Once upon a time in Toronto, I was babysitting two boys, 7 years old & 5 years old. They were such cute, darlings, but the first few days were such a challenge as they were probably testing my boundaries.
I wasn’t a mom at the time, and even though I have a bunch of nieces and nephews, I still didn’t know a lot about dealing with kids.
The boys’ mom would get in from work and ask me how the day was. My answers those first few days always went thus: “Oh the day went well, but…(insert some naughty thing the boys did)” One day, their mom got back really exhausted, poured herself a glass of wine and asked the same question, “How did the day go?” I went about answering the exact same way I always did when she interjected, “Do the boys never do anything good?” I stopped in my tracks and immediately realized how critical I must come across. I sat down and whispered, “I’m really sorry.” I picked up my purse and left and I made up my mind to be better.
That change of attitude made the rest of the summer go really well with the boys. They brought out the kid in me and I happily taught them to read, math, puzzles etc. They also kept me in shape running, playing soccer, field hockey and enjoying long walks. When I had to leave, it was an emotional goodbye. They will always have a special place in my heart.
Fast forward a couple of years. I had my son and was getting ready to go back to work. Got a nanny who was great until she wasn’t. It was a combination of little things. My son had gone 10 months with no diaper rash until she started watching him. Week after week, there was redness on his bum. I increased diaper supply, I created a diaper change schedule… everything! Still no improvement.
Then the criticism started…
“You should get LX to see a neurologist. My uncle told me kids who walked too early could have developmental problems”
“LX is so whiny and never wants to play with other kids at Strong Start. He clings to me the whole time. He should see a behavioural specialist”
“I think LX has issues with social gatherings. He simply can’t play with kids”
“He scratched this kid… and hit this kid…”
She didn’t end there. She judged me subtly and not so subtly for working.
“I would never leave my child until she is at least 3…”
“I don’t know how you can go to work everyday and not miss your son. I couldn’t do it… My child is my first priority”.
I was so hurt and angry. How dare she judge me for working and say all these crazy things about my son? Anyone who knows my little boy will attest to the fact that he loves people, laughs like a hyena and loves loves loves to play. We get reports from daycare on how compassionate he is with the other kids. I was hurt but most of all, I was angry.
I don’t think I have ever been that mad at anyone. I had to rein it in, as I was still searching for alternative child care. In other areas of my life, I take criticism well and always step back and honestly search myself.
One day, without prior notice, I marched into her flat, cut her a check, called a cab and took every one of my son’s belongings. That was the end of it. I couldn’t have someone who saw my son in such a negative light be responsible for him 9 hours a day.
As moms, we are fiercely protective and will tear down anyone who even comes close to attacking our cubs. I think that defensive rage is a super power only moms have. The calmest of us will tear you to shreds if you try to bring down our kids.
Next time you have the opportunity to watch a child, realize how much faith the parents must have in you. Respect that. When offering criticism, choose your words carefully, make sure your motive is simply the child’s best interest and for Christ’s sake, put yourself in the mother’s shoes.
Kem Gaul is mom to an awesome little (almost) 3 year old boy, wife to a crazy artist, unrepentant feminist, dedicated Solitaire player, avid TV watcher, political enthusiast, medical marijuana advocate, crime & mystery buff… And a passionate lover of books, food and sleep. She lives in Vancouver and has a budding career in Commercial Real Estate Management.
This post originated from www.akwukwo.com blog. The folks @akwukwo have a mission to igborize the next generation with fun educative Igbo (a Nigerian language) children’s books and learn Igbo YouTube videos. They do feel strongly about all children related topics!