Thursday, April 10, 2014

I Feel Bad About ...

I've been in the Daycare Business for over 15 years (minus my three year hiatus) now. Boy ... things have changed.

I suppose the greatest change of all is 'me'. Whether I admit or accept or believe it, I suppose that I have become rigid in my expectations. I continue to walk into each and every day believing what worked for me in the past, will continue to work in the future. So I just keep doing what I have been doing. Except for one thing. It is not working. Not working well, anyway.

I cannot figure out what has happened. Do babies enter this world knowing and believing that the world revolves around them and that they are the bosses? Or do we teach them that? And even if they have been taught that at home, in my experience children adapt to new surroundings and accept new leadership and guidance from others. Except for one thing. They don't seem to care about the rules or authority figures.

Things hit a crescendo around here a while ago. There is a leadership among children and they follow what they see. If their leader is not strong in their own convictions they will follow their followers. Long story short? One year olds have been ruling the roost around here. I think that they are planning a world take-over.

I sit and I scratch my head. What am I doing wrong? Why is this cycle repeating itself again? I had a daycare family of two, 1-year-olds and one, 2 1/2 year old at the onset of my re-established daycare. A year and a half later, I have two new 1-year-olds and one new 2 1/2 year old. I am back to where I started a year and a half later.

I do not have the luxury of having the same children that I started out with. So those 'lessons learned' along the way are not being passed down the line. What seems to be happening instead, is a reaffirmation of one infraction that is taking over our household. I think that my children have a motto among themselves "The moment she turns her back, do whatever you please".

In Daycare 1.0, I had a wide variety of ages and personalities. I had quiet ones, loud ones, nurturing ones, wild and crazy ones. I had those who listened and followed my expectations and those who liked to bend and break the rules. But those who adhered to the rules of the land were a definite majority. Not to mention, I had an inside track. One of those in my care was my own flesh and blood. He was a quiet leader among all ages and I think it made more of a difference than I will ever know.

Back in Daycare 1.0, I took care of anyone and everyone who hired me. I adapted and made hard things work. In Daycare, the Sequel I have asked one child to leave (believing knowing it was best for everyone concerned) and I turned away another family that I knew was more than I could handle. Am I throwing the ecosystem off of its axis because I am not letting in a full representation of our population?

I am missing my little guy that would now be 3 1/2 years old. He was fun with a capital "F". He was a people person and brought joy into the world around him. He knew how to have fun. Unfortunately he copied inappropriate age behaviours (which wasn't terrible when he was copying those a year younger than him but definitely became an issue when it affected his toilet training, ability to count and remember how old he was). I know in my head that he needed to be around children older than him. I know this! Yet ... I miss what he brought into our days a lot of the time.

I am experiencing my annual "I cannot wait to get back out into the sunshine after an endless winter" syndrome. I will be fine as soon as I get outside and start soaking up some good old Vitamin D. But there are days that I wonder about myself. I should be better at this by now ... but they keep changing the children! I am terribly afraid that I am becoming my mother which is good in many ways. But not so great when you are a daycare provider (Mom prefers children once they reach the age of majority) ...

I talk myself through the challenging days and enjoy 'moments' whenever and wherever possible. But I could not help but feel very afraid when I was thumbing through Nora Ephron's book "I Feel Bad About My Neck" and this is the quote that I was destined to find "The world’s greatest babysitter burns out after two and a half years". This means that the previous year and a half was as good as I get or better.

Well, Nora? You have succeeded in making me feel bad about more things than my neck. Thank you very much.

I think I am going to crawl into my black turtleneck sweater now. As you say (and I fully concur on this one) "You can’t own too many black turtleneck sweaters".

(To enjoy a few more of these excerpts, click here  If you enjoy that, I can lend you her book)

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