Saturday, September 27, 2008

Speaking of working mothers' guilt...Daycare Drama

I'm switching the little boys' daycare this week. The one they've been in was B's third, but he's in 1st grade now -- and this is the only daycare the two little guys have ever known. So you can imagine how grueling a decision this has been.

The place was really nice for the first few months we were there. I should have known, when the director who showed me the place departed on our first day there, (departed *for good*, I should add) that the outlook might not have been good. And now, four directors later, I can say that it was, at times, very good. But right now, it sucks.

After the last director left, the new one, Miss R. came in very quickly. Rob and I call her "Miss America" because she literally comes to work with pageant hair and full makeup - including eyelashes. She's built like a beauty queen, too, and loves to wear tasteful, expensive-looking, very fitted clothing to show it off.

Miss R looks very professional, but she - like the rest of the staff - is very young, with no children of her own. She's concerned with things like ratios, and classroom supplies. She loves the cute kids, but hasn't an inkling what it's like to leave your children with strangers every day.

So, needless to say, she's part of the problem. She hires young staff, doesn't announce when they leave, doesn't announce when new staff joins, and doesn't communicate well with parents. When I talk to her about concerns I have, I often feel like there's a language barrier or something. I can practically see everything I say fly right over her perfectly styled head.

Turnover is a problem, too. Half the time, someone I've never met is handing my kids to me at the end of the day. There's only one teacher who's been there as long as we have.

That's the background. Here are the actuals:

1. Frequently, when I drop Ig off, his room is over ratio. Now, if this place didn't already push state limits, it probably wouldn't be such a big deal. But on a GOOD day, there are two very young women with 14 2.5 year old. I can barely manage 1 two-year old. But seven? So if there are 16 kids in there, I will wait until kids and teachers are shuffled appropriately and I can feel safe leaving my son. The waiting makes Ig uneasy and me late for work. And it's an ongoing issue.

2. When I pick up, the boys will sometimes be together in one room, with a teacher I barely know watching tiny little Ig with a bunch of older 4YOs. Which wouldn't be so bad if the teacher was actually watching and if Ig weren't so tiny and immature for his age.

3. On 3 separate occasions, Ig has come home with no pullup and no undies. Funny the first time, downright concerning by the third. He doesn't have tear-away pullup. He has to take offf his pants and undies to do this. Which means he's got to be alone in the bathroom for close to five minutes to accomplish this task. And did I mention that he slipped in the bathroom and had to get stitches a few months ago?

4. Ozzy had an asthma flare last week. I would have kept him home if I had any flexibility at work, but I coudln't. So I nebbed him up and sent him to daycare with an alubterol MDI. I filled out all the forms for him to get the meds....and he didn't. They forgot to give him his 4 o'clock dose. They. Forgot. To. Give. Him. Asthma. Meds.

...and that was the final straw.

So I'm moving them away from their friends to a nearby center. The new place is about half the size and family-owned. It's clean. And Ig's room has 8 boys and two *mature* caregivers. Ozzy's room has three teachers; one of them is the owner.

I feel good about the move, but it's a LOT more a time when no one has a LOT more money for everything. And it's disruptive to all of us.

I wish this wasn't a necessary step, but I don't think our current childcare situation is repairable. Miss America takes responsibilty for nothing. She blamed Ig for the diaper removal. While her business manager admitted to forgetting Ozzy's medicine, she lied to corporate -- and essentially blamed Ozzy for lying about the missed dosed! She blamed the teachers for Ig's stitches and the business manager for the ratio issues. I can't work with someone who can't own their mistakes. Doesn't she realize that her staff is reflection of herself? That if she were on "The Apprentice," the Donald would have sacked her ass?

Hopefully, the kids and I will be happier at the new center. Ig's been very clingy at drop-off lately - a new behavior for him, probably sympomatic of the chaos he has to deal with once I leave.

As my co-worker so aptly put it, "It's OK to *miss* your kids while you're at work, but you can't *worry* about them."

Ain't it the truth?

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