One of my go-to sitters had a serious accident about six or so weeks ago. Her neck was broken. It was horrible. She is okay, thank goodness, but I’m in a pickle. I was counting on her to sit for me over the summer. Big Girl is signed up for camp every day, but Little Girl, who is only two, needs minding. Obviously, my sitter isn’t in any shape to be chasing a toddler around. I had to find a plan B.
I thought I found one. There’s a sweet little day school up the block from my house. Its program seemed wonderful. The camp counselors are grown women who teach at the school between September and June. One is even the director of the school. It’s air conditioned and it takes little ones. They paint, plant flowers and do crafts. There’s singing and playground time. What a great option, right? Well, Little Girl had other plans.
I dropped her off the first day and she proceeded to cry the entire two hours she was there. The entire time. The next day I decided to try a soft separation, sticking around for a bit to make the transition a little easier. Nope, she cried again. Now I started getting nervous since the director of the school told me that it wasn’t fair to have Little Girl come and scream the whole time. Either she shaped up or I had to ship her out. (Of course she didn’t use those exact words.) Gulp. The strangest thing was that Little Girl professed to like camp. “I have fun, Mommy. I like Mrs. Italiansurname.” Obviously, the crying was a control thing. She wanted to go to camp, but she wanted mommy to stick around, too.
That same day I went to a well visit where Little Girl had another control moment. She decided she wasn’t going to get on the scale. The nurse and I spent a good part of 45 minutes trying to get the child’s weight. No dice. That’s crazy, you might think. Two adults couldn’t get a 25-pound toddler on a scale?!? Nope, we couldn’t. She is fierce. Then the doctor came in. She took Little Girl from my arms and brought her into another exam room. She told Little Girl that yes, she was getting weighed. The kid screamed and cried, but she got weighed. When it was all over and done with the doctor told me that Little Girl is very bright and very manipulative. A very bad combination. I told her about what was going on at the camp. The doctor told me that it wasn’t an option. Little Girl needed to stay at the camp and that was that. Decisions like camp aren’t optional for the child. The parent makes the decision. The kid deals.
Today, despite what the doctor said, the camp director let me know that, after listening to Little Girl scream, “I want Mommy, I want Mommy,” for one full hour I would have to pick her up. And she is not welcome back. Sigh. With a few hours to kill until my sitter (another girl who is unavailable in the mornings, unfortunately) got there I checked out a few other programs in the area. Both were daycare programs, which mean you pay one price whether you leave them for one hour or 12. Both wanted me to surrender Little Girl from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. One said I could do a drop off at 10, but the pickup was not negotiable. I’m not ready to leave Little Girl for more than four hours a day — she naps for three hours anyway — and I do want to enjoy the girls in the afternoon so those just aren’t the right programs for us. So what to do, what to do?
How is it that my two-year-old was able to cry so long and so loudly that she was bounced from a camp program? I think my husband is right. My girls are learning a lot from watching me. They both have stubbornness that rivals my own. If you’ve read this blog for a while you know how scary that is. They’re also smart and, yes, manipulative, although the little one is way better at manipulation than the big one. How I wish my sitter, who both girls love, was around this summer. Yes, my mom watches them two days a week, but that’s not going to be enough. Looks like I’m off in search of plan C. And I’ll find it. There’s something to be said about being stubborn.
How do you deal with childcare issues? Where do you find your sitters? I’d love to hear about it.