Monday, October 25, 2010

Parking Signs

As we were out shopping on the weekend, I was thinking about all the specialized parking spots. Of course, there have always been handicapped parking spots, and more recently in the last ten years, spots for parents with young children, or spots for expectant mothers.

Saturday while we were at the bank I saw a sign for parking for senior citizens. Now what is with that?? I can certainly see why we need spots for handicapped people, and I can appreciate the closer spots for parents with young children, but now we have spots for seniors? Come on.

For the most part, seniors are adults aged 60 and up. In some places it's 65, others it's 60. Do we really need to reserve some of the best spots for these people? Granted, some seniors have mobility problems and for them, I am most willing to let them have the closer spots. But as far as I know, most of the people in this group already have handicapped parking signs. The seniors that are not mobility-challenged don't need to have spots reserved for them. They can walk like the rest of us poor schmoes and like the rest of us poor schmoes, they probably could do with the exercise. The same thoughts go towards expectant mothers. If you are headed out to the shopping mall, chances are you're in for a lot of walking anyway, so a few more metres to your car is not going to kill you.

I know this all sounds really contrite, but at some point it's going to be getting ridiculous. One day, we may see signs like this:
  • Parking reserved for 40 year old virgins, because they can't catch a break otherwise.

  • Parking reserved for people whose asshole bosses watch every second they take of break time, and who only have a half hour lunch to run around and accomplish the 48 million tasks they need to accomplish during the day and have no time after work because they're too busy running kids to sports and other events so every second counts.

  • Parking reserved for people who weigh over 300 pounds, because they can't move their fat asses any farther than they have to. (Hopefully this doesn't offend, but if it does, sorry, but this is MY blog.)

The list could go on and on. Our society has an oxy-moronic attitude towards health and exercise. On one hand, we are being told that as a society we are becoming less fit and more obese. We are being encouraged through various media to get up and get moving.

On the other hand, marketing and consumerism tells us to take the easy road. Everything is constantly being made easier to use, with less effort. And now, we are being handed parking spots closer to the door for rather mundane reasons.

Here's my idea. Reserve some parking spots at the back of the parking lots. Here's what their signs will say:

  • Parking reserved for people who want to live past 65.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Little Bummed

Today I'm feeling a little bummed. When I get like this, I try to remind myself of all the things I have to be thankful for. But it doesn't always work. So I'm going to write why I'm bummed and then write something positive to balance that.
Next week I was supposed to be off. I was supposed to be going on vacation to Florida, where we would visit Disney for the first time (for the boys). It didn't work out. And now we are stuck with Air Miles airline tickets that my dad graciously gave us and having to fake an illness soon so we can get a doctor's note to get the air miles (and some money) back. There's no other way, trust me. However, since I am a terrible liar and I feel guilt waaaaayyy too much, I am sending DH to the clinic tomorrow or Sunday to make up a story about being sick all night or whatever.
So I am bummed because I keep thinking about how this time in a few days we would have been having the time of our lives. I've got to stop that.
I wish I could tell you all the reason why we can't go, but I can't for now although those of you that know me best will already know. Things just haven't been progressing like we had hoped.
I was paying bills today and that also bums me out.
Every. Single. Time.
But the bill situation and the other unmentionable situation are linked directly and I don't know why I mentioned that but there you go.
So now, something positive. I must remember that despite my situations, we are all healthy, we have a roof over our heads, warm clothes and food to eat. We also have friends and family that love us.
So for next week, I told all the parents that I was "open" once again, and that they could send their kids if they hadn't made alternate arrangements. And can you believe that every single family is sending their kids at least a few days?! I guess no one made alternate arrangements. Perhaps they were all waiting for me to cancel my plans, or they were just planning on calling in sick to work for the week, I don't know. So while I am glad that I will once again be making some money, I am still sad that I won't be getting a vacay.
Now for the positive part. As it turns out, I will get to go on a school trip to the zoo with L, since DH is off for the week (his break from school which is why we chose that week originally for a holiday) he will look after the other kids that day *hee hee doing a little dance*. We also don't have to miss the Beavers/Cubs trip to the farm next week either. I was also supposed to be going on a school trip with R, but that one got cancelled :(
DH has been EXTREMELY busy this week with studying. Here's the part about being the supportive wife. It's hard. So hard. He hasn't been around much at all. Most mornings he has left by 8 or even 7, and hasn't been returning until the boys are in bed. They've barely seen him. Then last night, he went to a school friend's cottage for the night to "celebrate the end of exams and relax."
Well, must be nice for him.
I am really really trying to not be a bitch about this. Really I am. I am trying to think of it from his POV and I'm trying to be happy that he has some friends and is being social, because we both suffer from that equally (the lack of friends and consequent lack of social life). But seriously?? I am under just as much stress and pressure as he is here. When he is gone, I have to pick up the slack. I am dealing with kids almost 24/7 (not counting sleeping hours, I guess, although technically even though they are old enough to be sleeping through the night I am still responsible for them). I am suffering from all the same stresses regarding our finances, the "situation" and the consequences of said "situation", the vacation ordeal and day-to-day stuff. So when do I get my "relaxation" and celebration? Huh? Does it ever occur to him that I need away time too? It's not like he's said I can't have away time, it's just...I don't know...he didn't even ask me if it was ok if he went away. He just stated it.
"I'm going away."
So next week, he sure as shit isn't going to be sitting around on his ass playing Wii or going to meet the guys for drinks. He is going to have a list a mile long of things he needs to do, or he's going to hear about it. And I'm starting that list today.
Incidentally, I am getting away for a small amount of time on Sunday. A couple of the moms from Beavers/Cubs and I are going to the movies to see that one about the couple that gets custody of a baby. Some comedy. I can't remember the name of it. At this point, it could be a documentary on the Civil War for all I care, as long as I get to get out of this F**ing house without kids!!! So I get a few hours at least of away time.
Well, at least today is Friday, that is something to be happy about. And I don't have X today, so there's another positive. I don't have him until next Wed, yay!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Can I Get A Frickin' Break? Or, Why Women Are Always Constipated

WARNING: This post probably contains TMI. But I still wanted to write it anyway. So if you don't care to hear about BM's, which will herein be referred to as crap, then discontinue reading.

I have the worst luck with having a crap. (You're about to close this window, aren't you? I'm not going to describe anything, don't worry. But go ahead and close it if you don't want to read more.) Its all because of my stupid schedule. At 6:00 am I get up every morning. By 7:00 I am greeting the first child that comes through the door. Then it's on to making lunches, making breakfasts, greeting more children and possibly (if I'm lucky) eating my own high fiber breakfast. I need the fiber because, well, you know what this post is about.
At some point during this busy morning, my body will start to call out to me to attend to certain needs. It's not often I can gratify those needs. Take today, for example. I finally have a bite to eat, look at the clock and stupidly assume I may actually have a few moments before the next kid shows up. I go upstairs, sit down and, damn, was that a knock?
Yes. Yes it was. I hoist my pants back up and run down the stairs trying to not look like I am extremely frustrated about this person showing up waaaaaaaay earlier than expected and crap-blocking me.
So I admit the new little person who is indeed, new. She is crying and wailing for her mama, so I can't possibly just dump her and run to, well, have a dump of my own.
So I wait, and my colon is saying, "Really?"
Not long after, I am having to take the children to school and upon return I once again check the clock. My colon is saying, "Yes, please do." But alas, the time shall not be now, for another child is due to arrive at any moment. My colon says, "Excuse me, but I've also got something due to arrive at any moment!" I anxiously peer out the window, trying to catch a glimpse of any car coming down the street, trying to time it out - even if they were at this moment driving down the street, I could still possibly have a whole minute to attend to business. I mean that's plenty of time isn't it?
My colon is now threatening me with legal action.
These people are late! Where are they? Don't they know I need to use the bathroom? How would they like it if I showed up at their house while they were mid-dump?
After the arrival of said child I try again to sneak away from the children for a moment's peace. I sit down and there is a cry from downstairs, "JENN!"
Ok, I wish. I hastily do what I can with the three seconds I have before chaos ensues, and go back downstairs. My colon is not very relieved but has been slightly appeased for the moment. It grumbles at me, and I rub my tummy soothingly.
Later, the children are finally in bed for a nap, and although they aren't yet quiet I know that at least they are safe and separated (so they can't maul each other in my absence) and I can finally sit and get down to some business.
Grabbing my iPod, I head to my favourite retreat and relax on the throne.
Nothing is happening. My colon is saying, "You made me wait this long, so now I'm not going to cooperate! Hah! So there!"
However, I am finally getting to relax a bit so I stay where I am in hopes that my colon might change its mind. Just as I think things might be starting to move again, the phone rings.
It turns out to be one of the parents calling me to inform me I needn't pick their child up from school today, they are going home with a friend. Good thing I answered the phone, that's need-to-know info.
I settle back into the bathroom again, and damnit, the phone rings again. This time, it's my dad, and he and I have a heart-to-heart. By the time the conversation is finished, my colon has packed its bags and is moving to Alaska. Or Hawaii. I don't know, it didn't leave a note.
I sigh as I look at the toilet.
Perhaps tomorrow I'll have better luck.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another Dilemma


Last week was not a good week. There were a bunch of things that happened, one of them being that we found out that we can't actually take a trip that we were so hoping to take. Regardless, that's not the part of the bad week I was going to write about. Just something that added to it.

I look after a bunch of kids, as you know, and there is one child in particular that has been a bee in my bonnet (or wasp in my pant leg, since this IS the new millenium and as I'm not Amish I do not wear a bonnet!) We'll call him X. X has been with me since he was almost three. He is now 9. Ever since L could move independently, he and X have clashed. X has "had it in for him" for his entire life. Almost like it's been his personal life's goal to make L's life as miserable as he can. He teases him, fights and argues with him, provokes and taunts him, and just generally does everything within that vague circle of allowable limits that he can do to pester him. And there's the odd time that he gets physical with him too.

At first, in the early years, I chalked it up to #1) immaturity on X's part, and #2) jealousy felt on X's part at having to share my other son R. I always thought that he didn't like that R loved L more than him, or something like that. I also always tried to be objective; to hide that mother bear instinct to immediately rage at and throttle anyone who dared to make my child cry. I tried to see L as another kid I cared for, without special treatment and to allow him to find his own way through it. I tried to give him his own chances to stand up to X or to find acceptable coping strategies and conflict resolution. I've never wanted to say, "It's all his fault" (X's), because I fully realize that it takes two to argue or fight.

I had hoped that X would grow out of it eventually. I mean, every kid has to grow up and mature at some point right? I see it in many of R's friends, and R himself. They are growing past the petty fighting and bickering. They are all starting to be able to see beyond themselves and to look at the "big picture". They can put themselves in another's point of view without having to be reminded to do so. They are starting to see when to let things go, and what's worth fighting over and what's not. As a side note, I am LOVING this age! Nine is wonderful! R is (mostly) compliant, helpful and generally a joy to be around. But apparently that doesn't apply to all nine-year-olds.

So here it what happened last week. It was a beautiful afternoon, and I had quite a few children under my care after school. A 15-month-old, a 26-month-old, one 4-yr-old, three 5-year-olds, my own two (6.5 and 9) and X. To say I was a little taxed in my patience is being generous. It started off by L, X and the 4 and a 5 year old making some sort of obstacle course involving the slide, and several pieces of equipment in my backyard. Well, actually it was L who was making it, the others were watching. L was getting frustrated as the 26 mos old kept trying to steal away some of the obstacles, so he was already ramped up. I was being run off my feet, as usual, getting snack, sorting fights, and looking after the youngest. My patience was also rather short due to a severe depletion from having my newest little one visit that morning (she cried and cried if that says anything, poor thing.) When L had finally completed his course, he claimed he would be the first to try. Fair enough. The one who made it should be the one to try first. Laws of the playground. The 4 and 5 year olds (brothers incidentally) agreed and were waiting patiently for their turn. X however, decided that he was going to go first no matter what. It didn't matter that L was screaming at him "NO!" or even that the brothers were also telling him to wait. It didn't matter that L was climbing up the slide (the starting point of the course) effectively blocking X from going down and beginning. It didn't matter that L was extremely upset, in tears even because he knows X so well and knew that he would do his darndest to get what he wanted. I don't even know what the attraction was for him. It wasn't even challenging to a much taller 9-year-old. But the fact that it was of no great feat to "beat" this obstacle course, or that he was playing with children much younger than him instead of seeking out R didn't make a damn bit of difference to X. He was going to go no matter what, and go he did. He hopped around L and completed the course in less than two seconds, cheering as if he'd won a gold medal at the Olympics while L screamed at him and the brothers shouted that he was being annoying and unfair. At that point, they refused to "play" with him, which you'd think would be enough of a lesson (peer pressure can be powerful!) but not for X. He continued to be his obnoxious self and tried to be as intrusive and annoying as possible, hopping through the course as the others were trying to complete it and just genterally getting in the way.

And what did I do during all this, you may ask? Nothing, aside from a few verbal warnings to X to quit it. And herein lies part of my dilemma. I've always felt and run my daycare by being an observer. I have always tried not to jump in and solve the children's problems for them. I think they need to learn how to deal with them on their own. So if there is fighting, but no one is being hurt, I don't usually jump in. Part of that is also that I can't stand the whining and tattling, so I ignore it as best I can. I guess I shut down a little too much.

I'm sure the mothers out there are going, why didn't you stick up for your son, and help him? Put X in time-out or something? And the answer is in a few parts. Part one, see above. Part two, I'm soooooooo tired of it! I'm so sick of the fighting between these two that I just don't want to hear it anymore. I don't want to deal with it, so I don't. I know, it's selfish of me, and mean, and last week I would have said I didn't care anymore but this week I'm seeing a new light and I've learnt my lesson. I'm getting to that part. And part three is that I just don't know how to punish a 9 year old. Time outs are for toddlers; for children that have not yet learned to control their tempers, like my 26-month-old. I rarely have to punish any of the other kids EVER, so I must be doing something right, right? I have no authority to take away cherished possessions or privileges, which is how I punish my own children. The privileges at daycare are limited. They don't have computer time, tv time or video game time in general (occasionally but not often enough for it to make a difference to take it away). So how do I punish him, other than telling his parents and leaving it up to them? Which is fairly ineffective, as I've seen.

But I must get on with this story. That's right, my friends, it's not over yet! The climax is yet to come. And then I will reveal my true dilemma.

At some point, the fighting was forgotten (as it seems to go with boys) and the four were somewhat playing together again. This time it was my ever-hated-least-favourite game of all that they play, sword fighting. Or some sort of weapon. They gather up all the plastic sporting equipment (bats, golf clubs, lacrosse sticks, etc.) and run around the yard using the two play structures as "bases" and the sporting equipment as weapons. This is why I hate looking after boys. They are so violent all the time. I fought against this sort of play for so long. I became tired of the fight. A part of me realized that it's genetically ingrained in boys to play this way, to work through their long buried hunting instincts by playing aggressively. There needed to be some outlets, such as this game, or the real fighting escalates and they start wrestling, which I hate EVEN MORE!

So now, I let them. But at some point during the game, as I was talking to one of the moms of the sweet little girls I look after, L hurled or either his hand slipped off one of his "weapons" and of course landed on X. X immediately began to cry like a baby because of course he should, I mean he's ONLY nine, right? The crying was extremely forced and whiny, which I can't stand so I mostly ignored him. My standard statement is, "If you guys are going to play that game, someone ALWAYS gets hurt, you know that, so I've told you don't cry to me about it! If you don't want to get hurt, don't play that game!!" The mom just chuckled and we continued our conversation. I'm not sure how the fight began, but the next thing I knew, L was attacking X by running at him. X defended himself and then proceeded to attack L. The mom alerted me to this fact and I, like the amazing childcare giver that I am, calmly walked over there, got down to their level and gently told them to stop screamed at them to stop from where I was. Of course my screeching was duly ignored and the fight continued. At this point my brain was weighing the odds. I was soooo tired. Sooo tired that day. I had used up my patience long ago. I couldn't deal with this. I should have. I really should have. But that other part of my brain said, they're boys, sometimes boys need to fight. Stupid, eh? Really stupid. Because my stupid brain didn't remember to clue me in to the fact that maybe boys the SAME SIZE need to fight, but definitely not when one is much larger than the other! What ended up happening, was that at some point when L was trying to retaliate, X put his knee up into L's face. L screamed in pain and came to me, to which I gave the standard reply like the horrible uncaring person I am. Then the mom pointed out that he was, gasp, bleeding!

OMG. I am the worst mother in the world for letting this happen.

I immediately bid her goodbye, grabbed L and the baby and made for inside, telling X to sit his butt down on the deck and not move from that spot until his mother arrived. L's nose had been badly bumped by X's knee and was bleeding. I didn't want to apply pressure, because I was scared it was broken. So I put a kleenex under it, and a bag of frozen corn niblets over it, and made L sit there for 20 mins like that while I obsessed that my child would be damaged for life and it was ALL MY FAULT!

When X's mother finally arrived to pick him and his sister up, L didn't hesitate to let her know just what her son had done. I elaborated, explaining generally how the afternoon had gone and that they had ended up in a physical fight. I downplayed the fact that it was all X's fault, and allowed that some of it was L's fault too. I never want to be one of those parents who thinks that their child can do no wrong. I also never want to make anyone else feel like they're a bad parent either. I can't imagine arriving at daycare or the school to pick up my kid and being told that they alone had caused and instigated a fight, that essentially they were an evil little shit-disturber! Dealing with this sort of thing (telling parents about the bad stuff their kids did) is one of the worst parts of this job, mostly because I put myself in their shoes too much.

X's mother asked me, "Did you punish him?" Ummmmm....not sure how you want me to do that? Any ideas lady? I sat him on the deck, which is where he thankfully stayed, but that's about it.

So now my dilemma. I have debated for years about what to do with this child. My sister N has told me several times to "fire" him. But it's more complicated than that. Firstly, it's difficult for me to say, "I'm sorry, your child has no place in this daycare anymore due to his behaviour." Part of it would be sort of like admitting defeat, telling everyone that I can't handle the children the way I should be able to. Plus I would hate to be on the receiving end of that statement, so I can't do that to someone. Secondly, he has a younger sister who is great to look after, is very good friends with two of the other children, and would surely follow him to whatever new daycare his family found. Thirdly, his family has been with me for 6 years now, so how do I now, after all this time, say that's it? Why didn't I say something sooner? Fourthly, if he goes, I lose income and have to replace that income for not only him, but also his sister. And lastly, since I have known his family for so long, it would be so awkward. His mom is not exactly a friend, per se, but we have had many friendly conversations and "bitch" sessions, as well as I've been over to her house for tea a few times and I've used her out of desperation for my own babysitting needs or tight spots I've got in from time to time with the daycare. (I don't mean financially I just mean not being able to pick up her kids, my kids or whatever).

She emailed me today, telling me she had been thinking about it a lot, and didn't know what to do and did I have any ideas or thoughts?? Of course I do, but how do I express them without hurting her feelings? How do I tell her that she better straighten her son out today, or that's it? Oh, and by the way, leave little x here. We like her just fine. Part of me wonders if she herself has been looking for an out. Maybe she found cheaper daycare, or can find cheaper daycare and is looking to me to tell her to go, saving her the trouble of firing me. Or maybe she doesn't like me anymore. Who knows?

What I do know is this. Part of this is my fault. I should never have stood by and let them "fight it out". I am damn lucky (and so is L) that L's nose wasn't broken. At least I'm pretty sure it wasn't. I will be vigilant from this day forward to immediately jump in and break up any sort of argument or fight between the two of them. And I won't hesitate to let X know he is treading on VERY thin ice.

Your thoughts? Please?