View from a Baby Room: Part One

Turn back . . . turn back now!

Turn back . . . turn back now!

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.

22 of these?  NO PROBLEM!

22 of these? 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.

Pat meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Pat meeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

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.

I mean, who wouldn't?

I mean, who wouldn’t?

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!

35 responses

  1. 11 toddlers at once? No problem. What are you complaining about?

    1. I dunno, it was just a merry-go-round of joyness!

  2. I worked in childcare too! In a 2 year old room! There were 4 per adult where I was, and putting them down for nap was really easy because they were used to it as part of their schedule. We rubbed backs and played Enya (LOL!) and they slept great. I loved it, but it was a lot of work for $7.00 an hour. I often dreamt of going to the baby room – I thought it would be fun!

    1. You played Enya? Not that definitely would have put me to sleep before the kids. Not that I didn’t fall asleep while patting more than once. I wonder if they even let you pat a kid’s back now. Huh.

      I did like the baby room – or rather I liked the babies. Except at lunch when they were all hungry at once. It was the adults that made me mad. Amazing how people pay so little for child care. We pay more for people to mow our lawns. Yet expect expert care. Unreal, huh?

      1. I agree that childcare workers are grossly underpaid. I would probably have stayed there for longer than I did if I could have afforded to!

        I thought the 2 year olds were great – it was the 3 year olds that ran amuck 🙂

        Can’t wait to read more about this!

  3. Former daycare worker here… I had babies who were mobile — crawlers to unsteady walkers. The center was in NC, and the maximum of that age we could have was six per adult.

    Yeah, so many an afternoon I had six screaming infants who wouldn’t go to sleep, and I kept a cold. Plus I worked for crotchety old bitch who thought she knew everything about child development.

    Worst. Job. Ever.

    1. Six? Wow. I totally agree with you there, day care is insane. They make a big deal when couples have multiples, yet they stick one worker, often a very young worker, with six babies to tend all by herself (or another six added to it with one more person). It’s insane.

      It was one of my worst jobs too, and the babies were the least of it!

  4. The little prince had personality from day 1… he had that “I’m going to be a troublemaker” look about him almost immediately. Not that I was surprised – son of a jester after all.
    Looking forward to where you are going with this! 😀

    1. YOUR son had a troublemaker look? How could that be? Yeah, okay, my youngest actually growled like a dog at me. I was on the phone with my mother. “Moooom, the baby is growling at me.” This should have been a warning of things to come.

      1. Hahaha! Yeah, you might have wanted to send that one back. That’s an option right? I seem to have never gotten my owners manual… so I’m not really sure what the rules are…

        1. Me neither. I certainly never expected doggy growls. Or that a kid would sample super glue. So fun!

          1. Who hasn’t sampled super glue?

  5. I always thought that the child/adult ratios were out of whack. I worked in a daycare years ago, 12 3 year olds all by myself. One of them literally told me to go fuck off. I was only 17 and please tell me why I continued taking Child/Elder care?

    1. I have no idea. I helped in Thing Two’s kindergarten class and a five year old informed me, with no provocation that “Miley Cyrus smoked a bong!” Thank you, dear.

  6. And you continued to spawn following this experience? This would be perfect birth control for me.

    1. Yeah, I didn’t have that much common sense back then, clearly. I also had an incredibly easy-going first baby mostly, so I assumed one more would be fine and . . . well you know what happens when you assume. Did finally learn – got my tubes tied immediately after the second was born.

  7. My son’s stepmother worked as a daycare aide and was able to put him in for free along with his sister on the days he stayed with them. Great benefit, but at the cost of her sanity I would say. They seemed to have high turnover among those positions, not sure why…

  8. I worked a few month as a substitute teacher, but my experience was not even close to yours: while it was a 20 or 30 to 1 ratio, at least every kid was already potty trained, and if they weren’t, they kept it to themselves.
    P.S. I sent you an e-mail to hotmail, but I’m not sure if it was the right one.

    1. Yes, it was the right one. I got your email and sent you a response! And for the record, I think being a substitute teacher would be worse. Then they can talk back to you and throw stuff and you’re supposed to pretend to teach them something. The horror.

      1. It wasn’t that bad, actually. I look pretty scary when I want to, and I have a scary accent. That helps keeping the kids in place, but doesn’t work against toddlers and babies.

  9. Somebody once asked me to look after a baby while she went to the shops.
    “What about a ‘code brown’?” I asked.
    “Change the nappy.” (that’s diaper for those of you “across the pond”)
    “Are there instructions on the packet?”
    I ended up going to the shops instead.

    (Note – if I had my own baby, I’d learn to change a nappy. I’m not THAT guy.)

    1. I’m glad! My husband changed diapers and people acted like he was this god or something. No one clapped for me when I changed diapers. My MIL was so surprised. I said, “Well he is a parent too, right?” So weird that his father avoided poopy diapers, considering he worked on a ranch for crying out loud.

  10. I used to work in a daycare too. For almost two years.
    I worked in a super crappy daycare in a low-income area that would have the “teachers” moving around to different classes throughout the day.
    There was little to no structure anywhere, and the kids ran rampant. Eventually, I got placed in the 3’s room. Talk about a freaking nightmare! Not to mention the fact that most of the parents of the 3yr olds had like, umpteen children that they didn’t pay attention to… I’d have 6 kids climbing tables, 4 hitting and spitting on other kids, and 4 or 5 that were hugging their legs in a corner while crying about something or another. ALL BY MYSELF!
    We were almost ALWAYS over ratio, and it was like living a nightmare.

    I don’t care HOW desperately unemployed I become in the future… I will NEVER go back to working in a daycare again! Nor will I put my children into one after that.

    I’d rather pay a homeless man to keep my kids on a tether as he wandered the city collecting empty cans all day than subject them to that hell.

    At least that way, they’d be able to tell me when I was getting lost going somewhere…

    1. It is insane what happens at some day cares. The one I put my daughter in after the day care I described was well run. They ran under capacity on purpose, and never allowed parents of the kid to work at the same center. Everything was highly structured. He let me watch one day. Still, I preferred being very poor and being with my kid until my mother retired and she watched her for me part time. I feel for people who have no choice but to use substandard or worse care for their kids.

  11. I think they made maternity leave here in Canada 12months,,,,just so that daycare worker suicides would go down.
    Just saying..

    1. I can believe it. I so want to move to Canada.

  12. I’m just amazed you had a second child after this experience. The only thing I can equate this experience to is when I receive a brand new load of kindergarteners in the library and have to explain what “borrow” means. Jesus christ, that’s coming up soon too. Ugh.

    1. Yeah, I was dumb enough to think other kids would be as easy as my first. She was easy because she was borderline autistic so she wasn’t exactly normal. Then came the second in a wave of karma.

  13. I broke out into hives just reading this.

    1. I do think I have developed an allergy to toddlers.

  14. 11 two-year-olds for every adult?! No, I think the appropriate ratio should be 11 two-year-olds for every 33 adults. At least. More would be better.
    Daile’s right, this sounds like perfect birth control. Forget the bags of flour, lets get teenagers to work at day care centers!

    1. I think that’s a brilliant idea. Make the teens move from room to room – see how cute those little babies seem then!

  15. I don’t mind other people’s children, in small numbers, because you get to give them back! But I don’t think I’d want to deal with 11 toddlers. Plus, if there’s 22 toddlers and two staff, how can you actually leave the room when one wants to go potty?

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