It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Niggle, niggle

I may have mentioned this here before — if I have, I’ve forgotten — but I have a really bad memory. A really, really bad memory. I’ve taken absent-mindedness to new heights of vagueness. In conversation I’m sharp: my intelligence is not in doubt, but… remember that I have a phone call to return? where I put that damned soother? that I’m pre-heating the frying pan for my egg? HA!

As a result, I have long since made all my contracts come due at the same time. Because me? Remember that your contract comes due for renewal in March, and yours in July, and YOURS in November? HA!

So they all come due at the end of the year. No matter when you sign on, the expiry date is December 31. So, if you sign on in September, say, you have the option of setting to renew in December of the same year, or of the next. Most people go for the next, because a) they’ve decided they love me and like the idea of being able to relax about childcare for a year and a bit and b) that means their fees won’t go up for over a year. (Though really, for current clients I raise the rates only every other year. New clients come in at the higher rate.)

Anyway. So I have a client come in four months before the contract expiry date. I offer them the extra year.

“No, we think we’ll let it expire in December, just to see how things go.”

Okay. Not the norm, but understandable. They may think they love me, but I could turn out to be awful. They don’t know. Or their child might not mesh with the daycare. Or some other thing might come up. A four-month testing-of-the-waters is not unreasonable, though I don’t like the uncertainty. In this neighbourhood, daycare spots get filled six months in advance. If I’m going to have a space to fill in four months, I’d normally be looking now. So that does niggle a bit.

I know it makes them uneasy that I do on occasion get out of the house, leaving someone else in charge. The mom met me one day, after she’d signed the contract but before her child started care, taking the dog for a walk. She was also taking her dog for a walk. She asked if I was taking the day off. I said no, but as it was naptime and Emma was home, I was giving the dog a mid-day 20-minute pee walk.

I found out later that she subsequently chatted with a neighbour of mine, worrying about my tendency to go out during the day. She’s worried about something, but chose to talk to my neighbour rather than me? That niggled a bit. (Yes, we did then talk about the issue. She accepted my position, which is covered in the contract after all and shouldn’t have been a surprise, but it makes her a bit anxious. Another niggle.)

But we proceed with daycare. Her child is no problem at all. The parents are… all right. They’re nice, well-intentioned, cheerful people. I deal with them in a friendly, professional manner, but they sort of grate on me. That, however, has nothing to do with the care I provide, or our professional relationship, and I’m quite confident they have no idea. Their personal style just doesn’t mesh with mine. It happens, and it’s no biggie.

Maybe I annoy them, too. It’s possible, and also no biggie. These are clients, not friends. We require professionalism, good communication, and good manners. It is not necessary to want to become bosom buddies. (Though it has happened. Two of my favourite friends are former clients.)

But I just get the impression that they’re not quite 100% sure of this situation, that they kinda-sorta have one foot out the door, maybe thinking of moving on. Nothing tangible enough to discuss, really, just my intuition.

But it niggles.

February 1, 2010 - Posted by | daycare, parents


  1. I hate that. But it’s been my experience that your intuition is probably spot on in this situation. So, they haven’t renewed their contract yet?


    Comment by Jen | February 1, 2010 | Reply

  2. Huh? But it’s February… @_@

    You’re in a really exposed situation right now, if I understand correctly. There’s no contract, so she can leave tomorrow, right? She might not have left yet because she hasn’t lined up anything else.

    Comment by Nev | February 1, 2010 | Reply

  3. I hate uncertainty, too. It’s hard to live with.

    (as a parent I will say this – I might be a touch nervous about the leaving at first, unless I had met the person who would be staying, and presumeably, they would have had ample opportunity to meet Emma and discuss any concerns about that with you, ask you how accustomed she is to caring for multiple kids if they wake, etc., and clear their own worries aside that way, which should be enough.)

    Comment by kittenpie | February 1, 2010 | Reply

  4. I’m allergic to uncertainty, I’ve been told :-p

    Man, if I knew that I was in your area, I’d have my kid in your daycare, a year signed on, at lightning speed. If these people have doubts and back out, it’s their loss.

    Comment by ifbyyes | February 2, 2010 | Reply

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