It’s Not All Mary Poppins

A monster arose when I wasn’t looking

The children are allowed to bring things from home to my place. It gives them a sense of ‘place’ here, it gives them an opportunity to learn to share… it gives them something to play with.

And sometimes, it’s a right royal pain in the ar… butt.

Waldo brings something Every.Single.Day. Sometimes the things are very little. (His mother will carefully point out to me the choking hazard she has allowed her son to bring to daycare, just so’s I know.) Sometimes the things are multitudinous: a backpack FULL of bits and pieces of this and that. And sometimes the things are enormous.

It didn’t start off like this. It started off gradually. The occasional, reasonable item. Then less (more?) occasionally. Then regularly. Then not so sensible items. Then… It’s a slippery slope and I was well down it before I noticed the trend, and when something’s gained that much momentum, it’s much harder to stop. Still, my own fault, and I know it.

Yesterday, he shows up at the door with a box. A large box. Flattened for the trip here, but still. A large box.

“Waldo has been cutting this box, and he wanted to keep working on it.”

Cutting it? Waldo can’t manage scissors on a piece of paper. “These scissors don’t work!” he complains, as he repeatedly bends the paper between the blades.

A knife? Oh. I see.

(Sidenote: I am not averse to a child learning to use potentially dangerous tools. My own kids were all using a sewing machine at the age of four. Carefully supervised, of course. Child on my lap. One-on-one. Undistracted.

But at daycare? Waldo with a knife in the presence of four other babies and toddlers? Cold chills down my spine…)

Like so many of the things Waldo brings, it ends up on the porch for the day. This is Waldo’s last month with me, and though there are many things to love and miss about this little fella, this trait is NOT one of them.

How to prevent this nonsense in future? I thought of drafting a New Policy: no toys to daycare. It would certainly be simpler from my perspective, but, as mentioned above, there are benefits to the practice, most particularly learning to share something they can justifiably claim ownership of. (They share things at my house all the time, of course, but they are Mary’s things. A point I make clear every time I hear “that’s MINE!!!” used inappropriately.)

Instead, though, I think I will have a New Practice. There are five kids in care, there are five days in a week. Each child will be assigned a day, and on that day, they may, if they wish, bring something from home. A positive (you may, on this day), rather than a negative (no, never). A good solution. They don’t have to bring something, of course. But if they want to, they may. On their day.

Because some parents can say ‘no’ to their child, simply, clearly, effectively. Most of them? Can’t.

So, I’m giving the parents their out: “Today is Tuesday, honey. YOUR day’s not until Thursday.”

And, if they still can’t manage to hold to that ‘no’, I’m giving myself an out. I could use it with the parent, “Today is Tuesday. YOUR day’s not until Thursday.” Bitter experience has taught me that thwarting a pampered child in the presence of the pamperer tends to result in a Scene. Some days I’m ready to take that on, to show the parent how to manage the child, but some days, I’m just not.

In that case, it’s far, far, far simpler to let the parent leave, fix the child with a stern glance, and, before the parent has reached their car, remind the child and remove the toy. Done.

And meantime, I can kick myself for ever letting this develop into the annoyance it currently is. Twelve more days…

July 15, 2009 Posted by | the dark side | 8 Comments