It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Hello, Goodbye

Children come and go in a daycare. Typically, they start with me at 12 months, give or take, and leave when they start junior kindergarten, about three and a half. Kindergarten in this city is half-day. Many of my clients would have been happy to keep their children with me during junior and senior kindergarten, except that I do not go to the bus stop. Lots of caregivers do, I know, but the thought of getting the other four children out the door to trudge ten minutes up the street so we can stand at a bus stop for ten minutes in the frigid February gloom before trudging the ten minute home, does not appeal to me in the slightest.

So I’ve never done it. A couple of parents opted to leave their children with me until grade one. Two extra years of full-time daycare. But mostly, when they get to junior kindergarten age, we say goodbye.

People have asked me, “Is it hard? Do you miss them fiercely? Do you cry?” And I have to say… no. Not usually. I know when they start that I’ll have them for a couple of years, and then they’ll move on. I enjoy my time with them, I grow fond of them, and then I say a fond goodbye when our time together is over.

I often stay in touch with a family for two or three years after, but eventually the ties fade. That’s just normal, and I don’t fret over it.

I am much the same way with my own children, for heaven’s sakes. I didn’t chase after the train as it took my eldest off to university. There were no tears of regret, no maternal angst, no panic about how I’ll SURVIVE WITHOUT MY BAYBEEEEE. I keep saying “We’re not raising children, we’re raising adults”, and I mean it. The whole point of the parenting endeavour is to get those kids launched into fully functioning adulthood. I’m supposed to crack, inches from the finish line, pulling them back, “NOOOOO, I’M NOT REEEEEEADY!”?

That’s just silly.

I want them out there. I want them forging ahead, forming their own lives. Lives in which, if I’m not a neurotic, needy lunatic, I’m much more likely to be given a space. I’ll still be their mother. To lose that role would indeed rip me asunder. I’m their mother until one of us dies, but eventually they won’t need a mommy any more. And that’s as it should be.

If I have that attitude about my own, much-beloved children, I’m going to have much the same about my daycare tots. Except that I’m not their mother, and I never anticipated being invited to their weddings. I love them when they’re with me, and then they move on to the next stage in their lives, and I love the ones who take their places. Which is as it should be.

But it is true that some children get under your skin and into your heart. Emily is one such. I love Tyler, too, but it is with Emily that I have a particular bond. Tyler is a fun, busy and friendly, bytimes moody and contrary, little boy. I’ve enjoyed my time with Tyler. He’s sweet and loveable, if a tad memory-challenged. But Emily…

Emily, who has been with me for a full five years. Emily, whose mother took on the school bus company, campaigned for an entire summer, and had them make a stop at my home so the children could be with me for an extra two years.

Emily the silly talker, the kind talker, and the Very Good Talker. Emily the hard-ass big sister, the helpful big sister, the big sister to the masses. Emily the cruise director, the realist, the artist. Emily the empath. She’s a really nice kid, even when she’s ‘bad’.

Emily’s giddy cheerfulness has pulled many a whiny toddler out of the doldrums. She has distracted many a distressed baby, soothed many a bump, organized many games. She keeps me on my toes! She’s good company. She’s just a plain old, genuinely nice person. Smart, funny, creative and kind.

I love Emily. To bits. And in two weeks, she and Tyler will move on from daycare, Emily to start Grade One and Tyler to junior kindergarten in the same school. I will miss them very much.


August 5, 2011 - Posted by | daycare, Emily | , , , , ,


  1. I am going to miss them too. And I’ve never even met them!

    That’s good to hear. It means I’ve made them feel real, even if only in a small way.

    Comment by Bethany | August 5, 2011 | Reply

  2. I knew from the headline it was Emily who is leaving. I’ll miss her too! And Tyler, of course, but that Emily. She’s something special.

    She is. Kind, happy, creative, empathetic, gentle but not a pushover, considerate. A nice, nice person.

    Comment by Sarah | August 5, 2011 | Reply

  3. Now I’m sniffing! I hope she checks in every once in a while. It’s always fun to run into the old kids when they are teenagers and you can embarrass them by reminding them of their quirks when they were little.

    Me, too. Most of my clients live close, so it’s not unusual to bump into them here and there. I’d like to keep in more deliberate contact than that with this family, though. I manage with some. I had a former client, now a teenager, attend my last birthday party with his mother. The infamous Riley!! They’re embarrassed, but they love it, too. 🙂

    Comment by jwg | August 5, 2011 | Reply

    • Of course there is a down side. You’ll know you are getting really old when one of your kids enrolls her kid with you, or when you hire one of your kids to work with you when she’s in her twenties.

      Comment by jwg | August 6, 2011 | Reply

    • Poop storm Riley?

      Comment by Klown Kollege Entrant | May 17, 2012 | Reply

  4. She’ll remember you with love too. You’ve given her a delightful start in life.

    Thank you. I hope so!

    Comment by Z | August 5, 2011 | Reply

  5. Did you find that the first kids you ever took care of got under your skin the most? I noticed when training service dogs that first time raisers always had a very difficult time at turn-in time, when they said goodbye to their constant companion of the past year. Those dogs were always their babies, and they usually kept very close tabs on the dog during training – calling and asking after it, sitting it on holidays, adopting it if we couldn’t continue the training for some reason, and making good friends with the clients when the dog was placed.

    The second, third, fourth time around, they’d deliver the dog with a wave and a smile, and while they always remained interested and fond of the dog they had raised, the level of attachment was lower. They had learned to love wisely, and not too well.

    Comment by IfByYes | August 6, 2011 | Reply

  6. […] quite wonderful, and it all comes down to Poppy. When I lost Emily, I lost a solid source of daycare sunshine. Seems I have her […]

    Pingback by Poppy Sunshine « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | May 17, 2012 | Reply

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