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Squeaky Clean
Karen Dennis

Squeaky Clean

Lifestyle

Voters Rating 5 / 1000

5

Synopsis

This is the first in a selection of short pieces focused on some of the children I had the pleasure of looking after while I was a child minder.

Michelle was afraid of getting dirty, a trait she had picked up from her mother.

This is how together we dealt with it

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Extract

SQUEAKY CLEAN by Karen Dennis 


Several years ago I was a busy registered childminder. I once looked after a two year-old girl named Michelle. She was a pretty little thing, with bright blue eyes and silky blonde hair. 


I first met Michelle when she accompanied her mother on a visit to my house. The mother asked if  I would take care of Michelle while her parents were at work.


During that initial interview, Michelle sat quietly playing with some dolls, while I spoke to her mother. I explained how I ran my business: that is, my fees, what we did on a typical day (not that any two days were ever the same!), the days and times that Michelle would be coming to my setting, and so on.


We also discussed things like behavior management, meal times, allergies and time off due to sickness and holidays. Michelle's mum said immediately that she wanted a full-time place for her daughter to start in two weeks’ time. I took a small deposit, which she willingly paid, and we both signed the contract and had a copy each to keep. I had also shown this parent all of my policies and explained about my accident/incident book, where any accidents, like bumped heads or grazed knees, were recorded and signed by both myself and the child's parent. I would also record any existing injuries a child may have, as a way of protecting myself. As I worked alone, I was open to allegations.  


The next time I saw Michelle was two weeks later. On her first day with me, her mum dropped her off with a bag containing a spare outfit of clothes, in case of accidents, and a packed lunch. Michelle happily kissed her mummy goodbye and went into my playroom, to join two children who were already playing. 


I soon discovered that Michelle had a love of books, as she chose two and asked me to read to her. The books she wanted were about a brother and sister, Alfie and Annie Rose, by Shirley Hughes, who along with Julia Donaldson is my favorite children's author.


We sat together on my sofa and while I read her the stories, the little girl cuddled up to me, feeling relaxed and at home. As it was a warm pleasant day we went to the local park after eating lunch. Michelle sat on the grass next to a climbing frame surrounded with wood chippings, providing a safe landing for any child who fell. Michelle squealed with delight as she grabbed a handful of chippings and threw them into the air, she giggled infectiously as they landed in her hair. I cleaned her hands with a baby wipe and we sat together to enjoy an ice cream. 


The following week I took the children to a toddler group. Michelle asked if she could do some painting, so after putting an apron on her, I gave her some paper and an assortment of paints. She took the black paintbrush and painted her hand and arm up to her elbow. She seemed to be really enjoying herself, and said to me: 


“Look at my very black, messy hand." 

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