Nothing was more surreal than my year as a daycare worker in a popular private preschool in the suburbs of Austin. I went into the experience expecting to be awesome at it since I already had a child that I had successfully not killed for almost four whole years-parents would observe this with delight and thank me for keeping their kids alive, too. I did a lot of things in that year, but basking in the thanks of grateful parents was probably the only thing I didn’t do. In fact, I spent a lot of time lying to them instead.
I know that sounds bad, but pretty much all daycare teachers lie. If you have a kid in daycare, there are lots of things that you don’t want to know. It’s a little like seeing how the sausage is made. I would never lie to you about something that involved your kid on a really serious level. Instead, there were a lot of things that I either lied about to spare your feelings, your child’s feelings, or because there is no reason for you to know other than the fact that it would make you feel bad/think of slapping me. Similarly, I rarely fibbed outright. It was more of a wordsmithing exercise.
A lot of childcare workers lie, and not necessarily for the reasons you think. Here are some of the biggest lies your kid’s daycare teacher or nanny might tell you:
What we say: Your son is very spirited!
What we mean: Your child makes me dread waking up in the morning.
There’s always one. Sometimes there’s more than one. But if you ask, “how was he today?”, as long as he didn’t hurt himself or someone else, or do something completely inappropriate, we’re going to use words like “spirited” and “energetic”. Most parents wouldn’t believe that their child is that kid anyway.
What we say: Wow, you mean she wasn’t running a fever this morning?
What we mean: I know you lied about medicating your kid with Tylenol. In this moment, I hate you more than I ever thought it was possible to hate another human being.
Having a busy schedule, a demanding boss, and a sick kid is the WORST. I understand. Sometimes you might try and sneak a Benadryled child in through the front door. You’re not slick, and at that point, you’re messing with my job as well, because the weird thing about strep/flu/noro is that it’s contagious. Most daycare workers don’t get sick pay, PTO, or even health insurance if the operation is small enough. At our daycare, a mother sent a child in knowing he had Fifth disease and didn’t tell his pregnant teacher. If your kid comes in with the sticky dribbles of grape-flavored Motrin around her mouth, I will know you for the lying liar you are and hate you appropriately.
What we say: I do this job because I’ve always wanted to work with children.
What we mean: I do this job because I have to pay off the loans I took to get my Master’s in education that I can’t use because the schools here have a hiring freeze. This is literally the best I could do.
A lot of daycare workers and nannies are incredibly overqualified for the job. Sure, they want to work with kids, but that doesn’t mean the under five set. They might have wanted to teach AP Chemistry or Special Education or pursue board certification. They never expected the field to be lucrative, but getting paid eight dollars an hour just to have you come in and scream at them for forgetting to use that wipe warmer you sent is a cruel joke.
What we say: Crocs are fine.
What we mean: There is never an instance in which Crocs are fine.
I tried telling a mom once, as tactfully as possible, that sneakers might be better than crocs for her high-spirited child, because the kid liked to tear them off and whip them at other kids’ faces. I assume that this was out of frustration because they wouldn’t stay on his feet. This was a terrible idea, because apparently she had spent a lot of money on those stupid Croc “charms” and couldn’t I just keep a better eye on him? I ended up getting written up when she told on me to the director.
What we say: The director and the teachers are all a team. We’re like a big happy family.
What we mean: HAHAHAHAHA
In an ideal world, the director and teachers are a team. In the real world, the director keeps the money flowing and you’re expected to shaddup and do your jobs with a smile on your face, no matter what. I know a director who “solved” the pervasive strep outbreak at her daycare by instructing the teachers to change diapers backwards. As in, face the child away from you while you change them so they don’t breathe in your face or vice versa. No word on how this was supposed to work with infants.
What we say: Oh yeah, it’s totally fine that you forgot to get wipes. Next time, right?
What we mean: I’ve spent more money on wipes for your kids this year than mine.
Bring a million wipes. Because I know you’ll scream at me for using the generic sandpaper crap the daycare provides, I’ve been going to the store on my lunch break to spend my lunch money on “your” brand. It’s getting expensive.
What we say: Enjoy this art project she made for you.
What we mean: Enjoy this art project I made for you.
When you’re paying thousands a month, you want to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth, even though there is no way a three-year-old wants to sit at art station for even fifteen minutes when there’s a sand table right over there. So here, I glued these leaves to this paper. Put it on the fridge.
What we say: No, I didn’t mind staying late.
What we mean: Please walk away from me right now please.
Oh, this parent. One day they’re five minutes late, the next they’re 15. They are always really sorry when they show up after everyone else has gone home, and have a really great excuse, and need you to know how sorry they are even though it takes you twenty minutes to get home and your own child’s bedtime is in a half an hour. If you were to suggest that this isn’t okay, you risk wrath and tears. Not worth it.
What we say: Nope, he didn’t roll over/take a step/ achieve milestone today.
What we mean: He totally did.
This one isn’t for us. It’s for you. Even parents who say they want to know if their little one said their first word or took their first step at daycare look completely crestfallen when you tell them they did. They’ll do it again soon, so what’s the harm in letting you be the “first” one to see it?
What we say: Aww, I love your little one.
What we mean: Alright, FINE. I might love your little one.
The little booger grew on me.