I IMAGINED WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO BE A CHILDMINDER.
Yesterday I went to check out exactly how long and painful the route to a childminding business might be. Having been through the adoption process I’d an idea that I might find the introductory session a bit patronising and irritating but it turned out to be quite soothing,
We spent the morning reading out parts of a poster while a nice lady spoke to us in a cheerful baby voice in the manner of a childminder talking to some preschoolers: ‘So how does a baby learn language? Yes! Good! We speak to him! Good work! Yes… and we can sing…excellent! Now, how does a baby learn to walk?’
There was plenty of time for my mind to wander so I started to actually imagine life as a childminder. Hmmm, cunning course - designed to be so boring as to let the mind actually wander into the subject. The more I thought about it the more I decided that maybe I’d like childminding. I rather like the idea of getting a lot of children to mind me.
For a start when you’ve got a load of children as chaperones you can’t get involved with any silly adult pastimes like spending money on clothes, or indulging in unsuitable relationships, or working in advertising. You just stay in all day and play- while the children mind the house, I suppose.
Apparently nowadays childminders are only allowed six children under eight, which is a bit measly as Snow White got seven dwarves to whistle while they worked for her. Which one shall I drop? Dopey, I suppose, as the others will do better in work appraisals. Anyway, I’m thinking of taking a Sleeping Beauty type role so Dopey will be redundant.
My childminding business has a similar concept to Damian Hirst's studio or Andy Warhol's factory: all the ideas and copyright mine, all creation done by my studio workers. I'm thinking of a range of Hirst like splatter stuff. Finger painting is another technique I might be able to develop commercially into ranges of wallpaper and fabrics. If Kath Kidson can do it with spots, and a few patterns stolen from her granny, how hard can it be?
I was just getting into the whole marketing of the thing when they turfed us all out. So I went and picked X up from her childminder. The minder was looking a bit tired. For some crazy reason she gets up at five thirty in the morning to prep the days meals. I told her where I’d been and she gave me a look. I can’t describe it exactly. Laughter? Fear? Then her husband came in and she told him and another look went between them. Hmmm: she probably feels a bit superior because she has to cut X’s fingernails as I’m too scared, oh- and she potty trained her, oh- and taught her to eat at table, oh - and helped when I got sick from anxiety at work, oh - and called my parents when I fell apart after being made redundant, oh - and basically has been a walking childcare manual.
After a good natter where she reassured me about my parenting abilities, gave me a few sensible pointers to the job, and at the same time brushed X's hair, put on her shoes and put another little one on a potty, I finally took X and myself off.
It was the bus on way home that finally saw the flaw in the minding game: it’s not minding the children that’s the difficult bit, it’s minding the parents.
Maybe teaching is more of a doddle, they never seem to care much about the parents, especially if it's a fee paying school.