Mr Nikki’s company offers 100 hours per year of subsidized childcare – this can be either at home or in a daycare. I won’t tell you how much it costs, because you’d probably weep. It’s cheap. And oh, yes, we are using every single minute of it.
We started using it because our regular sitter, who we love, got a full time job and wasn’t available any afternoon during the week, except for Friday. We also pay her really well, because we love her and because Mr Nikki & I are both generous about things like tips and pay for people we like and it got to be pretty pricey. (I’m sort of a chump, too. I canceled on her 2 hours before she was supposed to show up, once, because our roof was being worked on and the drills were freaking out the little Nugget. I figure most professionals have a 24 hour cancellation policy, so I wound up giving her… well, a LOT the next time she sat for us. )
So I use the subsidized care every Tuesday – I have a standing one hour appointment each week and then I take 3 hours to do whatever. Lately, I’ve taken to sitting in coffeeshops to blog or work on websites or make playlists. I’m doing it right now. And oh, how I miss this. My “previous” life was full of coffeeshops and laptops and geeking out. (One of the many reasons that I felt Seattle would be perfect for us – COFFEE AND TECHNOLOGY! That’s me in a nutshell. Er, it WAS. Not so much anymore. But I still enjoy these moments.)
When you make a request for childcare, the company service goes to one of the many care services that it utilizes, finds someone who is available, then sends them to your house. If it’s someone you’ve never met before, they all and give you some of their background, who they are, how much experience they have, etc. The person also calls the day before to introduce themselves and confirm with you. Each time you make a request, you can request a previous caregiver or agency, or list anyone or any agency that you do NOT want again.
I developed a preference pretty quickly, when I was first looking for babysitters on my own. As I looked through profiles, I realized that I was quickly rejecting other mothers, older women, and men. Their was actually one guy who kept coming up in my searches and I had sent the profile to Mr Nikki saying, “Is it wrong of me to reject him on the sole basis that he’s male? And why do I feel that way?” The guy’s profile was dorky enough to cause Mr Nikki to not only IMMEDIATELY respond with a “no way”, but to also forward it to many of his coworkers and many a joke was made. Ok, not so nice, but what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
In any case, while I acknowledge that there are plenty of guys out there who are fabulous with children and would be a great sitter, and there are girls out there who are shitty sitters, I still can’t bring myself to accept a male sitter. (Maybe if it was a guy who I knew personally, or a friend knew personally, or who… ok, at least wasn’t so dorky. I’d like to tell you what the tagline was for his profile, but that would be easy to search for and I just can’t do that. But the tagline was… well, it was kind of creepy. And weird.)
I rejected other mothers because I’m still a new mom myself and I want my Nugget to get 100% of the attention, not have to share it with another child who would be the first priority. I’m also a little hesitant about having another mom, who has her own ways of doing things, come in and be disagreeable about the way *I* do things – because, let’s face it, OTHER MOTHERS ARE OPINIONATED. Myself, included. My biggest challenge as a postpartum Doula will be to always be 100% helpful and supportive in how the mothers choose to raise their children and deal with challenges, even when I disagree strongly.
I reject older women because… well, again, the opinionated thing. The “I know more about children than you do,” thing – even if they don’t have kids of their own. I know this isn’t the case for ALL older women, but I’ve encountered plenty of them just being out and about who have plenty to say about what I’m doing. They can feel superior, older and wiser and it’s just another battle I don’t feel like dealing with.
Plus, I like the younger girls – the college students, the teacher’s aides and the ones like the very first sitter we had – she lived in Montana and came out to Seattle for 6 months just because she loved it here. She rocked and it sucked to lose her. Luckily, we have our other regular sitter, a nursing student, even though we can only use her nights and weekends now.
The younger girls are fun and playful, have energy to spare, are comfortable letting him do his own thing without needing to be on top of him every second, and they usually heed your simple instructions to a ‘T’.
A few weeks ago, I came home from being out, called Mr Nikki and said, “I rest my case. NO OLDER WOMEN.”
The service had sent us “Louise.” Mr Nikki and I were wary, just from her initial meet & greet phone call. She sounded older and she talked a lot. She was a former teacher. Before she even showed up, I was sick of her. She called me to get directions, because she was on her way and she “knew the area” and her printed out mapquest directions weren’t telling her to go where she thought she should go. Every time I tried to give her directions, she got off on a tangent about how she used to teach at a school near us and knew the area pretty well and then that would lead to ANOTHER tangent about so many things, I lost track. All while I’m watching the clock and deciding that I need to call my therapist and leave her a message that I’ll probably be about 10 minutes late to my appointment. (And I was.) She even argued with me about what TOWN we lived in, based on the directions I’d given her.
When she finally showed up, I was *this close* to saying never mind. She was a frumpy, chatty older woman – which isn’t reason to send someone away, but she just rubbed me the wrong way. When she saw Nugget, she was beside herself with excitement. She adored him – which, truthfully, most people do. I had to hurry and give her the rundown, already 10 minutes behind schedule and she just went ON and ON and ON about … well, everything. When I showed her his bottles – 2 bottles, “Give him one at 3pm or a little earlier if he’s cranky, and the second one three hours later, though I’ll probably be home before that.” That’s what I said. She then asked, “Is that formula?” Mind you, I was already feeling a little off with her and I WANTED to say, “That’s not information that you need.” But I didn’t. I said “goat milk” and then she went on about what HER mother had fed HER kids and something about formula that I tuned out. I’d seen the look on her face. It showed surprise and an unhappy unfamiliarity with the idea of goat milk.
I explained to her about his walker, that he was a very independent kid (very true) who LOVED to be in his walker and would be very happy to wander around the house, exploring, for hours. I explained about his napping situation – that he usually got cranky & needed a nap around 3pm, put him in his portable crib (we hadn’t set up his proper crib yet, seeing as we’d just moved him into his own room not long ago), as that was his routine.
I explained about the diapers – that we used cloth, but I didn’t expect all the sitters to fuss with them, so when they changed him, it was fine to put a disposable on him. She asked me about diaper cream and I said, “No, we never use it – he’s not had diaper rash or any sort of problem, ever.” (I credit the cloth diapers.) She looked taken aback and said, “Never?” I said no, never, and you don’t need to put anything on him. She looked around the room and saw the little tub of California Baby lotion on the windowsill. She said, “Well, if I DO need to put anything on him, is that it?” I sighed. “No, that’s lotion, you can put some on his legs if you’d like, they’re often dry.”
I was finally able to get on my way, counting minutes until I could get home.
First thing when I walked in, she chirped about how wonderful he was. (Babysitters absolutely LOVE him – he’s the most easy going, happy kid you’ll ever meet and the younger sitters like that he doesn’t need constant attention. I like the younger sitters because they’re just fine respecting his independence.) She then told me that “WOW! He’s a big eater!” She gave him BOTH bottles. BOTH FREAKING BOTTLES. 16 ounces. She remarked that he finished MOST of the second one, but not all. I zoned out for a moment and only caught something about how “he needs more to eat.” (So, strike #1, do NOT sit here and give me instructions about how to feed my kid. A) He puked a little bit shortly after she left, something he RARELY does. B) I spend every day of my life with him, I know him pretty well C) He eats solids throughout the day, as well, because I KNOW he’s a big eater and he loves to eat – hence I don’t give him TWO FREAKIN’ BOTTLES at one sitting because I know I’ll be giving him solids later.) I just nodded and smiled, said, “Yes, he’s a very big eater.”
Then she told me about all the playing that they did and when I mentioned the walker, she said something about how he didn’t want to go in it. (I might also add, here, that he CRIED when she first said hello to him – he has NEVER, not ONCE in all the times I’ve left him with someone, done that. He also looked a little freaked out when I got home and was pretty eager to come back to me.) Then she said something about how, “Oh, maybe he didn’t want to walk around because he was eating.” Uh, yeah. If he’s busy eating, he’ll stay in one spot until he’s done. So she didn’t let him have any time to himself. Not at all. Not even while NAPPING. She told me about the great little nap they had together ON OUR COUCH – she laid down next to him.
Am I the only person who finds this a little bit creepy? Not only do you ignore and disrespect our routines, you LAY DOWN with my son. A stranger. A strange stranger, at that. I’ve come home to find Nugget sleeping in our two regular sitters’ laps on occasion, and I was FINE with this. Even took pictures. Because he was much younger and didn’t have the routine of sleeping in his room yet, and because we had a relationship with these two girls. He knew them, I knew them, I trusted them and they feel a bit like a part of the family.
She rattles on about a few more “advice-giving” types of things, throughout which I try to just hurry out the door – but first she has to give me the rundown on every moment of their time together.
Including the diaper change. And how she found diaper cream in the drawer and put just a little bit on him, because he was looking a little red (she said the word “anus,” thank you, very much) and “You probably didn’t see it, I’m sure if you had, you’d have told me to put something on.”
Funny. In all the 10 months of his life, not ONCE has he needed any sort of diaper cream except for this ONE DAY that she was there, huh? Yeah, there was no redness, just the normal pink color of a baby’s butt. But she just couldn’t let it go. Well, thank GOD I always had diaper cream on hand, “just in case.”
As she left, she gave me her card and said that she just adored him and would LOVE to watch him again, please call her if we need anyone for nights or weekends. (Uh… no.) After she left, I saw a folder sitting on our kitchen counter. HER folder. She’d left her goddamn folder behind. I knew I needed to call her, but I kept putting it off until she called me a couple days later. She called about the folder, then rambled on about being a cancer survivor (ok, go ahead and think I’m awful now, I know, I know… but you really need to meet her to understand) and her insurance yadda yadda yadda – she didn’t need the folder right away, but there was a piece of paper in it, could I please just give her the number because it was a number she needed to call about her insurance coverage.
She mentioned possibly coming by to get the folder a week later. I said sure, let me know, and if we’re not home I can just leave it in our mailbox for her. Well, 2 weeks later, as we’re getting dinner ready at 8pm, I hear a knock at the (open) door, look up and there’s Louise.
Look, I know I should have a little sympathy for the woman and I know it was only moments of my life so I should just suck it up and be nice and all that. I also know that this isn’t going to be the exact situation for “older women” in general. But I also know that this was extremely unprofessional, that I’m the mom here and what I say goes and if you blatantly disregard what I say because you think you know better or don’t like what I say and in that process, also ignore my son’s unique personality and refuse to give him the space he so desires because YOU think he’s cute and YOU want to cuddle, then all bets are off.
So, needless to say, every time I schedule time through the service and I get to the box where it says “Is there an agency or caregiver you prefer we NOT contact?” I enter her name. It’s just not something I feel like dealing with and I don’t really feel like dealing with people who have strong, longheld opinions and beliefs about how to handle/raise children, in general.