It takes a while to build a tight trust between parents and a Family Day Care provider. Because of that, I value my longtime parents, as much as, they value me. When the cost of living rises, often my rates stay the same because keeping these parents means more to me than a steady income. (My husband doesn’t mind eating spaghetti twice a week anyway.)
At pick-up time, the kids are usually asked about their day by their parents. It’s truly refreshing that young kids are the only people capable of pure honesty. But, couple that, with faulty reasoning and small vocabularies, and the results can turn a caregiver into a criminal.
Below are some ordinary day care events followed by the kid translated versions :
Two siblings come into day care. One is going off to school soon and the “baby brother” goes into the playpen so he can be safe while I greet the bus with the “big” kids. Later on, the bus returns and the big kids race into the house from school. Little brother is just awakening in the playpen from his nap. They have a snack and play until Mommy arrives. Mommy asks, “How was your day Honey?
Older child says,”Great Mommy! But I’m worried about my baby brother who was in the playpen ALL day.
Once in a while, day care food demands exceed their supply. Milk is the hardest commodity to keep on hand. One day, I saw it was necessary to tell the kids to drink water when they were thirsty. Actually, I tell them this for their own good too. We have milk just for meals and sometimes for snacks like cereal. On this day, a child was told to drink water with his extra piece of toast.
Susan says, that we can’t have milk anymore… just bread and water.
In the summer, I started having a naked from “the waist up” painting time for 4-year-old’s and under. The clean-up is easier and they think it is fun. I tell them that they don’t have to worry about getting too messy this way because I can wash their bodies afterward.
Susan says, we have to get naked to paint because she likes to wash our dirty little bodies.
A 3-year-old , was sitting right by the back door on my newly waxed floor. As I am walking to the sink with a messy baby in my arms, I see a parent arrive and realize the toddler will get hit with the opening door. With no time to waste, I use the instep of my foot to slide the child a safe distance away. The child starts to cry, in protest to this rude interruption of his play, just as the parent enters. Simultaneously, a child asks…
“Why were you kicking my brother, Susan?”
And the scariest one happened shortly after the Day Care Witch Hunts of the early 1990’s. My husband had kept his distance from the kids during this time, but as the worry began to subside, he returned to interacting on a small level. One day, he walked past one of my 4-year-old girls and patted her playfully on the head. The kids had missed his attention.
She giggled and said, “I like it when Ed touches me.” (My husband almost fainted and walked out the door.)
I believe in the saying that “there’s a thin line between comedy and tragedy” and because of this, I absolutely treasure my trusting, longtime parents. The taking of the “words of kids”, too seriously, can create another thin line (especially with nervous, new parents)… the one between freedom and jail!