It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Because it’s not a daycare, silly, it’s a Park!

New Baby Boy, who has been with me about a month now, has had one of the easiest transitions I’ve seen in years. Lovely, lovely New Baby Boy (who really, really does need a blog name)!

The transition has been easy for me, that is. New Baby Boy, bless his busy, action-loving self, has been bright and interested, curious and busy, busy, busy right from his first day. Tears? He has no time for tears! There are diapers to rip off the shelf! Other kids’ bottles to steal! Toys to fling on the floor! Cushions to haul off the couch! Busy, busy, busy days! But happy! Cheerful! Interested! Curious!

But. That all made it easy for me.

New Baby Boy, though? He has not had it so easy. The poor wee fellow has had the misfortune to catch EVERY bug which went through the daycare, some more than once. I was waiting for his poor besieged parents to throw in the towel and stay home with him, or hire themselves a nice, safe, germ-free nanny.

But no! They hung in with me, they let their little guy hang out with me, and this week, we seem to have turned the corner. Not only is he happy and busy, but he’s snot-free, cough-free, and fever-less!

Phew.

Yesterday morning, to celebrate, we all went to the park. Okay, so we’ve been going to the park all week, but this week’s park outings have had a distinct celebratory feeling to them. It’s sunny! And warm! And summer-like! It’s even been HOT! And we are all — ALL — healthy!!

I have taken the tots to the park when one of them’s been down with a cold, but the cold-kid either stays in the stroller (sorry, kiddo), or is kept in firm quarantine by me. I’ve stopped short of a duct-taping a “PLAGUE” sign to their butts, but we’ve been aiming for times when the park is lightly populated, often entirely empty, and we either leave when someone shows up, or keep a goodly distance. Once in a while I was lucky, and we’d discover that the other child at the park ALSO had the creeping ick! Yay! Guilt-free socializing all round!

But this week, with a full cohort of fully healthy children, we could go to the park AND Mary could pick the time when all the other caregivers are there. Play for the children AND socialization for Mary, too! Oh, happy day! So, yes, I’m feeling distinctly ‘yee-haw’ this week.

I stand, as do all the caregivers, where I can scan the group and see all my tots at a glance. We chat, we women, with fragments of eye-contact. One or another of us is always scanning the group. We’ve got each other’s backs. Ah, it’s good to be back!

There’s a new face, too, a mother possibly, more likely a grandmother. She has one child with her, a pudgy little butterbean of a baby girl, the same sort of age as New Baby Boy, though not as mobile. (New Baby Boy is a walker!) This doesn’t stop New Baby Boy, who toddlers over to her and plonks his diapered butt in the sand next to hers, the better to make the acquaintance of her enormous, multi-coloured shovel with glittering ribbons on the handle this new face. Baby Girl does not object at all when New Baby Boy steals shares her toy, and the two of them interact as babies of that age do: They watch each other, and occasionally copy each other. When they’re not peppering each other’s eyeballs with inadvertently-flung sand, that is. They chew on each other’s toys.

It turns out that the female adult with Baby Girl is in fact a grandmother. We chat about our respective adult children, and we chat, of course, about the miraculous babies we are superintending. New Baby Boy is 13 months old, yes, and he’s been walking for about three weeks. No, he doesn’t have any words yet. He’s more of an explorer, all about the physical. Baby Girl is 11 months old and though she’s pulling herself to stand, she isn’t walking yet, but she’s quite the talker! Yes, that is pretty typical of boys and girls, isn’t it?

So, how does Baby Girl come to be with Grandma today, anyway? Giving mom a break and doing a little gramma-grand-daughter bonding? Well, not exactly. Of course, she’ll take any chance she can to have time with her little darling, but Baby Girl’s mommy works outside the home, and normally Baby Girl would be in daycare, but today? Well, she has a cold, you see, with a terrible cough! Just awful! You should hear it, it’s so deep! Her chest is just so tight! Terrible!

Blink.
Blink.
Blink.

So. Let me clarify here. You have a child who is sick. With a “terrible” cough. So sick that she can’t go to daycare. And so you somehow think that the thing to do with that sick child, who is too sick to be around all the other children in her daycare, is to take her to the park? The park which is filled with children, just like, oh… like a daycare???

Not only does she do this, but she obviously sees nothing at all wrong with it. I haven’t heard the cough, but she’s telling me all about it. In dramatic detail! She hasn’t got a clue. Not one clue.

It’s uncanny how this woman managed to seem so normal, how she managed to get dressed, eat breakfast, and get to the park, even have a conversation with another adult, when she has NO BRAINS AT ALL.

“Oh, poor little thing!” I say, scooping New Baby Boy up. “I hope her cold gets better soon. But you know, if she’s too sick to be at her daycare, then she really shouldn’t be playing with other children.” She looks puzzled. “Because they might catch her cough.” I explain, gently.

Her smile freezes a bit. I know she probably feels foolish, having been so directly corrected, but really. It’s a public service I’m doing here, and it needed to be said. It shouldn’t need to be said, but it did. Obviously. I feel awkward, too. I don’t like embarrassing someone, even when necessary.

Do I continue with the explanation? “When one of mine is contagious, I try to play away from the other children.” Something like that? Or would that just make her feel sillier? Nah. I’ve said the essential. No need to preach. I smile again, and move away, New Baby Boy in my arms.

“But…” She looks at New Baby Boy. “But they were playing together so nicely. Who will she play with now?”

Okay. It’s official. I have met the only living, breathing, upright, completely brain-free human known to man.

“I’m sure she’ll be very happy to play with her grandma!” And I take New Baby Boy back to the corner where my other charges are diligently digging holes, where the other caregivers are watching over our massed flocks,

and I warn them of the NO BRAINS AT ALL woman, and her cute-as-the-dickens plague-carrying baby.

Eesh.

And I will NOT be telling New Baby Boy’s parents. We will just keep our fingers crossed and hope for better luck on the germ front than he’s had so far.

Sigh…

May 26, 2010 Posted by | health and safety, outings, socializing | , , , | 8 Comments