|View out my front door. |
Mini's friends decorated
our front porch Saturday night to
surprise her. She turned
16 on Easter Sunday.
First and foremost: shout out to Nicole - it's snowing here. Like big fluffy, do-not-melt-upon-landing snow flakes. We are under a winter advisory. I wasn't planning to go anywhere, so not too worried. But there is no green grass to be seen. Still our chances of warming up are probably better than yours in Calgary, but for now we are stuck inside again today. Sigh.
Readers, I invite you to accept a role in this, my mental breakdown. Your role is simple. Have you seen the movie Notting Hill? Well, remember when Hugh Grant gathers his friends at the end and informs them that he has turned down the recently resurfaced Anna Scott? They sort of nod and agree and assure him that it was a great decision. That is all I ask of you today.
We will not go into the part where all of a sudden Hugh realizes his mistake. If I did indeed make a mistake here, and I should mention this has nothing to do with romance- there is no going back. As easy as it is to tell myself things like: this is for the best and everything happens for a reason and it will work out, my mind keeps playing these cruel tricks on me. Like: 'Dummy.' This causes my heart to race and my head to spin and my sleep to be deprived. Damn it.
Let me explain.
This school year I sat for 3 families. Two of the families are over the moon about me. Very grateful for all that I do. The one mom tells me weekly, or mentions it to Coach: "We feel like we won the lottery when we found Ernie."
At Christmas the two amazing families were quite generous. Beyond that though, they wrote me heartfelt notes about how they so appreciate that I care for their little ones the way that I do. The non-lottery comment mom wrote: "We appreciate that you make our little guy a part of your family."
Very kind and touching statements that truly warmed my heart. Turns out gratitude goes a long way.
The third family did not give me a card. No kind statement of appreciation. No nothing. I watch their 2 children 3 days a week. You might recall that the mom texted me and asked me to remind her preschooler to hand out all of the cards to his teachers and bus driver that day at school. I am confident that she wasn't giving these teachers gift cards, but the point is she REMEMBERED them with a card. Crazy.
Fast-forward to pandemic.
The two amazing families have continued to pay me. Before we officially went on lock-down but things started to take shape they both told me that they would continue to pay me through March. Then they kept on paying me in April.
Over the weekend, I felt guilty. I reached out to the two of them and suggested we formulate a plan that they would be comfortable with. I thanked them for their generosity. Said I doubted any of us expected this to go on this long. I told them I was open to suggestions. Maybe pay me half my fees for a few more weeks and then I would give them each a one-week, full price credit for the fall. Maybe I could make them dinner once a week since I couldn't babysit.
The 'we-won-lottery' family said they would pay me (they use me 3x a week) full price for two more weeks followed by two more weeks of half price pay which would land us in mid-May. They also paid me over spring break, which is not even a week I typically get paid. She said they were both still getting paid and I was in the budget and they so appreciate the care I give the baby and the peace of mind I give them.
When I read the other 'our-guy-part-of-your-family' text to Coach, I broke down a little. Thanks for offering the half price deal, but you have been so great with our guy that we are happy to pay you full wages through the end of the school year. (this guy has eating issues and sees a feeding therapist and for awhile I was the only one who could get him to eat. Not an easy job to sit for him, and I was delighted that they noticed).
How great are these people?
The 3rd family/clueless people: when the school shut down she texted me to say 'looks like we will be keeping the kids here with me.' She is a teacher. I texted back and reminded her of my absent policy. They had just used up their last 'free' day (I give two weeks worth of days when they don't pay me if they don't need me. After that, pay me for a day I am scheduled whether you need me or not). She texted back asking for clarification of my policy. She didn't remember it. I described my policy and her husband who we call Lurch continued to pay me for about 3 weeks at full price.
Lurch is a dope. He refuses to knock on my door. Just walks into the house. It is unnerving. I sincerely think he believes that because his kids are here he can just enter as he pleases. He must have been busy learning to be a dope when they taught manners at school.
She is still getting paid. As far as I know Lurch is still working. If they told me any different, then I would have been more lenient on my policy. After the three weeks, her school cancelled the rest of her school year so Lurch texted me last week: 'Looks like she won't be going back to school this year so we won't be needing childcare. Thanks for everything.'
I felt that this situation warranted a phone call, not a 'hey, we're done' kiss-off text. Like, 'hey this is a weird situation, not sure how to proceed.'
Funny how different families get different responses from me. I told Coach that I don't think they value me. I don't want to work for people who don't see the value in the care I give their kids. Simple, right?
I wrote up a response and I called the mom on Saturday and essentially read it to her. I told her that I felt the situation warranted a 'So now what?' conversation not a text. I told her that the other families were still paying me and that I felt those families valued the care I gave their kids.
I was open to suggestions, but if they wanted me to hold a spot for their baby in the fall (older brother going to kindergarten) then perhaps they could pay me half price for the remaining weeks of school and then I would give them a full price credit for the first week in the fall. I pointed out that her husband mistakenly paid me for spring break, so they had a credit. If they wanted to skip paying me, that was fine too but then I would not guarantee a spot for their baby come fall. I also would not guarantee the same rate. She said she would talk to Lurch and get back to me.
Monday Lurch called. He apologized for texting and not calling when he cancelled me for the rest of the year. I pointed out to him that it was an odd situation, but I felt it warranted a call. Then he said that they thought it best to just part ways.
**I don't think this guy liked me calling the shots, power tripping dude who thinks it is OK to just walk in my house was not going to have a 'babysitter' dictate whether or not they paid me during pandemic and when it is OK to send a text or make a call.**
This 'parting ways' took me by surprise, even though it was a chance I was taking. But if I am honest and Coach is adamantly reminding me of this - I did not care for the way they behaved. Walking in the house. Not recognizing that caring for their kids was a big responsibility. Not showing gratitude. I do feel like I am too old and too busy to do what I do for people who take it for granted.
I told Lurch: "That probably makes sense. I have felt like there was a piece missing here for a while. You are the first family I have ever babysat for that did not recognize my services with a card at Christmas to say thanks for all you do. I do a great job and I go the extra mile and I really only want to work for people who appreciate that. Good child care is hard to find. So good luck."
I can't help but play the 'what if' game. What if I had just waited till the fall and then increased their rate a bit? What if I just told myself 2 great families out of 3 ain't so bad? I think it is sad because I know the baby was really happy here. The mom just told me that the baby squealed whenever they pulled in the driveway coming to my house. If I knew right now that I could replace them with another appreciative family, then I could relax. I had a good schedule and was able to have Fridays off. What if I cannot find another part time family?
Side note: a teacher at the kids' high school is interested in having me sit for her twin babies in the fall. We talked a few weeks ago and she said she is confident that she wants her babies here and just had to talk to her husband. She will be part time and I will still have Fridays off. I could possibly take her and the other two families and squish them into 3 days and have Thursdays and Fridays off even. That means that I cannot take on any other babies, which complicates finding new families.
On the other hand, I really want to have an 'in' at the kids' high school where the word could travel easily and OH HOW I PREFER WORD OF MOUTH referrals to taking chances on internet whack-a-doodles! So even if I leave the spot for the slightly older kid open for this school year, I could hope for other high school teacher interest in the upcoming years.
I might have a very busy fall due to a totally separate development that I will share as I get more information. (I have mentioned this potentially life changing event before but I don't want to get ahead of myself. It is still in the 'maybe' stages - not an awesome writing gig or a paying gig and no one is ill and we aren't moving). So working three days a week might be best.
**Another side note - and I know this is incredibly long so thanks for sticking with me here, Coach and I are trying to give back where we can and appreciate the people who are losing out during the pandemic. We have sent money to the people who teach classes at our gym. We don't even pay for our membership because it is granted us through his work, but we feel bad that these trainers are out serious income. My hair dresser JUST opened her first salon vs renting a chair somewhere else. We sent money to her GoFundMe to support her efforts to stay open. Coach has had two classes that he was scheduled to teach out of state cancelled. That is a chunk of our income lost. They have furloughed PTs at Coach's clinic - he has not been one of them but one never knows.
So, I am Hugh Grant concerned that I just shot myself in the foot a little and I am looking at you: Did I play this right?