Ben Black, Director

Losing a Nanny and Some Candid Parenting Truths

Ben Black, Director

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The benefits of being in childcare

There are a few advantages to owning a childcare business. One of them is having great childcare. Our nanny has been with us for the last 6 years - she is amazing. Patient, funny, conscientious, a brilliant navigator of emotional domestic tension, and just as comfortable doing the French homework as the English.

When's she not nannying, she works in the office as a similarly patient and conscientious moderator of Good Care Guide. But all good things must come to an end. The kids are about to start at the Lycee which means they can walk to school, so she's heading off at the end of the summer to spread her wings.

The exit interview

Like all good bosses, I decided to do an exit interview. I was quite excited about it. I mean, she sees me in the office and at home, so she knows me about as well as anyone. She's only going to say nice stuff about my unparalleled parenting skills, right? Umm, not quite as it transpired.

What I thought she would say

"You have so much energy and love. The kids adore you. You're like the perfect older brother. Oh Ben - you're doing an unbelievable job. You must be in the top 1% of all fathers out there."

What she actually said

"So Ben, thanks for giving me this opportunity. A few things:

  • Firstly, being good at brushing your teeth and playing a lot does not necessarily make you a good father. I know your kids are great at catching, but I'm not sure that's the fundamental life skill you think it is.
  • Cleanliness isn't next to godliness, but it's a nice to have. Showers are good. You running around half the time in sweaty sport clothes which, quite frankly, smell, is not a good example.
  • Homework. Their mother is committed to homework being done well. Your 1960's hippie approach to it is unhelpful and wrong. Wrong on every level.
  • If they have nice clothes, why not use them?
  • A few more rules and boundaries, and a bit less time dancing and bonding over slightly puerile games, would be progress.
  • Equally, fruit and vegetables are, on the whole, positives. I know you make a mean sandwich, but re-heating an M&S frozen meal does not count as cooking.
  • Knives and forks; soap; seat belts; shoes - all invented for a reason. Less is not more.
  • And as a final general rule, "pleases and thank yous" are good. Swearing is neither big nor clever."

Room for improvement?

So, that didn't quite go according to plan. Happily, I have plenty of room for progress. My poor kids will not know what's hit them!

Ben Black

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