Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Daycare Game

It's been really difficult to find the time or the energy to post here when I've been consumed with the search (scramble?) to find child care for Little G. I've known that our home care lady would no longer be available after Christmas since the beginning of December - her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer - but I couldn't find anyone in before Christmas, and trying to talk to anyone at all over the holidays was fruitless. Getting Little G into a licensed daycare is nigh impossible unless I got him on a list three years ago (yes, that was before he was conceived, for anyone doing the math), so I have to find a homecare situation or nanny. He's almost guaranteed a spot at Big C's daycare - which accepts kids at 18 months.

Perhaps I should clarify. When I say I couldn't find anyone, what I mean is, I couldn't find anyone suitable. Anyone I would actually choose to leave my son(s) with. There are people out there. I was telling my running buddy about the possible candidates and she laughed and told me they sounded like bad dating stories. I agreed. Although, I think it's more like a mommy version of the Dating Game. Remember that show? Who would you pick...?

Daycare-orette #1: The Scientologist
To be perfectly fair, I don't know for certain that she is actually a Scientologist. She had a bookshelf in her living room displaying all of Hubbard's Scientology texts, though. And those were the only books on the shelf. Maybe she just wanted a little light reading..? Who knows. I was just having a hard time not staring at the ridiculously awful portrait of her and her husband directly behind her head. It was painted all in shades of mud brown, and was not at all flattering. They looked like evil, leering cartoons. It was distracting. When I reviewed a copy of her contract, she had a "damages" clause in it stating: I expect your children to respect my property. If your child damages my personal property, the parent will be expected to pay for the damage. Those may not be the exact words, but they were pretty close. Of course I would pay for any damages caused by Little G. But it begs the question - if you run a home daycare with 6 children all under two years of age, why are there breakable things lying around? Is she deliberately placing things in harm's way to make a few extra bucks? Other than that, I don't think she interacted with Little G even once during our interview.

Daycare-orette #2: Crazy Potato Lady
This lady seemed very nice and got right down on the floor with Little G. Promising. She only ever has three kids total. Good. She never goes outside in the winter. Ever. I gently asked why and she said, "Well, what would I do if it started to snow?" She looked alarmed. When I asked about food, she said she serves potatoes, rice and pasta. No mention of vegetable or fruit. But she told me that she puts homemade chicken soup into all her food, on her doctor's recommendation. Her doctor said that chicken soup ensures that kid's don't get sick. And she told me that her son has never been sick. (Perhaps because he's never set foot outside.) She was also very proud that her two-year-old son was very adept with Nintendo. Plays it all the time! Oh, and she lives on the second floor of a house and her outdoor play space for the kids is the balcony. In the summer, she just leaves the door open and the kids can play outside or inside at will. (Am I the only one who has a problem with this?). Failing that, she charges $30 more a day than any other home care that I've looked at.

Daycare-orette #3 - Lovely Full House Woman
So far our most promising option. She seems articulate, and motherly and patient. They eat nutritious, home-cooked meals! They go outside! She's a little more free-wheeling about sleep than I would like, but with a house full of kids, you have to be. We just met with her the other day, the trouble is, she is not sure that she actually has a full-time spot for Little G. She is waiting to hear back from another charge who supposedly needed more days. She offered to watch him anyways, till we could find a more permanent situation. That was very nice and I was shocked that she would be so generous. I'm not sure that I would want Little G there if she doesn't actually have the space for him. One person can only look after so many. We hope to hear from her today.

We also have a line on a supposedly incredible nanny who is travelling in Europe right now, and next to impossible to contact. So although she would be our first choice, we don't know when she's back and if we can actually afford her (Nannies in our area cost more a month than I actually make. Boo.)

Who knew the search for the perfect person could be so exhausting??


bren j. said...

Ooh! I loved watching The Dating Game....but this doesn't seem very fun at all. I sure liked your stories though...I wouldn't leave my kid(s) with either of the first two ladies either - yikes! The full house lady does sound rather ideal though....

Anonymous said...

I completely feel your pain. There's a big gap here, you know - if most (is it most? many of us? some of us?) of us in Canada are off for 1 year, where are all the 1 year old (still infant) spots for kids?? Where are they?? It's such a pain in the ass. And holy jesus, those first two people are scary.

Anonymous said...

Hi there

Have you tried WeeWatch or something of that nature? Not everyone likes them but they can be quite good.

Or what about a home day care that's not licensed - I have one that my daughter goes to on the recommendation of a friend and she's been wonderful - she only has the max # of children and she charges 30.00 a day.

Good luck

ewe are here said...

I don't envy you in your search... but I wish you much luck.

Her Bad Mother said...

That Scientologist caregiver sounds AWESOME. Just think, your boy would free of Thetans!

Seriously, though - your situation sucks. I'll keep my ears open for you - we sometimes hear stuff through certain nanny grapevines.

Jaina said...

I hope you find someone soon.

Anonymous said...

Oh is it horrible that all I can think of is other parents that have chosen to use the first 2 as caregivers for their children...

I hope you find your Mary Poppins soon!

Mad said...

It's so bloody stressful all of this. I had a knot in the pit of my stomach just reading it. I'm so sorry No-Mo.

Plus, (and completely trivial in comparison) it looks as if I likely won't see your play, what with Miss M's surgery coming up in Feb. Erg.

The Coffee Lady said...

Do none of these people have an understairs cupboard to put the children in? Or a damp basement? How can they go into business without these things?

kgirl said...

Can't fathom the stress. Been through it twice (well, once because the second time was serndipitiously pain-free)and that was enough.
Seriously good luck.

Bea said...

I'd give the third one a try. My former home-care provider (from before we moved) had a blithe disregard for the regulations about the number of children in her home. Sometimes when I dropped Bub off at lunchtime I would do a quick head-count, but it started making me dizzy so I stopped. The thing is, this woman had raised eight of her own children, the youngest of whom was still at home to lend a hand, and there was always something peaceful about her house - even with all those children, it was never chaotic. Pie's licensed day-care centre, on the other hand (where she started last September), has a room with 24 three-year-olds and three caregivers. They run a great program there, but it is a ZOO compared to that technically overcrowded home-care.

Mac and Cheese said...

Soooooooo, people have actually left their kids with the crazy potato lady???

Don Mills Diva said...

Yikes - that sounds crazy!

Where exactly do you live? Graham's babysitter is accepting people - she's at Lawrence and Leslie.

You can e-mail me

Kyla said...

So crazy potato lady ONLY serves starch? Nuts!

I hope you get in with the third. She sounds solid.

Tracey said...

I'd totally watch him if I lived by you. And I even let them outside in the snow. Though I encourage a bit of rum in their bottles before naptime... Would that be a problem??

Woman in a Window said...

I know someone very reliable in London. Wanta commute?

I'm so sorry for you guys. This is a nightmare. I hope it all works out. First two, too crazy. Last one sounds pretty good. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

the potato lady. hands down.

painted maypole said...

i choose daycare-oette #4 who smokes constantly, has an open bottle of tequila on the table, and hollers out the back door at the children "watch out for broken glass, I had a party out there last weekend!"

Lisa b said...

It is so so stressful. When I put my fetus on the list at our school's daycare I was lamenting to the woman whose mat leave I covered who told me that somehow it always works out and so far I have found that to be true.
fingers crossed for you.

MaryP said...

Heh. I just posted last week from the other side.

You know, I don't have a damages clause in my contract, and while I was considering this possibility, I realized that in the past 15 years, none of them have broken anything. Possibly because my stuff is all junk anyway, and I've just never noticed.

Nix on the woman with no outdoor play except on a balcony. Eep.

You know the third is the best. I disagree, however, that with a whole houseful of kids, you have to be more free-wheeling about sleep. I usually have five, and naps are almost-but-not-quite carved in stone. But if she's perfect in every other respect, you're not going to reject her on that basis.

Good luck with this!

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