April 15, 2020

Your mission (as I sort of kick myself), should you choose to accept it

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?


ccr in MA said...

I definitely think you did the right thing. They aren't appreciative of what you do, and nothing was going to change that. It's unsettling not to know what will happen in the fall, but hey, everything is unsettling right now! Try to keep it on the "can't do anything about it, so worry about later" list if you can.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I just watched Notting Hill last week, so I feel like I'm the answer to all your woes.
You've never really felt connected to the family other than the baby. Who just walks into someone's house? What an asshat.
Cutting the line with them opens up better opportunities for you; I'm sure of this.
Lurch. I'm gonna be thinking about that guy all day now.

Kari said...

I've never seen Notting Hill, so I am completely lost.
I do think you did the right thing since you guys didn't really mesh well. I get why someone couldn't pay you if they had lost their jobs but if they were still working, they should have offered something as a courtesy.

It's such a hard time all around right now, unfortunately.

Kara said...

You played it right. When my kids were young enough to need daycare, we always worked with their carers to find a way to keep everyone happy during the summer (the kids go to my parents for June & July). Some years it was full tuition, to hold the spots, sometimes it was 1/2, especially if the carer was taking in school age kids for the summer. We had to "break up" with one carer, because after six weeks, it became obvious that it just wasn't a good fit (was advertised as a dog free home, yet they got a puppy soon after my kids started, middle kid has dog phobia and the puppy was up in her face A LOT. I wasn't looking for the carer to give untrained exposure therapy to the child). We gave a two week notice, with pay, but pulled the kids on that day- so she got two weeks full pay without the kids to find another family to work with.

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree, you did the right thing. They obviously don’t respect you, and someone who takes such good care of your child deserves a lot of respect. Crossing my fingers for you that you’ll get another good-fit fam for the fall!
Very kind of you to help out others as you are able, my family has done the same. Making sure to tip more generously, sending money to a family member out of work, who didn’t ask but we know they were living paycheck-to-paycheck and having medical issues.
Can’t wait to hear about your upcoming development!

Beth Cotell said...

I think you did the right thing. It sounds like they treated you as more of a "daycare". You know - one of those multi-room, multi-teacher establishments owned by a corporation; hence him feeling like he could just walk right in without knocking. You are much more than a day care and should be treated as such. I'm sure you can find the exact right fit for your open spots!

Also,can't wait to find out what you are talking about with this life changing event!

Ernie said...

CCR - that is a good approach. Out of my control whether or not I get another kid to fill the spot, still a long way off. I feel like those folks were getting the same treatment as the people who gave back so much to me and I don't think they deserved the same perks since they were so clueless.

Suz - Ha. Such a great movie. I love Hugh Grant. He is great in that movie. I am going to sleep better with your confident 'I'm sure of this' in the back of my mind. Honestly I never really was crazy about the baby. Always something a rash or snots and incredibly tubby. These are the parents that fed her crap. Sugar cereal. Veggies for a can. Fruit cups. Very little fresh.

Lurch is like 6'8" and not the workout type - more the video game playing type. He picked the baby up when the other kid's preschool bus arrived at my house and it was at 3:25 so her nap was never done. I do things during naps. Like close my eyes for 20 minutes or make meatloaf, etc. Everyone else picks up after 4:15, so I would be up to my elbows in meatloaf and he would text me to say "Hey I'm here." Because I stopped leaving the garage open to deter him from just plowing into my house. It all worked when I budgeted my time well, but if my meatloaf making was midstream I would have to wash up, open the door, go wake the kid from her nap, etc. My kids are SO glad I am not taking that baby back. They never wanted to help carry her up the stairs. Even Coach was like: "Geez, good thing you work out, she's a load."

Ernie said...

Kari - How have you not seen Notting Hill? I am jealous because now you have a great movie to watch during this shut-in-and-watch time-frame. It's a winner. I feel like they are not loaded, but that they secured me as a sitter and it was worth discussing or trying to come up with a plan together. By the time I approached them I was ticked and that didn't help try as I might to be unemotional in my conversation with her - I was hurt and fed up.

Kara - I have a family now the we-won-the-lottery people who were astounded at some of the places they visited before we met. People who claimed a smoke free home and it was not. Pet free when it was not. Curly answered the door when they arrived last summer with their little brand new baby. Before the couple even left the husband looked at his wife and was like, 'I mean we haven't talked but I think this is the place. I mean when I met Curly at the door and she was so super friendly and couldn't wait to see the baby in the carrier I knew.'

Taking good care of the people who take care of your people only makes sense. I'm glad you got that and I'm sure your care givers were glad too.

Anonymous - Thank you for the finger crossing and yes - you would think that they would be more aware of their fortune in finding good child care. I think the grandpa lives with them and the mom has told me that he just leaves the TV on all day. She said she noticed the baby sleeping better after being with me, because we did things. Weird then not to be more appreciative and be more interested in nurturing this relationship rather than blowing it off. I feel like there are so many stories of everyday people looking out for the people around them right now, so good of you to help out that family member.

Will keep you posted on the 'thing'. It is causing me a little bit of stress and we are hoping and praying that it ends positively.

Beth - I am hoping to find a good match. Another high school teacher is interested. He and his partner have a 3 yr old. If his partner gets a teaching job (just finished school) they will need someone 5 days a week. I don't really want to do 5 days a week, but a 3 yr old can run errands with me. Still, not my preference. I prefer a whole day off each week. Wondering if my friend who sits might consider splitting the job with me and whether or not they will go for that. The partner needs to get a job first.

I honestly think he treated me like a 14 year old girl that was sitting for an hourly wage. I also think he just thought he was the man. Eww. He was not.

When I prayed about the life changing event last night, I did seek the intercession of Rebecca Irene. :) Keep you posted.

Nicole said...

SNOW! You got the Canadian Curse! It has snowed here for the past five days but I think it's warming up this weekend.

I honestly think that you are better off with the two families who do appreciate and value you; maybe in the fall if you have space look for a new family but you are better off without the third one. I agree with Coach on this one - hope you get a better match with another family! Especially since the other families value you so much.

Nicole said...

Also...he just WALKS INTO YOUR HOUSE? WHAT. Who does that?

Ernie said...

Nicole - ah, the Canadian Curse, that's what that is? Well, I admit that I felt a little guilty after posting that photo because it had all melted by like 3 in the afternoon. Still is has been in the 40's all week.

These bumps have popped up before and Coach is always in the 'you dodged a bullet' mindset. It takes me a bit to come around because I add up what could have been my income, but time heals. I have had a few nibbles today about possible families for the fall so I am trying to remain. I messaged the one potential family and told them that the two families I work for really value good childcare and are very appreciative, and that means a lot to me. Just figured I would lay the ground work in advance.

Yes, Lurch came into my house without EVER knocking - I am elated that this is past tense. One day in the first few weeks he showed up at 11:00 am before his kid got on the bus because he wanted to spike his hair for picture day. What? He just walked in while we were having lunch because I had left the garage door up after we played outside. I assumed his wife was supposed to let me know that morning and forgot and I let it slide. (Lurch works nights and sleeps days).

It became too late to casually say something but I did usually comment: 'Oh, I didn't hear you knock.' Either he heard me and he was just on a power trip and felt entitled to enter as he wished because his kids were here, or he didn't hear me, or he heard me and he is just too stupid to 'get it.' I started keeping the garage door down and only putting it up when I saw his son's bus show up at my driveway. I would race to get the baby out of bed so she could be at the door ready to hand off so I didn't have to small talk with him. I can make conversation with the wall, but this guy. Ultra dopey.