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


  1. A box? Seriously?! I’m worried about that mother. I always told my kids that they could NOT take toys to daycare, simply because they might forget/lose/not want to share them. In the last 3 months or so of my son’s time at day care I relented, and on the Very First Day he took his favourite snuggly, and promptly forgot it there. I never had to say no again.
    Good luck to you!

    Comment by Tammy | July 15, 2009 | Reply

  2. Sigh. My child is one of “those”. He always wants to bring a toy…every single day. Luckily, we do have an understanding that matchbox cars are acceptable, most other toys are not. Thankfully, my provider doesn’t mind (as long as it’s not noisy), and gives her something to take away in the case of misbehavior.

    It’s also a good lesson for me about responsibility…once the car is in his hands, he needs to remember where he left it; if he brings it on an outing, again, he’s responsible, not my provider. He’s lost a number of cars (heh, we could stand to lose a few more).

    Comment by Lisa M | July 15, 2009 | Reply

  3. The day care/preschool that my kids went to (only about 13 kids in the center) had “sharing day” on Thursday and Friday each week. That was the only day that kids were allowed to bring toys, and they went into the “sharing box” until it was sharing time. And there was an understanding that the kids actually had to share the toys afterward. It worked really well, and I never heard anyone complain about it.

    Comment by BookMama | July 15, 2009 | Reply

  4. A show and tell day!! 🙂 At my daughter’s school, they have these days, where you bring someting from home, hide it in the bag, and give a chance to the otehr children to guess it. Then you have 30 minutes where the children share/play with it, then it’s put away. Of course they are older than “your” children 🙂 I love it. My daughter knows her day is Friday, it gives her time to think and bring somehting she actually likes.

    If by any chance she brings somethign ele with her, it goes straight to hr tray, and she can have it when she leaves the school that day. Stuff like sunglassses or necklaces. I love that about her school 🙂

    Comment by Nat | July 15, 2009 | Reply

  5. I think saying “no” is one of the first things you have to do with a child. I have never had the impression that the kids of these parents who can’t say no are any happier than mine.

    And home toys are for at home. My daughter gets to take them with her, then she leaves them in the car. There is no argument because there is never an exception.

    (I can honestly be flexible, too. 🙂 )

    Comment by Mwa | July 15, 2009 | Reply

  6. I love the idea have each child having their own ‘day’ to where they can bring the toy of their choice(limited of course). It makes the child feel special. 🙂

    Comment by ~S~ | July 16, 2009 | Reply

  7. Am I the only one flabbergasted (I do love that word) that a parent would EVER think it was a good idea to allow their child to bring a knife to daycare (or to expect their daycare provider to hand the kid a knife of their own)? I mean really? How would that interview question go?

    “Do you force children to share their knives or does everyone get their own?”

    11 more days…my thoughts and prayers are with you!!

    Comment by Cindy | July 16, 2009 | Reply

  8. Waldo? You may want to change the name of the ‘cant cut with scissors’ one..

    Comment by Suzi | July 22, 2009 | Reply

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