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


  1. My sympathies for the cold, but certainly not for being back at work after all, its where I am now :-

    Comment by Si | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  2. You poor thing. Get better and kick those parents in their heads. Then, go back to bed. Or, take a lavender bath to clear up your nose.

    Comment by Misfit Hausfrau | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  3. Poor you! I know how you feel, except I feel better today than I did all weekend. And, its perfectly okay that you fibbed to Darcy’s dad, especially because it’s not like he had to go to work and would need alternate care for his child today.

    Yes, Bethlehem is a school, our local private school where I worked at the daycare, volunteered in the school and B went to last year and will go again next year. For a while I felt as though I lived at Bethlehem.

    Chataqua (or however its spelled, I know I did it wrong) is when you pick a person (who is no longer alive) and you find out all that you can about them, and then you become that person and tell people about “your” life. Typing that out makes it sound a little creepy, but really it was a great experience. We did that project in our honours English class in 8th grade.

    Yeah, I’m about 4 months older than your daughter. I turned 20 at the beginning of August.

    Comment by Angela | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  4. I wonder about this myself. I don’t know how you conduct your business, but I pay for childcare holidays and each day the daycare is open.

    Is the father paying all this week before he goes back to work? I sent Lauren to our HDL when she was open two days last week even though I was off from work. Believe me, I got more housework and errands done that I have in a LONGGGGG time. I felt a little guilty, but I really needed those two days.

    Comment by ieatcrayonz | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  5. Glad to hear you’re doing better (though sorry to hear that you’ve been sick), and hope you complete your recovery soon.

    Happy New Year.

    Comment by aaron | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  6. Si: And if you’re miserably settled in at worked, why shouldn’t the rest of us be? Is that it? Misery loves company and all that? Some friend YOU are… Well, you’ve got it. Shove over so we can both sulk in comfort, will ya?

    Hausfrau: Lavender bath? That’s new to me. Well, I know lavender, of course, but that a bath would clear the nose? I’ll have to try it! Heehee… off to the Body Shoppe for me!

    Angela: Glad you’re feeling better! It’s also not like he’s not going to get three more days to himself, even still. Glad to hear you’re feeling better!

    Why “chataqua”? What does that word mean? What are its roots? Etymology! I LOVE etymology. Off I go to Google…

    Crayonz: Thanks for expressing a differing opinion, and so tactfully. So often you know people disagree with you only by the deafening silence. Besides, you’ve been around here long enough to have earned the right to disagree with me once in a while!

    Yes, he is paying for these days, so of course he’s entitled to send his child. As I said in the post at a couple of junctures, I don’t begrudge him a day or two: every parent needs a few of those now and then. I don’t think you need feel guilty for taking them last week. I bet you had a lot of catching-up to do after the holiday furor. It’s the whole week thing that got under my skin.

    Plus I’m sick and cranky!

    Aaron: Thanks. Hey! Your good wishes are paying off! I can breathe through BOTH nostrils! At once!!

    Oh, never mind. Back to one again…

    Comment by Mary P. | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  7. Oh, eegads, Mary. You sound awful. I can hear you hacking all the way down here. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t sleep so well last night.

    Feel better, sweetie. Perhaps it’s “movie day” for the kiddies??

    Comment by MIM | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  8. Ugh, I just got over whatever you have. On my second round of antiobiotics for the resulting sinus infection, actually – I feel your pain!! But I think you’re in a worse situation seeing as how you’re surrounded by toddlers, too. Yikes! Hang in there.

    Comment by Kristen | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  9. Hang in there, Mary! Had the same thing last week myself.

    On a completely different note, how is Lou Rawls feeling? ; )

    Comment by LoryKC | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  10. mim: Close. I let them watch Emma play “Sims2” for an hour while I lay on the couch and drank water. Shame on me… But it was very interactive! Lots of chatter. Seems Arthur LOVES to play with the mouse.

    Kristen: Sinus infections? They’re the worst! My partner is prone to them. He saw an Ear-Nose-Throat doctor last year, and was informed that sinus infections are very resistant to antibiotics, and generally need a 21 day course of antibiotics! The standard ten-day course will only make them subside, but not eliminate it, so with the next cold – Boom! – another infection.


    Lorykc: I got this from my son, and every other person I meet has had some variation. ‘Tis the season!

    Lou is gone, but Q was quite enjoying Marlene Deitrich’s visit to our bedroom!

    Comment by Mary P. | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  11. Going back to work after a holiday is so rough! And to be sick on top of it, you poor thing!

    You might want to consider doing what my son’s preschool does: charge extra for the winter break days. Just a thought – you deserve it! 😉

    Comment by Andie D. | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  12. I just realized my tone in my last comment sounded really preachy. Whoa, didn’t intend that at all. And I do agree with you, I just can’t get anything done with a one year old in the house! Aack! I long for the day when she will entertain herself for hours at a time and resist the urge to create more work for me by emptying out my bathroom drawers.

    But yes, I did ask my HDL if it was okay since I was home. And no, I wouldn’t have offloaded Lauren onto my HDL if she was sick and miserable. That ain’t right.

    Comment by ieatcrayonz | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  13. Andie: What I’d like to do is take the whole school break as my holiday, but I just don’t think I can reasonably do that. I already get as much holidays – paid or unpaid! – as any family can manage, I think.

    Charging extra for this week, though? That has an appeal, for sure. Hmmm… I’ll have to think that one over for next year, maybe.

    Crayonz: Preachy? No, you weren’t! Not at all! What you said was entirely reasonable. I hope it wasn’t anything I said that made you feel you’d been heard that way. I appreciated your comment, as I do all your comments. It’s okay, we’re good. 🙂

    Comment by Mary P. | January 3, 2006 | Reply

  14. Mary,

    I’m from the part of New York where Chatauqua started (it’s named after a lake) so I knew a little about the original.

    Here’s an historical link just for the heck of it.

    Comment by Granny | January 4, 2006 | Reply

  15. And I managed to misspell it as well.


    They’ve simplified the spelling on many of the organizations, theatres, etc. that have sprung up. There’s even a spoof of a “virtual” university.

    Comment by Granny | January 4, 2006 | Reply

  16. I understand. I am feeling a bit rueful because I was trying to have a few days off to recharge my batteries in St. Louis, and ended up working while I was down there (and frantically in the car on the way home, in the Barnes and Noble on the floor, so I could plug in my computer…) and so I feel a bit short-changed with regard to my mental health. 😦

    And I totally agree with you about parents wanting to bring their children to you when *they* don’t have to work. It is a complete disregard for you as a person who might also enjoy some time off. And sure, they may shrug and say, “Well, she’s open,” but most importantly, why can’t they spend this time with their child, who would probably love to be with Mom or Dad?

    Comment by jen-o-rama | January 4, 2006 | Reply

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