It’s now been four weeks week since I returned to work from maternity leave and the thing that I’ve been dreading most has finally happened. I knew it would, after all it’s inevitable with small children, but I’d been hoping and wishing that it wouldn’t. And today it did.
Yep, I’m talking about the dreaded call from the childcare centre that results in you having to come and pick up a sick child, usually accompanied by an exclusion period which means the next day/s is impacted too.
Any parent with children in child care or school will know of the terror that I speak of. They will see that missed call (either because they recognise it or they have it saved on speed dial like I do) and make a split second assessment about what is going on before moving into future-proofing mode. Out of all the things sitting on their desk and in their to do list, they’ll figure out what is a priority, what can be moved or sacrificed, what is the maximum amount of time they can pretend like they didn’t see their phone until they’re compelled to touch base and see what’s going on.
I suspect most childcare centres are like mine in that they contact you for EVERY. SINGLE. LITTLE. THING. I get it. Quality frameworks and compliance mean the red tape in ensuring parents are across all of the things, all of the time is designed that way. Whilst I personally don’t feel that I need to receive a ‘courtesy call’ every time Miss B falls over and scrapes her knee, or even if she gets bitten/scratched by another child and gets over it quite quickly (i.e. hasn’t broken any skin and she’s gotten over her upset and continued about her day) I understand it for what it is. For me, I would be happy to receive a report at the end of the day rather than a phone call that I’ll inevitably miss because I’m in meetings and then have to quickly assess where I’m at so that I can figure out what I’ll do if they say to come and pick one of them up. But hey, I’m a bit old school like that. There may be plenty of other parents out there that want that level of detail and to be informed whenever there is an incident and that’s ok too, but for me I tend to subscribe to the ‘life lessons are learnt by knee scraping/dealing with bitey children’ so I fully expect incidents to occur during the day.
Because the down side of being informed in real time of every little thing that goes on is that it lulls you into a false sense of security. The frequency of calls, particularly if your child is prone to a knee scrape/head bump or two, or if she’s being bitten with semi-regular frequency due to a problem child is that you begin to think that the missed call is merely representative of a courtesy call and not something more pressing. Given I miss most of the phone calls, I tend to rely on my gut and try to read between the lines in the message that is left when I get back and see the missed call. Nine times out of ten, the educator will start the message by saying it’s just a courtesy call, which means I can breathe a big sigh of relief.
Unfortunately, today’s call was not that call. Today, I was asked to come and collect Miss A due to suspected gastro. And without a Plan B to activate given the hubby is away all week it was up to me. So the work calendar was assessed, things were rejigged and work was prepared to bring home (which is the norm lately anyway) and I went off to pick up my gal. She lit up like a christmas tree when I arrived and showed no signs of being sick at all. I highly suspect the ‘gastro’ is actually more symptomatic of all four top teeth coming in at once where LBM’s (as the daycare centre calls loose bowel motions) are quite common with teething and definitely the norm for both my girls. However, whatever the cause, she’s triggered that magic rule that states she must not pass go or collect $200.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disputing the fact that gastro is going around (including in our own home quite recently), I’m just passing commentary on the challenges it throws up. Whether or not it is gastro is redundant and as a result we headed off to the doctor anyway. Given Miss A had severe bronchiolitis when she was two weeks old (which saw her in ICU for 6 days) she struggles a bit with chest congestion and mucous build up which needs to be monitored. So taking the time out to get her checked over is an easy thing for a bit of peace of mind. And in this case, she fine. I certainly don’t disagree with the requirement that means we are now excluded from the centre for 24hrs as I understand that the childcare centre’s policies are designed for the greater good. Coming from a policy driven organisation, I get it and I’m ok with that. It’s just a big reality check that I’m trying to process as I try to juggle responsible motherhood, a huge work load and doing it all singlehandedly.
But tomorrow is another day and in some respects there may be a silver lining. I may actually get some work done as I’ll be able to send Miss B to daycare (provided she doesn’t get it too!) and sit in relative peace and quiet to do some thinking without interruption. Given Miss A is pretty self sufficient and cruisey she makes it easy for me to do so when it’s just her and I.
So before I go back and pick up Miss B, I’ll enjoy my unexpected bit of downtime. After I get the dinner, bath and bed routine sorted, it’ll be back into a late night session to try and catch up on the three hours lost this afternoon and to try and get ahead of the game for tomorrow!
Does your childcare centre provide you with a courtesy call every time your child is involved in an incident? Do you ever look at your missed call and try to hold off calling them back?