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Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
2 years, 5 months.
When I starting writing yesterday’s The Thought Of A Male Daycare Worker Weirds Me Out, it was meant to be a simple story about you calling me “Miss Daddy.” Instead, it took a random turn by the 5th sentence:
I broadcast my opinion (which has now proven itself to be unpopular and undefended) that the thought of a male daycare worker is weird.
In case it matters, I am referring specifically to a (hypothetical) full-time male daycare worker in the 2 to 3 year-old classes.
The main reason this concept is “weird” to me is because I find it strange that a man would choose to work full-time with children who are still potty training, but who still need their diapers changed.
It just seems like there wouldn’t be that many men wanting that job.
However, I could totally see a part-time storyteller/music man/entertainer who “floats” around to all the classes, regardless of a child’s age group.
Technically, a person’s opinion can’t be wrong. But there were definitely some things I predicted about how other people feel, which I realize now, were wrong.
I was wrong to think that a lot of other parents feel the same way as I do about this. They don’t.
Here’s a quote from yesterday that is completely off with reality:
“I think it’s one of those nearly irrelevant conversations that could cause quite a stir on Facebook, but in reality, I would bet most moms and dads would agree that they wouldn’t feel comfortable with a male worker at their kids’ daycare.”
Wrong. That’s not true. That’s not how they feel.
That’s how I feel.
And honestly, it’s not a belief I am passionate about or am interested in talking about again.
Back in college, I worked in after school programs and taught elementary school during the summers. I am so in favor of men having an active role in young children’s lives.
Even so, for me personally, the thought of a man working full-time in a 2 to 3 year-old daycare class seems a bit bizarre. But who cares? After all, I’m referring to a hypothetical person who doesn’t work at your daycare.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming about dinosaurs and monster trucks…
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Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
2 years, 5 months.
Sometimes you call me “Miss Daddy.” Slightly less funny is the fact you call Mommy “Miss Mommy.”
Given that most of your daytime hours are spent at school, it’s easy to understand that how natural it could be for you to want to call me “Miss Daddy.”
(That’s somehow a pretty fitting term for you to use, considering Mommy and I just bought you a pink sports coupe with a silver skull on the front, named Bone Crusher.)
It’s not like there are male teachers at your school, to familiarize you with the term “mister.”
Actually, I’ve never thought about it before, but my honest feelings about there being a male teacher at a daycare… that would be pretty weird and I wouldn’t feel comfortable with it.
But hey, that’s all speculation anyway. I suppose it’s simply me being gender biased in that I only feel comfortable with the thought of female teachers at your school.
Now that I’m thinking about it, though, I would imagine that if your daycare suddenly hired a male teacher, there would instantly be a good number of parents pulling their kids out and moving them to another daycare.
I think it’s one of those nearly irrelevant conversations that could cause quite a stir on Facebook, but in reality, I would bet most moms and dads would agree that they wouldn’t feel comfortable with a male worker at their kids’ daycare.
A lot of people would like to believe that gender equality in the work force is always an attainable thing, but the free market tends to decide otherwise. I predict that male daycare workers are bad, or at least a gamble, for most daycare businesses.
I’m sorry, but I’ve been conditioned to distrust men I don’t know around little kids; especially my own. If I wasn’t weirded out by the thought of a male daycare worker, then I would be weird.
P.S. I published a follow-up to this 24 hours later called How I Was Wrong About Male Daycare Workers, which discredits much of what I said here.
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Friday, February 1st, 2013
2 years, 2 months.
In yesterday’s “Asking A Toddler Why They Did Something Wrong” I explained how you got in trouble at school yesterday for throwing a toy at a friend, hitting them in the face and leaving a mark. I also explained how you were disciplined for it.
So today is the direct sequel to that story.
When I was a kid, I hated having to apologize and hug “the other kid” when I hurt them.
I didn’t like that it was forced. I would think to myself, “This obviously isn’t a real hug. I’m only saying I’m sorry because I have to. This is stupid.”
Now that I’m the parent, having you apologize to and hug your victim was the first thing I made you do once you got to school today and saw “the other kid.”
Turns out, though, “the other kid” just so happens to be one of your very best friends, Sophie Culpepper. I have mentioned her here on The Dadabase more than any other friend.
In other words, she’s no generic kid without a face or name. From you and her playing at your 2nd birthday party, all the way back to November 2011 when I first wrote a story about you two, you both have been buddies this whole time.
So this morning as I was unstrapping you from you car seat, I whispered to you, as if I was some divine voice from above trying to subconsciously place the idea in your head:
“Today, you need to apologize to Sophie and give her a hug.”
When we arrived in the classroom, I placed you on the floor next to Sophie. I whispered my divine instructions to you again, with Sophie’s mom watching too.
You froze. You usually do when we cross over from “family mode” to “school mode.”
I’m going to assume that after the parents went away, you did what I asked of you. Sure, it may just be wishful thinking.
But I know you really are sorry about what happened. I’ve learned here recently when you get in trouble with Mommy and I before leaving for school, you’ll be quiet the whole trip. Then, as I’m taking you inside to KinderCare, you will say with shame, “I listen to Mommy.”
(Translation: “I will listen to you and Mommy next time, instead of freaking out about not getting to watch Mater’s Tall Tales when it’s time to go.”)
If it’s true you hurt the ones you love the most, then I, in some strange way, can understand that your first victim of a toy-to-the-face throw had to be your best girl friend.
After all, you’ve grown up with Sophie in your daycare. She’s so much like a sister to you. If I did the math, you might even spend more waking hours with her than I am able to spend with you myself.
So yes, a forced apology and hug may seem a bit awkward to you, but those things help you to understand that hurting others comes with consequences; not just physical, but emotional.
Like I said yesterday, I know that it’s challenging right now for you to understand your emotions, but when you hug the person you have hurt, it helps send a message of emotional healing in the relationship.
Better are forced apologies and hugs than ignoring the offense all together. However, I know that the more I force them on you, the more natural and sincere they will become.
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Friday, February 1st, 2013
2 years, 2 months.
Today when I picked you up from KinderCare, your teacher gave me an incident report to sign:
“Jack threw a toy at a friend, hitting them in the face. Left a good sized mark. Separated them. Had time to himself and we talked about being nice to friends and using words when upset.”
It’s so natural for me to respond by asking you, “Jack… why did you do that? Why did you throw a toy at your friend?”
I realize now that by asking you that, I’m asking you a question you yourself don’t know the answer to.
In fact, you’re sort of relying on me to explain why you did it.
After all, while you can now easily and quickly piece together sentences to communicate things you observe, you’re not really able to communicate to me how you feel unless you are either very happy or very sad. Therefore, asking you to explain why you feel the way you do is even more confusing for you.
Right now Mommy and I are working on teaching you different emotions to describe how you feel. While you don’t quite yet understand “angry,” you do understand “sad.”
So I guess the best way to help you understand why you threw a toy at your friend and hit them in the face is maybe something like this:
“Jack, today you hurt your friend when you threw your toy at them. I think you might have felt angry when you did it. That made your friend sad. Jack, please say you’re sorry to them tomorrow. We hand our toys to our friends instead of throwing them; even if they do something we don’t like.”
You had to go to bed without your usual playtime at your train table, plus you didn’t get to take any of your trains to bed. That’s pretty weird for me… the thought of you going to bed without your little talking die-cast trains.
Ultimately, why you threw a toy at your friend doesn’t change the fact that I need to teach you to not throw a toy at a friend… for any reason.
So now, I don’t care about the why. I care about the how: How can I teach you that what you did was not nice?
By trying to help you use words to describe how you feel, asking you to apologize to your friend, and then by taking away your favorite toys for the night.
(There may be a better way. If there is, I’m open to suggestions from anyone else who happens to be reading this letter.)
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Monday, July 9th, 2012
“We’re home!” Jack said as we pulled into the parking lot of his daycare last Friday.
Sure, he doesn’t yet understand the difference between the words “home” and “here” yet, but what if it was a Freudian slip?
I put the pen to the paper, then used a calculator to check my less than awesome math skills. My number-crunching revealed to me that Jack is at daycare for 45 waking hours each week.
Contrast that to the 38 waking hours he’s home with Mommy and Dada.
We the parents have 7 less hours with our son each week than KinderCare. I’m letting that though settle in right now.
He’s been going to daycare for almost a year now and I’ve just never realized that paid professionals technically know our kid better than we do.
But like most parents, we don’t have a choice, financially.
On the positive side of it, we’re very aware of how confident, independent, and knowledgeable he is for his age.
It’s not up to us; he has to go to daycare.
But tomorrow I’ll get a taste of what it would be like to be a stay-at-home dad, or househusband: Jack had a fever of nearly 102 when I picked him up from KinderCare today.
However, on the car ride home and after dinner he was more hyper than ever. I don’t believe he’s actually sick.
So even if he’s perfectly healthy tomorrow, by policy of his daycare I can’t take him in. My wife has taken off more than her share of “sick days” from work on account of Jack having a fever. Now it’s my turn.
I will see what it’s like to actually take care of my own kid all day while my wife works. By today’s culture and standards, that’s hardly ironic. Yet still, I have little experience staying home with him all day when, technically, I should be out working.
The title of this reminds me of just how ridiculous it is that both of us parents have to work full-time to keep our own kid in daycare; where the daycare workers will spend more time with him than we do.
Ridiculous, yet normal.
We’re happily married but it feels like we have legal custody of our own child but with limited visitation rights.
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