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Archive for the ‘Daycare’ Category

Flight or fight?

I talked to C- Wednesday night for the first time since I picked Autumn up from her house last Friday. I wanted to see if she was going to be around so that we could bring Autumn by for a visit. It was kind of a strange phone call. I asked how things were and she told me she hadn’t heard anything else from the state but that she had just put her house on the market. She didn’t want to wind up in foreclosure and ruin her credit, so she decided to be proactive.

The strange part of the call came when she told me about finding another job, or rather how she doesn’t want to look for another job right now because she doesn’t know if she’ll “be going to court or jail or what.” I’m pretty much quoting verbatim here.

After I picked Autumn up from C-‘s house last Friday, it took about a day before I started to suspect we weren’t being told the whole story. Everything happened very quickly and the state never talked to any of the other parents. It just seems odd to me.

As we wrapped up the call, C- told me she had gathered up all her daycare stuff and put it in the garage to prepare for a yard sale. I offered to pick some things up to sell at our garage sale this weekend. She said she wasn’t going to be around last night but that she could leave the garage door unlocked and we could pick up whatever she had priced.

I drove over around 8:00 with Autumn in tow. I was saddened to see the realtor sign stuck in her yard as I approached the house. She chose the cockiest realtor in town (a guy who puts up a sign that says, “Too late…Big John sold another one!”), but I hope he does the job for her.

The garage door was locked so I opened the gate to the back yard and tried the rear door. It was unlocked, but when I opened the door and stepped in I saw…everything. Tables and tables of toys, blankets, books and videos. Things we had given her that Autumn had grown out of and things I knew Autumn had grown fond of over the years. It was all there and all priced to sell.

I am still one hundred percent convinced that Autumn received nothing but excellent care while she was with C-, but as I stood in her garage amongst what was left of her business, it finally occured to me what has been nagging at me this past week. This is someone who’s not putting up a fight. She’s not fighting to keep her business, her clients or her house. I guess if it were me and I was was losing everything because of a misunderstanding, I’d be doing everything I could to hold on to what I have.

But she’s not. She’s getting rid of it all and I’m left wondering why.

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A reluctant goodbye

So this post was going to be about the “Grey’s Anatomy” finale and how I’m hating Shonda Rhimes for leaving us with such a cliffhanger. But now it’s not, because it’s the middle of the day on a Friday and I’m home with my daughter because our daycare provider lost her license today.

The call was waiting for me when I got into work. I’m losing my license and you have to pick up Autumn right away, she said. She was crying as she explained what the state’s reasons were for shutting her down (none of them having to do with suspected abuse) and told me she was sorry.

Autumn was the only child there when I arrived at the house. She was sitting on the couch looking concerned as C- stood in the kitchen trying to keep herself together. I gave C- a hug and told her I was sorry. I didn’t know what else to say. Autumn joined us and C- gave her a big hug. “I love you so much,” she said and then asked us to leave. It was not how I planned to say goodbye to the woman who’s been watching my daughter for three years.

What I wanted more than anything at that moment was to cry on my mom’s shoulder, but she was at work and I wasn’t about to disrupt her day with tears and a hungry grandchild. So I chose the next best thing and went to my best friend’s house. She offered me coffee and comfort and was just there for me as Autumn had some fun playing with her boys.

But really, I am the one who’s suffering the least in this situation. I’ve already made arrangements for Autumn to start at a great place on Monday (the same place where she was going to start preschool in the fall), the tuition for which is only $20 a week more than what we were paying for daycare.

But then there’s Autumn, who has asked multiple times already why C- doesn’t want to watch her anymore. I’ve assured her that C- loves her very much and that she would love to keep watching her if she could. I tried to explain rules and how C- got into trouble for not following all the rules she should have but Autumn doesn’t understand. It breaks my heart.

Then there’s C- herself, who now finds herself unemployed in Michigan. I’m so worried about her and what she’s going to do to for income. She indicated more than once she was just barely making ends meet with the few clients she had. She’s 51 years-old and has been working out of her home for fifteen years. How do you enter the workforce after that?

But let’s not forget the woman who caused this whole mess, this other parent who decided to go directly to the state instead of being an adult and opening up a dialog with C- about whatever concerns she had about her daughter’s care. Now one woman has lost her livelihood and four families, all of whom had been with C- for years, have lost a wonderful caregiver.

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Double whammy

Yesterday I received a fraud alert from our bank regarding a credit card we haven’t used in about a year. We had a zero balance but didn’t close the account because it served as overdraft protection for our checking account. Somehow someone got hold of the number and used it for one transaction. It wasn’t a huge amount, but it’s still not something we want to pay. The fraud rep said it was most likely a test charge meant to determine if the number was valid. Since we hadn’t used the card in over a year, that one charge prompted them to freeze the account and alert us. So I guess not all banks are born of Satan, but I’ll reserve judgment until I actually see the charge removed from the card.

Then today I found out my daycare provider is being investigated for abuse. The allegation is preposterous and completely unfounded, but the woman claiming the abuse has called the state and the rest of the parents have been given notice. Right now our provider watches several children part-time and only a couple full-time (one of them being Autumn). The mother of the other full-timer is the one making the accusation and the rest of us are dumbfounded. How anyone could charge this woman with hurting a child is beyond us. She’s been watching my daughter for three years and I’ve never, EVER felt as though Autumn wasn’t being treated well. As a mother who has been known to feed her daughter popcorn for dinner, I can tell you I’ve often felt as though I wasn’t living up to the standards our provider set during the day. While she can get Autumn to behave with a certain glance or tone of voice, we have to resort to withholding TV and bribing the kid with Fig Newtons and fruit snacks.

The really sad thing is I think our daycare provider is done. I asked her what she was going to do and she said she’s considering getting out of the daycare business altogether. She’s lost clients to this crappy economy (because people without jobs don’t need daycare for their kids) and knows she’s losing Autumn in September. She told me her license is up for renewal in August and thinks it might be best to just move on to something else.

There’s really not much to say about this other than I have no idea what’s going to happen. Whatever the outcome, it appears Autumn’s time with her “daytime mommy” will be drawing to a close sooner than we had anticipated.

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Nathan and I don’t subscribe to the local paper. We buy the Sunday edition for the coupons but most of the news itself is sent to the recycle bin while we page through the Target ad and look at all the stuff we’re not buying anymore.

So imagine my surprise when my best friend Marla recently told me our school district will be instituting all day pre-kindergarten next year and all day kindergarten the year after that. I was all, “Get out! Really?” because that completely changes our childcare needs and financial plan for next year.

I got all giddy at the prospect of seeing an end to daycare payments. Up until now it’s been this pie-in-the-sky concept that seemed to take forever to materialize. Sort of like weight loss only this is actually going to happen. Eighteen months from now we will no longer have to pay for child care and I couldn’t be happier.

After the euphoria of that revelation wore off, I felt like a bad mother for not already being privy to this information. I asked Marla where she had heard about this scheduling change and she said it was in our local community paper a few weeks ago. This would be the paper that gets delivered every Tuesday and which is most often destroyed by some form of precipitation before I get around to picking it up from my porch.

When Autumn was just a baby I was already thinking about school and how we were going to work her schedule around ours. At the time it seemed mind boggling. Who would take her to school? Who would pick her up? Would morning kindergarten be better or afternoon? What about bussing? For about a year now I’ve been making inquiries about bus schedules and preschool schedules and now it all sort of worked itself out with very little effort on my part. My plans have evolved from having two tentative scenarios depending on her schedule to one definitive plan based on the school’s new schedule. I’m sort of an obsessive planner and this makes me very happy.

But…

I have to let C- go, the woman who has been watching my daughter since she was eleven weeks old. I knew eventually it would have to happen, but I wasn’t really planning on it happening so soon. Starting this fall we’re moving Autumn to a daycare facility closer to my office, one that conducts morning preschool classes. I talked to C- about this when we were just starting to explore our preschool options. I asked her if she would be willing to take Autumn back part time when she starts pre-k or kindergarten. She said she loves Autumn and would take her back at any time, but with the new full-day programs it looks as though we won’t need that part-time care.

Everyone I’ve talked to says it’s the nature of the job. Every daycare provider knows that at some point they will have to say goodbye to the children. I suppose I have to just suck it up and tell C- what we have planned. As much as she loves Autumn, she knew she only had a finite number of years with her.

And what happens after that? Do people generally keep in touch with their former daycare providers, especially long-term providers like we’ve had? While I do like C-, my relationship with her is far different than Autumn’s relationship with her. Autumn sees C- as family while I’ve needed to keep a certain degree of professional distance between us. The relationship has worked and I think we found a good balance between Autumn’s life with her during the day and her life with us in the evenings.

But if I’m going to be really honest, I have to admit C- has been the person I couldn’t be for Autumn and I guess I’ve always been a little jealous of that. I’ve sometimes referred to her as Autumn’s “daytime mommy”and when I look back on these past three years I can’t help but wonder how different things would have been had I stayed home with my daughter.  I would have been the daytime mommy then.

I’d love to hear your experiences if you’ve been through this transition before. I know the new preschool will be good for Autumn, but I don’t want to completely remove one of the closest relationships she has right now if I can help it. What’s the right thing to do here?

Yeah, I know. We’ll have to figure this one out on our own. Still, I’d love to hear your stories if you have some.

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And the beatings go on

Yesterday Nathan picked up Autumn early to take her in for a flu shot. He called me on the way to our daycare provider’s house and asked me if there was anything else I wanted to bring up to the doctor. There were a lot of things, actually, the main thing being I wanted her ears checked, but I had already reminded him about that fifty times. Everything else I felt could wait until her 2-year checkup next month.

“Do you think we should ask the doctor about what Autumn keeps saying about the hitting?”

Just this past week we’ve started hearing Autumn say, “Don’t hit me.” She’ll say it to Molly if she gets a tail in the face. “Don’t hit me, Molly.” She said it to me the other day as I tried to pass her on the stairs while all the bags I bring home from work dangled precariously close to her face. My maternal alarm didn’t go off when I heard her say this because I figured she probably gets the occasional smack from one of the kids at daycare. I told Nathan this but he still seemed a little hesitant.

“She’s not being abused,” I said, “but if you’re that concerned about it, ask C-. I’m sure she can explain it.” And she did, only the explanation wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. Yes, Autumn does get smacked by one of the other kids, but the child doing the hitting isn’t who I thought it would be. Apparently Lily, Autumn’s fifteen month-old buddy, is the culprit. I figured it would be one of the older kids. I think it’s kind of funny, actually. C- has told me more than once that Autumn and Lily act like sisters, so I guess this behavior is on par with the type of relationship the two girls have. Autumn can get pretty bossy so I have no doubt she gets what’s coming to her.

I’m not too concerned about this, at least not as concerned as I was about the biting from the other child last year, but whatever Lily does to Autumn, it can’t be as bad as what Autumn does to herself. Yesterday she gave herself a nice black eye when she threw a tantrum, flung herself on the floor and landed on a toy. I’d take a picture, but the bruise isn’t really that bad. It’s mostly on her eyelid and looks like she smeared a little eye shadow on. My first thought when I saw her was, “Thank God we’re not doing pictures this weekend.”

Flu shot, shiner and swats from a toddler. The abuse never ends.

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Baby blues

I had such a nice five day weekend that it was very hard coming back to work Tuesday.  It was so bad that I barely functioned and went home that night with tears in my eyes.  Work is work and I’m not very happy, but I don’t really know what my problem is right now.  I guess one of the things is that I hate having to leave Autumn every day for a job I despise.  A year ago Tuesday was also the day I returned to work after a three month maternity leave.  I guess it hit me how much time I’ve lost with her already.

The daycare center on campus recently started taking children as young as 2 1/2 so Nathan and I have been talking about getting Autumn on the waiting list.  I talked to the center’s director the other day and she said getting Autumn in shouldn’t be a problem since their busier time is at the end of August when the fall semester starts and Autumn will be 2 1/2 in the middle of May next year.  Right now the center is only $20 more per week than what we’re paying our current provider.  Whatever increase we pay will be worth having Autumn closer to me.

So even though we just started talking about this and we’re well over a year from making the change if we do decide to move Autumn to the center, I can’t help but think about C-.  Autumn’s been with her since she was 11 weeks old.  Nathan and I love C-, love the warm, caring atmosphere she provides for Autumn and I can’t imagine having to tell her, “Yeah you’re great and we appreciate all you’ve done for our daughter, but it’s time to move on.”  Granted there are a few things about C-‘s place that twitch my maternal protection alarm.  This morning I dropped Autumn off and was greeted by the sight of C-‘s pajama-clad boyfriend.  He’s been there before and I completely trust that C- would never let anything happen to the kids, but I’m always nervous when someone’s there who I don’t really know, man or woman.

Then there’s the TV issue.  Autumn is exposed to way too much television.  It’s on when we drop Autumn off and on when we pick her up.  I honestly don’t know if C- ever turns it off during the day.  I know I have every right to ask about it and I plan to, but how do you regulate TV exposure at someone else’s house when other people’s kids are involved?  And how can I criticize C- for doing the exact same thing I do when I’m home with Autumn?  Hi, my name is Heather and I’m a TV addict raising the next generation of reality show junkie.

I talked this over with Nathan and we agreed to keep the TV off until Autumn goes to bed and to try to have it on as little as possible on the weekends.  Pretty soon we’ll be moving our monstrous TV into our newly painted family room downstairs and won’t have any TV upstairs save for the one in our bedroom.  The upstairs living room will be Autumn’s domain (as if it isn’t already) and her designated play room.

Speaking of downstairs, I’m really excited about the changes we’re making.  We painted last week, ordered two new couches, new curtains and window shades and plan on painting the fireplace before our couches are delivered. We’re ordering paint for the fireplace from this site because, really, how cool does that look?  Better than the red brick splattered with Aloe Vera green that is is now (we’re messy painters).

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Ding dong the witch is dead

Ok, she’s not dead, but she’s not coming back to daycare.

C- gave Brooke’s mom two weeks notice to find another daycare provider on Friday.  Apparently C- attempted to give a little constructive criticism and it wasn’t appreciated.  Brooke’s mom told C- that kids would be kids but that maybe Brooke wouldn’t bite if C- had more constructive playtime with her.  C- said she didn’t need the aggravation and told the mom she had two weeks to find someone else.

This morning when I dropped Autumn off, C- told me Brooke wouldn’t be coming back.  When I asked her if her mom had already found someone else C- said, “No, the more I thought about it the more I decided I didn’t need to deal with that.”  She didn’t elaborate and I didn’t ask any more questions, but I think C- may have called Brooke’s mom and told her not to come back.

I have to admit I’m happy that Autumn never has to see Brooke again, but I’m sorry Brooke’s mom wasn’t willing to take a more constructive approach to solving the problem.  If it had been my child doing the biting, I would have been all over the situation, consulting books, the internet and Autumn’s pediatrician to see what might be the cause of the problem.  I’m not saying Brooke’s mom failed to do any of that, but I kind of got the idea that she was waiting to see if Brooke grew out of behavior.  I don’t know why Autumn was singled out, but I’m glad Brooke got the boot before she started in on the 3-month old infant C- started watching recently.

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