Once Upon a Time, It Was a Fantastic Wee Nursery

Last month, I had a tiny rant about the minxes’ nursery changeover in management.  You would not believe the shenanigans that are going on now.  I’m not sure what I can say here, to be honest, so I’ll stick to facts only and cut all most of the emotional stuff.

Ratios of staff to children are tight.  Three staff members have left.  More children have been accepted to start in a fortnight.  Current staff numbers mean that any additional children would bong the legal staff:kid ratio.  The jobs are being advertised, but the closing date isn’t for another month.  I asked the new management rep what they were planning to do.

“Oh it’ll be alright, hahahahaha!” she grinned.

“And what’s your contingency plan if you can’t get staff in place within 2 weeks?  Will you stop the new kids arriving?  Have you told their parents this might happen?”  She said she would need to check with Management (remember I said they were now being run from 400 miles away?  I wasn’t exaggerating).  I said that this concerned me deeply, and that As A Very Concerned Parent, I wanted to know both the plan and the contingency plan.  She gulped and stopped nervously giggling.  Her bare arms turned purple.  (She was dressed for Darn Sarf, not Oop Very North Int Middle Of Nowhere).

The Care Commission previously limited the numbers of babies in the Baby Room, based on the room’s dimensions.  This numerical limitation was confirmed a few years later.  Last week, despite more, bigger furniture being added, the Care Commission told the new management that the number of babies in the room can increase by 33%.  The new management didn’t state why and the old manager says nothing has changed.  (On Monday, I think I’ll ask the Care Commission.  As A Concerned Parent, of course.  I just want to know what the hell has changed.  Time and Space, perhaps?)

My second invoice from January was still wrong (remember I asked for it to be itemised?  Well, I got the same A4 sheet back, with one additional line on it, but the logos of the new organisation were bigger.  Nice).  So I paid what I calculated the bill to be, even though that was more than I’d been billed (I have a sneaky suspicion that Karma is just waiting for me to trip up, you see).  I was asked to itemise *my* payment.  I wrote it on one line.  They stopped asking.

Midi Minx has been clingy and tearful since she returned after the Christmas break.  I’ve been reluctant to blame the sudden change in Midi’s behaviour on the nursery upheaval, but can’t think of another reason (she’s loved nursery since she was 7 months old, when I returned to work.  She’s now nearly 3.  Normally she can’t wait to get shot of me in the morning and usually runs shrieking with delight into the arms of her teachers.  Long Christmas and summer breaks have never left her clingy and unsettled before).  Three other parents I spoke to reported similar new tearfulness in their kids.

The centre is very bare of furniture, toys and books.  The new management took over 6 weeks ago, so I guess this is as good as the kit will get.  Mini owns more books than there are in Maxi’s room.

The drop-in creche is under the same new management.  They now block off their door window with paper, so you can’t see in.  Maybe they’re thinking, “Shields up!”?  Mini Minx won’t be being cared for by an organisation that feels the need to hide.

Finally, if Midi doesn’t settle soon, I guess I’ll need to take her out of nursery and keep her home with me rather than give her the upheaval of a new nursery.  Damn.  She’ll probably start to try to eat people again.

The Best Thing About Being a Pessimist…

…is that I’m constantly delighted by people and events.

Example 1: Childcare

This morning was the dreaded abandoning of baby R at the drop-in creche while I did some serious physio work (diastasis recti and a bad back.  I don’t give 2 hoots that I have an upside-down 6 months pregnant stomach, but I care deeply about not being strong!).  My last bunch of posts show that I’ve been fretting about leaving Mini Minx for weeks, especially since I visited the place.  The Boss shared many of my concerns and last night we discussed whether I should listen to my (suspicious, cynical) gut-feelings or drop her off after all.

Well, the actual experience was the direct opposite of my fears.  The Light of My Life loved the 90 mins we were apart and only cried when she saw me again.  I swear she was thinking, “Oh pants, now I remember – I forgot to miss you!  Doh!”  Honestly, I didn’t feel jealousy at how happy my Angel-pie was in someone else’s company – just relief!

I now have to sing the praises of the 2 ladies looking after the kids.  Before and after all my internal check-boxes were ticked.  As well as the standard ones, these won me over:

  • On arrival, J came straight over, remembered who we were, and immediately engaged Grumpy Cling-on (Mini Trout, obviously) with a toy and some chat.  I’ve never seen my mini Grumpy Trout so quickly charmed by a stranger.  It was mutual, too.  The whole time I discussed R’s care with J, she kept eye-contact with R, but was obviously listening carefully and attentively to me (focussing on the baby)
  • J asked all the right questions (experienced at this childcare malarky, knew what was important to me)
  • J was almost psychically responsive to R’s squeaks and noticed what R wanted (good at interpreting babies’ non-verbal language – I was very, very impressed and a bit jealous at that skill)
  • baby R was giggling as I left and smiling when I returned.  The first comment on her session when I returned was, “Oh, R loves being tickled, doesn’t she?” (so you took the time to tickle her and make her laugh – thank you so much!)

So I guess my precious little baby will be abandoned more regularly for me to do some physio.

Example 2: Physio

Yeah, I know I feel a bit Pollyanna about my lovely physio because I had a great session today, but I’m really feeling good about my bits and bobs.  I just might be climbing by summer after all.  I can feel the increase in control and strength in my various abdominal muscles and my physio commented on my progress.  I’m also feeling quite humbled by how much help and encouragement she’s giving me.  I like to think that I don’t need or seek other people’s approval; that I am content to exist within the bounds of my own sense of self-worth.  Phooey – I purr like a cat with just a little bit of praise.

Separation Anxiety

Mini Minx is in full-blown separation anxiety phase.

Lucky for me, this is coinciding with The Boss’s Christmas and New Year leave.  It’s easier on my jangling nerves to leave her crying pitifully at least knowing that she has a loving parent holding her.  She wails as soon as our physical bond is broken, to put her down in a chair, or a change mat or into someone else’s arms.  I met up with another Imaginary Friend today, who just exudes warmth and caring.  Even though I was sat right beside her, Mini Minx crinkled her mouth and mewled as soon as she sat in Friend’s lap.  It wasn’t because my friend was a stranger to her – baby R does this when I pass her over to her Daddy for a cuddle / some respite.

I’m not too sure how to handle this.  I could tough it out, and just go to the bloomin’ bathroom on my own!  But it’s hard to ‘go’ when you’re so tense and uptight from R’s piercing shrieks.  No, I don’t think I can physically do it – my chest feels as if it’s crumpling up like tinfoil under the hammering stamps of my heartbeat when R cries like that; I literally cannot think coherently.  So I suspect I’ll have to just live with it and let her stick to me like a little cling-on.  However, that’s easier said than done!  Example, I’ve got to go to the physio a week on Friday for a bit of repair work on my baby-broken stomach and back, so have enrolled R onto the local drop-in creche.  I don’t know whether that’ll happen now, as I’m getting deja vu from our first baby:

The Boss reminded me of what it was like when Maxi Minx was going through the same stage.  He had found a local climbing wall within a gym that had a creche attached.  Fantastic!  We could drop the baby off for some one-to-one care for an hour while we got some fun and fitness at the end of the corridor.  The staff reassured me as to how experienced they were with 9 month old babies.  “She’ll cry until you’re out of sight, then she’ll settle”, they soothed.  “You need time to yourself.  Have a climb.  Have a coffee!  Relax, we’re in control”.  Right.  Fifteen minutes later they were dragging me and The Boss off a route to collect P “and take her away”, as she wouldn’t stop screaming.  Around the same time, P’s Grandma watched her for the day as me and The Boss moved house 2 counties away.  P’s screaming went on so long and so loudly, along with a milk refusal, that her poor Grandma took her to the doctor’s (whether to check P over or to stem her own bleeding ears I know not).

R has a worse separation anxiety than P.  What are the chances of me actually getting to the physio, do you think?

Today’s Bon Mots

Well, before I tell you what gems the minxes have come away with today, I checked the ‘site stats’ and found that someone arrived on here after searching for “fat people stuck indoors”.  That’s not me!  I get out sometimes!  Honest!  I even managed to get the kids to nursery today, despite it being -18degC at 1030hrs this morning.  I kid you not.  -18.  And we live on the coast.  Brrrrrrr.

We’d had a rough morning getting out on time.  Every time I looked round at Maxi Minx she was wearing less and less, despite me yelling at her to get her wellies and coat on.  Mini Minx did her obligatory poo just as we were finally ready to go.  So of course by the time I’d changed her nappy, Maxi Minx was undressed again and Midi Minx was off causing mischief with the cat.  To make up for setting off in a real grouch, I tried being lighthearted.  For a change.  Noticing the beautiful big moon low on the horizon, I wittered on about how much I love to gaze at the Moon (true).  Maxi Minx asserted: “When I grow up I’m going to the Moon – I’m going to be an astronaut”.

Middle Minx's dream come true

I was a little surprised, because she’s always wanted to be a ballerina-pilot.  “That’s nice, dear”, I replied.

“Me too!” piped up Midi.  “I gonna go Moon – I gonna be a Meg”.  I shouldn’t have laughed so loud and long, but it was hard not to.  My second daughter is so mad on the Meg and Mog stories that she even goes to bed wearing black socks, because it makes her look like a witch.

Presently, I remarked on the temperature.  -18degC.  Did I say, already?  Maxi thought for a bit, then declared it as cold as the North Pole.  I think she may be right…

The rest of the morning I spent wandering round trying to get a doctor’s appointment (failed), information about website building courses (failed – shut), drop-in creche facilities for Mini Minx while I see the physio about my wrecked insides (failed – the kids’ nursery does minimum 15 hours a week (too expensive) and the creche will only do a whole morning at a time.  And I have a bad feeling about them*).  Still, both eldest minxes arrived at nursery only 15 mins late, one of them had her wellies on the right feet and the other had her trousers on the right way (don’t ask…)

*The ‘background music’ was too loud, so one member of staff had to yell to the other to be heard.  She yelled over, asking her to get a little boy who’d toppled over.  I wasn’t happy that the first staff member didn’t just get up off the floor and get him, and that the other staff member hadn’t heard either him crying or her colleague.  On the plus side it’s all open plan (one big room) and limited to 8 kids for the 2 ladies.  I’m trying not to be precious about it, and I really, really need to get my back and insides sorted by the physio and some gym work.

Things got brighter when we all got home this afternoon.  I did a ton of cooking, which always makes me feel better (fridge-leftover chutney that smells like Christmas, walnut bread, flaky pastry mince pies and lasagne.  P declared “I love your lasagne even more than sausages!”.  Exceptional praise indeed).  Best of all, though, was the realisation of what makes little daughters so brilliant: they don’t laugh at your air guitar to Queen’s “It’s A Kind Of Magic” on the radio, they join in!

Tonight, Matthew, I'm going to be the Grumpy Old Trout