Just Another Day in the Life of a Child Care Provider

Well here was my morning.

Younger Son wakes up and starts complaining of the exact same strep throat symptoms that Older Son had yesterday when I had to close early and take him to the doctor (thank you parents!!). At that appointment, Younger Son swore that he felt fine so we didn’t test him (an oversight by the doctors and nurses who should have just tested us all because now I’m feeling a little woozy myself). I’m pretty sure he just didn’t want the throat swab.

When we got home from that appointment, literally as we were walking in the door, Younger told me, “I don’t feel good.” Literally.

So today I’m sure he has strep. I call the doctor’s and they say they can’t just give me the antibiotics because they need a positive test and they can see him at 8:55. I explain that I now have six day care kids with me and can’t they just call in a prescription? No. They can see him at 8:55.

I’m thinking I’ll drop the school-age kids off, grab the three others I have, run to the doctor’s and be back by 9:30 for Miss M’s normal dropoff time.

But did I mention there was a two-hour snow delay at school?

So I load the twins, Miss S, Tornado, and Sick Younger into the car (Older chooses to stay home and play Playstation. He’s no dummy). Miss D is screaming and won’t get in because there’s a problem with her hood and/or hat (both of which she is wearing) and she can’t or won’t explain to me what the problem is, so I have to just hoist her into her seat. I trip over Tornado’s boots, which he removed and threw on the floor as soon as I got him buckled into his seat. Miss S reminds me that she needs her backpack to go to school and I explain that we’re having a field trip! Won’t this be fun!

Oh and I forgot to mention that when I told Younger we were going to the doctor he broke down in tears and I had to dress him while he was a sobbing lump of nervous-breakdown-child. That didn’t hurt my heart at all.

And he’s now sitting in the seat across from me refusing to make eye contact. But he did let me hold his hand.

I troll the parking lot for the safest spot that will allow us to not have to cross in front of moving vehicles. I have to drive pretty far away from the building and when Miss S notices that we’re heading in the wrong direction she helpfully points out, “I see lots of parking spaces over there!”

Luckily the waiting room has a small walled-off area for kids to play so I herd them all in there and block the opening with Tornado’s stroller. The nurse who saw us yesterday afternoon stops by to chat and comments about how many kids I have! I explain that they’re day care kids and only the sick one is mine.

As we wait, I’m trying to read a book to Miss S, who for some reason has become obsessed with having me read it to her RIGHT NOW, while keeping the doctor’s office toys out of the mouths of the other children. Then Miss C, who is potty training, informs me, “Amy, pee!!”

OK there’s a bathroom right next to the play area so I can take her in there, hold her over the potty, and keep the door propped open so I can see the other kids. Miss D swears that she doesn’t have to go and keeps playing.

When I get Miss C cleaned up and back to the play area Miss D goes running toward the bathroom.

They call Younger’s name and he looks at me as if I am sending him off to slaughter. I tell him to go with the nurse and we’ll catch up, as I’m dangling Miss D’s naked butt over the toilet.

Don’t think I haven’t noticed the looks I’m getting from all the people in the waiting room.

We find Room 17 after another nurse asks if I need help with my kids, and I tell her I can really handle this, I am a professional it’s a day care field trip isn’t that funny?

After getting everyone safely in the room, the next nurse informs me that I should bring all these kids back for their flu shot if they haven’t had them already. I tell her, and it seems like she’s somewhat surprised to hear, that they’re not my kids! This is my day care. “Ooooohhh!” they say with relief every time, as if I was a little insane the moment before.

Miss S still has the book and is still insisting I read it so I’m doing that quietly while the nurse takes Younger’s vitals. Miss C and Miss D are taking turns putting Tornado’s socks on and off his feet (remember his boots on the floor of the van?), and while I am bothered that there are all kinds of opportunities for spreading germs here, I just let it play because at least they’re all occupied and happy for the moment.

The doctor comes in and asks me why my kids haven’t had their flu shot, and why I’m more than two years overdue for my own physical. At the same time I am pulling Tornado’s hand off the plugs on the examining table, warning Miss S to stand back from the doctor’s laptop, and trying to keep Miss D from grabbing the tools off the counter.

I explain, for the fifth time today, THAT I RUN A DAY CARE.

We leave and I have to say for all the chaos I’ve described, my kids did a really great job on our “field trip.” They were good listeners, there was no screaming or tears, and they just followed me around like little ducklings. So as we’re heading back to the car I ask how I can reward them for being so good, and Younger instantly goes for his favorite: Munchkins. YEEEAAAHHHHHH! We all scream. Even me.

While in the Dunkin Donuts drive thru my cell phone rings. It’s Michelle, who is having her own version of chaos due to her street not being plowed, and can I pick up her son for school? “Of course, we’re already out!” I tell her. She is surprised but not shocked, as she understands that my life is totally random, and why wouldn’t I be out driving around town with day care kids in a snowstorm at 9:30 in the morning?

By the time we get home we have an hour before school begins. The kids need some real food so I quickly whip up an entire package of bagels for all eight of them. But they don’t all want cream cheese. Three want butter, two want cream cheese, and three want peanut butter (a new twist that someone invented and now I’m stuck with making at least three instead of two different kinds of bagels whenever I serve them. Pause while I wistfully remember the days when I thought two choices was a pain).

But it’s OK. I’m taking it all in stride. You want peanut butter? I can do that. Because I saw the writing on the wall and forced myself to be very calm through this whole morning. It was bad enough as it was, but would have been ten times worse if I’d been cranky and P.O.’d the whole time. I kept it upbeat and moving, and my kiddos just followed along. You want us to do what, Amy? Ohh-kaaaay. They’re used to the insanity of it all. See? Day care is good for kids! Teaches them to be flexible.

After the bagel devouring we got our coats, boots, hats, and mittens on again and piled back in the car. Ironically, my two sick boys stayed home while I transported other kids to school. I’m sure they appreciated the quiet for a few minutes.

And we have made it to quiet time. The boys are watching TV and I sit here almost ready to go back to school for the afternoon pickup. Just thinking about what I’ve already done today is making me exhausted. And there’s still snack, playtime, cleanup, pottying, pickup, dinner, homework, and bathtime to come.

OK, everybody’s right. I DON’T know how I do it.

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