It’s Not All Mary Poppins

A first!

Last night, I hosted a Halloween party for my daycare families. This is not ground-breaking. I often do this.

I do not always do this. There have been years when, really? Really?

I just did not care to socialize with these people.

I work with them. I am polite and professional. I am even warm and supportive. But I don’t always like every single one them, and hosting parties, though a nice thing to do, is, I figure, above and beyond. Now, I can make nice and chitchat with most people. I don’t have to actively like someone to invite them to a party. Parties are good for the daycare, increase the sense of being a small community, increase the idea of daycare as resource and support. I like that. It makes my working environment nicer, makes the parents happier. So these gatherings are at least as much professional things as they are social, sometimes more so. I don’t have to be friends with the parents to host a party — and, I might add, to thoroughly enjoy it!

But… there has been the occasional parent down through the years that I actively disliked. Socializing on my off-hours with someone I dislike is not part of the job description.

There was a period of three years a while back when I did not host one single extra-curricular gathering. No Halloween party, no Christmas party, no Sangria Fridays. Nada. There was this one particular mom, see, who was just a total party-killer. It wasn’t that she sat in a corner and moped, or that she was shy or nervous or awkward.

No, this woman would OFFEND people. Left, right and centre, she just said the most outrageously rude and offensive things… and she had NO IDEA she was doing it. I would be surveying the party, doing the Good Hostess thing of monitoring the flow of food and drink, keeping an eye for stragglers, hearing the buzz of conversation as I moved around the room.

And suddenly the buzz would stop in one corner. Stop dead. And every time, it would be because Ms. Insensitive had lobbed another Rude-Bomb into the room.

“You work for the government? Must be nice to take all those days off on the taxpayer’s money.”

(The irony of this statement is increased about a thousandfold when you realize this woman was a teacher.)

“Oh, I won’t get my kids inoculated. All that stuff about kids needing flu shots? That’s just rich doctors making another money grab.”

(The offensiveness of this statement is increased another thousandfold when you realize that the woman she was talking to was a doctor — and she knew it.)

To me: “I wish I had your job. Getting to play all day and get paid for it? Sweet deal!

She also felt free to declaim on parenting strategies employed by the other parents, how she would never do X, or that they should always do Y. Sleep, feeding, discipline, tantrums… all the hot-button parental topics, she knew The Answer and didn’t hesitate to share it. At no time was she angry. She wasn’t trying to offend. She was just saying what she thought… with absolutely no thought of how it might sound to the person with whom she was speaking. None whatsoever.

It was awful. Totally killed the happy party buzz, every time. People would see her coming and veer away, but given the size of these gatherings, there was only so far you could run. Oh, and her voice? Very carrying.

No way to escape her at the parties, no way to not invite her, and, short of signing her up for Sensitivity Training, no way to get her to STOP lobbing these conversational bombs. So, no parties for three years. Sigh…

But now? Now I have a WONDERFUL group of parents. Not just people I can socialize with because it’s good for the group dynamic, but because I actively like each and every one of them. I could happily become friends with

(That’s not a first, either, though it is unusual. Generally there are a few I actively like and the rest I’m neutral about.)

Nope. The first came after dinner (a potluck), when one of the mothers (Rory’s lovely, lovely mother), raised her glass and proposed a toast.

To me!

Do you know… in 15 or 16 or whatever years of providing daycare…
after three or so parties a year for almost all of those years…
this is
the very first time
a parent has proposed a toast to me.

I was totally, totally touched.

What a great group!

I am so lucky.


October 29, 2010 Posted by | daycare, parents | , , , , | 8 Comments