<ding-dong!> Bark, bark, bark, bark, bark!!! <sound of children thundering along the hallway to the front door> Oh, my interview must be here. Hmmm…she said she’d be here at 3 o’clock and it’s almost 4 now. Wonder if that’s a bad sign?
Potential New Client (PNC): Hi, I’m PNC and this is my daughter Baby Girl. She’s 9 months old.
Me: Hi PNC, I’m Mamadragon. Boy One, come back inside! It wasn’t your mom! Tonka, we’re not playing in the sandbox right now, come back in the house! Come in, PNC and Baby Girl. These are my own children Queen Bee and Tonka Tim, and my client Boy One. My other daughter Creative Cat is reading in her bedroom. Dog, shut up, whining isn’t going to get you out of that crate! Everyone back in the house, please, we’re not going outside right now.
PNC: So, you have an opening for a baby September 1st? Are you okay with cloth diapers? Are you on the bus routes? Oops, don’t pull on the baby’s shoes, little guy.
Me: Boy One, leave the baby alone. Tonka, don’t push your sister. Queen Bee, please don’t scream like that, you could break glass with that scream. Yes, I have an opening for September 1st and I can deal with cloth diapers. Boy One, we don’t throw toys! I’m sorry, what was the third question? Oh yes, we’re less than a block from several bus routes and close to the Transitway. <slightly frazzled note beginning to creep into voice> This is the kitchen where we eat lunch and snacks, and this is the back yard with lots of play equipment. No, Boy One, we’re not going outside now. We were outside all day and you kept trying to get inside. We’re staying inside now until your mommy comes. No, your mommy isn’t here right now. <louder, somewhat assertive voice> Why don’t we all go downstairs to see the playroom? Boy One and Tonka, get off the gate so I can open it and we can go downstairs…Boy One, OFF the gate! Tonka, we DON’T push on the stairs! <We finally succeed in opening the gate and the children stampede down the stairs, narrowly escaping loss of life or injury.>
PNC: Oh this is a lovely space…so this is all babyproofed?
Me: Oh yes, it’s very childproofed down here…the kids love this space, it’s all theirs…blah blah blah craft area, large-motor area, child-friendly….While I am speaking I repeatedly interrupt myself to direct children not to step on the baby, not to throw toys, not to scream, push, hit, bite….I attempt to appear poised and professional while frequently losing my train of thought and jumping up to physically re-direct Boy One and Tonka.
PNC: Oh, Baby Girl is choking on something! Oh, it’s a sticker! No, don’t give the baby any more stickers, Queen Bee! Oh, we don’t hit the baby, Boy One! Be careful not to step on the baby, Tonka! <PNC attempts to physcially shield Baby Girl from enthusiastic children who seem intent on either smothering her with love, or assaulting her>
The interview continues…it was only 24 hours ago, but my mind has mercifully forgotten most of the details now. I do remember the glazed look in her eye, which I realize now was due to her trying to continue the pretense of interviewing me as a potential day-care provider, while simultaneously frantically planning some kind of face-saving exit strategy and remaining vigilant to the constant threats on her own and her daughter’s safety. Finally about 40 minutes later the doorbell rang and the dog started frantically barking again, which precluded further conversation.
<at the door> Me: Oh, Boy One’s mother, hi! Um, I just noticed now that Boy One’s pants are soaked through, I hope it’s not pee….<trying desperately to remember the last time I changed Boy One’s diaper and realizing too late that he probably has soaked through his diaper> Um, yeah, he had a good day and he ate, um…..something….for lunch. Um, I think we had, um…..sandwiches? Yeah, I think it was sandwiches and he ate, um….a lot?…and some, um, fruit….and he had a nap and he played….and um, it was a pretty good day?…<not sounding confident at all because I honestly could remember practically nothing about our day at that point> So, um…good-bye! See you tomorrow, Boy One!
PNC: Well, I guess we should get going, but I’ll just change Baby Girl’s diaper first, if that’s okay….<changes diaper with an audience of two children who get in the way at every opportunity and ask nonstop inane questions>…So, I have your number and I can give you a call, but one thing that concerns me is that you’re, um…not on the bus route…so, um, maybe we’ll talk later? <clutches child in arms and flees for her life>
Anyone want to bet on whether I’ll ever see THAT family again?