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

And over at MCMM

The travelling teen and the cell phone bill

July 10, 2009 Posted by | Mid-Century Modern Moms, my kids | , , | 3 Comments

Moms on Dads. A short rant.

shame_shaking_finger– “Oh, just look at you!” Mom scans her daughter’s outfit and rolls her eyes. “Pink stripes on the top, orange check on the bottom. Guess we can tell who dressed you this morning!” (Hint: It wasn’t mommy, and it wasn’t the daughter.)

– “I just have to check her bin,” says mom as she rummages through the shelf where her child’s extra clothes are kept. “Jay said there were a couple of outfits in here, but I know what he considers an ‘outfit’. He has no idea.”

– “You might want to wash his face and hands, Mary.” Mom nods her head in the direction of her son. “His dad cleaned him up after breakfast, and he’s just never thorough enough.”

Each of these statements made by a mother about her child’s father. Each of these statements made by a mother who believes “he’s a good dad”. Each of these statements made in public, to me and in the presence at least one other parent.

I find it shocking, you know. I really do.

These are all good dads. They are involved. They do half the drop-off and/or pick-ups. They cook some dinners. They bathe the children, the play with them, the speak respectfully and fondly with the kids. They take days off when the child is sick. We all know there are dads who don’t do nearly so much.

And yet, if I were to go by what I hear…

They dress the children — and do it wrong.
They help organize the childrens’ things — and do it wrong.
They feed the kids — and do it wrong.
They play with the kids — and do it wrong.

Some days I wonder why they try at all. Must be because they feel a lot of love and commitment to their child, because heaven knows their wives/partners don’t express a whole lot of satisfaction in their efforts.

Does it matter, does it really matter, if the child is wearing stripes and checks? Or colours that clash? Is it life and death if a child’s face is somewhat less than spotless?

Does it matter so much that it’s worth embarrassing someone in public? Is it so important that it’s somehow all right to undermine someone’s honest efforts and belittle their abilities… not just in the presence of other adults, but in the presence of their children? Are we so insecure as parents, we mothers, that we have to sweat the small stuff just to feel superior?

I very rarely hear dads doing this sort of thing to moms, but moms do it all.the.time.

And I, for one, would like it to stop.

Thank you.

July 10, 2009 Posted by | controversy, manners, parenting, parents, power struggle | , , | 20 Comments

It’s sunny! I’m outta here!

And you think I’M patient… How long, do you think, did it take to plan and then manipulate all those teeny sticky squares? Amazing.

You can enjoy that while the tots and I head to the park in the first sunny day in about two weeks! See you later!

July 9, 2009 Posted by | random and odd | , , | Leave a comment

Why, why, why, why

… do parents send children with toys that make noise?


“Howdy, partner!”
“My name’s Woody!”
“Yer mah favrite deputy!”
“There’s a snake in my boot!”
“Howdy, partner!”
“My name’s Woody!”
“Yer mah favrite deputy!”
“There’s a snake in my boot!”
“Howdy, partner!”
“My name’s Woody!”
“Yer mah favrite deputy!”
“There’s a snake in my boot!”

My theory: They’re hoping it’ll get lost or broken at my place.

“Howdy, partner!”
“My name’s Woody!”
“Yer mah favrite deputy!”
“There’s a snake in my boot!”
“Howdy, partner!”
“My name’s Woody!”
“Yer mah favrite deputy!”
“There’s a snake in my boot!”

And you know? There’s a good chance it might. Some days more than others…

“Howdy, partner!”
“My name’s Woody!”
“Yer mah favrite deputy!”
“There’s a snake in my boot!”
“Howdy, partner!”
“My name’s Woody!”
“Yer mah favrite deputy!”
“There’s a snake in my boot!”
“Howdy, partner!”
“My name’s Woody!”
“Yer mah favrite deputy!”
“There’s a snake in my boot!”

July 8, 2009 Posted by | parents, the dark side | | 7 Comments

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

Plans for Monday

blockbucket1. Go to Dollar Store for more of those bright blue buckets. Aren’t they cute?

They’re intended for a mop, but they make TERRIFIC block/toy storage units, they fit on my shelves perfectly, and they have handles for toting hither and yon. Perfect. AND, they’re a buck each. Even more perfect!

2. Prevent Nissa from killing herself.

Item number two will be far more challenging…

July 6, 2009 Posted by | health and safety, Nissa | , | Leave a comment

Another grey hair…

“Hope you had a good holiday”, Candace said in the comments to the last post. I did, though not without at least one Moment. If you’d like to read about it, pop over to Mid-Century Moms and have a look!

July 3, 2009 Posted by | Canada, Mid-Century Modern Moms, my kids, Ottawa, parenting | , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Canada Day!

CanadaDay 015

I’m at a friend’s cottage today, enjoying the holiday in a truly Canadian way: a lake, good friends, some beer (or wine), and a boatload of Off!. (Mosquitoes and blackflies love Canada Day, too…)

CanadaDay 016

July 1, 2009 Posted by | Canada, health and safety, Ottawa | , , , | 4 Comments