop on his shoes (not my dog, from the park) well, if you get get him to stop seeking it out and stamping in it I’d be happier too…!

    Maybe the problem is that they’re friends! I’ve looked after the children of friends before. It was fine, but it’s potentially tricky, that’s for sure.

    You don’t have the “poop-and-scoop” laws there, huh? Eeew. We never walk our dog without our stash of “doggie bags” — and they’re NOT the type you bring home from a restaurant. Actually, mostly we call them “poop bags”!

    Comment by jenny uk | October 17, 2008 | Reply

  13. Dont you feel like giving a time-out for parents? Seesh!

    Btw, I’m in Canada (Montreal to be exact) on work. I love the city and the people are so much friendlier and shops stay up longer than the sub polar region I come from…

    Yes. Remedial Manners, 101.

    What sub-polar region are you from, then? And how long are you in Montreal?

    Comment by Suzi | October 17, 2008 | Reply

  14. Finland 😀 I was transplanted there from the south cost of India due to work.

    Will be in Montreal till end of the months. Any tips on ‘must not miss’ sights?

    From India to Finland. THAT’S got to be a thermal shock! (Never mind the culture one.)

    “Must not miss?” Recalling that my contacts are lots of parents… top of their list is the BioDome, but I’ll check with some younger, child-free contacts, and get back to you on that.

    Comment by Suzi | October 17, 2008 | Reply

  15. My favorite part of this post is the cranky faced picture you found to go along with it!

    I thought it expressed the feeling of the post pretty well! It’s from Stock Exchange. You can almost always find the perfect pic there. Is this the photographer??

    Comment by Matt | October 17, 2008 | Reply

  16. Wow, that’s pretty nervy, and also a good way to set your kid up for disappointment, if you ask me, because the caregiver should in no way be expected to bend to those wishes.

    I think telling a child that you know Mary likes to go to the library and you will *probably* be going one day *soon* (but not likely today, since you don’t know what Mary’s plans are) instead would, I think, reinforce that it is a great activity and all, without setting up expectations for immediate gratification. Maybe a “let’s ASK Mary when she thinks you might go next” could help clarify, too.

    Comment by kittenpie | October 18, 2008 | Reply

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