It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Off to a Roaring Start

New Baby Boy (hereafter called Joshua) has now been in my care two days. (He’s part-time, three days a week. Daniel has the other two, and this week started with a holiday Monday. So.)

Day One, the day on which I had braced for reality the worst reality, turned out to be …

spectacularly wonderful.

Really. What are the odds, I had asked — rhetorically, sarcasm dripping from my fingertips — that I would get a second easy transition, immediately after Rosie’s supremely trauma-free induction to the mob? Very good question. The more pertinent question turns out to be: What are the odds that after Rosie’s super-easy transition to daycare, the next baby in would have, not just an easy, but a TOTALLY PAINLESS transition?


Generally, when a parent comes with a child, a new child who has never been in my home before, the child stays in the security of the parent’s arms until parent has to leave. Not Josh. When it became clear that his mother and I were going to talk interminably (like, oh, 3 or 4 minutes), he wriggled down out of her arms. Wriggled down and scooted away, using that half-hitch scootch that’s about the third most popular way of pre-walking locomotion. Wriggled down, scootched away, and went clear out of sight. (Around a corner less than a metre away. I could see him, but his mother couldn’t. More to the point, nor could he see his mother. Let me repeat that: he’d never been in my home before, he couldn’t see his mother, and THIS DID NOT ALARM HIM FOR A SECOND.


Mum and I came to the end of our conversation.

“I’ll just sneak out now, while he’s occupied,” she said, peeking around the corner to take a quick look and ducking back before he caught sight of her.

An aside: To sneak out, or not sneak out? This is a Raging Debate in some quarters, and of course there are Schools of Thought on either side, each firmly convinced of the soundness of their reasoning — and of the inferiority — nay, the child-damaging, psyche-crushing cruelty — of other perspective.

To which I say … Meh.

Firstly, children are JUST NOT THAT FRAGILE. You are not going to destroy your child psychologically because you called attention to your departure. You are not going to destroy your child psychologically because you vanished like the mist while he was otherwise occupied. You have to work a whole helluva lot harder than either of those to destroy your child psychologically.

Secondly, different children respond differently. One child might genuinely need to wave bye-bye to feel safe and secure. A parent who sneaks off causes more anxiety, not less; the child, concerned that the parent will vanish, clings and refuses to enter into his day. Another child, however, might find your carefully announced departure disruptive to his transition and needlessly anxiety-provoking. He was playing just fine, thanks, until you make a big deal over going!

How do you know which is right for your child? You can’t, because you’re not there after you leave. You can’t evaluate the effects of each style of departure, because you don’t see them. The only people who see the results are the ones who are there after you leave.

If your caregiver observes that your child is happier when they see you go, then make a point of waving bye-bye with a cheery smile. If your caregiver observes that your child is happier if you just slip out, then that’s what you do.


What you don’t do is decide what is the Right and Proper and Emotionally-Psychologically Superior Thing and then do it, no matter how it distresses your child.

That’s just dumb.

Aside over.

Josh turns out to be in the “don’t need to see mama leave” camp. Did he ever notice that she wasn’t there any more? Well, if he did, it didn’t alarm him one teeny little iota. Not a speck of anxiety. In fact, within the first half-hour of his first day in this TOTALLY STRANGE environment, he had bestowed an ear-to-ear grin on every person in range.

And so it continued. Cheerful exploration, friendly interactions, beaming smiles. He ate his food with gusto, he slept like a log at naptime, he ate dirt at the playground, he pulled books off shelves, clothes out of bins, papers off tables. A busy boy. A busy, happy boy.

Did he cry at all, on his first day? Yes, he did. He cried because I wouldn’t let him pull the dog’s ear. HOW DARE I?!?!! He cried because the food did not get to the table fast enough. And he cried because Jazz moved away when he (weighing in at a hulking 33 pounds) was pulling himself to stand using 27-pound Jazz as his prop.

All those are perfectly unexceptional reasons for a 12-month-old to cry. What was exceptional was that not once did he cry from disorientation, anxiety, uncertainty, separation. What was exceptional was that when he did cry, all it took to soothe him was a hug and a cuddle from me. Me, who he’s met all of twice in his little life. What was also exceptional was HOW LOUD HE CRIES. Lordy. The boy does not weep and wail, he ROARS.

I am thus very grateful, very, very grateful, that he cries so little and soothes so readily. Because hours of that ROARING would have me clawing my ears off to escape. If a few minutes of ROARING per day is the only downside to sunny little Joshua, though, I have NOTHING to complain about. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

Also, I know. Anything could happen yet. It’s only one day. The very first day. But WHAT A DAY!!!

So far, so good?

You betcha!


October 11, 2012 - Posted by | daycare, Joshua, parenting | , ,


  1. I’ve been wondering all week! Glad it went so fantastically!

    It did, it did! Here’s hoping it continues!

    Comment by | October 11, 2012 | Reply

  2. HE IS A 33 POUND 12 MONTH OLD??????

    Sorry for the shouty-caps but DEAR GOD.

    My very solid 4.5 year old only weighs 38 pounds. And he’s considered big for his age!

    Thank goodness Joshua sounds like a delightful little person. If he were mean, or aggressive, or anxious, that much mass in a very young body could do some major damage.

    Indeed. As my grandfather would have said, “the boy’s built like a brick shithouse.” A happy brick shithouse, praise be.

    My son was 31 lbs at a year. Total bruiser. He was a solid two-year-old, too, but between 2 and 5 he gained perhaps 5 pounds, so it levelled off. At 23, he’s six feet tall, and 165 lb, which makes him pretty much a beanpole. I find this amusing.

    Comment by Hannah | October 11, 2012 | Reply

  3. Glad to hear it went well! The 1 year old I just started is a peanut compared to yours!!

    Rosie, who is also a year, is another peanut. Just a wee little slip of a thing. Joshua is a tank. Guess which one’s walking, and which one has to be carried everywhere? Oof.

    Comment by Kate | October 11, 2012 | Reply

    • This is why I loved the Ergo so, so much. How else would I have managed to lug my bruiser around everywhere? 30 pounds feels like so much less on the back than in the arms.

      Yup. After this week’s Library Ordeal (will be blogged about eventually), I’ve decided to haul out the Ergo. My poor back! My aching arm!

      Comment by Samantha | October 12, 2012 | Reply

  4. Thanks for the update Mary – good luck in defending your eardrums if things change in future!


    (PS I’m sorry I mainly read from work and can’t comment there because of dodgy french corporate internet link but I just wanted to thank you for your continuing blog I’ve learnt huge amounts for my family and also for the Cub Scouts I work with)

    Anyone who comments at all has nothing to apologize for! Thanks for dropping by.

    Comment by Peter | October 11, 2012 | Reply

  5. Are you sure you don’t want to name this roaring child Leo?

    Hee. If the roaring becomes a more central feature of his behaviour, maybe I’ll change it. Good thought.

    Comment by My Kids Mom | October 11, 2012 | Reply

  6. And when he did the roaring, what did Poppy do?

    Good question, and obvious, too, given the history. Better than with Rosie, but I’ll save that topic for a separate own post!

    Comment by daycaregirl | October 11, 2012 | Reply

    • I was wondering how Poppy reacted too.

      There’s a post coming on this. I’m giving it a few more exposures to see how it falls out. So far, not bad. She doesn’t like it, it obviously makes her nervous, but she’s not crying, nor is she demanding a nap. She gets solemn and retreats as far from him as possible … reasonable enough, given the auditory assault the boy’s putting out. I identify these bravery behaviours for her, and she gets a big hug and a reassuring cuddle for being brave. She’s doing all right — but it’s just not fair, is it, so soon on the heels of Rosie?

      Comment by Bethany | October 11, 2012 | Reply

  7. Ha. He sounds like my Owl who barely notices when I walk off and never cried wen I dropped him off. I opt for the cheerful and casual goodbye approach.

    Cheerful and casual is what I promote with my parents, but even those who practice it faithfully are, in that first week or two, usually peeling a screaming child off their cheerful and casual body, poor things. However, even if it doesn’t ensure a painless start, cheerful and casual virtually guarantees the pain will be short-lived, and the dropoffs thereafter, well, cheerful and casual!

    Comment by IfByYes | October 12, 2012 | Reply

  8. Oh no! You’ve forgotten the honeymoon rule. If you are lucky he will be the exception every rule is supposed to have. By the way, my son was 34 lbs. at a year and as an adult wears a 14EEE shoe and is a head taller than anyone else in the family. Sometimes they are just born to be big!

    I’ve had one other child — one, in all these years — who started happy and stayed that way. Could Josh be the second? Who knows, but it’s certain that he’s happier than any child I’ve cared for since the Amazing Riley. My son was 9 lb 10 at birth, 11 lb 3 at tens days old, 31 pounds at a year, is now (at 23) six feet and weighs ~165 pounds, meaning he’s a long, lean streak of water these days! Mwah-ha.

    Comment by jwgmom | October 12, 2012 | Reply

  9. Mary,
    Thank you for this blog. I have a home childcare program- six kiddos and me. It is priceless to me to read about your day. Because often your day is so much like mine. I really think that what we do for a living is just so unique and I often just wish I had a witness to the madness of it. So thanks for being witness to it! Even though you are not witnessing my madness, by sharing with us some of yours, I know i am not alone in it. Reading about it all through your perspective makes me love what I do all the more. You write with such professionalism and such beautiful honesty. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    Thank you for such a lovely comment! I hope you continue to love your job. It’s an important one!

    Comment by Alexis | October 13, 2012 | Reply

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