It’s Not All Mary Poppins


Last step in the process: Inform the Parents.

It’s been a long-ish haul, from my first inklings that one couple wasn’t dealing straight with me, through further nigglings, to confirmation of my suspicions. The past month has been a whirlwind of interviews. The universe was sympathetic to my plight: I’ve never had so many interviews in such a short period.

And this week, I signed a contract with a lovely couple. Lovely, I think. So far, so good, anyway. My first impression is positive — that counts for something, right?

Yes, it does. Though I’m not 100% — goodness knows this current situation proves that! — my intuition has been honed down the years, and I’m a decent judge of who will be a good fit.

So. All my ducks are in a row. Now to deal with the one remaining detail: the conversation.

She’s due “in June”. I don’t know when her due date is. The new couple wants to start in the third week of June. So I can give Outgoing Couple till the end of June, maybe even a week past that. Let’s hope she’s due toward the beginning of the month!

But how to tell them? Where to have this conversation? I worried this one over for a couple of days — coffeeshop? my home? theirs? — before my husband made his observation.

“You know, it doesn’t have to be a Big Conversation. In fact, I’m not sure that it needs to take more than 15 minutes.”

And I thought … he’s right. If I set it up as if it’s a Big Deal, it will become a big deal, and I really don’t want that. How about I deliver it in a matter-of-fact way. In fact, how about I deliver it to them as they delivered their news to me: as if they were in the loop, as if they knew all along what was happening, as if it’s no big deal at all.

Brilliant. And all because of that “15 minute” comment from the Wonderful Husband.

So I mulled it over and came up with my starting sentence. (Do you do that? It’s hugely helpful in starting a difficult conversation. I actually memorize and practice my first sentence.)

It’s a good thing she’s usually the last parent to arrive. I don’t have to worry about a private conversation being interrupted by other parents. When she arrived, we chatted for a few seconds and then I smiled brightly and said,

“So I just thought I’d bring you up-to-date about what’s happening in June.”

And she smiles back and says, “Oh, yes.”

“I’ve found another child to fill the space. He’ll be starting June 16. I’m not sure when you’re due, but you can certainly have till the end of the month.”

“I’m having a section on June 12.”

[Section? This baby has been scheduled! She probably knows to the hour when her baby will be born, and she hadn’t bothered to tell me??? Oh, why am I surprised any more?]

“So we can send her till the end of June?”

“Yes, and if you wanted the odd day after that, we could arrange that at the time, and do pay-as-you-go.”

Her face moves from smiling to puzzled.

“But we can’t have full-time in July, even if we wanted it?”

[Oh, so that was an option you were considering, then? And it didn’t occur to you it would be wise to run it by me?]

“No.” (Oh, that felt kinda good…) “Not after the end of June.”

The puzzlement grows.

“But we haven’t given you your notice yet.”

And now it begins to feel really, really good, so I can smile gently as I say, matter-of-fact, gently, calm,

“No, I’m giving you notice.”

There is a moment where her face goes totally blank, blind-sided as she is by this completely unexpected turn of events.

“Oh.” There is a pause. Her mouth opens, then closes. She’s still processing, but she’s taking it very well, really, given it’s such a radical and completely unpredictable outcome. She nods. “Well, okay then. I guess I can work with that.”

I guess you can. And you’re getting… April, May, June, end of June… over three months’ notice. Much more than you intended to give me.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, was that. Bring on June!

March 5, 2010 - Posted by | daycare, parents, Peeve me, the dark side | , ,


  1. Not quite what I predicted. The way you handled it was beautiful! Am I rotten for being glad she was stunned?

    Comment by Bethany | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  2. “No, I’m giving YOU notice.” *blink, blink* “Oh.”
    I have to admit I got a chuckle out of that, too.

    Also, I’m totally going to do that practicing the first sentence technique. I do usually try to think out how difficult conversations might go, but starting one out on the right foot is a _great_ idea. Thanks for the tip!

    Comment by Ms. Huis Herself | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  3. Go you! Sounds like you handled it beautifully. Maybe (doubtful) she’ll learn something from this…

    Comment by kateohkatie | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  4. Congratulations! I am so glad you managed to get through that! And…well, like others I am a bit meanly glad she was so absolutely stunned. “Wait…what…the world DOESN’T revolve around me?”

    Plus, her being stunned is just further proof of her attitude towards you. It didn’t seem to cross her mind that you could give her notice, which means she thought of you as an underling, not an equal. Doesn’t matter what the situation is – that’s not the kind of person you want to work with!

    Comment by Rebecca | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  5. You handled that very well. I practice what I am going to say as well. Do you give them written notice as well as verbal? I give a written notice with the verbal and find it much harder to write the written version. I find it can take days to get the written version to come out the way I want it to.

    Anyway, you did what was best in this situation. Look forward and good luck.

    Comment by Theresa | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  6. You know, you’ve opened my eyes to the relationship you have with parents. We encountered something similar when we set out to interview a piano teacher. Somewhere along the line I realized that my husband and I, and our son, were the ones being interviewed. When we left we were waiting to see if she’d accept us. I had expected to interview a few teachers and see which one I wanted. We’re happy fortunately, but I didn’t hold up my end of the deal and interview her back because I was so startled that she even had her own agenda. I need to realize next time that the interview goes both ways in most situations, not just these two.

    Comment by Jill in Atlanta | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  7. VERY well handled. I’ve been watching this saga as you updated and I think you handled it brilliantly.

    Comment by Sylvia | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  8. I love you. 😀

    Comment by Jen | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  9. Bravo!

    Comment by Rosie_Kate | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  10. “But we haven’t given you your notice yet.”


    I think Rebecca said it best with, “It didn’t seem to cross her mind that you could give her notice, which means she thought of you as an underling, not an equal.”

    It seems that some people think that if they are paying you then they have the upper hand. As in the customer is always right.

    That people can apply this mentality to childcare boggles my mind.


    Comment by Zayna | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  11. You go girl! I cannot understand how people become so self centered. They will sorely miss you!

    Comment by jess | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  12. Ok, did I miss the memo about this family–is this the family that has been so annoying all along and now she’s pregnant and you’re taking the chance to move on, or is this another family? And in Canada, she gets a year off, right? And she thought she’d just go ahead and send her other kid to you even though she’s home with the baby? Am I reading that right?

    Comment by Bridgett | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  13. The audacity of them! “We haven’t given you notice yet.” Yikes. You’re well shot of them and good luck with the new family. It sounds like they might “get” the whole daycare thing a bit better.

    Can you imagine the conversation with her husband when she got home? “Umm…honey? I think Mary fired us.”

    Comment by tuesy | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  14. Good girl! You rocked it 😀

    And you have a very wise hubby, if I may say so 🙂

    Comment by Suzi | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  15. I like how this played out.

    Sometimes with parents like this I’m left wondering if they perceive child-carers as totally unskilled and therefore not deserving of respect, OR do they think child care is a calling and all child carers are brimming over with love and the money they receive for indulging this love is completely incidental.

    Either way they’re myopic.

    It’s very unlikely the new family will be worse even if your intuition proves to have an uncharacteristic hiccup!


    Comment by Maisy | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  16. Does she work in IT or in a big professional services type firm by any chance? Because to me her attitude isn’t really all that surprising (although I certainly understand why, you, Mary, would find it off-putting and in your shoes I would, too). My gut feel is that she sees child care as a kind of outsourcing arrangement and probably hasn’t thought about what the uncertainty was doing to you, and because you’re tactful (and clever–because it’s a good out from a situation you find untenable) she probably didn’t even realise you had an issue.

    It also sounds like mum hasn’t made up her mind about what to do when the second baby arrives. Probably she thinks she might like to stay home but isn’t sure if she’s going to be able to manage it, so she was trying to keep her options open but inadvertently creating problems for you.

    Whatever the case, you handled it incredibly well and I think her reaction proves that. Your set of posts about this was very interesting for me to read, so thanks.

    Comment by Kat | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  17. LOVE IT.

    Comment by ifbyyes | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  18. I join the chorus, but WELL DONE, and congratulations!

    Comment by aaron | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  19. Well done!! I love it!! I guess we will never know how much notice that she intended to give you. She thought she was in control…………, think again Lady. Bring on June!

    Comment by chantelle | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  20. HA! Did she not realize that the cancellation clause goes both ways, you’re not a cable service that she can cancel at will, but wouldn’t withdraw service as long as she’s paying? I’m thinking you’re well shot of her. And good for you. (You must have worn a little smile all evening.)

    Comment by kittenpie | March 6, 2010 | Reply

  21. I can’t believe she had a c-section date already, and dind’t even think to let you know about it. Even if you would have let this slide, and continued to offer her the childcare, she would have still had to arrange for the older child to come to you, and be picked, because she woudln’t be able to do it, would she. Isn’t that somehting you would need to arrange wiht your childcare provider? One day another adult starts bringing the child in, shouldn’t you explain that?

    How old is her child? I don’t quite rememebr, is he talking? I’m wondering if he even knows that he’s about to have a sibling, surely he would have told you if he did know. Were they going to just bring a baby home one day, and then let the child deal with it. Wow.

    Comment by Nat | March 6, 2010 | Reply

  22. “But we haven’t given you your notice yet.”

    Comment by Mwa | March 6, 2010 | Reply

  23. That………..was awesome. I love how the puzzlement started to settle in on her and you took the jump and let her know what the deal was. Excellent! “But we haven’t given notice yet”. Geesh.

    I so hope the new family coming in is beyond fantastic! Yay you!

    Comment by shelly | March 7, 2010 | Reply

  24. But we can’t have full-time in July, even if we wanted it?


    Sweet. You got the final zing, and didn’t even have to be rude about it. So glad it worked out for ya!

    Comment by MJ | March 7, 2010 | Reply

  25. I’m so glad that this is all worked out for you. Hopefully this new family will work out better and hopefully it will open the eyes of this other family. Maybe they’ll treat their next caregiver better. One can always hope.

    Comment by Dani | March 8, 2010 | Reply

  26. Holy Cow. I was on the phone with my daycarista before I’d even taken the trash out with the two-pink-lined evidence in it.

    I think you handled it very well.

    And that’s exactly what I’m used to. Fifteen years, umpteen pregnancies, that’s how it always goes. One client recently told me I knew before her mother did! This is the first — and, I hope, the last! — time I’ve ever experienced anything like this.

    Oh, and thank you! Nice to see you around here again. It’s been a while!

    Comment by Homestead | March 8, 2010 | Reply

  27. Nicely done. Congratulations to you!

    Comment by Clementine | March 11, 2010 | Reply

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