Friday, April 22, 2005

It's Your Child, It's My Life

It's my home, but it's my place of business. It's a business, but it's a very personal business. They are my clients, but they feel personally towards me. They are not my friends, but I'm involved in an intimate endeavour - raising their child - with them. There's always that push-pull, that sometimes too nebulous boundary between the professional and the personal in this business. I've had parents try to tell me what I may and may not feed the children (not just their own child), whether I may let them watch television, or take the bus, or go out in public. I've had parents who wanted me to drive their children places, and parents who didn't. Over the years, I've become better and better at keeping the delineation clear, but sometimes it still blurs. A couple of months ago, I pointed out a mark on a child's shirt, confessing that the child had managed to spill my tonic water down his shirt, and that it had managed to turn his blue shirt pink. Nothing exceptional in this, except that the next day, dad felt it appropriate to make sure that there had been nothing in my tonic water but tonic water. Which there hadn't been. I often drink the stuff from the can with a straw, and it had been a can the the child had upended. But still. What if there had been? What if, during naptime, while reading a book, I'd decided to slip some gin into that tonic. Do they never have a glass of wine with their dinner? Do they routinely hire a babysitter to care for their child when they decide to have a cold beer on a hot Saturday afternoon? As it happens, I don't drink at work. But lots of people do have a drink with their lunch during their work day, after all. A single drink is not the sign of a sot. I wasn't offended at the time, I didn't resent the question, and I haven't had to alter my normal behaviour in any way, but it's stuck with me as a sign of the difficulty of keeping the boundary clean. It just ain't so obvious.

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