It’s Not All Mary Poppins

More interviews and a red flag

redflagI’ve had two so far this week, and another on Thursday, looking to fill a space for January. By then, I hope, I’ll have one or — even better! — two offers, and I’ll be in the happy position of choosing. Love that.

(The last interview I wrote about didn’t pan out. I never heard back, so I don’t know why, but that’s okay! I’ve had another since then, and filled the space from August – December! Yay. Now I have a January opening.)

I know which of the two so far I’d prefer. Let’s see if you can guess:

Candidate A:
– nice couple, soft-spoken, well-spoken
– cute baby (but since I wouldn’t be caring for her for another five months, that’s mostly irrelevant yet)
– asked all the usual questions – schedules, outings, discipline, food…
– asked me if I had any questions (you’d be surprised how rarely that happens)
– asked for references (again, you’d be surprised how rare that is)
– wandered through the entire house, chatting and asking questions. Well, the portions that their child would have access to, at any rate.

Candidate B:
– nice couple, etc., etc
– cute baby (etc., etc)
– didn’t ask for my questions (which makes them normal)
– didn’t ask for references (again with the normal)
– asked all the usual questions, and also
– asked if parents could drop in unannounced (answer: yes)
– asked if parents could stay and hang out for a couple of hours (answer:yes)
– asked if I took phone calls from parents during the day (answer: it depends)
– asked how I communicated with parents (you’d be surprised how infrequently this question is asked)

And the preferred Canadidate is… A.


It’s those last four questions from Candidate B. While I have practiced answers to those questions, based on my personal parenting/childcare values, they do raise a certain red flag.

My parenting/childcare value in this situation is that parents have a right to free access to their child. I have an open door policy. Parents can drop in unannounced. Unless I have a wanderer in the group, the front door is always unlocked, and parents simply knock and enter, without waiting for me to answer. (During business hours, of course.)

However, and as I told this parent, while they have a right to do this, and should be confident that they will never be prevented from seeing their child… having a parent around changes the dynamic. It generally makes my job more difficult. The children react differently, and (here’s the bit I don’t say to the parent), 90% of the time, their child’s behaviour deteriorates.

And then there’s the whole leave-taking part of dropping in. If the parent drops in, but will not be taking the child when they leave, the child will be upset. Of course. So there will be tears. Not hugely disruptive for me, really, assuming the parent leaves promptly in the face of the tears, but another small hiccup in my day. And if (despite my guidance prior to their visit) the parent insists that the child be happy before they leave? Hugely, HUGELY disruptive. Because, of course, if the parent lingers when the child is upset, the child will continue to be upset. Only stands to reason.

So. Parents dropping in can be mildly to severely disruptive, depending on the parent. And, to a lesser degree, the child.

And parents hanging out? Oh, I really hate having to say it’s okay. My principles demand that I allow this. It’s right, it’s fair, it’s appropriate. But…

Sometimes it works just fine. The parent is delightful, we mesh perfectly, they fit right in to the activities, their child behaves well, proud to have mummy or daddy there. Sometimes.

Mostly? Mostly their child acts up, doesn’t want to share, lobbies to get mummy/daddy to change Mary’s rules. Mummy/daddy don’t deal with these things the same way I do, so the other children get confused. I can try to assert my authority, but most kids are happily confident that parents out-rank Mary, so the effort can end in me looking ineffectual to the parent, who doesn’t realize that this is atypical behaviour for their child at my home. Who doesn’t realize that their presence has greatly altered the usual dynamic.

Not good. Bleah.

And while I have, over the years, developed various responses to all this which keep these occasions pleasant and happy events, it’s still a nuisance. Adds considerably to my workload. And Candidate B sounds like someone who intends not just the occasional short visit, but regular half-days hanging out. Not quite sure how they’d manage this and hold down a job, but it certainly seemed to be the intention. Goodness.

So. Candidate B? They sound like High Maintenance parents. Parents who would hover over the daycare. Parents who would make daily half-hour phone calls. Parents who would be ever-present micro-managers. Now, in all fairness, High Maintenance parents usually only stay that way for the first few weeks, as they make the transition and become comfortable and happy with the new situation. (Much like their children, only the kids do it faster…)

But given the choice between Mellow A and potential High Maintenance B? A, no question.

They should let me know within two weeks. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

July 7, 2009 Posted by | daycare, parents | | 6 Comments