I love rules! Doesn’t mean I’m gonna follow every one, but as a rule, I love them. Structure. Written documentation. In black & white. Waiting for my ever ready highlight marker. Helps me memorize the rules I deem important enough for instant recall. Where would we be without rules?
|These rules should be required in every little league park in the US. Just substitute your favorite professional team…|
The babies. Right now we have 10 full time and 4 part time kids ranging in age from 3 months to 15 months. Don’t let that small 12 month gap fool you. It’s HUGE during the first year of a baby’s life. HUGE. The part-timers come on different days, but overlap on 2 days, giving us 13 babies for two days. Well guess what? That’s against the rules. I won’t state all the licensing code numbers every time I mention a rule because I don’t have them memorized. Yet. When our baby numbers exceed the rules, someone’s gotta go to the next room (ages range from about 1-1/2 to 2-1/2) for the day. It’s usually the oldest child we have who’ll be moving there anyway. They might fuss and sputter a bit initially. Different caregivers, different toddler faces, but it’s not long and soon they don’t want to come back to our room and we’re forgotten.
|Neat little rule that strangely applies to me…|
We have an odd age assortment right now, because there’s almost no in-between babies (only one). They’re either 5 months or younger, or 10 months and older. Doesn’t sound like much difference, but you can’t actually have the little ones with the bigger ones yet. One age group is too helpless, the other too curious (about the too helpless ones).
|Rules I try to follow for writing…|
Another one of the state’s too-numerous-to-count-rules strongly suggests fresh air for all children in daycare. Pretty much any day there’s not a downpour, blizzard, above 90 or a windchill below 20 above. Right. Trying to time this in between bottles, solid foods, diapers, and naps requires a degree in PHD-dom. Invariably, one or 2 children can’t go outdoors for some reason, antibiotics or allergies. At any given time during the day, one or 2 will be sleeping or need to be fed, which usually means about 8 at a time go outdoors leaving me with 4 in our room.
|Another set I’m working on…|
One beautiful afternoon recently (a 13 count day, so one of ours was visiting the one year old classroom for the day) Michelle and Marty lugged in 2 dainty strollers. I swear one of our strollers is the size of a railroad car. Bright red and white with shoulder harnesses and hold 6 kids! The other one is just a 2-banger. As soon as the door opens and the babies spot the strollers, all the one year olds walk, crawl, amble, lumber or scoot as fast as their chubby legs will carry them, squealing with delight. (Most everyone wants to go bye-bye. Even on bad weather days when walking our hallways is the only option, the kids are excited. Heck, everyone who encounters a red and white striped stroller loaded with adorable little people goes ga-ga over our babies). My stay-in crew of 4 consisted of 2 four month olds and 2 one year olds.
One tiny tot was sleeping, one needed to be fed and the 2 big kids were making the rounds, destroying the room (it’s ok really, it’s their job). The amount of time spent outside depends, on average about 20 minutes to a half hour. Not including, slathering them all with Sunscreen, making sure all diapers are changed, finding hats, pacifiers, jackets, shoes, plus getting them all harnessed in and out of the strollers. A time consuming challenge. Before and especially after.
|A good set to reflect on occasionally…|
So I was at the halfway mark of going solo. The sleeping baby woke and was sitting near me, watching the one year olds cruising from one shelf to the next, freeing every toy from it. They’re actually experts in this department. The fourth baby was ready for her bottle when a dad of one of our babies walked in. I said hi, he’s outside right now. Wasn’t why he was here, just bringing his son some extra food. He left and a couple minutes later the recess crowd started coming back in. And they were not full of unbridled joy. Weirdest thing. Happy as a pig in mud one minute and deflated, defeated, hot, cranky, hungry, and angry the next. I didn’t realize how closely the babies keep track of our big board. Big board has everyone’s individual name, next diaper change and most importantly, next bottle or food time written on it. Glancing at it, then at the clock they start by screwing up their little faces, going into a scowl that’s almost cute. For about 2 seconds. “Hey there slacker worker, I’m now 20 minutes late for my snack/bottle/diaper. What gives? Don’t think you can just rock your way out of this one. I. Am. Ticked. Tired. Hungry. And you’re gonna hear about it.”
|I. Love. This. One. It’s so me…|
I can only remember one other time during my 2-1/2 years in the infant room that rivaled the next 20 minutes. Chaos ensued. (Think: the riots of the late ‘60’s). It started as a lulling crescendo into a category 5 hurricane in less than 2 minutes. I was in the baby section with 4 little ones, feeding one of them. The other 3 were complaining. But holy man, in the play area of the big section of our room was a virtual unison chorus of 8 unhappy voices demanding their needs be met. Me first. Food, diapers, naps all needed immediately. Can’t remember that many of our babies crying at the same time. Suddenly the adjoining door opens and I think, thank you God, someone’s coming into help for 15 minutes. Au contraire. Instead a voice politely asks, “can you take back Owen?” (Are you kidding me?) “No, we still have 12.” “But we just saw one of your dads park his truck.” (You watch the parking lot? Really?) “He was just bringing in some bottles,” I said as pleasantly as I could muster. Click went the door to their room. Over the roar I glanced at Marty and Michelle with a ‘can you believe what just happened?’ I totally thought they were gonna take one or 2 of our kids for a few minutes, not ask us to take another one in this chaotic environment. Oh well.
Wasn’t but 15 minutes later when soggy diapers had been changed, a couple of tiny ones were sound asleep in their cribs, 3 bigger kids were in high chairs, happily and hungrily munching on their snacks, drinking greedily from their sippy cups. Ah, peace was restored. (Peace might be a slight stretch, but there are times when our room is pretty quiet. And yes, those 23 second increments, once or twice a week are always well documented and looked back with much fondness-when time allows). For the most part though, there is a quite a price to pay when we take the babies out for recess. All for those pesky rules I love so much…
|Our clean dish drying mat. Comes out of the dryer with 40 Velcro bibs attached. Often the way I feel when I’m done working for the day…|