It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Note to (particular) parents

If you are going to drop your child off two hours late, you’d best call me, because…

…if you don’t, I’m liable to decide she’s not coming at all, and…

…if I can’t reach you at home or at work (though, really, it’s not my resposibility to find you)…

…I’m liable to take the children out.

If I do…

we won’t be here when you come…

…and, when you call me on my cell phone…

…I will probably tell you where I am, so you can drop her to us…

And NO, I won’t come back to the house.

And if I don’t come back to the house?…

You do NOT have the right to be upset and rude.

And when I find out that you were late and didn’t call NOT because…

your house was on fire…

your child puking in your lap…

your cell phone broken…

your grandmother on the brink of death…

But only because your child was playing with a neighbour child and didn’t want to leave yet…

I am not likely to feel any more in the wrong.

Nanny-nanny-poop-poo fuuu– PHPHPHBHBHTTT!!! So THERE! Arrogant pri–

Thank you.

August 20, 2009 Posted by | daycare, parents, Peeve me, the dark side | 15 Comments

He knows wut he knows…

967718_indecisionThe layers are being revealed.

Little William is solemn, brave, and friendly. I knew that.

I’ve discovered that he is also very methodical. Give him a puzzle, and he sorts the pieces by type, then follows the picture (“the map”) and assembles it from left to right. Or, if the mood strikes, from right to left or top to bottom. But there is always Method and Order.

And he is also Opinionated. Even when those opinions are based on… well, I’m not sure quite what.

“Emily, when we get to the corner, which way will we turn?”
“That way.” Emily indicates right.
“No, it’s not.” William is quite, quite sure. William, who has never been to the park with us before.

“We are going to my park, William. You are probably thinking of a park close to your house. This will be a different park,” I explain, “and Emily’s right. We need to go that way.”

“No.” He is not angry or petulant. He is just very, very sure. And perhaps a little puzzled as to why we are arguing with him, when he KNOWS.

“William. I have been to this park about a million times. I go to this park two or three times every week all summer long. Don’t you think I know how to get there?”

He considers a beat.

“I think not.”

Well. What do you do when the Accurate meets the Implacable?

You ignore it, that’s what. You ignore it, turn right, and — wonder of wonders — you GET TO THE PARK!!!

And if you’re a grown-up, you don’t stick out your tongue and do the nyah-nyah-poo-poo dance. But if the children do it? It might just be that you just don’t notice that. Because if you did, you’d probably have to stop them…

August 19, 2009 Posted by | individuality, quirks and quirkiness | , , , , , | 6 Comments

The how and how not of tattling

Tattler“Mary! Mary, Tyler ate a piece of apple!”
“Mary! Nissa’s playing with the shoes!”
“Mary! He din’ wait for his TURN!”

Malli is visiting us this week. Malli has always been a bit of a prima donna, and a year of school hasn’t lessened this tendency one whit.

“Mary! It is supposed to be MY turn with the ball!”
“Mary! Noah’s touchin’ my cup!”
“Mary! The babies are bumping into me!”

And of course I ask her “Did you talk to [whoever] about it?” And of course she hasn’t. So of course I send her off to do that thing.

“Mary! He has all the books!”
“Mary! She is stompin’ her feet and I don’t LIKE that!”
“Mary! Emily says her daddy is bigger than my daddy!”

And of course I drill her in “Is anyone hurt? Is it dangerous? Is anyone bleeding?” And of course, every time the answer is NO, NO, and NO. “Well, unless it’s DANGEROUS, or someone could get HURT, or someone is BLEEDING, you don’t need to tell me.”

Ten times an hour. All morning long. (YES, she’s gotten worse since the last time I saw her. Her JK teacher must just love her to bits…)

And then, William’s voice calls out in alarm.

“Mary! Tank’s on top of the table!”

And so he is. With this climbing machine in the house, I’ve taken to my standby response: render the tabletop inaccessible by either pushing the benches right under the table, or by tipping them upside down. So far the first solution (easier for me) is working just fine. Tank hasn’t figured out how to push the benches out again, so he just climbs onto the bench, and then complains mightily when his head bashes repeatedly into the underside of the table.

And I laugh. Mwah-ha.

So how could Tank be up on the table? Has he learned to push the benches out? No.

See, Malli is lingering at her snack. The rest of us — including the Tankmeister — have long since left the table. But Malli is … savouring her pears and apples. Sitting on a bench.

And Tank, being Tank, has seen his opportunity, scrambled up the bench and scaled the tabletop.

And now sits on the table, RIGHT BESIDE MALLI. Malli the Tattle Queen? Who tells me EVERYTHING? Every TINY infraction of even POTENTIAL rules?

Malli has not said a word. Not.One.Word.

I think she hates me.

August 19, 2009 Posted by | Malli, Peeve me, socializing, the dark side | , , , , , | 3 Comments

One each — really!

“My mummy coming!” They’ve had their naps, they’ve had their snacks, and now it’s playtime before the parents show up. All the kids know this, and Noah is eagerly anticipating his mother’s immanent arrival.

“Mummy come!” Nissa is all over that idea. “Mummy come! Mummy!”

And then the inevitable happens.

“No!” Tyler is indignant. “MY mummy coming!”

And awaaaaay we go. The jockey-ing for supremacy: There is only ONE mummy in the universe — MINE! How dare you say she’s coming for YOU??? Or maybe the ‘reasoning’ is that if HIS mummy is coming for him, that means mine isn’t coming for me! (?) Or maybe they think I have some sort of arbitrary cap on parents? Only one per day, first come, first served, and the rest of you are SOL?

I don’t know why, “Oh! My mummy is coming, too!” provokes this response. All I know is that it does. Every time. It doesn’t matter that every weekday for months their parents have come to collect them, every single one of them. Nope. “NOT your mummy! MY mummy!!!”

Time for intervention.

“You’re right, Noah. Your mummy is coming.” The alarm crosses the others’ faces, but before anything comes out of their mouths, already opening to spew forth their vigorous denials, I keep talking. A little louder, and very, very, very clearly. “Noah’s mummy is coming. AND Nissa’s mummy is coming. AND Tyler’s mummy is coming.”

Noah’s wee face softens in dawning understanding. “TWO mummy coming?” There is wonder in his voice.

“YES, lovie!” Okay, so the boy can’t count, but he gets it. One mummy per child — enough to go around!!! “Two mummies. You’re absolutely right!”

Noah beams and breaks into applause, proud of himself, pleased with my affirmation, and, probably, hugely relieved. Nissa’s mummy is coming, but that doesn’t mean his isn’t coming, too! The others are drawn into the glee, grins all round, applauding wildly.


And that Noah? What a SMART little dude!

August 17, 2009 Posted by | Noah, quirks and quirkiness | | 3 Comments

And the winner is…

William for Big Brother. It seemed right when I read it in the first comment, and so many of you agreed that it I called it destiny and went with it.

And for the Baby Brother? Tank will do nicely. It’s entirely possible that he’ll outgrow his tankdom — after all, big brother William is a slender little dude. I recall my very own son, who was a total tank at this age (30 pounds at 11 months) and is now a very slender 145 lb (65.5 kg) at six feet tall (1.8 metres)! So you never know.

Baby Brother is only with me till the end of December, though, and I seriously doubt he’ll leap upward into willowy-ness by then! So, Tank it is.

Thank you very much for your able assistance. I might have thought of William on my own, but Tank? Would never have gotten there, and I love it.

August 16, 2009 Posted by | memes and quizzes | | 2 Comments

Name those children, again

hello-my-name-isI haven’t told you yet, but those interviews I had a while back were successful!

I have two little boys coming these days, brothers, who will be with me only until the end of December. After the Christmas break I will get another little girl. So that’s that. When the little girl starts in January, I should be set for another year.

The brothers are fun. The younger is a year old, and I have yet to see a more painless transition to daycare. Barely a backward glance, and not a single tear, this boy has plunged himself headlong into the fray. And when he plunges anywhere, you’d best give way. This boy is a TANK. “Solid” does not begin to describe it. Not fat. He’s a normal height-to-weight baby. But hoo, boy, this child is DENSE. Built like a brick shi*thouse, to use one of my grandfather’s earthy colloquialisms.

Evidently Little Brother got all the “solid” genes, because Big Brother is a red-headed, blue-eyed willowy wisp of a boy. Both boys are friendly little guys, but whereas Little Brother charges into his day without a backward glance, you can see the strain of the change on Big Brother.

Not that he complains, mind you. Once in a while, though, he finds a quite place to stand, all by himself, and his eyes get red-rimmed and a bit watery. Not that he cries. He doesn’t. Mommy and Daddy have assured him that he will have fun, and that they expect him to try to get along and to be brave. And he is. Not one real tear has ever overflowed those red-rimmed eyes.

Doesn’t that break your heart, just a little? It makes mine go a little wobbly. What a great little guy! The flip side is that he’s very gregarious. He doesn’t moon around, stoic and soulful all day. Those are passing moment. Mostly, we have stuff like this:

“Want to play this card game with me?” he invites Emily. On his second day with me. His second day of daycare in his whole, entire life. “You can have these cards, and I will have these ones.” (And the piles, I might add, are pretty much equal.) When Emily is uncertain, he crouches in front of her and smiles. “Come on! It’ll be FUN!!”

And then my heart goes all wobbly again. This is bravery, no question about it. It deserves Emily’s enthusiastic acceptance, but Emily is uncertain, inclined, I can tell, to say ‘no’.

Gah! Rejected? When he’s being SO BRAVE, on his second day here? Can’t happen! Normally the type to stand back and watch these situations, I’m not leaving this one up to fate…

“Oh, yes! That sounds like a LOT of fun, doesn’t it, Emily?” I’m just SOOOO HAPPY that BB thought of such a WONDERFUL game, Emily simply can’t imagine saying no. Her face breaks into a smile. (Ah, the power of emotional manipulation guidance.)

She agrees, and they had fun. Phew.

I would have played with them, too, just to keep things moving smoothly, but I’m too busy keeping Little Brother from climbing onto the dining room table. Or into his high chair. Or up the stair railings. Or along the back of the couch. Or onto the kitchen counter. Or…

Nissa is “busy”. Little Brother is a Climber. (Your prayers, kind thoughts, good vibes, whatever, would be appreciated…)

So. Two new little boys, Mr. Brave and Willing 4-year-old and Baby Brother, the Climber.

Any suggestions for names?

August 14, 2009 Posted by | daycare, The Tots | 15 Comments

kinda fun

Out of all the nanny blogs on all the servers in all the internet, they picked mine. (And two others.) I think that’s kind of cool… even though I’m not a nanny.

And a free package of Smarties to the first person to leave a comment correctly identifying the star who famously uttered the quote I was butchering paraphrasing in that first sentence.


August 13, 2009 Posted by | food | , | 6 Comments

Things you never expected to hear yourself saying

Part 184 654…

handTyler approaches, his arm extended, thumb and forefinger delicately pinched. His enormous blue eyes are round with sincerity as he presses his gift upon me.

I’m used to this. Tyler gives me all manner of beauteous things: flowers, trinkets, food… all of them presented like this, all of them formless and void.

I hold out my hand. What is it this time? Ice cream? A crown? Birthday cake? A puppy? A fire truck? He’s so sweet, Tyler.

Something lands in my palm.

Something very small, essentially weightless, mostly dry and pale, with a darker, damper streak at one end. Small and virtually weightless, but quite real. At the second I realize what what distinctively unbeauteous thing lies in my palm, before I flip my wrist and send it — this was probably a mistake — flying to land godknowswhere, I proclaim yet Another Rule of Civilized Living:

“DON’T give me your boogers! I don’t want them! Nobody wants somebody else’s boogers!”

And then I wash my hands.

August 13, 2009 Posted by | eeewww, Tyler | , , , , | 3 Comments

Thanks, but…

questionExclamationMarksI have a doctor’s appointment coming up. Aiming to make everyone’s lives as smooth as possible, I schedule these things during naptime. If all goes well, I can leave and return, and no one any the wiser.

I have a friend, who, left at home alone for the first time with his newborn daughter, decided to work on a household project while she napped. Partway through the project, he realized he needed some item from the hardware store (OF COURSE. When does this NOT happen in a household project??) and he popped out to get it.

It was only when he was standing in the check-out line a few minutes later that the truth hit him like an icy sledgehammer, right in the pit of his stomach.

He was a father. He had a baby now. A baby which was at home.


I imagine his adrenaline rush was akin to the one I got when I wandered into the dining room from the kitchen and discovered that, in the intervening 84 seconds, my 3-month-old, non-crawling baby son had VANISHED! He’d been RIGHT THERE in the middle of the floor when I went into the kitchen.

The mind does funny things. As I stood there, scanning the (HOW CAN IT BE???) EMPTY dining room, the thought raced through my mind, “SOMEBODY SNUCK INTO MY HOME AND STOLE MY BABY!” In 84 seconds! While I was standing in the kitchen, from which I could see the front door, and from which the back door opened. But someone had SNUCK IN! Because, really. How else could he have VANISHED?? In 84 seconds? When he couldn’t crawl???

For about .94 seconds, I was CONVINCED that was what happened. And then I got slightly more rational.

He couldn’t crawl, see, but he could, by dint of lifting his torso up off the floor on his two pudgy hands, propel himself backward. I saw the glinting trail of drool and tracked the boy down, under the sideboard, covered in dustballs but otherwise unharmed. HE was fine. But, oh! My heart!

(You can see why my hardware-hunting friend reminded me of that story…) So, he got home, the baby was still sleeping, his wife was still out. No harm done, except perhaps the birth of his first half-dozen parental grey hairs. (His wife was not told this story until their second child was a toddler and everyone was thoroughly convinced of his parental competence…)

But me, I’m not like that. I am sneaking out during naptime, yes, but I have back-up!!

Emma will be tending to the tots. And, because I have a full house this week, just to be sure, I’ve hired another teen to come in for a three-hour window. (I expect to be gone an hour and a half.) So there will be two of them — AND I have the parents of the other teen (who live across the street, a teacher, off for the summer, and her police-officer husband) on the alert as back-ups to my back-up.

But really? All those back-ups and back-ups to back-ups? That’s just for optics, for parental reassurance. Emma, who is sixteen now, who grew up in a daycare… Emma, who has been babysitting for five years, who can manage four or five toddlers with aplomb, who tames tantrums, organizes food, kisses bo-bo’s and bundles babies with the best of them… Emma does not need back-up.

But she has it. Two layers of it. Because I am a professional, and because I am careful and cautious of the parents’ feelings.

So I lay this all out to the parents. Four sets of parents nod their heads. Sounds great. One set, parents of a 16-month-old, has the teeniest of reservations. After talking it over, they decide that they will arrange their schedules so that, if required, Emma can call on dad to come over and help out.

Which is very lovely, sweet and neurotic kind of them. A back-up for the back-ups of my back-up… Just to be sure! Because you never know!!!

It was kindly meant, and I took it in just that spirit. But you will forgive me if (privately, when they were safely gone home) I snickered just a little. Because you never know… when someone with ten (20? 30?) times the experience mightn’t need a little assistance… from a novice.


August 12, 2009 Posted by | daycare, health and safety, my kids, parents | | 4 Comments

It’s that 1% that gets you

The husband is out of town for a few days this week, and thus I am a single doggy parent. The teens? They are not so much work.

Teens certainly don’t have me out the door at six for a 45-minute walk before my first clients arrive. Not that my first clients arrive at 6:45. I know there are caregivers out there who start at 6:30 or even earlier, God love’em, but I’m not of their ilk. I am a morning person: this is why I like to savour some of it for myself.

Walking the dog is, in fact, 99% pure pleasure, particularly on a morning when the mist is rising off the plate-glass river, the swans regal as they drift by, the air a caressing blanket, soft, warm, fresh. The dog neither drifts nor caresses. She bounds, leaping with the pure joy of being alive — and then freezing, stock-still, as she spots a squirrel. She lives in never-dying hope of catching one of those things.

(It will never, ever die now that she actually has caught one of those things. Thankfully, not on my watch.)

She bounces into the long grass on the verge of the river, chomping madly. I do not know why some mornings are grass mornings, why the One Thing in the World she craves more than anything else is salad, plucked fresh from the riverbank, dressed with dew.

I particularly do not know this five minutes later, when we arrive at the racing-around-the-field-with-other-dogs part of our outing, and she bombs into the middle of the field … and horks the whole thing up again.

Well, not quite the whole thing. The rest she saved for the dining room. An moist heap of pureed greens, a long greenish puddle oozing away from it on one side, along the nothing-is-100%-true-in-a-century-old-house floor.

As I said, 99% pure pleasure.

August 11, 2009 Posted by | random and odd | , , , , | 4 Comments