What do toddler teachers really think?

by CJ

The relationship between us parents, and the people who take care of our children, is complicated.

For example, for five days out of every seven, I entrust Poppy — the person I love most in the world (ahem, aside from Walter) — to someone who is not me. As I drive away to my grown-up life, I expect paid professionals to socialize my child, to wrangle her tantrums, and to teach her the words to songs I long ago forgot.

I expect them to ensure she wears her hat on the playground, to evacuate her to safety if there’s a fire, and of course, to bathe her in all the love and kindness that my sweet little girl deserves.

Naturally, I also expect teachers to be amazed by Poppy’s brilliance.

Moreover, I hope that teachers have quietly attributed Poppy’s brilliance to my general excellence as a mother.

Go on. Admit that you hope this about your kid too.

(Please, admit it!)

In fact, as I watch Poppy and her friends dart around the playground, I imagine all the parental hopes, expectations and egos that accompany each child.

Grappling with the delicate politics of mom and dad must surely require diplomacy?

In a bid to learn more, I waylaid some toddler teachers and begged them to tell me what they would never say to a parent’s face. They humored me by dishing a few secrets, and I in turn have dished them here on Time.com:

By the way, I’m honored to have started writing a monthly column for the parenting pages of TIME.com. My first article, about the dilemma of salutations (should Poppy call you Ms. Poppins or should she cut straight to Mary?) is here.

The best part? I got to interview Peggy Post of the Emily Post Institute. The worst part? Adults I’ve known for years are now calling me Mrs. Jones, a greeting loaded with a little bemusement and a lot more mischief.

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