‘The Daycare Chronicles’ Category

  1. Girl Socks

    September 20, 2015 by Jennifer Carsen

    Some people have multiple cars, or multiple homes. We have multiple child care centers.

    We didn’t set out to do things this way. Due to a recent change in my work arrangements, we’ve bumped Nicholas up from two days a week of child care to five. Unfortunately, his terrific center doesn’t yet have space for him on the other three days, so he is now at a different center on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. (We have been completely transparent with the folks at the new center; they know we’re seeing other people, so to speak, and are fine with it.)

    The new center is a great place in its own right, and Nicholas quickly settled in there. We were concerned that it might be too much upheaval for him, especially given our recent move – when we shake things up around here, we really shake things up – but on the very first day he was excitedly telling Eric about a new friend he’d made.

    “Is it a boy or a girl, buddy?”

    “A boy.”

    “What’s his name?”

    “I dunno his name. But he wears girl socks.”

    “Girl socks?”

    “Yeah, girl socks. And he have teeth like a beaver.”

    Now, you’d think this kid would be hard to miss, but several more days went by with us unable to figure out the identity of “Girl Socks.” We did, however, all start to refer to him this way, e.g., “Did you play with Girl Socks today, Nicholas?” “I was sad because no Girl Socks was there today.”

    Finally, this past Friday at pickup, Nicholas pointed out to Eric a photo of the “Kid of the Week.”

    “That Girl Socks,” he definitively announced.

    As it turns out, Girl Socks is a little girl – with short hair; hence the gender confusion – named Amelia. And she does not in any way, shape, or form have teeth like a beaver.

    (We later found out, upon further probing, that she once pretended to have teeth like a beaver. If parents of small children were subject to the same restriction on leading questions as that suffered by trial lawyers, we would seriously be in the dark about everything.)

    The jury’s still out on whether we will continue to refer to her as Girl Socks in the privacy of our own home.


  2. Climbing the Slide

    October 30, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    Lorelei does not come from athletic stock, alas. Both of her parents are tall people whose limbs grew so quickly that the coordination just never fully caught up.

    Actually, I partially take it back – Eric was a very good little league player back in the day – but seeing as how just yesterday I tripped over my own feet and nearly mowed someone down, there’s not a lot of hope coming from the maternal genes.

    Lorelei has been leggy and off the charts, height-wise, almost since she was born. Which may be why climbing up the slide at daycare has been her own personal Waterloo.

    I didn’t know this was a thing – climbing up the slide at daycare – until Lorelei requested new, sparkly sneakers to help her in the endeavor. “Oh, Jen, it’s just heartbreaking,” her teacher informed me. “Each child gets three chances to do it, and the whole class is cheering her on, and she just hasn’t quite been able to do it yet,” she said.

    This is one area where the short, nimble kids excel – shooting up the slide lickety-split over and over. I always envied the short kids their fearlessness in this type of endeavor, as well as the fact that they always got to sit in the front row and hold the sign on class picture day. And don’t even get me started on the monkey bars. But I digress.

    In any event, Lorelei did need new sneakers, and I figured sparkly was as good a kind as any other, so she is now sporting a brand-new pair of blindingly bright Twinkle Toes.

    The day after she got them, the kids and I went to the local playground. Nicholas and I hung out at the swings while Lorelei ran slide drills, over and over – the slide at the park, conveniently, is a near-perfect match in size and slope to the one at daycare.

    I was really impressed at her tenacity and refusal to get discouraged as she tentatively climbed, and backslid down, over and over and over. (To add insult to injury, one of those short quick kids was on the next slide over, darting up again and again like it was no big thing.)

    Finally, I saw a little blond head emerge, triumphant, at the top of the slide. “YEAH! I DID IT I DID IT I DID IT! MOMMY, I DID IT!” She was ecstatic.

    Lorelei practiced a few more times with maybe a 33% success rate – which was all she needed back at daycare the following Tuesday, where the rubber would really hit the slide for her three official attempts.

    On Monday night, she carefully stored her new sneakers in their original box under her bed before she went to sleep. We all checked the forecast for Tuesday, too. It was slated to be warm and dry, perfect weather for a slide-climbing attempt.

    On Tuesday morning, Eric and I sent her off with well-wishes. I thought about her often during the day (especially during a brief, unexpected morning shower; I was concerned it would make the conditions too slippery).

    When I got to school for pickup, Lorelei was radiant. “Well?” I asked, hopefully, as she walked over. “I did it!” she announced with the biggest grin I’ve ever seen. She ran into my arms for a huge hug.

    It’s hard to explain how proud and happy I felt for my little girl that day. I had a brief flash of what my parents must have felt for my brother’s and my accomplishments over the years – as with so many things, you look at it a little differently once you have kids yourself.

    You want so very much for them, and you want them to confidently go out and do everything in the world that makes them feel joyous and proud, even when it’s hard. On Tuesday, I saw just an early glimmer of everything Lorelei’s going to someday work towards and become. I can’t wait to be there, cheering her on, every step of the way.

    Today, the slide. Tomorrow, the world.

    Lorelei shoes

    The magic shoes.


  3. Frolic & Detour

    April 1, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    When I was studying for the bar exam last year, one of my favorite topics (setting aside the absurdity of calling any part of the process a good time) was the concept of “frolic & detour.”

    The idea, in a nutshell, is that if an employee or agent engages in a “detour” during his or her assigned duties and subsequently harms himself or someone else, the employer is liable – but if the deviation rises to the level of a “frolic,” the employer is off the hook.

    A truck driver who goes half a mile out of his way to get a cup of coffee, for example, would likely be considered to be engaged in a detour. If that same truck driver, however, drives 500 miles out of his way and loses 3 days and $40,000 in Vegas – during which he turns a stranger into a bride at the Elvis Wedding Chapel – that would most likely be considered a “frolic.”

    I was reminded of the frolic & detour concept recently when Lorelei explained the nuances of the daycare potty privilege system to me.

    The 4-year-olds in her class – the BMOCs of the Early Preschool room, in other words – are granted the incomparable freedom of venturing out to the bathroom on their own. This requires a trip through a few other classrooms, up a set of steps, and around a corner down a short hallway. I imagine this journey makes a 4-year-old feel like Lucky Lindy crossing the Atlantic.

    Potty privileges come with a short leash, however, and can be revoked at any time. Lorelei has told me, in hushed tones, of several friends who have Lost Their Privileges (all names changed to protect the frolicking):

    “Madison lost her privileges because she took too long in the potty.”

    “James had the privilege but then lost it because he didn’t come right back.”

    “Allison lost her privileges and then got them back again, but then lost them again because she went to another classroom and visited friends.”

    Lorelei, who turns 4 in June, is eagerly awaiting her chance for potty privileges. She has assured me that she will be very careful not to lose them, having personally witnessed the crushing misfortunes that have befallen various friends.

    We’ll see how it goes. With great power comes great responsibility. Even when it comes to potty privileges.


  4. Manic Monday Morning

    January 13, 2014 by Jennifer Carsen

    Eric and I are both very fortunate to have a lot of control over our work schedules. This means that we can usually let the kids sleep as long as they want to in the mornings – the catch being, of course, that they never want to sleep much past the first blush of daybreak (if we’re lucky).

    This morning was an exception: Eric had a class to attend in our hometown, about an hour away, which meant he had to be dressed and out the door by 6:30. He set his alarm clock, dusty with disuse, for 5:30, knowing that we’d both probably be up by then.

    We did not, however, expect to be awakened by Nicholas’s rat-a-tat-tat Tommy-Gun-foot-banging against the end of his crib at 3:30. There was a brief lull in the action, during which we thought perhaps Prohibition had been repealed.

    As Eric and I both started to drift back off to sleep, we heard not banging but moaning coming over the baby monitor: Lorelei.

    I shot upstairs, remembering that the last time she moaned like that in the middle of the night, she’d been hit with the latest stomach virus making the rounds around her classroom. As I passed by Nicholas’s crib en route to Lorelei’s room, he appeared completely sacked out. Good.

    “Mommy?” Lorelei moaned weakly as I opened her door. She was sitting up in bed, hair all over the place.

    “Yes, Sweetie? What is it?” I scanned the room, dimly illuminated by a Disney princess nightlight, for signs of preschooler vomit.

    “Sock monkey fell behind the bed and I can’t find him.”

    Ah. At least we can scratch norovirus off the list. “We’ll find him in the morning, Lorelei,” I said, tucking her back in and willing her to fall back asleep. “It’s late, hon – go back to bed.” (Later, Lorelei told me that Nicholas’s “bamming” had woken her up.)

    I prepared to make a sneaky return trip through Nicholas’s room but discovered that he was wide awake, standing up in his crib, clutching his dog lovey. “Dah!” he announced cheerfully, holding it out to me. Figuring he might be up for the duration, I scooped him up and brought him downstairs.

    Nicholas didn’t seem to be sick or in any kind of distress – he had, however, taken not one but two naps the day before, which were apparently coming back to bite us in the form of a disrupted sleep schedule.

    Eric and I entertained him for about half an hour before putting him back down in our room; they both caught a bit more shut-eye before the 5:30 wake-up call.

    Lorelei, of course, fell back into a deep sleep after the sock monkey incident and later had to be shaken awake when it was time to get up. On the way to school, she wasted no time in telling me that I a) forgot to put ponies [ponytails] in her hair (which she never asked for) and b) forgot to find sock monkey.

    As the daycare teachers often tell us at the conclusion of Nicholas’s multi-poop days, it’s a good thing he’s so stinking cute.

    Nicholas, enjoying some wee hours Cheerios and camaraderie.

    Nicholas, enjoying some wee-hours Cheerios and camaraderie.


  5. Lorelei’s Family Tree

    October 17, 2013 by Jennifer Carsen

    Lorelei's family tree

    Lorelei brought this home from daycare yesterday.

    I’m not exactly sure what the project was, but as you can see, I’m sharing bottom billing with our cat. (It appears that Nicholas may have been a last-minute add, too.)

    Mommy needs a better agent.


  6. Lorelei’s World

    September 26, 2013 by Jennifer Carsen

    The world according to Lorelei – watch out for that huge bunny! (Map artistry courtesy of Miss Kim at daycare.)

    Lorelei's map


  7. Little Big Guy

    September 5, 2013 by Jennifer Carsen

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    Nicholas turned 1 last week, and with that development came the move to the new big-kid classroom at daycare. He seems to be handling the transition well, including the shift to a single nap each day at noon. He’s been sleeping in until 6 every morning now, which we really can’t complain about. (As Eric put it, “We should send his teacher a thank-you note.”)

    He also had his one-year checkup today. Regular readers of this blog may recall that Lorelei rapidly went from skinny, spindly baby (we once had a stranger on the street comment on her “Kermit legs”) to ridiculously tall child almost overnight. It was just this past checkup that she finally fell back onto the chart for height, though still at the tippy-top of it.

    Today I was once again reminded that we have been calling the wrong child “Peanut.” Nicholas is truly our little guy, at just the 10th percentile for height and the 10th-25th percentile for weight. The doctor astutely pointed out that “all his height is in his head,” which is around the 75th percentile for circumference. (This may be a family trait: Nicholas Daniel’s namesake, Uncle Dan, also sported a very large head for several of his early years, though the rest of him eventually caught up without incident.)

    It’s amazing that Nicholas isn’t toppling over even more than he already does. Not that he’s letting any of this slow him down, mind you.

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  8. Mommy and the Meltdowns

    August 1, 2013 by Jennifer Carsen

    Yesterday was one of those mornings when you appreciate anew just how laid-back your kids generally are – because they both decide to go bananas at the same time.

    Nicholas has entered a high-mobility phase where he wants nothing more than to crawl, pull himself up on things, and delicately pluck lint from the floor and pop it into his mouth. Any thwarting of these plans is met with loud, angry resistance. This is particularly true during naptime, when all of his favorite activities come to an abrupt halt.

    (He also seemed to take it as a personal affront that we dropped his crib down to the lower level two days ago. Picture a prisoner who’s been digging a tunnel with a spoon for the past two years, only to wake up one morning and discover that it’s been backfilled with cement. I think Nicholas had both an exit plan and a man on the outside who was going to keep him supplied with bottles, carpet lint, and his new favorite thing to eat: Nutri-Grain bars. I guess they mesh well with his active, baby-on-the-go lifestyle.)

    So yesterday morning, Lorelei (who was up late singing in bed the night before) decided to sleep in while Nicholas, up early as usual, roamed around the house, wore himself out, and screamed bloody murder for the better part of an hour. By the time we packed everyone up to go to daycare, Nicholas was exhausted. The smart money on the wager for Kid Most Likely To Flip Out was clearly on the baby boy.

    But no – both kids were very chill during the short drive. And during the walk into the building. It was only when I told Lorelei that we needed to make a brief pitstop in the baby room before going to her classroom – this was not a big deal; she actually starts her day in the baby room most days – did the fun really begin.

    Lorelei threw a crying, screaming, kicking tantrum the likes of which I’ve experienced maybe once before in her entire life – and which her teachers, many of whom have seen her almost daily since she was three months old, have never seen. It was unprecedented; Caillou himself would have advised her to calm the hell down. Lorelei can be stubborn, and bossy, and a little moody sometimes (I wish I could claim she gets it from her father; those are unfortunately all me). But tantrums? Really not her thing.

    I put her in an ineffective time-out. I asked what was wrong. I took her shoes off. I put her shoes on. I deposited Nicholas into the baby room, redirected a scootching classmate who was hoping the chaos would serve as a diversion while he made a break for the hallway, and walked Lorelei into her classroom. Ten minutes and one picture book later, she finally settled down.

    Nicholas, meanwhile – the stiff-backed shrieking demon of not half an hour prior – was goofing around with his buddies in the baby room, happy as a clam.

    I left daycare at the same time as one of my fellow mom-friends, who has two kids the same age as ours. She looked as defeated as I felt.

    “I just want to take a nap,” she said. “Is that bad, this time of day?”

    Considering that what I really wanted at that moment was a shot or two of tequila, a nap sounded more than reasonable.


  9. Arts and Crafts for the Tiny: The Sequel

    July 11, 2013 by Jennifer Carsen

    From the family that brought you the deconstructed snowman…I am now pleased to present baby crab hands!

    baby crab hands


  10. A New Direction

    May 24, 2013 by Jennifer Carsen

    If you will indulge me in just a bit of shameless self-promotion for a moment…

    I will be continuing to blog here at Mommy Tries about the good, the bad, and the ugly of parenthood – as well as the just plain weird:

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    But I am also starting something new.

    Since my kids have been in daycare, I’ve learned that:

    1. We are truly blessed to have a place we love and trust to send our kids to every day.

    2. The women there (they are all women at our center, though I know there are some wonderful men in this field, too) know more about kids than I ever will, even if I were to live for a hundred years.

    3. The meaning of true acceptance is being able to explosively poop all over yourself and your caregiver, as Nicholas did yesterday, and still be welcomed back with open arms (sorry, Alexa!).

    Early childhood professionals are remarkable people. And I have been coming to the realization that I want to help them in their mission of improving kids’ lives.

    Which is why I’m launching a new business called Daycare In Demand to help child care centers with their marketing, hiring, and staff retention efforts. Because that’s where my skills are, and sometimes all a center needs to go from “doing OK” to “full up – please join our waiting list!” is a little help with getting the word out.

    If you’re so inclined, please do check out the site and pass along the info to anyone who might be interested. I would very much appreciate your Facebook “likes” on the business page as well!

    Shameless self-promotion over. Thanks for listening. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

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