Every day I nurse wounds, I hug, I problem solve, I teach, I lead by example, I laugh, and I give my heart to the children in my care. I am fiercely protective of these children. I try, sometimes really hard, to find the good and beauty in each child. There are days I get frustrated. There are days I count down to the weekend or need to take a break, if even for five minutes. I worry… a lot. I will lay in bed at night thinking up ways to reach a difficult child. I will research ideas and methods of handling extremely tough to manage children, or to teach a new concept. What I do is not easy. What I do requires long hours, endless patience, clear decisions, and most-of-all heart.
I take my responsibility to the children I am entrusted with seriously. I consider it my mission to find the good in the children in my care and work with difficult personalities (which is not always easy). I give extra support to the children with special needs or with developmental delays. I give of myself every day, as do many teachers and caregivers, without asking for much except perhaps respect and an occasional acknowledgement in the form of a thank you.
Amazingly, the infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are not in short supply of love and acknowledgement. It’s why I am able to do what I do each day. I have yet to meet a child that doesn’t bond with me or who doesn’t hug or show affection to me in some way. They understand what I do for them. They feel safe and secure in my care. They know what many parents sometimes forget or perhaps ignore.
This is where I explain the part of my job that I really dislike. But, before I detail this part, I want to say that I am speaking generally here. These are my observations, as well as those of other child care providers and nannies that I talk with regularly. I have families who go to great lengths to make me feel appreciated. There are parents that treat me like family and ask my opinion about the care of their child and respect my thoughts. However, this is not always the case.
There are parents that treat our relationship solely as a business arrangement. Yes, I run a business. Yes, I take that part of my job seriously as well. I do expect to get paid on time. I have a contract that details my policies and my expectations from clients financially. I do require a four-week notice to terminate my contract and expect my vacations and sick days to be paid. But, considering the amount of emotion I put into each child, it is much harder for me to understand the parents that do not look beyond the contract to define their relationship.
I keep in touch with many past clients. I get Christmas cards and occasional e-mails. I am Facebook friends with many. I love watching the children I cared for as infants, toddlers, and preschoolers grow even if just in photos. But, there are others that wash their hands of me without a second thought. They move on without a proper goodbye or thank you. Once their contract is over they are done.
How can a parent look at the person that spends so much time with their child and not show respect. I do not want flowers and candy or expensive thank you gifts. What I want is to feel valued as a partner in the care of your child. Communicate your concerns. We will come up with a strategy. If you have a question about the progress of your child, ask my opinion. If I recommend that you evaluate your child for a speech delay or some other issue of concern, do not dismiss me. If I tell you that your child is feeling miserable and is displaying behavior that indicates an illness, trust what I am saying. If you are running late to pick-up, make a phone call to let me know out of respect for my time. If you stay home with your child for any reason, then please call or e-mail, not out of necessity, but because I will worry. If you are considering making a change for your child, know that I will support your decision as long as I am not blindsided. Pay me on-time and do not try to get out of paying for vacations and sick leave, as obligated.
When I talk to other daycare providers, this is a common frustration. We love your children and do so much for each child. We weather the good and bad days with your children. We get them through milestones and serve as support systems for new parents. Yet, we are not always treated well. I still do not know why this is the case, but I suspect it is a combination of not wanting to fully acknowledge our role or influence because it somehow reflects on your parenting or feeds into your guilt of being away from your child (which is simply crazy) and perhaps a slight feeling of superiority because the job is not glamorous by any means. Perhaps we are not “professional” enough to warrant the respect you might give to other people.
I write this post not to complain about a particular person, but to stand-up for all teachers and child care providers that put their hearts into the children they care for, but lack in the respect or appreciation they truly deserve. Parents should take a lesson on appreciation from their children. They know when they are cared for in a positive way and can demonstrate this openly and directly without pretense. Interestingly, I have never thought, “I can’t believe that child takes me for granted.” I wish I could say the same for their parents.
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