It’s Not All Mary Poppins

The unease grows…

Those clients I was musing about on Monday, the ones who just give me the impression they’re not quite on board here?

They don’t pay, as all the others do, with a series of post-dated cheques, given to me upon signing of the contract. They pay by electronic transfer. This is not a problem at all. In fact, being able to plop the funds into my account while sitting in my living room all warm and cosy is a distinct convenience this time of year.

It has crossed my mind, however, what with all the niggling going on in there anyway, that this arrangement makes it easy for them to abscond, leaving me with no recourse. But then, it’s a small matter to put a stop on a cheque, so having those extra pieces of paper doesn’t really make me any safer. Though it feels that way.

But at least they have it set up that the money is transferred to me automatically every month. Except this month, when it hadn’t arrived on the usual day. When I tell mom the bank must’ve messed up the transfer, I discover it isn’t an automatic transfer; she’s been doing it manually every month.

Manually every month rather than automatic? I don’t even have that much security. Huh.

But that’s a small issue compared to the most recent concern. It’s February, and it’s cold, and we’re all bundled up all the time, but…

I think she’s pregnant.

Now, it could be the bulky winter coat — hers is down-filled, and you know how puffy they are. It could be bad posture — she does tend to slouch with her belly pooched forward. But… it could also be that she’s pregnant.

Pregnant enough to be sort of visible under a down-filled coat would be pretty damned pregnant.

Okay. I need to ask her. I need to sort this out.

Except, every woman knows you don’t ask “Are you pregnant?” unless you’re SURE she is. Because what if you’re wrong? You’ve now got some poor woman having to admit that no, she’s just put on a little weight, and then you know she’s going to be all “GOD! How fat do I LOOK???” That’s a rotten thing to do to someone.

But I need to know. It may be rotten to embarrass someone, but it’s rottener to find yourself high and dry and income-free… Okay, not income-free, but a twenty percent drop in my gross income is not a small matter.

I need to ask, but I need to ask kindly. Because, you know, while I have my suspicions, while my alarm bells are thrumming a steady, low-key buzz and my intuition is niggle, niggle, niggling at me, I don’t KNOW anything. If I blurt out something prematurely and too forcefully and it turns out to be unfounded, I could damage a perfectly satisfactory association.

I could even precipitate what I fear: insult her so badly she decides to pull her child from care.

So… I need to get the information, but without being confrontational.

Got it! What’s my issue here, really? It doesn’t really matter how they pay me, and it’s not a sure thing that she’s pregnant. The one thing I do have, and is a clear and tangible issue, is the damned contract, which is now six weeks past due. I’ve reminded them, and even sent a second copy, in case the first was misplaced. And still no contract. Hmph.

So, what I will ask is this:

“Is there a reason you haven’t signed the contract yet?”

That’s good. If I say it in a politely enquiring way (which I will), not a dark and sneering way (not my style), it’s a perfectly reasonable question, innocuous even. It’s also open-ended, so it’s impossible to answer just ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Hopefully I’ll get a fuller response, more information for me.

“Is there a reason you haven’t signed the contract yet?”

Yes. I like it.

I’ll do that tonight. And keep you posted. Wish me luck!

February 3, 2010 - Posted by | daycare, parents |


  1. Ooooo. good luck! I hope they are honest and tell you what is going on. Crazy people.

    Well, they may or may not be crazy. Maybe she’s just put on weight, and as for the contract, maybe they’re just really disorganized! I can hope so, anyway.

    Comment by Susan | February 3, 2010 | Reply

  2. What a sticky situation! But it sounds like you’ve come up with a perfect solution.

    Failing that, is there a way to encourage her to take off the bulky coat on one of the daily visits? Or could you steer the kids’ conversation to babies sometime, and see if her kid pipes up with “My mommy’s gonna have a baby!”? Actually, if she were pregnant, don’t you think her kid would’ve mentioned by now (we all know how they like to share everything they know… :-D)?

    You’re right. You’d think her older child would’ve blurted something out by now. Heck, if the older child knows, I won’t have to steer anything, I just just ask the kid direct any time of day!

    ….aaaand I just did. And the child seems to have no idea what I mean. Which either means that mom’s not pregnant, or just that the kid knows nothing. Hm.

    Comment by kateohkatie | February 3, 2010 | Reply

  3. Hope you figure it all out and that niggling feeling can go away.Good luck.

    Thanks. Me, too!

    Comment by Dani | February 3, 2010 | Reply

  4. Oh yeah, I can totally see how all of those little niggling things do add up to a much larger sense of unease. And 6 weeks overdue on signing the contract? Definitely a good way to ask. ‘Cuz yeah, if they’re not going to stick around, you need some time to fill the to-be-vacant spot!

    Exactly. If I have a space coming vacant, I need to take action. Normally, I’d be working with the parent, as it’s really a shared concern… except they haven’t shared it with me. So does this mean my concern is groundless? I aim to find out!

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | February 3, 2010 | Reply

  5. Good one! Wondering what the answer will be…

    We’ll soon find out. I’m hoping to be wrong, though won’t I feel a little silly, having gone all public with my worries? 🙂

    Comment by Mwa | February 3, 2010 | Reply

  6. Oof. Good luck tonight!

    Thank you. I’m a little nervous…

    Comment by Clementine | February 3, 2010 | Reply

  7. trust your intuition. Im keeping my fingers crossed for that contract getting signed. Hugs!

    Thanks. I’m trusting it enough to take action to nail this thing down. And mistrusting it enough to my niggles are misplaced!

    Comment by Suzi | February 3, 2010 | Reply

  8. you go, mary! too bad it’s not spring b/c then you could be talking lots about babies and be getting your answer from the tot! heh!

    I did try asking the child directly, but tot seems to have no idea what I’m on about. Which means either that there is no pregnancy, or they haven’t shared it with tot… which adds up to ‘no info from this source’!

    Comment by Dana | February 3, 2010 | Reply

  9. *Resolves never to slouch with belly pooched forward*

    You just made me shout with laughter. Yes, exactly! What if it’s nothing more significant than bad posture? Wouldn’t I look the fool? Another reason I like my indirect and open-ended question.

    Comment by Z | February 3, 2010 | Reply

  10. I hope it goes well. I think you’ve got it spot on to phrase the question as to not leave any room for a non-committal response.

    May I hazard a guess that the reason you haven’t done this before now is because you have a soft spot for the tyke involved?

    It’s just that knowing you, I find it hard to believe you would have let such an important issue go so long if you weren’t hoping for the best.

    If I’m wrong, please say so. I can take it. It’s just something that occurred to me. 🙂

    Aren’t you the sweetie, so confident in my ability to speak up for myself? Confidence which is not misplaced, as it happens, but thank you! No, the main reason for the delay is my phenomenal absent-mindedness. First I have to notice the contract hasn’t been returned. Then I have to confirm this. Then I have to follow up. Then I have to monitor the response to my follow-up. And each and every step of the way, I have to remember to do all these things, which easily means a day or a week of forgetfulness-delay at each juncture. You see the problem… 😀

    Comment by Zayna | February 3, 2010 | Reply

  11. What happened??

    We’re getting there! Hang on while I type!!

    Comment by Bethany | February 3, 2010 | Reply

  12. I want to know what happened too!

    Not signing the contract is the biggest red flag, the other things just give more substance to the initial misgivings. I think they sound like the sort of people who would not tell their toddler about another baby, as they’re cluey enough to know that toddlers tattle!

    And I repeat: I want to know what happened!!


    Your take on it is exactly mine: not signing the contract is the issue, the others bolster the concern that causes. You’ll find out, not to worry! It’s not even six in the morning here. I’ll have it up in a bit!

    Comment by Maisy | February 4, 2010 | Reply

  13. Ha ha Mary type faster… I want to know what happened 🙂

    Comment by Nev | February 4, 2010 | Reply

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