Monday, August 22, 2011

The Tidal Wave

I always felt like I was flirting with disaster with the way my life was setup. My wife is doing her residency and for the large part of the week, it gone leaving me to hold a full time job and raise our daughter. I don't complain and would do it again if necessary because it is my turn to sacrifice some in our relationship so that she too can live her dream. It has been tough at times though I have always seemed to get by.

The hardest part is providing a warm and nurturing environment for our daughter during the day while I am at work without providing too much change for her and hassle for me. For the first few years, this meant going to a private daycare which seemed to provide more of a nurturing environment than a large scale public daycare. It had it's downsides which mostly consisted of the lady running the daycare out of her house getting sick. But those days were few and far between and we had two layers of backup, my parents and my daughter's godmother who was unemployed.

Then preschool started and things got more complicated. The first year of preschool meant my daughter needed a ride too and from preschool twice a week. I scraped by asking a lady whose daughter was in the same preschool grade if she would pick up my daughter and take her to preschool. She was a good friend of the daycare lady and said she would. I still had to pick up my daughter and take her back to the daycare twice a week. That meant me doing my best to avoid 11 o'clock meetings and taking an early lunch break. It also cost me a sizable gift card as a gift to the lady picking up my daughter in the morning since she wouldn't let me reimburse her with money.

As the second year of preschool rolled around, things got even more complicated. My daughter was now in preschool three two-hour sessions a week and the lady who hauled my daughter the previous year had left town due to her husband losing his job and getting another one elsewhere. Looking at having to sneak out of work six times a week left me feeling ill. Fortunately I heard about a bus taxi of sorts that gets some grant money from the state to ferry people around and for $4 a day, they would pick my daughter up and take her to preschool and back. This worked out well except for a few times when the regular driver was sick and a new driver would either not let the daycare lady know he was there and leave or show up twenty minutes after my daughter was already supposed to be in school necessitating me leaving work, driving clear across town to pick her up, driving clear across town to preschool and driving clear across town to work again only to repeat it an hour and  a half later.

But I got through that. Then this year the tidal wave hit. The daycare lady's husband had health issues requiring her to take a week off from work and forcing me to improvise a solution for my daughter. Then this month hits and the daycare lady ends up in the hospital for a week and spent another week recovering. My parents happened to be on vacation most of that time and the godmother had gotten a full time job again so we had to scramble burning vacation, setting up play dates and doing impromptu journeys down to the farm when my parents were there. If that weren't enough, kindergarten starts in a couple days and brings with it a whole new set of headaches. Because the daycare is within two miles of the school, the parents are responsible for getting their child to school. That meant that four days a week, I have to get my daughter to school no earlier than 8:15 and pick her up promptly at 3:30, the one exception being every Wednesday when school doesn't start until 10:00. Also excepted were the first three days of school when they start a half hour early and get off at 1:30, the dozen extra days for teacher services that meant either late starts, early dismissals or no school at all, all the federally observed holidays and of course the days when school either doesn't start or is dismissed early due to bad weather. My head was spinning at trying to hold down a demanding job and getting my daughter to school when she needed to be there. At times I wanted to quit my job, the best and most fulfilling I have ever had, just to simplify my daughter's life.

Another lady whose children also goes to the daycare volunteered to take my daughter to school every morning when there wasn't a late start and that we could share the picking up duties but that still meant that I would have to leave work during business hours at least three or four times a week. But then that was when the daycare lady got sick, my parents went on vacation, the godmother got a job, the play dates dried up, and my days of available vacation days were used up. In desperation, I called one of the public day care places in town to see if they could look after my daughter for a week while the daycare lady was recovering. They said yes.

It gave me a chance to evaluate things a bit. Yes there were a lot more kids there but they were kept in their age groups which meant that there wasn't a huge factor more (around 15 kids instead of 8) than what my daughter was used to with the private daycare. They had a huge building full of rooms dedicated to different things that they kept the kids rotating through so that they would stay busy plus access to a nearby park and swimming pool. My daughter went from being the oldest at daycare to being among more than a dozen peers. It turns out to be a bit cheaper and best of all, due to their size, they have a bus that takes kids too and from school. After a week there, my daughter really loved the place and didn't want to go back to the old place. So after hashing it out, my wife and I made the decision to switch our daughter to the large public daycare and give the private daycare our notice today when she returns to work. It sucks because we like her and she was really good with our daughter and the timing is probably really bad with a weeks stay in the hospital and all the bills that probably ensued but at the end of the day, it means I don't have to leave work at all. My daughter certainly won't get as much personalized attention there as she did at the private place but in two days, she starts kindergarten and will spend only about a half hour there each day except for Wednesday and all the special days when they start late. Instead of having another mom or me take her to and from school each day, she will ride the same bus everyday. Hopefully it will be a routine she can adapt too.

So my baby is going to school on Wednesday and after the last three weeks of uncertainty, anxiety and stress on my part, I think I am actually going to be fairly calm about the day despite my baby is officially no longer my baby anymore. It will give me time to heal, get used to the new routine and prepare for the day she comes home and tells me she has a boyfriend. That is the day the tsunami hits.


R. Sherman said...

We've been dealing with kid transportation issues since 1998. It gets worse when they go to different schools. Thank heavens, they eventually get a driver's license.


Ed said...

R. Sherman - I figured as much which is why I want to start as simple as possible.

geri said...

The important thing is that Little Abbey likes the new daycare. That was quite a dilemma you had there - I couldn't keep track of your sked. Picking up Evan from school is also going to be a challenge once I have a fuller freelance sked. Like you I do try to keep it as simple as possible, for my part try to keep only one babysitter but I also learned my lesson last summer - that's why I try to keep a long list of babysitters recommended by people I know. Unlike you, we don't have extended relatives to rely on.

Ed said...

Geri - I think that is part of my problem too. I don't have an extended list of relatives that most of my peers and their children have. I have my parents 40 miles away and that is it. Being farmers, they can go months without being able for me to visit for any length of time much less my daughter.

In the end, a larger daycare with lots of backup so there will never be a sick day there seems like the best choice. I had the talk with the daycare lady which had eerie similarities to breaking up a relationship but in the end, I think we both parted as friends and I think my daughter is still welcome there in the future if we need backup. I'm just glad that the decision has been made and we can focus on other things.

Ron said...

I'm sure it will be a big load off your mind not to worry about daycare cancelling on you. That would definitely stress me out.

Vince said...

Not being in the club as it were. I'll leave this to all you with the weird handshake. :-)

Ed said...

Ron - I find as I age that it takes less and less to stress me out.

Vince - After all my blogs of woe on the subject, I'm surprised that you don't want to join the 'club'.

edifice rex said...

Wow, I don't see how ya'll have managed to keep all that straight all this time. It would have freaked me out long ago. Probably why I'm not in the club either!
I do hope the new arrangements makes everybody happy now though.