Any child care provider knows school vacation weeks are extra challenging. I have the usual number of kids plus my two boys plus my after-schooler, and various friends dropping by here and there.
One day while making lunch for all these people I got tired of being pestered for seconds by Miss S. I said “You’ll have to wait. I’m making lunch for nine people here.”
She looked around the kid’s table and said, “No, only five people.”
I said, “There are nine people in this house and they all have to eat.”
She counted all the kids again and said, “Oh, you mean eight.”
So that about sums up my feelings during a week like this. I don’t actually exist or have needs, I am simply here to meet yours.
It’s been too cold to go outside. I can’t do circle because Miss S wants to be me and my sons continue everything they’re doing regardless (i.e. Wii games, wrestling, and interrupting me to ask for second breakfasts).
So in an effort to entertain everyone I did one of our easy but fun crafts – I Spy jars (old water bottles filled with rice and fun little things to find). While I gathered the supplies I opened the giant box of rice to let the kids play with it.
I can predict what will happen with these projects. Every child is ecstatically thrilled with the rice for about four minutes. Then the giggles get louder and the rice starts flying around the room. Miss S is following me while I gather the supplies, asking 100 questions and starting the project without me by filling her bottle, which is still wet on the inside.
Mr. R, after tossing some rice, is done with the project and is banging on the glass French doors. After I bring him back to the project, he dumps what I’ve put in his bottle all over everyone else’s work. While I recover from this disaster, he heads over to the desk and starts touching my computer.
By the end of the activity, it’s been over an hour of impatience, pestering, fighting over who gets the kitty cat or the purple flower, and my “helpers” abandoning me. The morning is summed up when I look under the table and find the entire dumped-out box of pom poms which I left out of reach. I’m cleaning rice from every surface in the room while the kids are using their I Spy jars as weapons.
And Miss D is sobbing and screaming because when she wailed Younger Son in the back with her bottle, it split open and everything poured out.
Still, the jars came out awesome. And as always, the stress of the week is balanced with something nice, which happened Friday morning around the snack table. Everybody was getting wound up: one friend didn’t sleep well last night. Someone touched someone else’s snack. Another was crying because no one would give her a chance to talk. I said, “I think everyone is just in a cranky mood today.”
Miss D looked at me and said, “That’s OK, because Amy’s here.”
My heart melted, as it always does when one of the littles gives me back some love. So maybe I do more than just meet everybody else’s needs after all. I am a calming presence. A leader who sets the tone. Or as my husband would say, “Yeah yeah everyone knows you’re a saint. What’s for dinner?”
Amy Pybus is mom to two boys and has been a family child care provider for eight years. She has a Master’s in Education and gives trainings with a focus on brain development and how it affects behavior. She is a newspaper columnist and blogs about child care and parenting at www.sittingonthebaby.com.
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