May 22, 2023

daycare drama: rocky start, smooth sailing at last

We hung out at this cool place last
week. Rope bridges and ponds and
 slides built into the landscaping.
Remember last year's daycare drama? Recap:  The twin girls I sit for go to Goddard School three days a week. When grandma bowed out as their part-time caregiver, they split their time between me and Goddard. I'd never had a family use an actual daycare on their days opposite me, but out of my control. 

The twins got infected with Hand Foot Mouth on the first day of school and spread it to my daycare before they realized they had it. Wilhelm's cancelled my services because she was upset that the twins were going to Goddard.

Since Wilhelm left in mid September, I spent the rest of the school year trying to fill the vacancy. It was a revolving door of weirdos - neither family who started worked out. It was the year when Crazy quit, then Crazier called, and then Craziest (the peeps who insisted I wake their baby up at set intervals and feed him on a pillow on my knee even though he didn't suffer from cleft palate) pushed me over the edge. 

Good riddance. Financially it was rough. I was supposed to be socking college tuition money away  because, believe it or not, I don't want to do this forever. An open spot all year frustrated me from a I NEED TO MAKE A BUNDLE standpoint.

I met two sisters in April. Both teachers. Their in-home daycare was closing. It seemed like a perfect fit. I even gave them a bit of a discount, since they'd been accustomed to a state licensed place that charged less than me. 

They started in August. The parents are lovely. They follow the rules, pay on time, aren't overly demanding.

The problem:  one little girl. 'Alexa' She's 4.5 years old. She doesn't go to preschool, because they couldn't figure out transportation and they don't live in my district so they don't qualify for bus, etc. They said their older son didn't do preschool because of the pandemic and it worked out fine. Um, Alexa needs preschool, or a swift kick in the pants. 

She's smart as a whip. She's beautiful. She's a major pain in my ass. Well, she started out that way. I literally am here to say that I ALMOST called her folks and said NOPE. DONE. CAN'T DEAL WITH HER. 

My stomach physically hurt when she started her crying stuff. I even broke down and cried myself one day in the fall. I just couldn't with this kid anymore.

Guess who feels like they've babysat every type of kid and who couldn't imagine a situation that she couldn't handle? ME, that's who. 

I stuck it out and Alexa has settled in. I really cannot believe I'm typing those words because I never thought it was possible. 

She cried everyday. Her little brother is 2.5. He's easy-peesie. No tears. Ever. There was nothing I could do to make her happy. Making small people happy is my profession. I keep them safe. I entertain. I bring them on nice outings. I read books and play games. I dance around the table during meals and they die laughing. I pretend my kitchen is a restaurant and I take their orders for meals. I'm a riot, damn it. I inform them of the rules, soothe their tears, and engage with them ALL.DAMN.DAY.LONG.

I'm the bomb, if I don't say so myself. 

I started just putting her up in a bedroom and telling her she could join us when she was done crying. If we went to the zoo, she asked when we could go home. She tattles. She lies. She pesters. She orders all the other kids around. She doesn't nap - eek. 

I worried that her parents were gonna think that I sucked. Maybe they'd question whether or not I was mistreating her. The dad usually drops off and I wasn't getting a good read on him. 

Finally he told me that she is like that at home. Difficult. Moody. That sometimes she just requires time alone. Oh, I can give her time alone ALL DAY LONG. 

I'm not sure if they spoil her at home and just give in because it's easier or if she is going to end up having an issue like oppositional defiance disorder. Maybe she will grow out of her nonsense. 

It took a few months for her to settle in. I bought coloring books, so she could color during nap time. That helped. I made a sticker chart. If she wanted to color at nap time she had to acquire stickers. One sticker for walking into the house without making her dad carry her. A sticker for not crying, etc. 

After six weeks, she started arriving without crying. It was November, mind you. She and her brother are here Mon, Tues, Wed. I started feeling like Thursday was the weekend. Such a relief to wake up and realize she wasn't coming. 

Between sitting in a room alone upstairs and getting more comfortable with the other kids, who are ALL SUPER SWEET AND FUN AND PLAYFUL- not a bully or a mean bone between them, I think she finally adjusted to the change. She started getting my routine and learned that pushing my buttons is not going to end well. 

I drafted this back in November, but bumped it for something super interesting, I'm sure. The school year is winding down and I'm finally sharing it. Mini arrived home Friday. I can schedule things like mammograms and meetings with the high school investigator (set for Tuesday). If you consider that I almost quit Alexa's family despite how bummed I was to have an opening all last year, I think you'll appreciate how rough the start of this school year was. 

SUMMER . . . my break. It's almost here. Holler if you love summer and tell me what your plans are. Do you have job-related nonsense that you thought would never improve?


mbmom11 said...

Summer is great after my semester ends for a few weeks, then I get a little tired of trying to figure out what to do with myself and kids. It was so much easier when they were all little! But I need to man up and set firm rules about computer usage and outside time. One child has a camp for 6 weeks in the summer ( she gets bussed! Love this camp!) so the ones at home better expect a lot of morning bike rides , library trips, and help around the house. I do want to start up puzzles and board games again. We usually hit a pool late in the afternoon. I can't do midday as I have sensitive skin.
Not my favorite season- I hate hot humid days. (Unfortunately, as I live about 3 hrs south of you, that's all I get in summer.)

Nance said...

I remember fondly when Summers were my Golden Times. As a teacher, there were years and years when I lived for them. When my sons were little, it was always so great to be able to be home with them all that time, and they loved it, too.
Hang in there.

Busy Bee Suz said...

She must have been hell on wheels for you to almost quit her! Bravo to you for sticking it out and helping her...I'm sure her parents are SO thankful for all that you've done for her.
Summer? I'm inside more than out unless I'm in the pool. Summer here isn't fun because of the heat. My job is the same all year round. 😜😳

Life of a Doctor's Wife said...

Oh geez that sounds like such a challenging time! I'm so glad she's settled in.

There is a lot of good stuff going on this summer! I hope yours is relaxing!

Ally Bean said...

A rough start to your year but a good ending, so all's well overall. No particular summer plans here. Just more of the same, which ain't a bad thing. I'm contented enough.

Pat Birnie said...

You truly are the “toddler-whisperer”. I am sure the parents are so grateful to you! All those little are so lucky to be in your care- I have never known of a daycare provider that did as much with their charges as you do. And what a great plan to have teachers as clients and summers off.

Nicole said...

I'm glad things have smoothed out after a rough start!
I love summer, and this summer has a lot of changes for us. We are moving (no, I haven't talked about it on the blog, and won't for a little while yet). I am starting to get excited about the move, rather than feeling overwhelmed about the amount of stuff I need to do to prepare. I still have that stuff to do but it feels more manageable.

Beth Cotell said...

She must have been a true nightmare for you to consider firing her!! But you did it! It sounds like you have been wonderful for her. I'm sure her parents are very thankful for all you've done for her. I'm assuming she will be starting kindergarten in the fall?

I hope the meeting with the investigator goes well! Is this a new development that we haven't heard about or did I miss something? Last I heard, you had sent a letter and were waiting....

Ernie said...

mbmom11 - If you live 3 hours south of me, then I probably drove right by you yesterday on my way home from Texas. The older I get, the harder it is for me to enjoy the hot humid days . . . but oh, how I love the pool.

I remember having the kids write in journals after swim team practice in the summer when my kids were younger. They all keep busy working now and there never seems to be a good time to fit in dentist visits and school physicals.

Ernie said...

Nance - I always missed my kids when they started kindergarten. Summers with no school was my favorite time. We logged HOURS at the local pool or shuffled off to basketball camp and waited for a decent day to visit the zoo when it wasn't too hot. I love summer. I still love it when my kids come home from college - even though it means finding space for all of their gear, which is currently residing in my front hall. ;)

Ernie said...

Suz - She really was hell on wheels. I don't think the parents recognize that I've done anything for her, honestly. She's very spoiled and she runs things at her house, so I doubt that fact that I've insisted on me being in charge at my house has made much of a difference to them. When she knocked over another kid's block tower just so she could snag the pieces that she wanted, we shared that with the dad at pick up. He was confused and was like WELL, WAS IT A BIG DEAL? Oh my. I guess if you are OK with your kid misbehaving then it really isn't a big deal.

I'd have to hang in the pool 24/7 if I lived in Florida.

Ernie said...

Suzanne - I'm so glad that we finally found some common ground. I might be wrong but I feel like if the mom did drop off maybe she would've given me a better idea of what makes her kid tick. When the dad finally said SHE'S LIKE THIS AT HOME AND SOMETIMES SHE JUST NEEDS TIME ALONE, I was like OH, GOOD TO KNOW. Then I started inviting her to spend time alone in a bedroom with a stack of books until she could stop crying. I don't think that was her preference and she felt she was missing out. Now the whole bunch of them are a little gang. They rarely have a dispute.

Summer will be interesting here. Long story. ;)

Ernie said...

Ally - Yes, a rough start, but once she settled in and the whole group clicked fabulously - it has really been smooth sailing. This is the most kids I've ever sat for (9 on Tuesdays, 6 on Mondays, 7 on Wednesdays and Th and Fri very light). The fact that they are mostly older and can play well together has been amazing.

Glad you are content with the upcoming summer months. Enjoy.

Ernie said...

Pat - I agree, sitting for teachers is the bomb. I used to substitute teach and then someone asked me if I'd heard of - which I don't use anymore, but that's where I met my first family. It has been a blessing, because turns out I know a thing or two about a thing or two in the child care world. I'm old school and guess what - some kids need old school instead of letting them run things. Oh, I shudder at some of the parenting techniques out there. I don't think the parents think I did anything special for their kid. I just finally stopped worrying that they thought I wasn't taking good care of her/being mean - which was my fear. I laid down the law and was like - go cry upstairs while we are busy having fun and she snapped out of it. She is a piece of work. I've figured her out, but I will NOT miss her when she goes to kindergarten in the fall.

Ernie said...

Nicole - I have deduced that you are moving. Good luck. That is a huge undertaking. We moved uncle over the weekend and I still feel so strange about the fact that we left behind SO MUCH. The estate people will deal with it, I guess. I love summer too, and we are going to have a unique situation this summer that I haven't shared yet. It should be interesting and hopefully a good thing. Good luck with your move.

Ernie said...

Beth - She was/is a true nightmare, but I finally showed her who is the boss and stopped worrying that her folks thought we weren't having fun here. They were like SHE'S MOODY LIKE THIS and I was like, hell - I'm switching gears. This is my house, damn it.

I thought I explained that the principal forwarded our email to HR and Coach and I were about to meet with the HR lady. There is an investigation, but of course THINGS have happened. It's been a headache. I was actually relieved to be in Texas juggling that crazy move. Taking a break from all things school district related was a good thing. My brain has many folders, and there are many, MANY things going on. Not sure how long I can manage all the file folder in my brain. I will try to update you on the HR woman and her weird approach in Thursday's post.

Bijoux said...

I seriously could never stand to babysit other people's kids, once I had my own. My kids were zero drama and would look at me when we were out in public and saw the meltdowns other kids were having. LOL!

We are traveling this summer and squeezing in as much fun as possible. WE LOVE summer!

Ernie said...

Bijoux - My kids used to do the same thing - out at a store when a kid would misbehave, my kids would freeze and look at me, like ARE YOU GONNA HANDLE THAT? The crew I have now is really good - even the girl that drove me nuts. She has learned not to push my buttons, because I WILL send her off to sit by her selfish little self. Kindergarten could not happen soon enough for her.

Summer is my favorite time. I hate winter. So much.

Charlie said...

Well done getting through to her eventually. Your patience deserves a medal Ernie. I can so imagine how excited you are for the summer. I’m so envious you have local outdoor pools to visit. We do have one, but it’s SO busy because there are usually only a few days per summer it’s warm enough to go! I’m excited to finally have some better weather, but my job is all year round, although I’ve 2 weeks off at the end of July and 2 weeks off end of August. We’re visiting Spain and also planning a trip to Italy to see my step-son’s in-laws. It’s a surprise trip for Ella’s 18th birthday and I can’t wait to see her face when we arrive and her niece and nephew are already there! I’ve just read your later post and I’m thrilled to read that the coach investigation is being treated formally. I’m so wound up by bullies and injustice so it’s great you are pursuing this and standing up for all those other kids he is bullying or will in the future. Can’t wait to hear more! Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet on here, I’m hoping to get back into the swing of regular commenting as you know I love your posts

Ernie said...

Charlie - Great to hear from you. No need to apologize. I know how busy life can be. Your upcoming travels sound exciting. I've recently decided that I could NEVER work at a job year round that didn't offer naps as a perk. Hee hee. This is a holiday weekend and the weather is beautiful today. I've got a new book and I'm ready to nap poolside. Is there anything worse than a crowded pool? I hope you have amazing weather and plenty of time to relax while on your trips. I look forward to hearing about the surprise trip. XO