It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Natural consequences and the Adult

Each child at Mary’s has a cubby, a little storage bin in which we stash crafts to go home, notes for parents, and, most critically to today’s story, a change of clothes.

Teeny babies require at least one spare outfit for every venture out of the house, no matter how brief. One just never knows when a blow-out might occur. As they get older, you can dispense with the spares to a large degree.

But really? When you’re sending your child away for the entire day, five days a week? That other spot, it needs spare clothes, too. Seems obvious, no? Yet in every group of parents, there is always one who doesn’t really get this.

Yes, I get the spare clothes at first. They we use them. I send the soiled outfit home, and… it’s just not replaced. Well, not replaced with the EFFICIENCY required. Why? I dunno. Absent-minded, busy, distracted? All those are possible, plausible. Sympathetic, even, because we know how distracting toddlers are, and we know how hectic mornings can be… but most of the parents, despite having MORE THAN ONE CHILD, some of them, manage it. Because eventually, you KNOW your child is going to need another spare outfit. You know it.

And yet some small percentage of parents (despite reminders) just don’t ante up the spare clothes in anything like a timely manner. Which means that, inevitably, there comes the time when we need a spare set of clothes (AGAIN! Imagine!) … and it’s just not there.

My standard way of dealing with this is twofold. I borrow clothes from another child’s stash, so as not to send the unequipped child home half-naked, and I keep the soiled clothes. The parent thinks I’m doing them a favour, and I get Provider Brownie Points for being so thoughtful, when really I’m just covering my ass. Well, no. I’m ensuring their offspring’s ass is covered. It is less trouble to launder the clothes myself than it is to nag them for replacements.

(Why do I not keep a stash of spare clothes myself? Well, I’ve done so, and, over the years, this sub-group of parents has wandered off with my spares, too, never to return… So now I don’t do that any more.)

The other day? The other day, one of the children, who will remain nameless, wet their pants. No problem, sweetie, we will just get your spare pants from your… oh. Of course. This is one of Those Parents. Okay, then, you can borrow from your almost-same-size friend.

Which worked just fine until almost-same-sized friend had a wee accident herself an hour later. Huh. Well, you know what? Those are her pants, she gets to wear ’em. We now hit Problem #2: Nobody else’s clothes come anywhere near to fitting.

The upshot was that Child Number 1, the nameless one, ended up going home with a diaper (it was a way of giving him/her/it some sort of rearward coverage) and socks inside his/her/its snowpants. Because that’s what there was.

I have the tots dressed and awaiting when the parents arrive, so I told parent what they’d discovered when they peeled the snowpants off at home.

“Oh,” said parent, a little surprised. “Couldn’t you have borrowed from almost-same-sized child?”

Which is a little presumptuous, don’t you think?

I explain.

But, I’m thinking, as parent heads home with half-dressed tot, this is certainly natural consequences. You don’t provide clothes for your child, your child goes home half-naked.

Which is why, prompt in the morning the next day…

they didn’t bring a back-up outfit.


February 24, 2009 Posted by | parents, Peeve me, the dark side | 15 Comments