About me: I'm a 40-something mother to a pickle party of a family. My husband Chuck, our tween Junior, our 6-year-old Everett, our toddler Cam, and I live in a town in Connecticut I affectionately call Mulletville Lite (aka my childhood hometown). My friends call me Nutjob, and they're right. In my husband's spare time he dresses up as a Viking and chases ghosts (and I'm the nutjob?). I'm a freelance graphic designer and writer.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
I guess you could call frostbite and shrub lacerations dramatic
A pre-preschool and preschool opened up right next door to my office building. For a year I’ve watched it being constructed. Every time I imagined it completed, it had a golden hue and was blanketed by sparkly clouds and rainbows.
How ideal it would be to have a place for Junior to go a few days a week when Chuck gets a job, so we’re not relying solely on my mother. Or back-up if Chuck selfishly gets sick. Junior could make friends, sing songs and experience the toddler rite of passage: learning how to share.
So last week, Chuck and I went to the open house. The Director, Karen, dropped words I had never heard before. Words like “creative curriculum” and “dramatic play.” The center even imported a local grandma. “Without a mullet!” she promised.
By the time we were done, Chuck and I were so stuffed with fluffy kinder-speak I felt the need to stick my finger down my throat. Still, the sparkly clouds. Friends for Junior. Chuck and I agreed we would try a few hours each day this week to see how Junior acclimated.
Well, I’ve been to the land of the sparkly clouds, and I have one thing to say: zombies. The 20-year-old “teachers” are the biggest collection of apathetic, bored, disengaged zombies I’ve ever met. The first day, I thought Hmmm, maybe it’s just me. The third day, I tried rousing them with loud speech, like “I’M JUNIOR’S MOTHER! IT’S NICE TO SEE YOU ALL AGAIN! HELL-THE FUCK-O?”
By today, co-worker Judy was tired of listening to my incessant questions: Were my expectations too high? Was I overreacting because I’m a Junior zealot? Why isn’t parenting easier?
Judy suggested a stealth mission, to see if the teachers were more engaged when the parents weren’t around (because that’s so typical). When no one was looking, we escaped from work, snuck across the parking lot (again), climbed a shrub and looked in the window—in a snowstorm, I might add.
The teachers were sitting in the hallway, staring at the walls. The kids were roaming aimlessly. Even the imported grandma was zombied out! Granny, no! Junior was having a great time entertaining himself, but I was livid. Having someone neglect your child shouldn’t cost you money.
I went back to my office and called Karen the Director. She listened politely then explained that I must have observed “creative play” every time, which is uninterrupted, free play. She suggested I go back at a different time to observe “dramatic play” of dress-up and pretend.
“Would you like me to let them know when you’ll stop by?” she asked.
“Hah! And let you foil my plan to unsleuth your zombie workers? Never!”
Chuck had already picked up Junior, but Judy and I went back at three anyway. This time we managed the shrub better. We peeked in. The kids were staring vacantly at a boom box. I don’t expect anyone’s head to be up a child’s butt for seven hours a day but eye contact would be nice. Or that thing people do with their lips called smiling.
A few years ago, I might have let this go. But this place is brand new and next to my office. I can walk over and have lunch with Junior. He can ride to work with me. Plus, despite the zombie teachers, he loves it.
I want this to work for me, and I don’t give a shit if that means I have to write Joyce a letter a day.
I’m going to stop in every chance I get. I’m going to keep a written log. I'm going to be “that mom”—the one who’s like a burr in their asses. I’m not going to let a couple of bubble-brains—who clearly don’t enjoy children—ruin this just because the other parents are willing to accept mediocrity.
I am going to be someone who gets the hype she was promised. Vivacious granny and all! One for the people! Hip, hip, hooray!
(Oh God, please don’t check in next week when I write about how Junior’s back at home full-time with Chuck and there’s a restraining order again the “crazy shrub lady.” Ok?)