I’ve worked a lot of different jobs. One of these jobs was at a daycare center, and yes it was after I’d already gotten two degrees. They were in English, though, so no one cared. (Kids: don’t major in English. Just say no.) Thing One was nine months old and I was staying home with her, but needed extra income so we could enjoy the luxuries of life like eating. So I discovered I could work at this daycare and my kid could stay at the same daycare for free as a “perk”. This sounded like a great deal at the time.
For an educated person, I can be really stupid.
First they stuck me with the two-year-olds. Bootcamp for daycare workers. At that time, in the state of Texas, you could have up to 11 two-year-olds for every adult. Yup. 11. Even Octomom never watched 11 two-year-olds at once. They put two workers in the room, which meant 22 toddlers. And two people. No problem.
Unless you wanted to remain sane, that is. When there’s an 11 to 1 ratio, you’ve gotta be a clever toddler to get attention. One such toddler was Jaycee, who claimed to be potty training. “Have to go poop!” she’d say, so I’d go into the bathroom with her and stand. And stand. While Jaycee swung her legs on the potty and talked incessantly. Not one poop was had. Not even a pee. But you never could tell, so you always took her. Score 1 Jaycee.
You also had to put them all down for naps. At the same time. Now putting ONE toddler down for a nap is tough. Imagine putting down 22 toddlers – I mean without a hammer. The “trick” the director taught us was to pat them on the backs as they lay down to get them to drift off. Right. Guess who demanded the most pats? “Pat meeeee, pat meeeeeee!” Jaycee would cry. I’d lay down with her and pat, pat, pat zzzzzzzzzzzzz.
We couldn’t just let them play either. No, we had to make sure they played correctly. So no gun play. The little boys still played with their fingers. “Booda –booda. Booda-booda!” they’d yell, pointing their fingers at each other. “You can’t play guns,” I said wearily. Wes, the little boy in question, looked confused. “We were just playing booda-booda.” He said. Sometimes I do think we might be a bit too P.C.
After a couple of weeks of working with the toddlers I was about ready to run screaming from the daycare. The director sensed this, and told me there was an opening in the baby room. This was infants from six weeks up to crawling age, usually around six months. I liked this idea. Sure babies are tough, but at this age they cannot move and no one expects you to potty train them or stop imaginary gun play. I jumped at the chance.
You could have four per person. Yeah, quads, who hasn’t raised a set on their own, am I right? We had around ten babies, I think, which meant there were usually three of us. Sue was older and did not want to move. Like ever. Sue also wasn’t too bright. She had never heard of “A Christmas Carol.” How the hell did you miss that? Jennifer was about my age. She had one child and went to tanning beds partly because they said you could burn out your ovaries that way. Mary came to help especially at lunch time or to fill in for another, or when our baby load went up, which it sometimes did.
Seven of the babies were boys. Anyone who says infants don’t have personalities has never dealt with an actual infant. We gave some of them nicknames because you have to get your jollies somehow when you work minimum wage with a bunch of babies. But I was talking about the infants. Though there’s some I can’t quite recall now, I can fully remember a few of them.
. . . To be continued!