It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Back to Work… sigh

The kids are out of school here until Monday, but I’m back to work. Thankfully, I have only two children today: Arthur and Katie play quietly at my feet. (Arthur! Quietly! It’s a Christmas Miracle!) The house has been blissfully quiet the last day or two. Just Emma and me. Adam is still with his dad, Stephen is off with his kids to their grandparents. It’s been wonderful.

Well, as wonderful as it can be when you’re spending all night hacking because the moment you lie down your lungs decide they hate your throat and want to remove it from your body. When you’re upright, there are occasional sneak attacks, when the hacking jolts through you without warning. As wonderful as possible given that you’re producing snot at the rate of a gallon an hour, which is probably why your temperature hovers a couple of degrees above normal – all that manufacturing takes energy.

I am not well. I am tired. My fever is, thankfully, gone now, but I’m still snotting and hacking and feeling generally gross. I’d call in sick, but I’ve just been off for ten days. I don’t feel right about doing that, but my, how I wish I could! I know that I’ve worked when feeling about this draggy before, and it didn’t really bother me; the reason I’m bothered now is that I DIDN’T GET MY HOLIDAY! I was too busy hacking snotting sniffling headaching croaking sweating shivering wheezing…

I feel ripped off.

This week, feeling like crap and dreading this first day back at work, I made a few business calls, and received a second. The calls I made were to inform the parents of the state of my health and let them decide whether to send their children. This is an indirect way of asking for a sick day when I feel it’s just too much to ask for a sick day!

I started with baby Nigel’s family, figuring that they in particular might not want their 11-month-old exposed to my plague-ridden presence. Not entirely altruistic, but sincere.

“Oh,” says mom. “We thought you weren’t open until Wednesday.” At which point, one would expect her to say, “So, since we didn’t even know you were open, we won’t be sending either of the boys.” One might expect that. I know I did. How about you?

But does she?? NO! She says, “But since you’re open, we might send George.”

Argh. That’ll teach me to be semi-altruistic.

Last Tuesday, back when I was also sick but had no idea I would still be in another week, I received a call from Darcy’s dad. He wondered if he could send Darcy on Tuesday this week. This man is a teacher. He won’t be going back to work till Monday, six days from now!

Okay. I’ve been a stay-at-home parent — hell, I AM one — I know the joy of getting a day or two kid-free! I wouldn’t have begrudged him a couple of days, but AN ENTIRE WEEK??? He wants me to work this week, caring for his child, so that he has an entire week to play? Did I mention that I’m already feeling ripped off on this whole holiday thing?

I told him I wasn’t open till tomorrow. (Yes, I lied. So sue me.)

Yes, I know I’m open. Yes, I know this is my job, for which I get paid. However, I also have a paragraph in my Philosophy of Childcare, appended to my contract, a document which he has read and signed, which reads,

I am part of the team that works to see this child develop happily and fully. I view myself as an experienced, expert resource to the parents. However, I am not the child’s primary caregiver. Whenever possible, parent and child need time together to be building that all-important bond. Each parent is their child’s most important relationship.

This is not a ruse to weasel out of work. This is an attempt to help the families stay focussed on what they are, and what I am. Much as they may appreciate what I do for them, and of course I want them to feel this way!, I want them to understand that I am their back-up, not their replacement. I am not the child’s parent. Although I am quite willing to support a parent in a well-deserved break from their child, I am not a third parent. As a general rule, if there’s a parent available to care for the child, that is where the child should be.

Can I go back to bed now?

January 3, 2006 Posted by | daycare, parents, the dark side | 16 Comments