Luffy always jokes that half of having a child is actually not about training the child, it’s about training the parent. Learning to live off 5 broken hours of sleep. Learning to live in a noisier household. Learning that every cry and whimper and sneeze need not be attended to. Learning how to let other people care for your child. He poked fun at me earlier this week when I was wailing in the kitchen that I missed my baby boy. He sleeps most of the time anyway! he told me.
But another part of parent training is learning to trust your gut, especially when it comes to child care. When we interviewed with our in-home provider last year she had six children under her care, including two of her own toddlers. The dumpling would make seven – perfectly in line with the recommendations by the Texas licensing division for a mixed aged class. Wonderful! we thought. I took a cursory look into daycare centers, but pretty quickly opted against them in favor of in-home care. I wanted the dumpling to have a bit more love and attention than a typical daycare center. I liked that he would be exposed to older children (who were hopefully modeling some good behavior!). I liked that it would be in a more private setting (which hopefully meant less germs!). It just felt like a good fit for us.
Little Dumpling’s first week has been good. He has responded well, though he’s understandably been more tired. We’ve had some issues with feeding, primarily because, as we’ve pretty much exclusively nursed up to this point, I had no idea how much he needed in each bottle. But. Each morning I count the car seats in the mud room (another bonus of in-home care! his car seat stays with him, so none of that well I dropped him off so now I have the car seat and HAVE to pick him up)… six car seats, seven car seats, eight car seats. It varies based on the time of day. Yesterday, when Luffy and I went to pick him up, Luffy counted 10 kids in the play area; I added one more to the total because I could hear one kid crying in the nap area. That’s eleven children. And one care giver.
For reference, an infant-only room in a licensed daycare is only allowed to have a ratio of four to one. Now, obviously, some of her kids are older, but not all. She has several that look to be under a year old. This concerns me a bit. When we talked to her about it this morning, she didn’t explicitly say how many kids she has (maybe she doesn’t want to???), but she assured us she is in the process of hiring help. She just hasn’t found a good fit yet.
I get how hard it is to hire someone, I really do. My primary concern is that she put herself into this position in the first place. Eleven (or more) kids to one care giver is far too many. Out of concern for her charges, she shouldn’t have taken on more children until she had help in place. I’m giving her until the end of January to hire more help or we’re moving the Dumpling. Her care, to this point, has been fine, but with so many children, I feel like there’s a disaster waiting to happen. It doesn’t even have to be a disaster – it could just be a day that child A is cranky and child B is teething and child C is learning to crawl and – oh whoops – the Dumpling hasn’t eaten in five hours. Or he’s been in the swing for the entire day. Or he’s the one learning to crawl and there he goes down the stairs…
Anyway, we’ve already started the search for alternative child care, just in case. Parent in training over here – learning to trust myself when I get that there’s nothing blatantly going wrong but I’m uncomfortable with the situation feeling.