It’s Not All Mary Poppins


top marks300What a great family!

Last night I had an interview. The little boy is two and cute, his parents are personable and friendly. Lots of propsective clients could fit that mold. What set them apart, what set them really, really, really apart, is how very, very, very well they manage that boy. I was impressed.

Okay, a confession here: This does not often happen. Now, I often note and smile at loving interactions between parent and child. The look of pride and love on a parent’s face, their child’s beaming response… that’s always a pleasure to see, always makes me smile. But child management? Not so much. When I note parents’ disciplinary actions with their children, I am more often exasperated than impressed. Yes, I am a curmudgeon.

But this family? Wow.

When they arrived, Emma was just finishing her dinner. The little boy started agitating for food.

“I know you’re hungry, but you chose not to eat dinner. That was your choice. No food for you.”

Impressive. Her tone of voice is neither coaxing nor harsh, but simply matter-of-fact. He did A, and the result is B.

Impressive. This is how you prevent picky eaters. This is how you avoid becoming a short-order cook. This is how you ensure years of pleasant family meals. Well done.

(For those of you worrying that he will go to bed hungry, be assured that he was going to be offered food when they got home. His dinner. The one he’d refused.


And the child subsided. Not without protest, but it was mild and brief. Because the child knew — knew — this was a non-negotiable.

Impressive. Obviously, he’s been through this loop enough to know when Mommy Means Business. I’d love to see the parents’ tantrum tactics, because they must have developed some pretty effective ones to have a 25-month-old who responds so well to unwelcome news.

We had our interview. At intervals, the little boy would mention that whole food-hungry thing again, and each time it was dealt with in the same way, sometimes by the mother, sometimes by the father.


It never became a tantrum, it never escalated. We were able to conduct a 30-minute interview with minimal interruptions with a two-year-old in the room. Not just any two-year-old, but a hungry two-year-old.


At the 30-minute mark, however, the little guy had about reached his limit, and the parents knew that. Dad decided to take the tot out to his stroller for a change of scene while mom finished up with me.

Sensible. Not impressive, this one, but another checklist in the “these parents have their shit together” list.

But before he left, they had him tidy up. Now you know what? In that situation, I probably would not have asked that of the child. He was hungry, he’d been really good for 30 solid minutes, he was now getting tired as well. I would have made an executive decision to pick up the toys myself.

He picked up the toys. Quickly and calmly.


And waved bye-bye from daddy’s arms.


He did, however, refuse to blow kisses. Because he is two, after all.

Normal. 🙂

May 14, 2009 Posted by | daycare, parenting | , | 8 Comments