Here is the continuation of yesterday’s post, View From a Baby Room: Part One. You can get off the edges of your seats now.
First was a large, chubby baby with a giant bald head. We called him Fester, like Uncle Fester from the Addams Family. He didn’t seem to mind. His favorite mode of transportation was to roll. Often he rolled under cribs. Once he rolled under a swing and Sue kept bopping him on the head with the leg of the swing while adjusting it for another baby. We’re shouting at her to stop and she’s not hearing us and we’re all going how the crap do we write out that accident report? Baby hit with furniture repeatedly? Luckily Fester was okay seconds later. He was a happy baby.
Next up was Ralphie. We called him that because his mother dressed him in Ralph Lauren baby clothes every day. By the way, if you kept your kid in daycare, as I have, you have to know the daycare workers pay attention to this kind of crap. They’re stuck with your kid all day; they’re bored. I’m fairly certain Ralphie, who like the others would be about thirteen by now, is going to be a future politician. He could light up a room with a mega watt grin, so you’d forgive him, even if he just crawled over a line of babies, smacking them in the face with his hands and feet. Ralphie was an early crawler. They finally took him to the crawler room, which was where Thing One resided. As I found out later, Thing One was a piece of work as well. No telling what they called her. Perhaps she who would not hold her bottle, or she who army crawled.
And then there was . . . I forget if he was a Braden or a Braxton or a Britain, but he was definitely a brat. Though not as big a brat as his mother. She expected him to drink like three bottles while he was with us, even though he was only with us a few hours. He just wasn’t that hungry. But if the bottles weren’t given, she would get cheesed off. So we poured perfectly good formula down the drain everyday. Daycare workers do what they can to survive, parents. He ended up getting moved early too when he started to crawl. Later I heard that one of the workers in the crawler room, Barbara, was considering putting Ralphie and him in a single crib and letting them fight it out.
My favorite baby, yes we all had favorites, was Nicholas. He was a long, skinny baby that drove the others nuts because he had no sucking power whatsoever. That meant he could take an hour or more to drink a bottle. I loved it. I could sit and rock with him while he slowly sipped at his bottle. He was very cuddly. Later when my mom showed up, I introduced them. She said of course I liked him – he looked like my baby. Oh, huh. Go figure.
His mother breastfed, but the stuff she pumped and froze (frozen breast milk is the nastiest looking stuff on earth, I’m here to tell you) was so thin it went, literally, right through poor Nicky. We had to hear him cry from hunger. We couldn’t take it. So we spooned him tiny bits of cereal. Was it wrong? Sure. But I’d rather be fired than watch a baby go hungry. And he was hungry – nothing else was wrong with him, and he calmed down after being fed. We finally got the guts up to tell his mother. Unlike some of the others, she agreed to supplement with formula, and didn’t make a fuss. Thank goodness for reasonable mothers.
We had two baby girls. One was Gwen. Her Mommy was a breastfeeding school teacher who refused to pump, so Gwen had to wait until her lunch break (5 hours) to be fed. Fortunately, by the time I came, she could eat baby food. (Moms – please don’t do this to your kid. If you must be gone that long, leave her something else. A tiny drop of formula is better than a kid who starves an hour a day or more. Just an FYI.) When Mom finally arrived, she’d proceed to unbutton her shirt and let the girls out. I mean really let ‘em fly. It was like, wow, um, nice boobs? It’s hard to think of a conversation when you’re staring at someone’s exposed breasts. I’m not against breastfeeding here, but sheesh, a teensy bit of discretion? Trust me, you don’t want a bunch of daycare workers discussing your frequent wardrobe malfunctions when you leave.
Finally, and I’ve saved the best for last, was Australia. No, seriously, that was the baby’s name, and wow, did she deserve a long stupid name. I hate to say this, because one would think you couldn’t dislike a baby. But you did this one. I mean I tried to love her; I really did. But she made it difficult. It wasn’t really her fault. She had a mother and an aunt who both worked at the daycare. And lived with her along with the baby daddy and the grandparents. And they both checked on her constantly, leaving their own kids abandoned while they did so. At home, Australia was always held. When you’ve got ten babies, you cannot hold every one of them 24/7 (though I did try to hold each one as much as possible.) She wanted attention, all the attention, 100 percent of the time and if she didn’t get it? Watch out.
Here’s an example. We fed each baby one at a time. If a baby could hold a bottle, we let him. I didn’t like it, but we had too many babies to cope with at one time so we did the best we could. They tried to do that with my Thing One in the crawler room, but she refused. I love my Thing One. Anyway, we tried to feed Australia first, because she was the loudest. But she’d fuss and push the bottle away. So we’d move on to the next baby. And she would scream. And scream. And get louder. And louder. Her tiny face would get as red as her hair. When we got back around to her, fed her, and put her in bed, she’d shoot us this look. Mary once said, “I swear she just looked at me like ‘You bitch!’”
It was Australia and her family that helped spell my doom. Her dear auntie came to get her one afternoon after I’d had a heck of a day. She picked up Australia, who had been napping. The baby had a wet diaper. Auntie was furious.
“How dare you let her lay in a wet diaper, Alice,” she fumed. “Take care of your babies.”
Okay, see, there’s some things you don’t say to me. One of these is “you aren’t a good mommy / caretaker.” I will cut you for it. So I informed her that yes she was wet because she was sleeping and no way in hell was anyone going to wake that baby up from a nap. She sniffed and left. I was still fuming. A few other workers stopped by and I unloaded. Maximum fire power. I still remember the looks of horror on their faces. It was awesome.
Still, I think back to that place and wonder where everyone has gone. One of the worst things was to sit and look out the window at the one-year-olds. They wandered about, totally unattended, while the workers sunned themselves on the slide. We complained about it, so the workers were fired. Haha, just kidding. They were moved to another room. Brilliant.
This is not to make people with kids in daycare feel bad. I later put my daughter in another daycare – after I grilled the director over the coals. I did my homework that time, and you can bet I made sure she was well taken care of. Still, I can’t say I was that sad to be fired from my job five months later. It is hard, very hard, to leave your baby behind. I know. I’ve had a view from both sides of the baby room.
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!
I am fortunate in that I now live only five minutes away from my workplace. Unfortunately, it takes me roughly thirty minutes to get there every morning. Why? Because I have children, people, and these children go to school, and these schools are on opposite sides of town for maximum convenience.
Now I’m grateful for school, mostly. I mean you get people to take your kids everyday for free and occasionally they even learn something. But getting them there really sucks. I live in a moderately sized town. Not so tiny that the only social outlet is a Dairy Queen, but too small to have anything open past 11 pm. When I was growing up, there were three schools: an elementary school, a junior high, and a high school.
Since then there has been a yard ape population explosion and now there are multiple elementary schools, an intermediate school, a junior high, and a high school. Intermediate and junior high (they totally demoted my high school, the jerks) only house two grades a piece but there are still roughly a million kids going to both schools. This is better than the elementary school that houses like eleventy-billion.
And all of these children have parents and all of these parents have cars. Most of them have SUVs, actually, with those charming little stickers on the back with the stick figure children. I freaking hate those stickers. Seriously, people, the reason there is so much traffic every morning is because you decided to have like eight children, all of whom have names that aren’t names and start with B – Barracks, Britain, Breyers, Bayer Aspirin, Bayleaf, Boo-boo, Bridge, and Beyonce. Also a dog: Barfy. (Please see Tracy’s post on these stickers that will make you laugh your butt off.)
These people always pull in front of me and then stop, blocking traffic, and forcing me to block traffic, while they tearfully give lengthy goodbyes longer than the Gettysburg address to every single little brat (and yeah, all of them somehow go to the same elementary school, which shouldn’t even be possible biologically).
I reach this elementary school first, just a couple of blocks from my house. At one time I could drop both children off there, but then Thing One had to get older and go to a charm school for adolescents. Now I have to plan this strategically. If I get there too late, I am never getting out of the parking lot before 8 A.M. when technically they expect me to be at work. So I try to get there at 7:30, because the earliest you can drop your children off is 7:30 without them calling the cops.
This is rife with problems since Thing Two has the memory of a gerbil and never, ever, ever puts any of her stuff (like coat, shoes, backpack, etc) away. I do not know where she gets that from, seriously. Also, she must always have a stuffed animal with her because it’s like her familiar or something, and it’s always a different animal so no fairsies trying to keep one where you can find it.
Once I’ve deposited her, I get to go to the other side of town through early morning traffic. Now they force people to drive 20 mph and not use their cell phones (this is, like, followed so religiously) in school zones so that they don’t run over any precious children. That’s great, but it also makes it damn near impossible to get anywhere going at that speed. Also, you must frequently sit at stop signs and watch as one car putts, putts, putts along just slowly enough that the car putting along from the opposite direction has enough time to prevent you from crossing. Or some jerk who is much more important drives up beside you and blocks your view as well. My children have learned so many new words on the way to school.
I finally make it to the opposite side of town to the intermediate school, whose parking lot is somehow even worse than the elementary school, by which I mean 18th circle of hell worse. I drop off Thing One, and wheeee, it is now time for me to go to work. At this point, if I’m lucky, we’re operating at 7:45. Now to go BACK across town to where I work, that also happens to be closer to the elementary school and my house.
Once I arrive, I am greeted by the awesome parking situation, by which I mean there is no parking except several blocks away from where I work. In case you missed that post (No Parking) I also pay for this privilege. Again, if I’m lucky, we’re now at 7:55 or so. Then I just have to hoof it to the library and ta-da, I am there! Well, I’m in the building, which flipping counts because I say so, and because I have to tromp across the library, up the stairs and across the second floor to get to my office.
Fortunately, I work till 5 PM so I am unable to pick my children up from school (SADFACED) although I do occasionally get calls at work wondering who IS going to pick up said children. Maybe they could ask SUV stick figure mom.
Recently I wrote a post on Canvas on overwhelmation. And I am definitely feeling it now. Pretty soon, they’re going to expect me to go back to work. I’m better, much, much better, but still when I go to the bookstore, I’m good for about ten, fifteen minutes tops before my body says “Holy crap, go home!” So I’m thinking if fifteen minutes is hard, eight hours might be slightly harder. There is also the process of working out sick leave (like not having any) and if I qualify for something called sick leave pool, the logistics of which probably inspired the book Catch-22.
So I was
thinking stressing on this and Thing Two started coughing. And then running fever. And I said, “Oh, crap.” (I say this a lot.) I guess I was just hoping the powers that be or whatever would give me say enough time to quit being sick myself before striking a kid. Yeah, not so much. Even better, she has the ability to go from lying still (freaky for this kid) to bouncing about while chattering non-stop until my brains threaten to explode within minutes.
So this, and work, and sick, and laundry, and whatever the hell else I’m supposed to be doing has not made it any easier to sleep at night. Well, that and sleeping during the day, which you get used to when you feel too crappy to do anything else, and then it’s hard to break the cycle. So since I can’t sleep, I get up and write. And then it occurs to me (and look we’re getting to the supposed point of this post) that maybe I should try to set some sort of boundaries on my blogging. Boundaries I’d like to set other places, like work (not so many hours) or parenting (not so many hours) or laundry (Why are there so many clothes and where the frack are the socks?)
Thing is, I love feedback. Love, love, love it. I am extremely susceptible to compliments. I feed on good press, and then I’m compelled to do more, more, more! But then I lie awake at night and along with everything else think – am I doing too much posting? Am I annoying? Am I pressable? What if I write something and they think I’m not funny? You know, like Sinatra when his voice started going but he kept singing and no one wanted to tell him to shut up? Wait, I forgot what point I was trying to make here.
Oh, yeah, insecurity. I has it. And night time is a great time to think about this. Which is why insomnia really sucks, unless you are just dying to catch up on infomercials. Like this one for this leaf blower that is apparently more awesome than Jesus. Maybe it’s powered by Jesus. Or possibly the people in the commercial are on drugs. They are very, very happy about this leaf blower. And after a while, I’m thinking, I should get that leaf blower. Then I too could blow away spider webs with the force of a helicopter taking off.
Anyway, I’m hoping to get my sleep cycles out of “infant” and back to “semi-adult”. But even when I do, I still have to decide how to balance my life. Get it? Balance. Hahahaha. As if mothers, whether SAHMS or working moms, can ever balance their lives. I mean, unless they’re like Ann Romney and have servants and crap. But I should probably try to balance the blogging. So here’s the question. How do you blog? Do you blog every day? Once a week? Twice a week? Randomly? Do you keep a schedule? Do you remember where your children are, or who they are? Have you bathed lately, because I can smell you from here, I’m just sayin’.
I’d appreciate the feedback on this, because I’m trying to figure out some way to balance at least one tiny part of my life but I’m unsure how to do it. I mean, I realize it’s up to me, but I’ve got Sinatra complex, and also ideas running about my head like mad, which makes it hard to make any decision, including what I’m going to have for supper. So tell me how you blog, and how you came to that decision, and how long you’ve been doing it, and how you paid off those WordPress people in order to get pressed. I really want to know. And then maybe I can figure out how I blog as well.
Also, wtf with the jerky-I’m-gonna-take-my-sweet-time crap going on while writing and editing your posts on WordPress lately? Huh? It’s annoying.