Born Bad

I’ve owned a daycare for almost three decades and in that time, I’ve been blessed to encounter some truly wonderful families. Babies often start with us when their moms return to work after their maternity leaves and usually stay until they start preschool or kindergarten. Spend five days a week for four or five years with a child and I can guarantee that you will be madly in love. Honestly, I’m usually head-over-heels by the end of day one.

Kids are amazing little people, each unique and beautiful in their own right. It’s funny, but often, personality traits are pretty well-seated in even very young children, with their innate tendencies simply growing and expanding through the years. My job is to help them to become who they are meant to be, and I fully realize just what a remarkable privilege that is.

I’ve seen some incredibly artistic children, able to create works that would impress museum curators, listened happily as exceptional two-year-olds carefully sounded out the words in simple books, and applauded loudly for impromptu kiddie-concerts and theatrical productions. I’ve witnessed acts of kindness by three-year-olds that made my heart swell, and cheered as kids who lagged behind the crowd made small but remarkable advancements. I (almost always) love my job and sometimes can’t believe that I get paid to spend my days with such magnificent little people.

But then there are the others.

Not the kids, because I’ve yet to meet one who wasn’t able to charm me, but the parents. Most have been wonderful. Truly wonderful. I keep in touch with many of the families long after their kids leave for school. Some of the moms started out as clients and ended up dear, lifelong friends. Most are kind, caring, responsible guardians for the little lives entrusted to their hands.

A few are idiots.

I’ve cried at work, mostly happy tears. But occasionally, the tears have been born of sadness, frustration, and even anger. I have to remind myself that as much as I love them, these are not my children, and short of actual abuse or neglect, the choices their parents make are not my business. That’s not always easy.

A few years back there was a step-dad who refused to put his four-year-old step-daughter’s picture in his wallet because she was not his ‘real’ child. He carried photos of her step-brother and her half-sister, but none of her. She cried about this. I did, too.

There was a small boy who stayed with my family for seventeen straight days while his parents and grandparents fought about where he should be. He spent countless weekends with us. He spent Christmas with us. He even spent Mother’s Day with us. He didn’t cry about these things, but I did.

There was the baby boy, who at less than seven months old, had somehow convinced his mother that he’d been born bad. He had an older brother—his mama’s darling—but little man, according to his mom, was destined for prison. Not that it would have excused her idiocy, but this little guy wasn’t even a difficult baby. He was adorable, cheerful, ate well, slept well, and rarely ever cried. “Born bad,” she said, handing him over as she turned to leave.

There were more, but luckily, they are a very small minority. Most of what I see confirms what I like to believe: that life is good and although we all have our own struggles and worries and limitations, one generation nurtures the next, providing love and encouragement, and planting seeds that when properly tended, will bloom into something truly magnificent.


  1. I can't imagine the Mother of the "Born bad" child. I'm afraid I would have said or done something that would have brought the police. Probably to take me away.

  2. The right person for the right job. I'm afraid, much like Gary, I'd have been tempted to step over the line many times resulting in my incarceration, no doubt.

  3. That breaks my heart. At least he had the love you gave him while he did.
    Born bad, my ass. I probably would have ended up in the same cell with Jo and Pops.
    It is sad that babies get labeled so very young by their parents.
    My heart aches for that poor boy.

  4. I would not be a very good daycare provider at all. I couldn't tolerate the way some parents treat their kids.

  5. @Gary: That one tested my limits, that's for sure. I tend to act like I assume they're joking when they say ridiculous things and then try to counter their words as much as I can with the kids.I had to directly ask that same mom to watch her language at the daycare because she couldn't seem to complete a sentence without using the f-word. Around her kids--her business. Around the rest--mine.

    @Jo: It has been a great job for me, but there are moments... ;O)

    @Chris: At least you'd be in good company in the hoosegow! ;O) I tend to have a soft for the underdog kids.

    @Heather: I'm pretty good at shutting my mouth, but I sometimes cannot believe the stuff that parents say/do. Thankfully, they really are the exception. Most are very dedicated to their kids.

  6. Unfortunately there are many idiots and cold hearted people in this world and also unfortunately they have the right to breed...of course if they didn't many of us wouldn't be here...I am glad you are a light in their will make a difference.

  7. Interesting and so true. In my days of managing a medical office (family physicians), saw many of the same things. Though I did more then once call the police due to abuse. Some parents are idiots. It always sadden me that those idiots seem to be fertile, while others who tried and tried couldn't produce a child and would have been such good kind caring parents.

    Born Bad, people used to use the term bad blood fairly commonly. And when there's a problem, a chemical inbalance...perhaps that rings true a bit. But, you don't dismiss them and do nothing. You get care and your guide and you teach.

    Nice post

  8. interesting..I ran a home daycare for several years too, and you are so right, there are some adults who just don't "get it" I've also fostered and had to 'return' kids to horrible situations, breaks my heart. The time spent lovin' them is worth it.

  9. I could never do what you do for a living...I have the utmost respect for teachers, day care providers, etc...anyone who has to deal with children (and their parents) on a daily basis. It must take a lot of patience...that I, unfortunately, do not possess :)

    The man who wouldn't put his step-daughter's picture in his wallet really made me mad!! My oldest son isn't mine biologically...but he's as much my 'real' child as the younger three are!! Biology doesn't determine family...what an ignorant ass!!!

  10. To hold a job one needs a professional degree, but any idiot can have the most important job in the world: parent. I have to wonder what was going on in this last mom's head. Calling an infant "born bad" amazes me; but yes, he will fulfill her prophecy and end up in prison because he is being RAISED to be bad. Too bad you couldn't have removed that child from that witch's home. And the dad who won't carry the photo? I bet you wanted to slap him, I do.

    I too have run across some lousy parents. Many of mine are overly pushy (I teach gifted). I remember one who used to fight with his fourth grader about how she needed to go to an ivy league college. The little girl wanted to go to the University of Memphis. He had a massive heart attack from stressing himself and everyone around him, died at forty, and she attended the college of her choice. Such a sad story.

  11. That's a shame. I was teaching at a preschool and some of these parents would drop their kids off first thing in the morning, and pick them up last thing in the evening. Then you find out some of these parents had the whole day off.

    When my son was younger, I always took the time to spend with him. If I had a day off, I would do something with him. I just felt that every moment I spent was precious with him. They grow up, become teenagers, and want nothing to do with you.

    It kind of makes me wonder how some parents have kids. I know how you felt about feeling sad cause I would feel that way too. Some of these kids broke my heart because of the situations they were in.

  12. You are definitely the right person for the job. These kids are blessed to have you. I understand completely how you feel, although the kids I work with daily are in high school. I will never be rich, but I cannot think of anything more rewarding.

    Isn't it sad that you have to have a learner's permit and test to drive a car, but anyone can have a child at any time and there are no classes, no tests, and usually nobody checking up on you?

  13. @Gail: I don't get the ones who genuinely don't seem to give a rat's ass about their kids. Luckily, they aren't the norm.

    @Sandy: I'll bet in a medical office, you saw all sorts of stuff that could make you cry/scream. In my experience, I've seen things that while 'neglectful' in my opinion, don't meet the legal definition.

    @Sylvie: I have an enormous respect for foster parents. My hubby and I talked about fostering, but I honestly don't think I'd handle the 'giving them back' part well, so we've never officially done it. We have, on a number of occasions, taken children under our wing when needed, but always as a friend-thing, rather than a true fostering experience.

    @Stephanie: That guy pissed me off to no end. Even after he knew that it hurt her, he still refused. Mean jackass. One freaking photo in his wallet was all she wanted and he just would not do it.

    Honestly, her mom was as bad, or worse than he was. She married that man knowing full well that he had no use for her daughter--who was TWO when they got married. Who marries someone who cannot/will not love your child?????

    @Joyce: Sadly, I think you are right about kids fulfilling their parents' expectations. I hope that little man always has someone in his corner to dilute the messages he gets at home. And yes, that jackass who wouldn't carry the photo really ticked me off. I tried talking to him and to the little girl's mom, but they both thought she was over-sensitive and would have a more realistic outlook as she got older. She's a teenager now...and I'll bet they were right about that. I'll bet she has a VERY realistic view of them by now.

    Pushy, competitive parents--yeah, they are just the flip side of the other ones. In both cases, they are more interested in what they want than what their kids need.

    @Diana: I get that, too--the parents who bring their kids when the doors open and pick them up at closing time, regardless of their work schedule. Very strange, to me. Sadly, that is actually a lot more common than it was when I first started. Back then, parents rarely brought their kids on their days off--maybe occasionally so that they could take care of their own doctor/dentist/haircut appointments, which they'd schedule one after the other so that they could do it all in one day and be with their kids as much as possible. Now, a lot more parents bring their kids on days when they aren't working, just so that they can have some time to themselves. Occasionally, I can see, but regularly? Not so much.

    @Sunshine: "Isn't it sad that you have to have a learner's permit and test to drive a car, but anyone can have a child at any time and there are no classes, no tests, and usually nobody checking up on you?"

    That's a tough one, because I really, really believe that short of abuse and/or neglect, parents should be able to raise their kids in any way they see fit. Maybe we should require in-depth training at the high school level (or even sooner, since so many high-school kids are becoming parents) to help people understand just how important it is to raise children in warm, nurturing environments.

  14. You commented on one of my posts that you wouldn't last till lunchtime in my job...well, I would be carted away just after breakfast in yours! I don't know how you do it. I love children. I have three grown kids and three GKs that I love more than life itself, and I love OPKs as small doses. I admire that you can deal with multiple children day in and day out and come out smiling! Kudos kid!

  15. @Cyndi: I (mostly) love the job. The 'mostly' part gets me through the rest. ;O)

  16. I couldn't do daycare myself, but I know from experience that how a parent raises a child can mold that child into whatever they've decided he/she will be (or into someone who knows how to pretend to be that). She should have been reported, if reporting was something that could be done at the time. I need to stop before I go any further.

  17. @SJerZGirl: I completely agree with you that parents can/do mold their children based on their attitudes toward and expectations of the children. That mom's behavior, while admittedly horrible, does not cross into the illegal category, so there was no reporting to be done. I talked to her about it in as friendly a fashion as I could muster, and can only hope that she realized how her outlook toward him could be damaging. I also hope that he gets plenty of positive messages from other people in his life to help minimize the effects of his mom's lack of enthusiasm toward him.


I'd love to hear what you think. Whether you're reading something that was written two minutes or two years ago, please chime in!