It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Making My Statement

I was browsing about on Pinterest, as one does when one has a few spare minutes nothing better to do is putting off stripping and waxing the kitchen floor. Because stripping and waxing a kitchen floor is something that can best be done at 10 p.m.  OBVIOUSLY!! But it is not 10 p.m. yet. So, right now the best use of my time, the very best, is looking at pictures of Statement Walls.

Statement walls have been around forever, of course. I didn’t just discover them. Neither did you. People were doing statement walls 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago, but they called them ‘accent walls’, or ‘the rogue’s gallery’, or “our holiday souvenirs”, or “all my favourite stuff, arranged prettily”.

Still, they’re fun. Here’s a nice peaceful one for a bedroom:

statement1Or a cheap, rustic one for a tiny bathroom:

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Or this one for a kitchen. (Actually, though this is cool, what I really I covet are the penny-tiled countertops I’ve seen. Too bad we don’t have pennies in Canada any more! Also, for some reason I find this kitchen bleak. But the wall is interesting.)

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You know how it is. You see these things, and you think, “Hey! I could do that! I could be all cool and slick and organized and design-y!” You don’t? It just makes you feel hopelessly inadequate? Oh, dear. I’m so sorry. I hope I haven’t made you feel bad. See, for me, this stuff energizes me! Thrills me to the core! Inspires vast outpourings of wannabe creative juices! Because, really! I have walls, right? And I have pictures! I could do shit like this!

I could! I just know it! And then I, too, could live in a slick, clever, designer-y home that just screams “SOPHISTICATED, INTELLIGENT, WITH-IT WOMAN LIVES HERE!” (The observation that sophisticated people do not pepper their writing with BLOCK CAPS and exclamation points!!! is well taken. I will try to rein it in, and thus up my sophistication quotient.)

Pallets are cheap. The fact that I have no idea where to get pallets, that they’re probably full of nasty preservatives and absolutely Ground Zero for splinters doesn’t ruffle my consciousness. Because that wall in that bathroom is cool!

And pennies? Pennies can be had for, well, pennies!! Well. Not no more, here in Canada. Okay. So no pennies. But oh, my happily creating little mind says, how about buttons? Buttons would be just perfect for a craft room! I bet I could make a wall of buttons in a craft room!! No, I don’t actually have a craft room, but just think what a bright, fun, playful statement a wall of buttons would make!!

You can see why Pinterest is such a bad bad fun fun place for me!

So I start looking around my small house. Surely there’s potential somewhere.  I wander through my home with an eye to a spot to Make My Statement.

I find rooms that have essentially no walls. (How does the ceiling stay up with all those doors and windows?) I find rooms that are too small, too damp (ew, is that mold in the bathroom?), too full of other stuff, walls that are hidden behind shelves and closet rails.

All I need is one wall. Just one. Should it be so difficult to find?

I wander into the dining room. There it is! My long, clear, un-doored, un-windowed, un-obstructed, potential Statement Wall. Right on the main floor! Only there’s a lot of stuff to be taken down first. Stuff. Oh, the stuff. So much stuff. Daycares, I tell you. They clutter your home, people. It’s outrageous.

I mean, just look at it:

A calendar and weather cards. An alphabet, stretching as far as the eye can see…

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Number cards, art work, Hippos preparing to Go Berserk

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Red yarn for hanging art work, graphs and charts and plans for the day and week. The alphabet even sneaks round the corner and onto the next wall!

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How on earth can I make any kind of statement with all that STUFF?

Except…

Could it be?

There is a certain theme here. A playful motif. A whimsical consistency. Internal integrity. I look at the clutter that is my dining room wall. I look at the stuff. ALL THAT STUFF!

And, with a sudden blinding flash of clarity and insight I realize I am looking at a Statement Wall. An inadvertent statement wall, but a Statement Wall nonetheless. I am so happy. I have succeeded without even trying. I am a Design Idiot Savant. It’s very clear. The Statement this wall is making?

“This is a Daycare, dummy.”

Pinterest would be so proud.

 

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October 14, 2014 Posted by | daycare, Mischief | , , | 2 Comments

No such thing as too much preparation!!!

This has been a terrible year for enrollment and space-filling. Just terrible. I will tell you the Tale of Mary’s Rotten Year some other time, but for the purposes of this post, it’s enough that you know that I was pleased to have only one and a half spaces yet to fill for September. (Yes, September. In this area, spots fill that far in advance.)

My enrollment for the fall is: Rosie (who’ll be 3); Gwynn (who’ll be two); Poppy’s little sister (a year); and new baby girl (also a year, signed the contract six weeks ago). Three full-times and a part-time. Now, I would prefer five fill-time children, but I can get by on three and a half. And I have lots of time to find another to start in the summer.

And then, on Friday, at pickup, Rosie’s mom comes through the door with a bottle of wine.

No, that didn’t raise any suspicions. No need to cue the sinister music. Rosie’s parents bring me bottles of wine with delightful frequency, for one thing or another. This time, it was because Rosie had taken a tumble a day or two earlier, resulting in a bruise on her forehead.

Well, no. I didn’t get a bottle of wine because I let their child suffer an injury. I got the bottle of wine for what followed. Apparently, mummy asked daughter, “And when you fell, did Mary give you a hug?” To which Rosie answered, accurately, “Yes! And a kiss!”

The bottle of wine, mum explained, was for the love and care I give the children, for the warm and safe environment I create here.

Oh, that’s so lovely. Thank you!

And that’s why they’re moving her to preschool in September.

Okay, so she didn’t put it quite like that. But that’s what it amounts to.

They’re putting her in preschool this fall to “get her ready” for school the following year. Because my home is such a safe, protected, nourishing environment, you see, and they think she should be exposed to something a little bigger, a little more like the school that will follow the year after.

(Huh. Call me cynical if you will, but I’m thinking the bottle of wine is not strictly about the kiss-and-hug.)

My environment is warm and loving. Safe, secure. And that’s exactly why their little girl needs to leave it! Because goodness knows a two-year-old can’t be doing with all that love and security! The girl needs to be toughened up! By September she will be a newly-minted three-year-old. Time for some Hard Knocks, kid.

Am I feeling a tad bitter? Yes, I am. Not just because my projected income is taking another (yet another) hit — though I can’t pretend that doesn’t factor in — but because this is just … silly.

Let’s back it up a bit, shall we? There was a time when children started school in first grade, when they were about six. That’s why it’s called, you will note, “first” grade. Then we invented kindergarten, designed to get them ready (socially mostly, though for some kids the academic aspect was significant as well) for grade one. Then we invented junior kindergarten, to get them ready for the rigors of playdough and circle time.

And now we’re sending them to preschool, to ready them for JK, to ready them for SK, to ready them for Grade One? Does this not seem a tad overwrought? Just how demanding do we imagine this transition to be? Just how frail do we think our children are? And what’s next? Are we somehow going to get right there into the womb to prepare them for the challenges of outside living?

Oh, well. I’m exasperated, not panicked. I think they’re over-reacting, but they’ve always been a little anxious, and it’s an anxiety driven by emotion, not careful thought, so this is not out of character. Though they’re very nice people — really nice! warm, kind, friendly, appreciative — their anxiety has made them a little troublesome as clients. So I won’t be sorry to see them go. I will be sorry to see Rosie go. She’s quirky, funny, smart, and all-round adorable. She’s also a follower and an echo-er. She doesn’t originate much. She doesn’t think of things to do, she just follows. I was very curious to see how she’d evolve when, in September, Daniel and Poppy head off to Junior Kindergarten, and she emerged as The Big Girl. I was curious. More, I was looking forward to it. I thought it would be good for her, encourage the development of a more active part of her character.

Guess I won’t be seeing that after all … sigh…

I would have told them this, had I realized they were considering this course of action. Had I been consulted. Which I wasn’t. Now, I may still try to make these points, but I fear that they will fall on deaf ears, or, at any rate, ears already convinced of the rightness of their chosen course of action, and unlikely to be dissuaded.

I’m not even sure I want to dissuade them. As I say, they’ve been a mite troublesome as clients. And Rosie won’t be injured by their decision. She’ll just — maybe — develop a little differently, not get to develop/explore a potential strength. Maybe.

But seriously?

Preschool to ‘get her ready’ for Junior — JUNIOR! — Kindergarten?

Honestly.

February 26, 2014 Posted by | daycare, parents, Peeve me, Rosie | , , | 6 Comments

Ah, holidays

That title? Is a happy sigh. Not, of course, that I’m on holiday any more. I’ve been back for a couple of weeks.

The reason for that happy sigh is not my current state of employment, but my current state of mind. I am ready to go back to work! Not just ready, enthused. It’s a good feeling.

There’s an ebb and flow to these things:

1. I have some time off. Needs to be at least a week. By the end of that time, I’m recharged and ready for the tots. We are going to have FUN! We are going to LEARN LOTS!! We are going to be KIND and PATIENT and CONSIDERATE! (All of us. Including me!)

2. I work for a while. Weeks go by. The enthusiasm gradually fades as the fatigue steadily rises. I am no longer up to BLOCK CAPITALS OF ENTHUSIASM!!! We are going to … get through our days. We are going to … not squabble or be contentious. We are going to … keep ourselves occupied. We are going to … keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I go from aiming for the positives to simply attempting to avoid the negatives. It’s a short and slippery slope from that state of mind to being overwhelmed by the negatives, battling the irritability, annoyed by this or that behaviour’s intractability. To, if I’m to be completely honest here, to being annoyed by that particular child. Their good points fade behind the glare of their prickly bits.

(Yes, it’s true. A daycare provider can find your child annoying. We don’t tell you the parent that, not if we’re kind, and we do our damndest not to show it to the child, not if we’re professionals, but we feel it! It’s generally a passing thing, as the child passes through a particularly obnoxious phase.)

But! Just about the time I hit that phase — “Oh, my GOD, you’re annoying!!!” — another holiday comes round. I get a break to refresh, to renew.

Thank goodness. For all of us.

Sometimes it’s just a long weekend, which tops up the energy and enthusiasm tanks for a month or so. And sometimes it’s a whole, luscious, lovely week off, as I just had, and then I’m good to go for … well, I’m not quite sure. Two months? Three? Before the slide starts?

Right now, I am filled with enthusiasm. Happy to be back. Fully of ideas, creativity, strategies, hope, willingness, and energy. Wheeee!

Moral of this story: I need a week off every quarter. No, really? Ten days.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA…

January 13, 2014 Posted by | daycare, holidays | 2 Comments

Oh, honestly…

Today is my last day of work until the New Year!! (Can you hear the whoops of celebration from there?)

Today is my last day of work, and two of my three families are already gone on holiday!!
(More cheers!!!)

Today is my last day of work … and on Friday, when Daniel’s dad found out his were the only kids coming, he apologized. With energy and remorse. Of course, I was all professional and “No, no! I’m open for business, and you have to work! Don’t worry about it.” And then he was all, “Oh, but no, you almost have a day off! I feel bad!” We chatted a bit more about the kids’ day, and then he was off. “We’ll have to see what we can do about Monday!” were his parting words.

Because most families wouldn’t be back on Monday, I give the parents their children’s gifts from me at home time. I send them home so the parents get the pleasure of seeing their children open the gifts Christmas morning. In so doing, I am depriving myself of seeing them open my gifts, true, but I’m being considerate here. The family Christmas is the most important thing.

Friday after work, 15 minutes after Rosie’s departure, Wonderful Husband and I walk to the pharmacy on the corner, passing Rosie’s dad, out playing in his drive with Rosie and Rory. (I’d sent a gift home for Rory, too, even though he’s no longer in my care. Rory comes bombing over to see me.)

“Thanks for the flashlight!!” he says. “I can make it go really bright!”

He’d opened it already? “Oh, yes,” says dad. “We like to spread the gifts out a bit. They can get overwhelmed on Christmas morning.”

Blink, blink. Fifteen minutes? They’d opened their gifts within 15 minutes of leaving my house.

You know, he’s quite right. Little kids can be overwhelmed by the enormity of Christmas. Opening the odds-and-ends gifts from neighbours and friends — and caregivers! — when they arrive makes good sense.

If that’s the case, don’t you think it would have made even more good sense to let her open it RIGHT THERE IN MY HOME so I could see her???

Oh, honestly.

The weekend proceeds. I do some last-minute dashing about, go to a Christmas party, decorate our tree. (Very late for us.) The weekend proceeds … without a phone call from Daniel’s parents about Monday morning. So I assume I’m working today.

Opening time… no Daniel.
8:00… no Daniel.
8:30… no Daniel.
No phone call, either.
9:00… I check my answering machine. Did I miss a message? No.
9:15… Okay, they’re toying with me. This is just cruel. (My rule is, if you’re going to arrive after 9, give me a call so I can accommodate it, since we generally head out at nine for our outing.)
9:27… Can it be true? Am I getting a freebie, unexpected, extra Christmas gift of a day off? I won’t believe it, I tell myself, beating down the hope, until after 9:30.
9:30… no Daniel… I’m still hesitant to believe it, but hope is rising!

9:32
They arrive.

Oh, honestly…

December 23, 2013 Posted by | Christmas, daycare, holidays, parents, Peeve me | 8 Comments

I confess: I am a toilet-roll hoarder

Because it pays off! Just watch:

Busy, busy hands.
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Lots and lots and lots of toilet rolls. 72, to be exact. Which I just happened to have in a giant bag in the back porch.
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Lots of paint.
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Add a judicious amount of clear packing tape, spatter-painted paper, card stock, and ribbon…
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and you get advent calendars!!
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Ta-dah!

Simple. Assembling them, which I did after hours, was a little time-consuming, but was done while I visited with my children — specifically, my eldest, visiting from Missouri with her lovely boyfriend — so that was fun. Each tube is stuffed with a chocolate or two scrunched up in a poof of tissue (just to keep it in the tube).

Pretty, effective, simple — and cheap! My kind of craft.

This used perhaps half my stash. Perhaps. Whatever shall we do next?

December 6, 2013 Posted by | Christmas, crafts, daycare | , , | 2 Comments

Ditherers and Decision-Makers

I told you yesterday of the my two interviews. Two interviews, two very different family styles. One couple, soft-spoken, a little reserved, cautious. The other high-energy, cheerful, gregarious. One couple dithered and dithered and could not come to a decision. The other took a day to think about it, then decided!

Yay for people who can make a decision!

We agreed to two probationary weeks, because of their child’s difficult experience in her first daycare. During the first week, mom would spend part of some days with us. Two hours the first day, half hour the second, then a regular drop-off (2 minutes) the third and final day.

During those visits, I am reminded that mom is loud, which, as long-time readers know, I find wearisome. But she’s so full of positive energy, I can put up with the loud. What is harder to take is that she interrupts constantly. Not only is that rude/aggravating, but she’s interrupting me while I’m answering questions or passing on information, so she’s only getting half the information she has requested and/or needs. Then she’ll ask me a follow-up question. A follow-up question which would have been answered already if she hadn’t interrupted me in the first place. She also doesn’t remember things we’ve agreed to, because, I suspect, in her head she’d already raced on to the next thing and had ceased to listen to me even as I was speaking.

People like this are exhausting. I make a mental note to follow up any conversation with an email, so we have necessary information in writing.

Eesh.

But that concern aside, the week goes well. Her little girl is a charmer — interested, easy-going, easy to soothe, curious, prone to smiles and laughter even when mummy isn’t around. She’s going to be fine. I’m really looking forward to having her in the group!

At the end of the first week, I get an email from the ditherer. The one who’d interviewed with me a month before, who now has a little over two weeks before first day at work. She’s wondering how the probationary weeks went with the other child.

Why? She still hasn’t signed with anyone! I am flabbergasted. This woman really can’t make a decision! I’m flabbergasted, and also a little concerned for her. I reply, explaining that we’re only partway through the probationary weeks, and suggesting with as much tact and kindness as I’m capable (not to worry, I’m good at tact and kindness!), that she needs to choose from amongst the available options, or she may find herself with no daycare at all.

Wow. Decisions are so hard for some people. Thank goodness for my almost-signed-on parents, and their ability to come to a quick, firm, decision!

A day later, I get an email from the probationary parent. Over the weekend, their child had been to the emergency ward with trouble breathing. It turns out she has cold-induced asthma. Alarming, to be sure, particularly that first time, but not something that can’t be safely managed. I’ve had kids with this condition before. For some it’s more intense than others, but it’s always been manageable.

Except.

Except, these parents, the ones who, you know, can MAKE A DECISION!!! Well, they’ve made one. Another one. They have decided … that they will not put their child in daycare at all.

Boom, done. Guess that’s the flip side of all that decisiveness, huh. Could they not have dithered, just a wee bit?

But, wait! I still have the ditherers, the ones who told me “I kept coming up” in their discussions of caregivers, the ones who, only the evening before, had not yet chosen a caregiver!

Feeling a tad sheepish, I send them an email. Are they still … ?

Guess what? The ditherers finally made a decision. In less than 24 hours since our last email exchange, they have signed on, paid up, and have a start date.

I am impressed by the dark humour of the universe.

Sigh.

November 29, 2013 Posted by | daycare, parents, the dark side | , | 4 Comments

Tale of two interviews

I have two interviews a few weeks back.

Couple A:
Lovely, lovely baby boy. Smiling, cheerful, not at all shy, attended (as much as you can expect of a 10-month-old) to his parents. Dad was cheerfully friendly. Mom was harder to read, but I judged her quietness to be shyness/reserve rather than unfriendliness or hostility. The interview was quiet, calm, measured, but, I thought, friendly enough.

They needed care to start mid-December, a mere six weeks away. In this neighbourhood, that is as last-minute as it gets. With 12-month maternity leaves and a mostly professional clientele, spots fill up 4 – 6 months in advance, typically, often even more. These people should have been in a panic.

They weren’t. At all.

We interviewed, it seemed to go well, though, as I say, mom was reserved and hard to read, and it’s mom who matters. The vast majority of the time, she decides. When it’s a joint decision, she casts the deciding vote. I don’t know that, in 17 years, it’s even been the dad who made the decision. But even so, I thought it had gone well.

Days go by. I hear nothing. Given their deadline, this surprised me. When there are months to look, I might wait two weeks to hear back. With only six weeks till she’s back to work, I expected a quick turn-around. Maybe they’ve found other care? They must have found other care. (No, parents rarely call to let me know, so if I don’t hear, that’s my assumption.)

A week later, she emails. Can she have my references, and can she come and join me one morning, to see the other children?

Oh. Guess they are still interested. I reply to her email immediately with reference and a suggested time for a visit — in two days.

She comes. We spend the morning. She says some complimentary things about the children, their behaviour, my demeanor with them.

More days go by. I arrange an interview with family B. They want part-time care, though, and I’d prefer full-time. Family A needs full-time. Hoping to nudge mom A, I send her an email, letting her know I’m interviewing other families. (Yes, there was only one interview. I thought a plural might add a bit of urgency. Urgency which, I’m now realizing, she utterly lacks. Which is bizarre, people, bizarre. SHE NEEDS CARE IN FIVE WEEKS!!! She should be frantic.) She replies, saying she’s not surprised someone as warm and skilled as me has other opportunities.

Another week. Hm. Guess her “not surprised” email meant she’s moved on. She’s found something else, and she’s happy she hasn’t left me in the lurch. I didn’t nudge her as I’d hoped, I’d only eased her conscience. Well, poop.

But I do have another interview! And yes, they only want part-time, but I can get by with part-time. And their daughter is adorable, mom and dad are nice. We have a very lively, friendly, cheerful interview. Completely different style than family A. Family B was the one of the previous failed daycare, though, and they were a little gun-shy. Would their daughter adjust to daycare here? Even without the larger information I eventually received about the previous daycare, I was reasonably confident she’d be just fine, so I offered them two probationary weeks, at the end of which they could decide whether to sign on.

The next day — the next day! — they call back. They’d like to leave their daughter with me!! Our two probationary weeks will start the week after next.

I inform Family A that the space has been filled, probationarily. “Oh, that’s too bad. We were just thinking we were ready to begin to make our decision, and we really liked you. That’s what we get for waiting too long, I guess.”

Blink. Blink. Blink.

You were thinking of beginning to make a decision? Beginning? Thinking of? How many stages are there to this process?? How long were you thinking of taking … given that you have four weeks now before you have to be at work? I had a choice between a full-time child of ditherers, and a part-time child of decisive people. Well, maybe I did. Potentially, whenever they got around to making up their minds. Maybe.

Yes, I really needed to go with the client who could make a decision!

So, that’s that. But honestly, folk are strange!

November 28, 2013 Posted by | daycare, parents | , | 5 Comments

A mystery…

I had an interview a while back with a family who was looking for care because their previous arrangement had not worked out.

Now, if you’re me, that’s a red flag. Or at least an orange one. There are many innocuous reasons why daycare arrangements might not work out, of course. Maybe someone’s work hours changed such that they no longer meshed with the daycare’s hours. Maybe the daycare provider became ill, or had to move out of the area. Maybe another child at the daycare was over-the-top aggressive and the caregiver wouldn’t give them notice. All sorts of things.

Or maybe, maybe this client is hard on daycare providers. Maybe they have the outrageously aggressive child. Maybe they’re prima donnas whose expectations of caregivers are extreme and unreasonable.

Sometimes that’s really easy to pick up. The client I interviewed a few years back whose interview with me was a long litany of vitriolic bad-mouthing of all her previous interviews? Wouldn’t touch her with a ten-foot pole. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she’s chewed through half a dozen caregivers in the intervening years, utterly convinced of their unworthiness and her superiority.

But more often, it’s not. I always ask what happened with the last caregiver, but the answers don’t necessarily inform. “She wasn’t invested in the kids. She didn’t really connect with them.” What does that mean, really? More important, what hat does that mean to that parent?

I’ve seen uninterested, disengaged caregivers. I know they’re out there. It could be this parent has a valid concern. It could be their child was with someone who supervised only for physical safety, and otherwise ignored the children. It happens.

Or it could be I’m chatting with a complete helicopter parent, who doesn’t understand that not only is it not “neglectful’ to let your child play on their own and sort out small problems unassisted, but is actively good for them! The sort of parent who sneers when they see the nannies chatting together on the park bench, instead of scrambling about on the play structure with the children — the children who are perfectly happy playing with each other. Who imagines that a ‘good’ parent spends each one of the child’s waking minutes in close, enriching contact with their precious child.

It’s hard to determine what I’m looking at, when sitting in my living room.

In this case, though? None of the above.

Their child had been in a cooperative daycare, organized amongst five sets of parents, and including only the children of those parents. The little girl had just never settled in. Would cry the entire day. This went on for … well, I’m not sure how long. This parent’s tolerance of crying is extremely low (another cautionary flag), and I didn’t think to ask. If it was just a week, they moved too quickly. If it was a month, well, yes, time to look elsewhere.

I did explain that transitional tears are normal — though they very rarely continue all day long! I talked about how much crying, and how long, was within normal parameters.

“Maybe it’s because there were too many kids all the same age, all needing the same amount of care?” she mused. It could be. I gather there were 4 one-year-olds, all new to daycare, plus a couple older pre-school kids. (Which puts the enrollment over the legal limit for a home daycare in this province (5), I could have pointed out, but didn’t. Maybe a co-op daycare has different regulations? I don’t know.) I’m also surprised they could find a caregiver who was willing to take on that many one-year-olds, but then again, with the daily assistance of a parent, it could be do-able. Still, a handful, even so.

It was a few weeks later, talking with other caregivers, that I learned more about the previous daycare arrangement. From the other provider, I got a lot more details that I’d asked of my parents.

Five families had clubbed together to provide care for their children. That’s fine. However. They had not, as I had assumed, hired someone to care for the kids full-time, with each parent scheduled to assist on a rotating basis. I assumed it, because that’s how every co-op daycare I know works: full-time, professional, experienced staff, assisting (willing and motivated, but generally group-care-inexperienced) parents.

No. Each parent had signed on to care for all the children for a full day, in rotation. On their own. Solo. Ten parents, so each parent took one day off work every other week. The children would rotate with the adults, so that each parent would care for the kids in their own home.

I’m sure it looked good in theory.

With no paid staff, the costs would be non-existent. Any costs that did emerge would be split amongst five families. Ten heads for brain-storming problems, to offer support. Best, the children would be cared for by their parents! The kids would have the comfort of their mommy or daddy, in their own home, two days of ten.

But.

From the kids’ perspective?

A strange environment, 8 days of ten. A different environment every single day of the week. A strange adult, several days of ten. (Some of the families knew each other socially, but not everyone knew everybody.) For the one-year-olds, three other one-year-olds.

Lordy.

I can only imagine the chaos. Ten people, with ten different interaction styles, expectations, rules, standards, tolerances. A new one EVERY DAY!!! Six or seven kids, heads whirling with all the strangeness: strange playmates, strange caregivers, strange homes, new toys. Perpetual strangeness, every day of the week. Had they kept it to one location, that would have been better, but the steady rotation of staff would still have doomed it to failure.

I’ve found it takes a 1-year-old three to four full weeks to become fully comfortable in care. (Usually three, four for some kids, more if the child comes part-time.) Three to four full weeks when every day is the same. Predictable. Consistent. Same people, same place, same toys, same rules/regs/expectations. A full month.

So. When none of those things are the same, day to day?

Chaos. Unending chaos. Only the most socially hardy could survive. Thrive? I’m not sure any kid could thrive in that.

All of this, moreover, managed and supervised by a parent completely inexperienced in caring for groups of children. (Of course they were inexperienced. Anyone with a breath of experience would have seen immediately that this wonderful idea was a disaster in the making, and refused to have any part in it. My assumption that there’d be two adults working together every day, I now saw, was an assumption made by a woman with a ton of experience tending groups of children.)

Picture it: A room full of disoriented, unhappy, overwhelmed babies and toddlers, supervised by a disillusioned, confused, overwhelmed adult.

Oh, my.

So, no, I’m not surprised they ended up looking for alternate care.

I suspect the daycare tanked. How did I find out about this? Because the caregiver who told me the story had interviewed a different family from the same set-up, whose child “had just never adjusted to daycare”.

And they didn’t really know why…

November 27, 2013 Posted by | daycare, parents | | 3 Comments

Fabulous Fake Tie-Dye for Tots

I found this craft online — the Internet Knows All — and knew I had to try it with the kids. Witness the creation of one of Jazz’s going-away gifts! The children all helped make this (including Jazz, who had no idea it was to be hers). I’m so devious…

Materials required:
a clean, pale t-shirt, washed and dried
permanent markers (doesn’t have to be Sharpies; I used Tul and they worked just fine)
rubbing alcohol (mine was 99%)
elastic
cup or cookie cutters
eye-dropper
small bowl or cup for the alcohol

The original blogger slipped a cup under the t-shirt and held it in place with an elastic as she made the dots. The tots didn’t really have the coordination to dot on something so flexible, so I used cookie cutters to delineate the space. The firmness of the table under the fabric made it much easier for them. If you wanted, you could put a piece of cardboard inside the shirt to prevent the ink from bleeding through to the back. We didn’t, and the effect was actually rather pretty!

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To ensure pretty circles instead of Circle of Mud, I had the children choose one colour, and then I chose one or two more that would work with that colour.

Then I slipped the cookie cutter underneath the dots, aligning it as best I could with its original position, and secured it with the elastic.

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Then the magic starts! Fill the eye-dropped with rubbing alcohol, and drop into the centre of the circle. Watch it spread!

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The more alcohol you add, the further and more quickly it spreads. It also gets fainter, but you’d have to pour a lot of alcohol on to erase the colour altogether. Certainly, we never managed that!

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(How much input did the kids have at this point? Mostly just watching and “ooo-ing”, but I did go hand-over-hand with the older children a couple of times.)

A finished circle!
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A shirt of circles!
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And then, because Mary is a curious and experimental sort, she began to wonder what would happen if you didn’t use the circle templates. What if you just went free-form?

I made vertical lines in several shades of green, yellow, and blue in a very haphazard way along the bottom of the shirt. Some long, some short, just to give the overall impression of grass, I guess. Then I dropped alcohol on it.

I love the effect!
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Isn’t it adorable?
And so eeeeeasy!

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Apparently, you heat-set the colours by tossing it in a dryer for 30 minutes. Now, I’ve done that to this shirt, but then I gave it away and have yet to hear how effective that was. My own tendency would be to wash it with dark colours, on cold, at least once, to see how secure the colours are.

But CUTE! I love this craft!

August 8, 2013 Posted by | crafts, daycare | , , , | 3 Comments

Another passage

So, when I return to work from my two weeks off in August, Grace and Jazz will have gone on to kindergarten. I am often asked if that bother me, the departure of a child. Surely I get attached. Are there tears and heart-wrenching goodbyes?

Will I be sad when they leave?

It’s true, I get attached. Of course I do. I couldn’t do the job well without that! Still, I enter into this knowing my tenure with them is of a specific duration. Only once in a while do I get so very attached to a child I’d happily adopt them. Even then, so long as I’m confident they have a loving parents, I can relax in the knowledge that the child will be happy and thriving without me, and I can wave goodbye with nary a tear. A small lump in my throat, perhaps, but no more.

I never have been one for riotous displays of emotion. Not that I don’t feel things deeply, but I’m not much of a weep-er and a wail-er.

Yes, there are changes afoot, but over the years I’ve noticed I have a minority attitude to change. I don’t resist change on principle, as so many seem to do, mindlessly. “If it’s new, it’s bad!” is the mantra. I’ve never felt that way. I don’t just endure change because I must, I actively enjoy it. When I have to let go of one thing to make room for a new, the appeal of the new thing is enough of a positive that the letting-go is (virtually always) done without overwhelming anxiety/regret/pain. Change is refreshing, energizing, exciting.

(Do I like change for change’s sake? Do I think all change is good? No. I’m quite content to let things chug along in established and traditional ways, so long as they’re functioning well. But when change is inevitable, or necessary, I can and generally do embrace it. With enthusiasm.)

Add to that, that I’m an optimist. I see the positive in pretty nearly every situation.

So this situation, where two long-term children are off to new things?

Yes, they will be gone. Yes, I’ll have days without Jazz’s effervescence and Grace’s kindliness. I won’t see them learn to read and write; I won’t be there when they master the ‘pedal bikes’ they’re working on these days.

But! I’m happy that they have new experiences awaiting them at their respective new schools, each well-suited to the child in question. I’m happy that they have received some solid social grounding here. I can see their strengths: Jazz will dive into the social, and probably be a leader in three weeks. (And I will hope her teachers can manage her queen bee/diva tendencies.) Grace will please her teachers enormously with her conscientious approach to tasks and her intelligence. (And I will hope they’re not too exasperated by her spacey-ness, her tendency to be a beat or two behind a group.)

In the meantime, I’m quite unapologetically happy to be sending the four-year-olds off to school. Because they’re four. They are Rules People. Will I miss the contentious, pointless, reflexive competition and the tattling? Not for a second! Oh, to be free of it!!! … For a year or so, that is, until Poppy turns four.

I am curious to see how Poppy will develop, now that she’ll be The Biggest Kid at Mary’s. I foresee lots of kindly mothering of Rosie … who will put up with it for maybe another three months before the burgeoning two-year-old in her will resist and rebuff such attempts at Control and Dominance. (Because that’s how she’ll see it, I bet, when she gets to be a full-fledged Two.)

I am eager to take on Daniel’s little sister, and to see Daniel for more than the occasional visit he’s had this summer, the final two months of his mum’s maternity leave.

So, I bid the two big girls a fond good-bye, and look forward to a new dynamic in the fall. A fresh start, it feels like. A fresh start … of the same, happy, comfortable thing.

I’d call that a win-win.

August 1, 2013 Posted by | daycare, Grace, Jazz, socializing | , , , | 1 Comment