It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Tale of two interviews

I have two interviews a few weeks back.

Couple A:
Lovely, lovely baby boy. Smiling, cheerful, not at all shy, attended (as much as you can expect of a 10-month-old) to his parents. Dad was cheerfully friendly. Mom was harder to read, but I judged her quietness to be shyness/reserve rather than unfriendliness or hostility. The interview was quiet, calm, measured, but, I thought, friendly enough.

They needed care to start mid-December, a mere six weeks away. In this neighbourhood, that is as last-minute as it gets. With 12-month maternity leaves and a mostly professional clientele, spots fill up 4 – 6 months in advance, typically, often even more. These people should have been in a panic.

They weren’t. At all.

We interviewed, it seemed to go well, though, as I say, mom was reserved and hard to read, and it’s mom who matters. The vast majority of the time, she decides. When it’s a joint decision, she casts the deciding vote. I don’t know that, in 17 years, it’s even been the dad who made the decision. But even so, I thought it had gone well.

Days go by. I hear nothing. Given their deadline, this surprised me. When there are months to look, I might wait two weeks to hear back. With only six weeks till she’s back to work, I expected a quick turn-around. Maybe they’ve found other care? They must have found other care. (No, parents rarely call to let me know, so if I don’t hear, that’s my assumption.)

A week later, she emails. Can she have my references, and can she come and join me one morning, to see the other children?

Oh. Guess they are still interested. I reply to her email immediately with reference and a suggested time for a visit — in two days.

She comes. We spend the morning. She says some complimentary things about the children, their behaviour, my demeanor with them.

More days go by. I arrange an interview with family B. They want part-time care, though, and I’d prefer full-time. Family A needs full-time. Hoping to nudge mom A, I send her an email, letting her know I’m interviewing other families. (Yes, there was only one interview. I thought a plural might add a bit of urgency. Urgency which, I’m now realizing, she utterly lacks. Which is bizarre, people, bizarre. SHE NEEDS CARE IN FIVE WEEKS!!! She should be frantic.) She replies, saying she’s not surprised someone as warm and skilled as me has other opportunities.

Another week. Hm. Guess her “not surprised” email meant she’s moved on. She’s found something else, and she’s happy she hasn’t left me in the lurch. I didn’t nudge her as I’d hoped, I’d only eased her conscience. Well, poop.

But I do have another interview! And yes, they only want part-time, but I can get by with part-time. And their daughter is adorable, mom and dad are nice. We have a very lively, friendly, cheerful interview. Completely different style than family A. Family B was the one of the previous failed daycare, though, and they were a little gun-shy. Would their daughter adjust to daycare here? Even without the larger information I eventually received about the previous daycare, I was reasonably confident she’d be just fine, so I offered them two probationary weeks, at the end of which they could decide whether to sign on.

The next day — the next day! — they call back. They’d like to leave their daughter with me!! Our two probationary weeks will start the week after next.

I inform Family A that the space has been filled, probationarily. “Oh, that’s too bad. We were just thinking we were ready to begin to make our decision, and we really liked you. That’s what we get for waiting too long, I guess.”

Blink. Blink. Blink.

You were thinking of beginning to make a decision? Beginning? Thinking of? How many stages are there to this process?? How long were you thinking of taking … given that you have four weeks now before you have to be at work? I had a choice between a full-time child of ditherers, and a part-time child of decisive people. Well, maybe I did. Potentially, whenever they got around to making up their minds. Maybe.

Yes, I really needed to go with the client who could make a decision!

So, that’s that. But honestly, folk are strange!

November 28, 2013 - Posted by | daycare, parents | ,


  1. I have to wonder how they managed to decide to have a baby at all.

    Reading about that whole process made me itchy. I’d have been driven crazy by that.

    I had the same question. Of course, one doesn’t always decide to have a baby…

    Comment by Hannah | November 28, 2013 | Reply

    • Something fishy is going on there. Was she sabotaging herself because she doesn’t want to go back to work? Is she secretly hoping to run out of time so her mom will volunteer to take the baby? Very weird. Last week I was about to start a new baby’s integration with half days starting Friday. On Monday she emailed to say she decided to not go back to work full time and her mom would take her the 2 days she needed so I wasnt needed. I was delighted! The wishy washy flip flopping of days she needed and hours she needed was getting rediculous. 7-5:30!?! I could see she was likely a spoiled mom who got what she wanted and would be inconsiderate. I’m glad I don’t need to deal with her slow decisions and thinking about herself. You should be too. Less money but less headaches. If your lady really is that indecisive imagine how long it would take to choose sunscreen and a hat for summer or snow pants for winter…or when to potty train. You would be really frustrated. I sent a reply wishing her all the best and did a happy kitchen dance! Whoohoo!

      I had similar thoughts about it as well. That she didn’t really want to go back to work, and was (likely unconsciously) sabotaging herself. That anyone as waffling as that could well be a nuisance client. I was cheerful and professional in my response to her, of course — only idiots burn bridges when their business is so dependent on social goodwill — but I didn’t manage the happy dance, either. Maybe by next week! 🙂 I am fortunate that, unlike a few years ago, this doesn’t mean I’ll have trouble putting food on the table.

      Comment by K from London ON | November 28, 2013 | Reply

  2. I wonder if mom wants to go back to work at all?

    I agree. It looks like that, doesn’t it? Sure makes you wonder, anyway.

    Comment by Kate | November 28, 2013 | Reply

  3. I had a potential nanny family like that. They literally took an entire two months to make their decision about who would be their nanny. (Not me, since I didn’t have the bilingualism they wanted.) It was irritating as heck – they made it two weeks before the mother was to go back to work. Some people are just really slow decision-makers, I guess. Glad you got your new child lined up (and also glad you’re posting again!).

    Fingers crossed!

    Thank you. It’s nice to be back!

    Comment by Elizabeth Hawksworth | November 28, 2013 | Reply

  4. I wonder if these parents are even AWARE how competitive the daycare situation is in your city (daycare isn’t quite so difficult to arrange in other communities). If it’s their first child, or they’re not from the area (or haven’t socialized enough with peers enough to know how it works), they may not realize how dire their circumstances actually are. Plus I sense that you are not conveying that to them (and it isn’t necessarily your job; I’m not a fan of the “hard sell”).

    I see your incredulity, but sense cluelessness on their parts. Not your problem of course; some must learn from the “school of hard knocks.”

    I agree, on every count. Yes, I’m a very soft sell person. I figure if they like me well enough, they’ll sign on. If they’ve made the decision with no pressure from me, they’ll likely be happier with it, long-term. However, I did make the point in my follow-up emails that they were putting themselves at risk of no care at all. It is possible I made it too gently…

    And, yes, it’s cluelessness. They don’t know. I never thought they were playing any kind of game with me. Cluelessness, or, as I speculated with other commenters, a subconscious desire to not return to work. Possibly all of the above!!

    Comment by MargieK | December 2, 2013 | Reply

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