Kaitlin was really into everything Christmas this past holiday season. Really into it. She chose outfits with red and green in them every day (laundry permitting), sang Christmas songs, and everything she drew revolved around Christmas. As soon as the holiday was over, she asked what holiday would come next, and I told her Valentine’s Day. Thus the beginning of her obsession with red, pink, hearts, and Valentimes.
Valentine’s Day is really more of a Hallmark holiday any more, but, the kids always get a kick out of another themed party at school when they can exchange candies and cards. Generally, the exchange involves folded cards that Mom and Dad find at the store, donning their child’s favorite character at that time. Last year we got a lot of Strawberry Shortcake and Transformers, and some Star Wars cards. This year, Kaitlin is on a kick of coloring hearts, and has come up with her own “Valentimes”.
Kaitlin designed “love fans”. Once she mastered the art of drawing hearts, and once she was allowed to use her safety scissors, the love fans began to take shape (forgive the pun). She carefully selects colors for each heart, and each fan has four hearts. She chooses specific colors for each person she is giving the fan to, so everyone’s fan is a little different. She made make five fans for today for friends she’d see at a playdate and a birthday party.
She colors, cuts, and tapes each fan all by herself. They take some time, but she loves to make them, and loves even more to give them. She even demonstrates how to properly use each fan to cool yourself, waving it side to side. She judges how much air each fan gives, and notes her level of approval.
I think we’ve found our Valentime card solution for this year! Quick, easy, and free. How could we go wrong?
What would your first thought be upon entering your child’s room and seeing this scene? Mine was, “What is this, the beaches at Normandy?”, to which my husband replied, “No, Mommy, they’re racing. And the animals aren’t hanging, they’re riding – on reindeer.”. Of course, I thought. Ethel spent much of yesterday’s quiet time assembling these colorful reindeer and hosting races for her stuffed animals. Being the crafty thing that she is, she fashioned harnesses out of plastic bracelets, allowing the animals to “ride” the Tinkertoy reindeer. A scene which was at first distrubing, soon revealed the amazing imagination of my five year old daughter.
My poor little Luke is sick today. I got that call that every working parent hopes not to get at the office – day care calling to let you know your kid is under the weather and needs to go home. He’s got a chest cold and was running a fever. So, I tied things up at work and headed out to collect the kids a bit earlier than normal.
I turned the corner onto the street the center is on and saw a crane and a Bobcat in the parking lot, and as I got closer I saw the pilons in the driveway entrance to the lot. Today is the day they changed the sign in front of the building. No longer will the former sign be draped in the large, temporary, plastic sign with the Bright Horizons name and logo. Starting today, the sign is a large, bright sign that lies at the edge of the parking lot, perpendicular to the road so passers by can see it without fail. Let me tell you, it’s bright and large enough, I don’t think NASA will miss this sign, but that’s beside the point. They had already removed the former sign and were working on moving the electrical connections from the old sign’s location to the new.
I parked across the street, and as I walked across the street, I noticed that they had also added the Bright Horizons name and emblem on the front of the building itself, situated between two windows at the front. There is certainly no mistaking what this place of business is now.
Less than one week following the date that marked one year since the loss of Benjamin, the center is now free of any association with the former business, whose name was launched into national attention last January after the tragedy. For those still associated with the two remaining centers, formerly Minee Subee, this is the final step to being further from the stigma that the former business name now carries. I think this is the ray of hope that we needed, too, which tells us that the business is solid under the new ownership of Bright Horizons, and that we are all moving on.
I continued in and collected my children, and I held their hands as we left the building. As you can imagine, the Bobcat and the crane were a huge hit for Luke, who stood in amazement at the machinery working in the parking lot. His eyes got big, his voice high, and his excitement was nearly contagious as he yelled, “Wow, look at that crane, and that digger!!”. The wind continued, and seemed to get sharper with chill, so I rushed the kids to the car and got them buckled in.
As we pulled away from the parking lot and the kids admired and commented on the new Bright Horizons sign, the sun peeked out from behind the clouds that had been hiding it. As we’ve done so many times before, the kids waved to the building as we drove away, saying, “Bye Minee Subee”.
Yes, kids. Bye Minee Subee.
My daughter is a sponge, just like most 5 year olds are. She blurts out snippets of what she learns at school all the time, and it’s so cool to hear. Last week she caught me by surprise with her little snippet. She started to tell me that black people used to not be able to go to the movies. Using the tools she’d learned, and working hard to recall all the facts, she basically started to tell me about segregation, and that Martin Luther King Jr. had died.
Death is a common theme for her these past few months, whereas she mentions that dinosaurs died, her great grandma died, you get the idea. So the fact that she mentioned that Dr. King died wasn’t too big a surprise to me. What got me, though, was that she was sharing with me this snippet from something they’d talked about at school, and it was more than just letters, sight words, and the week’s theme. This was the first time she’d talked, with me, about history. How cool, and to me, what a milestone.
I was really impressed at her ability to work through what she was remembering about whatever the discussion was at school. She remembered “King”, but not his full name. She knew clearly that there used to be two bathrooms, water fountains, and movie theatres. She expressed clearly that “that’s not nice”. At this point, she looked to me for some more clarification or at least discussion about the subject, and I don’t know that I was fully ready!
See, in August we went to the Illinois State Fair in Springfield, IL. While in Springfield, the State capital, we visited the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Museum. We knew it would be over the kids’ heads, but, Dave and I were really anxious to see the museum, and tried to time the visit so that the kids wouldn’t be near, or at, meltdown stages at any time during the tour. In the end, it was a great museum, and the exhibits are vibrant and interesting, with some interactive things for all of us to enjoy. The kids liked the exhibit of Mrs. Lincoln’s gowns, the cabin Abraham grew up in, and there were some nice spaces where we could let the kids out of their strollers without worry of losing them or having to constantly remind them not to touch stuff. They’re good about that kind of thing anyway, but I digress.
In the Lincoln museum, there is an exhibit which depicts a slave trade. A (black) family of three (mother, father, young son) are being torn apart by two slave traders. The mother and father are being held apart by the traders, the son (probably no older than 4) is between them, crying, helpless, and scared. The exhibit has sound, too, reenacting the scene as it likely would have happened in the day. At the time, Kaitlin was confused and asked a lot of questions about why the little boy was sad. I tried my best to explain to her, in basic terms, what slavery was, and what was happening in the scene before us. The exhibit, like everything else in the museum, is alive with colour and sound, and these life sized figures couldn’t have appeared more real. Very impactful, very emotional. She continued to ask why they were selling the daddy, if they were hurting him, and if the little boy was still with his mommy. Her questions ceased by the time we left the museum, and I don’t recall that she mentioned that particular exhibit after our trip.
So, here we are and she’s now telling me about segregation. She has a classmate and friend that is black, and she told me that she and her friend, C, wouldn’t be able to go to the same bathroom, and Dr. King helped the black people use the same bathroom as the white people. Continuing with my factual answers, I confirmed for her that whites and blacks did not get to use the same things, or do things together, at the time of Dr. King. I told her that Dr. King helped many people, and changed the minds and lives of people all over.
I don’t know why this struck me like it did, but it did. This was the first time I’d had a conversation with her about such a serious topic. On top of that, she was the one who brought it up, and she remembered so much from what she heard at school! We’ve focused so much on letters, writing, and beginning to try to read, it was really cool to talk to her about something outside our norm. My little girl is growing up. She’s learning about the world around her, and not just today, but, about the past, about history.
I’m slowly being forced to realize that my baby isn’t a baby any more. She’s growing, learning, and soon will be smarter than I, or at least in her own mind. She is learning about topics in life much earlier than I ever did, even the ABC’s. Her world is expanding so fast, and she’s an active participant in that world. I only recently got over the fact that she’s walking and talking, and now she’s going to try to have real conversations with me? Sigh. I guess that means I’m really a mom. Just don’t try to tell me that it means I’m an adult, or that I’m growing up. I don’t think I’m ready for that reality yet.
Alone time is something that I don’t treat myself to, and hadn’t had any of until this morning. At the urging of a new friend, I’ve been instructed to leave the house once a week and depart from the rigors of life as a mom, if even for a short time. Skeptical, I agreed and began the assignment this morning.
My husband is entirely supportive of my having “me” time. We discussed and agreed on the best, or at least a good, time for me to have this time alone, and Sunday mornings won. For one thing, it’s his day to “wake up with” the kids. Now, I generally am the one who is woken by one or the other monkeys stirring, or coming into our room in the morning. So really it’s his morning to get out of bed with them and begin their day. This morning was a great one, starting at 5:50AM. I was woken from a pretty good sleep to the sounds of, “Daddy….I have bleeder coming out!” coming from the next room. Poor Luke has suffered nose bleeds for a while now, and he had a pretty good one this morning.
I got him settled and cleaned up, laid a towel over the stains on the sheets so that he could lay back down for at least a short time. He rocked with his Daddy for a bit before they agreed that he would just read a book in bed. I, then, laid in bed listening to him turn the pages and talk about the book, and sing whenever it popped into his head. Daddy has that desirable ability to fall back asleep, which he did, so I pulled out my iPod Touch and checked my Facebook page, played a little Scrabble, and tried to pass some time in hopes of being able to drift off again. Nope, didn’t happen.
I think my husband got out of bed some time between 6:30 and 7AM and got the kids dressed and downstairs for breakfast. I, then, got out of bed and hopped on the computer for a bit to look for the hours of some places I’d considered going to this morning during my scheduled alone time. 8AM-10AM is a great time for alone time, but, there isn’t much open at that hour, especially on a Sunday. Book stores (my first choice), closed. Library, closed. This left breakfast places and coffee shops. I don’t want to go somewhere and spend money I don’t really have to spare on breakfast alone, and I don’t want to go spend a ton of money on coffee which I could make myself at home for a fraction of the per cup cost. Yes, finances are tight and if I’m going to treat myself to time without the family regularly, it can’t add up to a small fortune.
OK, so venue chosen, I finally prep myself for public presentation. Well, I basically spruced up enough to allow myself to be seen without looking like a homelss person. Ponytail, contacts in the eyes, jeans and a sweatshirt, and I was all set. Here I go!
I chose a local Panera and grabbed a few dollars from a little jar which I keep spare singles in so I could get a coffee. I’ve been to Paneras over the years, but never alone and just to sit. So I grabbed a book, hoping to get a few pages read if I found a comfy enough spot at the restaurant. See, I guess I still see restaurants as places where you go, you order, you eat, and you leave. The whole coffe house, hang out at Starbucks was big when I was in college, but, that just wasn’t my bag. Plus, I didn’t really start to drink coffee ’til I was a junior in college, and by then I was quite happy with my seat at the library. It was there or the Shoneys out by the highway when we pulled all nighters, but getting a ride off campus wasn’t always the easiest thing to do, and nothing was close to campus.
Anyhow, I was a little nervous, I have to admit. Unlike some people, I’m not that confident in doing things like this alone. I enjoy being with others. On top of that, places like this tend to intimidate me when they make it impossible to order coffee by name. It’s almost like being in a foreign country. Actually, it reminds me of trying to order tea with cream and sugar in New Zealand. I distinctly recall standing in a bakery in Queenstown, NZ trying to figure out how to order a tea with cream and sugar. I had mastered ordering pies after meeting a Kiwi on my flight into Auckland who not only showed me the sights of the city, but, introduced me to the variety of pies found everywhere in the small country. I’m part English, have been a tea drinker all my life, and couldn’t for the life of me figure out this half white, half and black, whatever it was that they called it. I just wanted a tea!!
I digress. My hesitation at ordering coffee in commercial, or even local, coffee places is based on my own insecurity, but, suffice it to say I don’t generally enjoy having to learn how to order something as basic as a coffee. This is one of the reasons I opted for Panera. They offer coffee. And it’s good. And I can refill my cup. Enough said.
As I drove from my house, I felt a little strange. I’m not used to doing for me. This is a common thing among women, among moms. We get so used to doing for others that we lose sight of what it’s like to do for ourselves. I focused on this as I got out of my car. Donned in the only pair of jeans that fit me right now (which were hand me downs), my Eastland shoes my mom got me at least 8 years ago, my husband’s old sweatshirt, I realized how little I’ve done for myself over the years. I can’t even tell you the last time I shopped for myself. Part of this is due to lack of funding for such an operation, but I have always had a hard time spending my money, especially on ME. Ugh, it’s so annoying. Now, I have likely painted a picture of some perfect candidate for the show What Not to Wear, but I assure you it’s not that bad (wait, don’t they all say that???). My point is, I neglect myself, and as I walked into the place, I was glad I had taken on this assignment for me time.
I approached the counter after seeing that they did have some flavoured coffees on tap. Whew. I don’t inherently like the taste of coffee, and I pretty much have a little coffee with my cream and sugar. Then I realized that they have some appealing breakfast options which would not break my small bank (pocket). Another sigh of relief.
I ordered, grabbed my cup, receipt, and square “your order’s ready” contraption and found a booth to sit in. The two comfy arm chairs (yes, only two, grrrr) were taken, so I opted for a booth, figuring I’d move to a table if the place got real busy. Luckily, it didn’t, at least not that I was aware. I say that because, as I’d mentioned, I brought a book. Not just any book, some might say. I brought with me my borrowed copy of Twilight. The rock I live under isn’t big enough to shelter me from the phenom that is this book series. I also am witness to the craze every day in my close-knit online community of moms that I’ve been part of for the better part of my daughter’s life. A coworker of mine read the books and lent them to me on a “return them whenever you’re done” basis. I was an avid reader as a kid until high school when reading was assigned, not just for fun. I think that’s really when I lost my childhood interest in reading. Of course, that’s not to say that I didn’t read an occaisional book for fun, not like I did as a kid. I brought the book with me figuring that I’d look less silly being in a restaurant alone if I had my nose in a book, and if it didn’t hold my interest, I’d leave and find something else to do and somewhere else to go.
So, I entered the world of Twilight this morning. I’m learning about Fords, WA and the strange people that live there. As I sat reading the book, I peered up only a few times, seeing the other patrons order their morning fare and find that just right spot to enjoy it in. Watching people order their food and look for a seat can be entertaining at times. At one point, a younger couple, I’d say in their late 20’s, came in and got their coffees. They looked over the layout of the place, then she took one for the team and roamed the aisle, examining the seating for that just right spot for her and her male companion. It didn’t take her long to come back and shake her head, indicating that nothing in that direction was suitable. I peered out of my booth after they turned the other way and noticed that most of the booths were empty, as were the two-seater round tables further down. I don’t know what criteria they had for their just right spot, but, apparently they weren’t met in that direction. I didn’t bother to see if they stuck it out at the front of the restaurant, I just went back to my book and experienced Bella’s first day at her new high school.
A nice couple in their 40’s or 50’s sat in the booth across the aisle from me with a newspaper and a book. They had coffee and I don’t believe either of them uttered more than a few words the whole time they were there. In fact, at one point I looked in their direction and saw a father daughter team in the same spot. Either I was engrossed in the book or they were really stealth, as were the father and daughter. Hm. The father and daughter were dressed nicely, probably for church or something, so I could tell that they weren’t out just giving mom a break. It was really cute, and you could tell the little girl, probably around 7 or 8, was proud to be out with her Daddy carrying her purse and wearing a pretty skirt with party shoes. Does anyone call them that any more, ‘party shoes’?
I wasn’t expecting the book to read as easily as it does. I’d been told over and over how easy a read it was, but, usually when I hear that it turns out to read like The Oddyssey, anything but what I would call easy. This, though, really is easy and I flew through 60+ pages that I read this morning. Having only gotten through roughly 4 chapters, I will reserve any review of the story itself, but will admit that I’m enjoying it and can envision carving out some time to read it throughout the coming weeks. Not sure it will take me that long, but, my reading time is scarce and once it’s dark outside, an open book is as good as NyQuil for me.
My morning out, alone, was refreshing. As the clock rounded 10:00, I saved my page with a napkin, got my coat on, and topped off my coffee before heading to my car. I wasn’t leaving quite yet, I had one thing I wanted to do first. Barnes and Nobel. At a play date the kids and I went on yesterday, a great responsibility chart was recommended by the hosting mom. This thing is just what I’ve been trying to come up with myself for my kids (and myself). I spent my time on me and now I had to do something that would make me feel better, even if it’s kind of for someone else. I knew these cost around $20, and that’s really all I had on me, so I only was able to buy one today. I’ll get the second in a couple weeks after the next pay day (or I’ll get it online for less!). Honestly, despite the fact that I spent money, it made me feel better to get the chart, knowing that I could begin to apply the responsibilities and impending rewards with Kaitlin as early as today. This made me feel almost as good as treating myself to me time!
As I left, I felt relaxed, not worried about my day, and actually looking forward to time with my kids and husband. That hasn’t been the case for the past couple months, though. Funny how a mere couple of hours out of the house can recharge me. Even if it’s just for today, I’m happy to have had this time to read, drink coffee, and people watch. I look forward to doing it again next week, and more often as time goes by.
Words can mean so much, yet they can also be so empty. A picture can paint a thousand words, but, a thousand words can do little to paint a picture. A mere few words can cause someone deep pain, but, all the words in the world often can’t take that pain away.
One year ago today, a family lost a son and brother. Children lost a friend. The world lost a precious gift. Benjamin Kingan will forever be remembered by friends and family, never forgotten.
Words cannot bring him back. Words cannot comfort the hearts and souls of his parents or his siblings. Words cannot fix the wrong that took him that day.
Words can be a tool for gaining understanding, for mourning, for coping. Words are one way for us to release some of the pain in our hearts. Words allow us to share the sorrow we feel within. Words give us the ability to share what is inside, bringing us closer to a place where we can find comfort and ease our pain.
This did not happen to me, yet I am shaken to the core by the loss of Benjamin. The news of his tragic death brought many to tears. The pain is still fresh. None know this better than his family.
Our lives are busy, everyone has their own daily struggles. I invite you to take some time from your day today to say a prayer for, take a moment and think of, the Kingans.
Slow down today, hug your kids, and remember that life is a gift.
Yes, we got to do a parent survey at the day care. Never had to do one of these before. There was always a suggestion box, but who really gives suggestions? I’m not sure that box wasn’t the most lonely item in the building. Now that we’re part of Bright Horizons, though, we got to do a parent survey.
I’ve never had the chance to do one, so I was rather looking forward to it. Then when I discovered that all this paper they handed to me included a link to complete the survey online, I was thrilled! Any move which reduces my having to keep track of another piece of paper is a win in my book.
I tackled the survey this weekend, at home, online. With the click of my mouse, I answered the multiple choice questions with ease and speed. What were the questions, you might wonder? It was the usual stuff. My kid is fed healthy meals, the teachers treat my kid with respect, my kid learns, my kid likes it there, the usual. Then the survey turned to the parents and their work. Did your center influence your decision about returning to work, your schedule, your ability to work, etc? Have you ever had to miss work or rearrange your work schedule due to issues with your child care provider? That kind of thing.
Interesting. I know that Bright Horizons touts their ability to help families balance work and family, but I was a little taken aback when they started to ask how my child care arrangement may have effected my work arrangement. I guess I never assumed that one had to have anything to do with the other. I mean, when does a child care provider have to do anything to help a parent deal with being a working parent? When does an employer have to make concessions or allowances for employees with children? Technically, neither has to. Ideally, both would. Hm.
Many working mothers envision the perfect working environment where they can dress comfortably, yet professionally, bring their infant to the office, nurse/feed when they need to in private, and meet the demands of their job at the same time, even if it takes a little longer to get some things done. Many would love to have a Pack n Play in their office or next to their cube where they could allow their baby to rest, play, and watch Mommy at work. This, however, is not the reality for most moms. Or dads, for that matter.
I always thought my own work/family balance was my responsibility to manage. Mine. Not my husband’s, not my employer’s, mine. If I am going to have children and continue to work, I need to figure out how to make that work. On the other hand there, I’m not having children alone, so it should equally be mine and my husband’s job to manage our combined work/family balance so that neither of us is left with more on our plate than the other. Of course, this balance is something not easily managed, and there is never, or rarely, true equality.
So the questions about the employer and such in this survey got me to thinking. Of course, I’m sure this is the whole point to the questions being included in the survey. As I said, I was taken aback at first by these questions being asked of me when the survey was supposed to be about my satisfaction with the child care facility and the staff. After further thought on the subject, I started to soften up and realized that it’s more than likely a good thing that a child care provider takes into consideration the challenges faced by working parents, their customers. How can a provider give their customers what they really need if they don’t have a true understanding of those needs? Now, is this survey going to be the crystal ball, giving them all the answers so they can be the perfect provider? No. Is it a start? Yes.
Perhaps I’m overthinking the whole situation. Is it really that unheard of that a child care provider would want to assist parents with their duties as both parents and employees? Is it that strange that anyone would want to help parents juggle the demands of finding care for their children so they can continue and forward their careers? Of course not! It’s a brilliant idea!
Still, I am hesitant. I work for a large corporation, but the idea of a corporation wanting to be involved in family issues doesn’t rest well with me on the surface. I don’t work for a company that offers programs or resources to parents or families relating to work/family situations, or the work/family balancing act that working parents perform. I guess that’s why this is so foreign to me. As a working parent, it would be nice if someone was concerned about how I handle it when one of my kids is sick, or if my day care is closed for some reason. Nobody really pays attention to that kind of thing. How cool would it be for someone to offer parents resources and tools for managing their home life and their work life, and finding a good balance that is healthy and allows their entire family to thrive?
For me, this kind of thing comes a little late for the party. Sort of. We’re already thinking about how much longer our kids will need day care. We’ve still got some time, but, it’s that time to start realizing that our oldest will be in kindergarten this fall, and eventually both kids will be in the public school. Like in two short years. Holy moly, that’s gonna go fast! Either way, I think the whole idea of offering “family solutions” is vital for new parents, or those who find themselves in a situation of needing child care for the first time. I certainly would have entertained any ideas given to me which would have made entering the work force as a mom easier for me when I had my first baby.
I do plan to open my eyes and ears and learn more about what exactly the “family solutions” part of BH really is. I have been under considerable stress these past few months and it wouldn’t be entirely out of the realm of reality that I could use some outside advice or information which would make life as a working parent easier.
Time to take off my “cynical” hat, and put on my “open to suggestions” hat. In the long run, I was given an opportunity to rate the care my kids and I get from this center, and I gave it. There was a field for comments at the end, and I filled it in. I did my part for the survey. Now I look forward to seeing what impact, if any, my participation in the survey may have at the center. In turn, I will look forward to learning about ways my center can make being a working parent less stressful, or at least somewhat more managable.
The journey continues.
It’s amazing, to me, the mania that is created around here when there is snow in the forecast. You would think we’d never gotten snow before and the sky was about to fall Chicken Little style.
Weather teams on local news channels turn into Winter Storm Trackers, and the weather report turns into Blizzard Watch 2010. Reporters are sent to highway overpasses to bear the brunt of the winds, snow, and harsh conditions to prove to viewers that it’s cold and snowing. They stalk weary travelers at airports to find out how they feel about their delayed or cancelled flights, showing pictures of poor saps passed out on the cots the airport so kindly keeps on hand for such occaisions. We all know the answer to the questions they ask, too. How do you think they’re doing after two days in an airport where lunch is $15 without a drink and the airline sent their luggage to California instead of Connecticut?
Up to the minute weather reports confirm that snow is falling, and more is coming. What would we do if we only got a weather update once an hour? What a silly thought!
Then you get the poor reporter who has to camp out at a gas station to talk to commuters on their way to or from work. I love when they get the crabby ones who got stuck behind the salt truck, but, wouldn’t pass because they were “driving cautiously”. They are generally the shortest interview clips.
The best reports, though, are the reports from the roadside, just as a city plow comes barrelling down the street. Or when they’re “on the scene” for Blizzard Watch 2010, and it’s barely snowing and they are left to talk about how many plows are out and how long they’ve been working.
Here in Chicago, residents have a tradition during snowy months of saving their parking spots using furniture, shovels, and anything large enough to make it undesirable for a motorist to move their vehichle into said parking spot. The city tries every year to discourage this practice, but, it continues every winter. It’s rather comical to pass down residential streets and see chairs, small tables, large shovels, and other items placed along the curbside, indicating “this spot is MINE”. It’s like an unwritten and unspoken dialect of Chicagoese, a language only spoken by city residents without garage spots. A winter tradition not likely to end any time soon.
We’ve all seen the evening news, too, on the day the storm was supposed to hit, when a mere dusting is all that accumulated. The weather folks talk about how lucky we were that the winds shifted, the jet stream changed, the isobars reversed, the planets changed their alignment, whatever the reason - wow, we dodged a bullet there! Weather is sometimes predictable, sometimes not. Pretty often, though, the average Joe knows that when armageddon is predicted, a disaster is far from reality.
The naysayers have a field day on days it’s supposed to storm. “It’ll never be that bad”; “They’re always wrong”; “We’ve had worse, it will be fine”, you know the ones. They never have trouble getting to work, it’s never as bad as anyone says it might be, and they totally discredit any weather reports when it finally snows and accumulation is not as great as the weather people predicted. Even if it’s what was predicted, they would never admit that the weather reports were anywhere near right!
We had some snow today in Chicago. Iowa got pounded and sent it our way, and we have so far not received the beating they did, but, the storm is far from over. By the end of it, we’re predicted to get a foot of snow, on top of the few inches that were already on the ground. It’s beautiful and wintry, and snow plow operators are making their money today, that’s for sure. Our local morning news casts started 30 minutes earlier, they broke into the news casts for weather updates, and there are rampant early closings today and late starts tomorrow at schools all over the area. I just keep hearing Chicken Little in my head crying, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!”.
Without the reports of dire conditions, we would be left to find out for ourselves that it’s snowing by going out in it. What a horrible fate we would face without up to the minute weather reports, early news casts, and storm tracking teams who are on the job 24/7.
Stay tuned, Blizzard Watch 2010 will stay on the story until the storm has passed!
I have to admit that I was nervous about the change when our center transitioned to a Bright Horizons center. I knew in the back of my mind that this was a good move for all involved, but, wasn’t sure how the changes would effect our family and our relationship with the center staff. I am glad to say that the transition was relatively seamless, and we are happy with the many changes that have gone into effect.
The staff has responded positively to the change, and our Director and Assistant Director have been quite responsive to concerns of parents with respect to changes in staff, tuition, and center operation. I think the entire staff have addressed the transition well and made it a transparent change for the families, especially the children. There are a few specific changes that I’m quite pleased with.
First, they now use a carbon-copy incident report, so the parent gets a copy to take home. Previously, they used a single document which was kept in the child’s file, and a copy was not given to the parent. I’m sure one could have been provided, but I never requested one, never got one. I prefer having a copy to take home because when I arrive to pick up the kids, I’m trying to focus on responding to them when we greet each other, and getting them out the door so we can get home. When I have ever had to sign an incident report for either child, I try to listen to the explanation of the incident, but, honestly, my attention is often diverted. It’s nice to be able to go home and reread the report to see just what went on. This also allows me to keep better track of when something happens and what actions are being taken by the staff if it’s a repeated behaviour like biting. Luke has some tasty features, and has been targeted a few times by other kids, but I wouldn’t say it’s chronic. Now, though, I can keep my own record of Luke tastings or other altercations which leave physical evidence.
Another positive, when ours begins working, is the new computer log-in system. I haven’t successfully used it to date, but, there is now a computer log-in at the front door where each parent enters a pin number and can access their ‘account’. This allows visibility to tuition payments, attendance, and is another means for sharing information with the parents regarding the center. Having not been able to log in yet, I haven’t encountered the madness of stopping near the door along with other parents to log in to the computer and take the time to check in or check out. I haven’t noticed any bottlenecks for entry or departure, so I assume it’s a decent system. Once I get my log-in to work, I will begin to enjoy this feature.
Drop-off changed amidst this transition, too. Perhaps it was lower enrollment, or perhaps it was the fact that the babies arrive later in the morning, but we no longer drop the kids off in the infant room like we used to. We now deposit both kids in the 2’s room, which suits Luke just fine because that’s his classroom. Both kids are greeted by two of their favourite teachers, which makes the drop-off much more bearable for Mommy and Daddy. They enjoy a bowl of cereal (or in Kaitlins’ case up to 8!!) and play time until all the kids are moved to their respective classrooms. It’s rather nice, and I think the kids enjoy being in a classroom with toys and books that are closer to appropriate for their respective ages.
Tuition statements went from weekly to monthly, which is not easy for my meager brain to grasp, but, is probably easier for the business to manage. It’s also less wasteful to print one monthly document per family, as opposed to four per month. I can appreciate the environmental friendliness of this move.
The center changed the format of the fall’s Thanksgiving Feast. Historically, the 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, and Kindy classes sang songs and dressed in Thanksgiving themed costumes, and it was really cute. Usually there were one or two kids in each class that actually knew and sang the words, one or two who cried, and the rest just stared out at the parents or tried to talk to them from the front of the room. It was always adorable. Following the songs, the children and teachers presented the ‘feast’, lovingly prepared by the children, or so the story would go. Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and potatoes were the usual fare of the feast, and it was fun to eat at the child-sized tables while sitting in child-sized chairs. The kids were always excited to show off their costumes, and most ate along with the parents. I have been to all of these presentations, and was comforted to see that the children whose parents couldn’t be there got to sit with their teachers, unless they were familiar with another parent and chose to sit with them. Either way, nobody was left out.
So, the new format is quite different. For those of us with more than one child, it was a little tricky navigating the different rooms so we could all be present to feast with each of our kids. This year, each classroom had their own ‘feast’, and there were no costumes, no rehearsed songs, no “presentations”. Instead, parents were invited into each classroom to join their children in giving thanks for a nice meal, and for our being together. I can’t speak for each room, but, the 2’s had a short little jingle they rattled off, followed by a big “thank you”. The kindergarteners individually said what they were thankful for and also joined together to sing/speak a little ditty they’d practiced. This being the first year for individual class feasts, and the timing involved in trying to let the parents see each of their kids made for some interesting moments, especially in the 2’s where the kids haven’t quite mastered the virtue of patience. Aside from some timing glitches, the new format has its up sides. Once they iron out the minor details, I think it will be a successful and festive occaision that we will look forward to each fall.
The winter holidays of Christmas and Hanukkah were celebrated as they have been in past years, with a small tree and a small menorah displayed at the front of the center. The kids created picture and other crafts for both holidays, so each of the kids came home with some version of a stocking, and some version of a menorah or dreidel. Suffice it to say, our holiday art project decoration collection did not fall short this year.
Overall, the transition to a public, corporate child care center has been pleasantly trouble free. I am fortunate to have found a great group of teachers, and an equally great group of fellow parents. Both of my children have made friends that I’m confident they’ll have for many years to come, even after they get to public school. I’m glad we stuck with it.