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Parental Musings | Teeny Manolo - Part 2
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The Child Care Dilemma

As some of you may have read, the annual cost of child care in some states exceeds that of tuition for a four year degree.

Let’s think about that for a second.

I am all for paying childcare workers a fair and living wage, as well as treating their positions with respect.  But is the high cost of a full-time daycare truly reflective of a highly trained staff and a safe, stimulating setting, or  is it a business just trying to take advantage of a situation where both parents feel they need/want to work?

When I became pregnant with the Munchkin, my husband and I sat down and discussed what I was going to do with myself once our son was born.  My husband was all for me continuing to work, as he likes having money.  I too, like having money, but I pointed out to him that the cost of childcare would negate much of my earnings (although not all) but the net gain we would make from my salary wasn’t worth it to me.

This was a point of contention for a while, with him pointing out that we could hire some aging grandmother off the street who would come in for cheap.  Well, that might have been true, but I still felt that my son was best off with me as his caregiver, period.

So, as in many of our disagreements, I came out the winner.

If good, reliable childcare that didn’t break the bank in my area was obtainable, I might have considered staying at work, or at least scaling back to half or part time.

But it wasn’t.

And so here I sit, stay at home mother to a 4th grader and a toddler with speech and developmental delays.

Yeah, not looking good for a return to the workforce any time soon.

Is childcare in your area reasonable, or a big ripoff?  And how did it influence your decision to stay/not stay at home?

Home Alone?

I take my daughter to speech therapy twice a week for an hour.  The office is less than five minutes from my house, and because of the whole homeschooling thing, I have to bring my soon-to-be 10 year old along with us every time.

Which, you know, on the grand scale of things, is not really that big of a deal.  They have an observation room that we sit in, and we either read books or play games on the Kindle.  Well, usually it is me reading a book and him playing the games.

For almost all of my upper elementary years into high school, I was a stereotypical latch-key kid.  I would take the bus to my grandmother’s house, go into the backyard and over into the garage, where the house key would be waiting for me, tucked into a compartment in the water heater cabinet.  I would let myself in, watch television, maybe get a drink, and my grandmother or grandfather would be home from work in two hours or so.  My grandparents were very young, and didn’t hit retirement age until I was almost in high school.

I never had any issues or problems during those latch-key years.  No person trying to rob the house or salesmen knocking on the door.  Or, if there was someone purporting to be a salesman, I simply didn’t answer the door at all.

Even though he will be 10 in less than a month, my son has a fairly good head on his shoulders.  I know he is definitely not the type to light something on fire just for the hell of it, or make prank phone calls.  He just doesn’t have that type of temperament, and never has.

I was toying with the idea of possibly leaving him here for the hour that I am away at speech therapy, what with being so close and it admittedly being quite boring for him during the sessions.

My state has no age limit as to when a child can legally be left at home alone.  It’s more of a “you can make the decision yourself, but there will be hell to pay if you make the wrong one” type of thing.

At what age, if ever, did your parents leave you home alone?

Push and Pull

When I recently accompanied my son and a friend to our local county fair, I got a glimpse of my future for the next few years.

You see, my presence at the fair with them turned out to be that of a wet rag, a damper on all the fun they could be having if it wasn’t for grumpy old mom pointing out that they had run out of money for games, or that no, it wasn’t worth walking across the entire fairgrounds just to eat some chocolate covered-bacon.

But yet, I was also a necessary evil, as I was also playing the role of chauffeur, line stander, and ATM.  But my son pretty much tried to act like I wasn’t really there most of the time, which is good, really.  I mean, if he was holding my hand and begging me to ride the bumper cars with him, it would probably be some kind of red flag.

On the other hand, I’ve got my toddler, as needy as all get-out.  She is an affectionate child, so I am often the recipient of hugs and kisses and sometimes elbows in the stomach, it all depends on just how affectionate she is feeling at the moment.  She is still of course dependent upon me for a great many things, although she is much more independent overall than her brother was at this age.

It’s just really odd for me to have one child figuratively pushing me away as he gets older and tries to find his own footing in the world, and at the same time have this greedy little time-suck known as a toddler to deal with all in the same day.

Motherhood is hard, y’all.

At Least I Tried…

Today my son and I visited this place, specifically to view this.  My son has a fascination for the Titanic, and has read every book in our local library about it, as well as many others I have bought for him.  I would say he has read at least twenty books to date, not including information from various websites.  So we decided to indulge him and journey a hundred miles or so to see actual artifacts salvaged from the wreckage.

Anyhoo, Balboa Park is an absolutely beautiful place, and it was his second time visiting, but I knew he remembered nothing from that last visit as he was too young.  As we were rushing across the park to make our appointed exhibit time, I couldn’t help but marvel at the Spanish-inspired Churrigueres architecture present in many of the building designs.  If there is one knock I have on Southern California, it is that we are fairly architecture-poor.  Which is a shame because I really love it.

So, hoping to inspire my own offspring with this admiration, I had us stop and examine the particular building in the photo above.

“What do you think about that building?” I asked in a non-threatening, open-ended sort of way meant to lead to deep discussion.

“What do I think about that building?” he replied.  “I think it looks really expensive, that’s what I think.”

Definitive answer, conversation over.  He was already moving on towards our ultimate destination.

OK, then.

Who knows, perhaps I at least planted a seed?

“Owning” Your Child’s Body

Growing up, it was customary in my family to kiss and hug our relatives goodbye.

I do remember being told a few times to hug a relative I didn’t feel like hugging at the time, but it was mostly due to my being upset with them for some now-forgotten (and most likely idiotic) reason.

We do instruct our son to hug and kiss his close relatives goodbye, but only those that he knows very well.

What can I say, it’s a tradition in our families.

My daughter is too young to “force” to give hugs, and she often doesn’t want to.  Because she is a capricious toddler, the offended party laughs if off, along with everyone else.

But this article on CNN.com has made me think about the whole hugging relatives thing in an entirely new way, especially for my daughter.

In making my children hug their close relatives, am I really teaching them that their body is not their own?  That their body is something for other people’s pleasure and not theirs?

I’d always considered it an issue of respect to elders and a sign of how close our family is, but maybe I am completely wrong about the whole thing.

What do you think?

That’s Twice Now…

That my son has gotten to view astronomical events (one that will never happen in my lifetime again, nor his, probably) that I never even got to take a tiny peek at.

It’s wrong for a mother to be jealous of their own kid, right?

The recent solar eclipse was almost totally visible from our part of the world, and my husband took my son to a local museum to view it.  Me? I had to stay home with our daughter because a) the eclipse happened too late and b) I’m apparently the only one who can feed her a decent dinner and put her to bed.  So I marveled at how dark it went as I was giving her a bath, and that’s about all I got out of it.

Today was this rather awesome event, and my dad took my son to a very exclusive location where he got to hear lectures from Harvard professors and view the eclipse through $25,000 telescopes.  Me?  I knew when it began and when it ended, but I saw nada.  Again, the whole toddler thing.  And don’t even ask about why didn’t I have eclipse glasses or something, they’ve been sold out around these parts for weeks.

So tonight I’m swanning around in some sour grape juice, attempting to remember the last time I was able to go out and do something whenever I wanted.

Which was about ten years ago.

Phooey.

But, uh, it’s all worth it?

Right?

Happy Pre-Mother’s Day!

Some quotes from one of my favorite moms, Erma Bombeck…

One thing they never tell you about child raising is that for the rest of your life, at the drop of a hat, you are expected to know your child’s name and how old he or she is.

There’s something wrong with a mother who washes out a measuring cup with soap and water after she’s only measured water in it.

When a child is locked in the bathroom with water running and he says he’s doing nothing but the dog is barking, call 911.

Who in their infinite wisdom decreed that Little League uniforms be white? Certainly not a mother.

Do you know what you call those who use towels and never wash them, eat meals and never do the dishes, sit in rooms they never clean, and are entertained till they drop? If you have just answered, “A house guest,” you’re wrong because I have just described my kids.

It goes without saying that you should never have more children than you have car windows.

My kids always perceived the bathroom as a place where you wait it out until all the groceries are unloaded from the car.

Going Up?

I live in what some would term a hoity-toity area.

Lots of very prim and proper yoga-practicin’ ladies with perfect hair and Bugaboo strollers.  They tend to have roughly the same type of hair style, roughly the same clothes, and roughly the same manerisms.  I don’t think most of them actually come from here, but there’s more of them than me.

Erm, it’s safe to say that I don’t really fit in all that well.  I’m a little too opinionated, a little too heavy, and I’ve never been the cookie-cutter type.

The other day I took my kids to the park nearest our house, and it was surprisingly empty.

Oh sure, there was one other mom (or maybe nanny, because she sure was chipper with that little boy) with a boy a bit younger than my daughter, but that was about it other than some people playing on the basketball courts on the other side.

So when my daughter wanted to climb UP the slide instead of going on top of the play equipment in the traditional manner, I let her.  I figured that since there was no one else on the play structure other than her, it wasn’t a big deal.  If there had been other children on the structure, I probably wouldn’t have allowed it.

Anyhoo, up she went on the slippery slide, with my hand hovering protectively over her back, but not touching it because I want her to do it by herself, if possible.  When she reached the top, she slid back down with a happy screech.

The other little boy saw my daughter do this, and asked his mom/nanny if he could go up the slide as well.

“Oh no, honey,” she said in a voice loud enough for me to hear and dripping with something akin to condescension.  “There are RULES about climbing up the slide.  We don’t do things like that.” And she primly took him to an entirely different section of the playground.

I looked around to see where the rules prohibiting slide climbing were posted.

There weren’t any.

I don’t really think of myself as a rebel.  But apparently I am.

Sigh.

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