Posted by: Hannah | 10/10/2012

fill my praise tank

Meaningful thank-yous in the dayhome gig are sometimes few and far between.

I hear variations on “thank you for opening your home and being available to watch my child while I’m at work, that is a life-saver” on a fairly regular basis. Which is nice, but sort of funny. I mean, I am doing this in exchange for money – no one thanks Starbucks for being open when they want a coffee. If you stop paying me, I stop answering the door.

I like the thank-yous that come because of something specific I’ve done. I like to know that I’m having some kind of a positive impact on the children’s lives. I like to hear that my usually-patient work on manners, sharing, and skill development is noticed and appreciated.

I am an organizational and childcare machine, and my tank needs to be filled with praise. Endless amounts of the stuff for preference, but sincere amounts once in a while work well too.

Recently I’ve had some lovely compliments from my clients, and so yes, this is a humble brag. It’s also so that I have a record of it on the days when I feel like an abject failure.

Louis’ grandmother picked him up yesterday – she’s a delightful woman. She’s from Scotland, and her lilting accent instantly calms even the noisiest, most boisterous child (Harry, I’m looking at you). She asked about all the kids in my care and sympathized with how much work it is – instant way to the heart of any daycare provider.

And then she said “you deserve a thank-you for how much work you’ve done with Louis’ speech. Since he’s been coming here, he’s started talking much more, and much more clearly, too. We were all talking about it just this weekend.”

*preen preen*

She’s right – I have spent a lot of time with Louis, working on his speech. When he first started coming to me at 26 months, his vocabulary was limited to one-word sentences – “car!” “no!” “milk!” “book!” He also had a dreadful habit of looking at his feet and mumbling, so I didn’t even have those cues to try and decipher his occasional stabs at more complex concepts.

He has two older siblings, both very talkative, who were filling in lot of blanks for him. It meant he never had to bother learning proper speech until he came here and suddenly no one was picking up his slack.

I stressed manners, and using complete sentences to ask for things. We talk a lot about how conversations work. I encourage him to speak directly to the other kids, rather than using me as an intermediary. To combat the mumbling – which is a personal pet peeve, it’s just so goddamn rude and also impossible to hear or understand in a noisy playroom – we invented a fictional character called “Mumbly Joe”, who shows up for visits and pretends to be Louis. When the mumbling starts, someone will yell “here comes Mumbly Joe! He’s back!” and we’ll all start yelling for Louis. He invariably laughs like a loon and then starts speaking clearly again.

Then there’s Pixie. Obviously I’ve done a lot with Pixie recently; the potty-training was a smashing success (she’s dry for naps now, too, and even sometimes at night), so as far as her parents are concerned I can do no wrong. She’s been coming here for about a year now – we started off at two afternoons a week, then three, then four full days, now full time – and one thing she’s been hearing over and over and OVER is that manners are important. And it stuck. She has great manners. She says please, thank you, and you’re welcome. She shares toys. Sometimes she forgets, and lately she’s been testing to see if she can still get things without asking nicely (news flash: NO), but overall she’s more polite than some older kids I know.

Her dad mentioned it one day last week, saying “her manners are really nice at home, and I’m sure it’s all due to you. So thank you.”

*preen preen*

Here’s a secret, though. I do all this about manners, politeness, dressing oneself to go outdoors, hanging up coats, putting away toys, shoes, lunchbags, puzzles, dirty dishes after meals – I do all of this because I see it as a big part of my job, but also because…


Three two year olds, one 9 month old, an 11 month old starting in two weeks. A 7 year old, a 5 year old, a 4.5 year old. All needing to get to the bus stop on time every morning or to preschool. Needing two snacks a day and lunch. Needing diapers changed or potty visits supervised. It is so much easier to have everyone doing for themselves what they are developmentally able to do. Or to speak clearly so I can understand them when they ask for something, or have a story to tell, or a question they need answered.

So I would be working with them to help them be better, more independent little people even if their parents never noticed or cared *coughLunacough*.

Still, it’s good to hear it once in a while.



  1. lol. It’s something a lot of us don’t learn because we’re only dealing with one at first…then others come and sweet jebbus manners and all that other stuff are needed. But then, we’re usually lost at how to do it so we rely on lovely people like you. 🙂

    I’d tell them it’s because you love them so, and are hoping for REALLY NICE WINE for Xmas. :p

  2. It makes it easier for you, sure, but it still is a lot of work and impacts the children’s lives positively, not to mention the lives of their parents. So good job, you! 🙂

  3. You do deserve thanks, because this is one of those rare jobs where value of service delivered is above and beyond cost. Care for my child is THE most important service I could ever give money for. Nothing is more important. And yet, in order to make it even a viable option, it has to cost me half of what I make. So I am aware of the fact that I am off at my job earning 18 bucks and hour and paying far less than that to the person to whom I have entrusted my child. I thank my daycare lady a lot. A lot.

    Although really, it’s a funny kind of employment arrangement because my daycare lady is loaded. Her children have their own iPad because she was tired of sharing hers with them.

    • *I* don’t even have an iPod. And my laptop screen is covered in toddler-sized fingerprints.

      • Makes you even more deserving of appreciation

  4. Thanks ARE hard to come by in this business. I’ve started counting the hugs, giggles, and general joy from the kids:) One amazing mom occasionally surprised me with expensive coffee drinks (my crutch) – SOO NICE!! Granted I often was sipping it cold late in the morning but it’s the thought that counts, huh? – Lindsey @ If I had a million hours…

  5. The most meaningful gift I was ever given was in fact a cheque, but what mattered was NOT the dollar figure, but the note that accompanied it (which I’ve LOST! Damn.) Words to this effect: “I received my annual bonus last week. If I’d been worrying about my daughter, I couldn’t have earned it, but knowing that she’s thriving in a loving environment frees me to do my job well. So, this is your share.”


    Best. Gift. EVER.

    Though most parents are appreciative in general terms, only a few go the second mile to show it tangibly, or even to express it in specific terms. It means a lot! I’m glad someone did that for you.

  6. […] IT’S EASIER OH MY GOD. […]

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