No matter how great their setting is, they’re going to get on your nerves.

My daughters’ daycare was such a peaceful, cheerful and loving place that if not for the fact that I had work deadlines that made it necessary for my kids to be there in the first place, sometimes I wasn’t in a hurry to leave. Not that it mattered what I thought because once Miss Donna and Miss Cathy were in view, I ceased to exist to my daughters. There was comfort in knowing that; it meant I had chosen the right home away from home for them. But that didn’t mean there weren’t some things that irritated me, little habits my girls picked up or their insistence that my rules weren’t the same as Miss Donna’s rules, which they preferred to follow. Below are some situations that impacted my household and others from readers.

1. They tawk the tawk. Long before I became a mother I worked hard to eliminate any regional accent, though I grew up in Queens, NY, and then moved to Long Island—two places that are the butt of many an urban joke. My husband is from upstate New York. So neither one of us has ever said “dawg,” “tawk” or “chawcolate.” But our daughters’ teachers did—and so did they. The first few times my teeth gritted unprompted.

2. They pick up little phrases that you would never use. As one reader in the Boston area pointed out, her toddler daughter now says, “Oh my gawd.”

3. They use different words than you would for objects. One mom who’s firmly in the tushy camp wasn’t pleased when her daughter described her backside as a booty. A dad has had to start calling a pacifier a “bobo” because that’s what his kids’ caregivers say.

4. They request an alternative way of doing things. Many moms have shared the same experience of being faced with a pint-size critic who suddenly informs you that the way you tie their scarf, fold their naptime blanket or cut their hot dog is wrong, wrong, wrong. “Do it the way Miss Donna does” would be an amusing refrain if it didn’t always come at the exact moment I didn’t have time to correct the error of my ways. One mom said that since her son’s school doesn’t let the kids out when it’s raining, he won’t let her walk him home from daycare on rainy days, a tiresome detail when that’s the only way home that day. These problems really aren’t all that different than what they have to say when they come back from Grandma’s, so it’s just another case of: That’s good when you’re with Miss Cathy, but when you’re with me … The problem is that it’s usually so unexpected, it takes a moment to realize you’ve been served!

5. They discipline you when you don’t follow the rules. It’s hard not to be grateful that your child is learning guidelines that make him a pleasant human being. But when you’re corrected the way your child’s teacher corrects him, it can cut a little deep. One mom said that if her son doesn’t like something she’s done, like accidentally stepping on his shoe, he’ll firmly tell her, “Not nice, Mommy.” Some things are just hard to argue with, so it’s best to apologize and move on.

6. They don’t let us cut corners. Sometimes our packed schedules mean we have to skip certain things we shouldn’t, even though we know our children thrive best on routine and good habits. But if you take your son to a public potty when you’re already running late, and then he suddenly no longer needs to go, do you really have to give in when he INSISTS he has to wash his hands because that’s what they do at daycare? What can you say that doesn’t make you engage in a debate with a two-year-old supervisor, other than: You’re right, sweetie.

7. They treat you like a child. Another mom tells us that if she assists her daughter with a task, she very patronizingly tells her mom she’s being a “super helper.” Hey, at least they think they’re giving you a compliment.

8. They pick up beliefs that aren’t yours. We don’t say grace in our family. And while there’s nothing wrong with doing so, I was a little startled the first time my youngest insisted we all had to fold our hands and say, “We are thankful for the food we eat” one night at dinner. I just hadn’t expected it from her nonsectarian daycare. But I decided to embrace it because we should indeed be grateful. There are other things a child may learn that make you uncomfortable, and that’s when you need to decide if you need to have a conversation with the teachers, or settle for, “That’s what some people believe, and that’s okay. In this family, we believe …” Or both.

9. Their group-think lifestyle can make them a little intrusive. I get that in daycare potty time has to be a bit of a party time when more than one kid is in the bathroom at once. How else would you possibly handle the elimination logistics? But when your child asks you if your tushie is all clean after you leave the bathroom—as we heard from one reader—and makes you turn around to inspect, well, you already give up so much privacy being a mom. Your bathroom habits really shouldn’t have to be examined by a preschooler.

10. They develop unexplained fears. One mom told us that her son is afraid of ghosts because of a story he heard at daycare. My youngest was so terrified by a visit from Santa at her daycare that they called me to suggest I come there right away. Then there are the fears that children pass on to each other, like, “You have bedbugs.” Children’s imaginations already lead to many a bedtime terror. When it comes from something that happened at home, it’s a lot easier to get to the root of the problem and comfort them sooner than when you have to first call their daycare to find out if anything unusual happened that day—or week.

In balance though, I’d rather deal with the tiny irritations and inconveniences from a daycare my children thrive in. Any habit they came home with was born out of their security and trust in the people who were caring for them. And as it turned out, catching these unexpected curveballs is good practice for the even more irritating and inconvenient habits they toss at you from “out there,” the world of grade school and peers.

Written by Liza N. Burby for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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December 16, 2019 — Matcha

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