My hairdresser Sara has a four year old boy named Marshall. I've never met him but I know a lot about him. I love hearing stories about children through their parents' perspectives. They're usually funny tales laced with a bit of frustration.
But at my last appointment, the frustration was aimed somewhere else. Marshall goes to daycare one day a week, and spends the rest of the time his parents are working with his grandparents.
The daycare hasn't been too happy with Marshall lately and have made this very clear to Sara and her husband. Apparently Marshall likes to pretend he's a character from one of his Wii games named Timbok.
One morning after he was dropped off, when one of the educators said good morning, he replied:
"I'm not Marshall, I'm Timbok!"
The educator shook her head and said:
"No, while you're here, you are Marshall."
This upset Marshall and he argued it a bit. When he saw that she wasn't going to call him Timbok, he put his hand down his pants and comforted himself by holding his penis. The educator without hesitation got down to face level with the four year old and calmly but firmly said:
"We don't do that here Marshall, please take your hands out of your pants."
"Why?" he asked.
"We just don't."
Sara heard this story secondhand from her husband. He was the one whose turn it was to pick Marshall up from daycare. All this was reported to him by the educator without apology or even much affect. She wrapped up her account by asking him this question:
"Is there anything going on at home that we should know about?"
Sara's husband Jay being a man of very few words mumbled something like:
"Not that I can think of."
He then grabbed Marshall and his coat and drove home.
This daycare is a government funded operation - not a home daycare centre. I won't tell you the name of it but it's not much different than the question Marshall asked when he was told not to grab his penis.