It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Found her!

She came to the interview with not only her baby, but her 4-year-old. And no husband.

I winced.

NOT because she’s a single mom and I’m all morally outraged. Good heavens, no. I winced because one adut/two kids almost always means no interview.

What I get instead is “Can you tell me what your usual schedule is — oh, hang on a sec — sweetie, get down from there… Sorry about that… Where were we? Oh, schedule. Can you tell me — Oh, are you hungry, baby? Let mummy get you settled — So do you take the kids out every — Johnny? Come back where mummy can see you, please — Well, usually the children arrive between — No, honey. Put that down. I don’t think that’s a toy. — That’s okay, he can touch it. Everything’s pretty kid-friendly in here — You sure?”

Okay, I exaggerate a tad. It’s not quite that bad, but it can sure feel like it. Our ‘interview’ degenerates into a steady stream of distractions interspersed with quick apologetic smiles tossed my way, tiny fragments of information shot out at each other between interruptions.

So, yes, I winced.

(She’s not a single mom, as it happens. About 70 – 80% of moms come on their own, and even when dads appear, it’s 99% clear that his is the support role: Mom is the decision-maker on this one.)

But instead of chaos, I got calm. Instead of interruptions, we simply settled in. When the 4-year-old needed direction, it was done in a very quiet, calm voice. And it only needed to be said once. When the baby got fidgety, she was dealt with in the same quiet, efficient way.

You all know how I haaaaate working in a LOUD environment? Loud parents very often engender loud children. Soft-spoken parents — particularly quiet, efficient ones — tend to produce quieter children. There are no guarantees, of course, but it’s a good sign.

(And no, the kids in my care are not expected to tiptoe and speak in hushed tones. But there’s a wide range between whisper and BELLOW. Where it’s within my control, I avoid bellowers like the plague.)

And that calm efficiency? There will be no whine-and-coax scenes at my door with this mother. Let me tell you, there is not a caregiver on the planet who doesn’t loathe whine-and-coax scenes with a cold, implacable hate… or a fiery passion… or both. I am 99.9999% sure I will never see one between this mother and child. Bliss!

I don’t think we were eight minutes into the interview before I knew: I WANT this family. (I’ll only be getting the baby. Big Brother is going to a preschool in the fall.) The rest of the interview proceeded smoothly, all the standard questions covered with that same quiet and friendly efficiency, me warming to her all the while.

Then came the stealth question:

“Do you write those daycare pieces for the neighbourhood paper?”

THAT was unexpected. Though (obviously) my parents know about my monthly column, and eagerly look for their child’s exploits, and a bunch of my neighbours have figured it out, none of my incoming parents has ever known that anonymous provider is me. Besides, it’s just a week neighbourhood paper with a readership of… 12.6? What are the odds anyone’s read my stuff?

How does she feel about it? Her face is giving nothing away. Is this a good thing for her, or a bad? She’s very quiet; maybe privacy is important to her? Maybe the idea of exposure, even though I don’t identify anyone, is unnerving? Oh, well. I’m not about to lie. If I’m now about to lose the BEST POTENTIAL CLIENT IN YEARS… so be it.

“Yes, that’s me. However did you know?”

Her face suffuses with relief. “Oh, I hoped it was you! I asked the editor of the paper, but of course he couldn’t tell me. And then I was talking to a friend who’s a provider, and said she thought it might be you.” (I know this provider: she knows it’s me. Discreet of her, no?)

Well. Whaddaya know? I have a Fan. (A nice, quiet, sane, non-stalker fan.)

Turns out my style, as evidenced in my writing, feels just exactly right for her. She wanted her baby with THAT provider.

And now she has. She was ready to sign right then, right there, but as per my custom, I sent her home with the contract.

Which was returned two days later, signed, dated, and accompanied by its nicely bulging envelope filled with post-dated cheques.

That’s it! My spaces are filled. No more interviews, no more nagging worries, and (I hope!) one of the most calmly effective parents I’ve seen in a long while.

Colour me happy.

March 22, 2010 Posted by | daycare, our adoring public, parents | 10 Comments