When life hands you bats....

...work in Childcare.

[sticky post]It's hard to choose a User Name
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So it's been a while since I used any journaling or blogging platform, and normally I stick with a couple old favourites when it comes to user names... but when it comes down to it, they're what "Past Me" would have used, and I am not that person anymore.

Therefore, when contemplating what I wanted to be known as for the foreseeable future, I decided to basically go with nothing.

People are forever changing. What I choose now should not define me for the rest of my days, and I refuse to be a "journal hopper" - yeah, I'm lookin' at you 15 year old Fandom obsessed, self (and friends)!!

Really the decision boiled down to the things that make me "Me!". And how does one pick? Do I snip apart myself into smaller parts? "Wiccan"? "Teacher"? "Goth"? "Hippie"? "Writer"? And how could I possibly include all that I am in 14 small spaces? I suppose "I Am Preston"would have sufficed, but man does it seem pretentious.

But who am I? What am I? And why the good Goddess am I on LiveJournal?

I'm simple.

Hi. You can call me Preston (this may, or may not be my real name). I'm 27 (almost 28), and I live in an undisclosed Canadian city.

I also work as a toddler teacher at an undisclosed child care facility, in this undisclosed Canadian city.

I am a gender ambiguous, pansexual individual who has too many cats and not enough books.

I am Pagan by choice, and awesome by nature.

This journal is going to be a mix of "Public", and "Friends Only" entries - covering get a wide range of topics, such as everyday life, interesting childcare stories, and maybe even on occasion what MY thoughts are on some of life's more controversial child rearing topics (not that it really matters, but I do like discussions).

If this seems like something you'd be interested in to read and let me read your journals, then please feel free to add me as a friend.

Many of my updates will probably come via mobile posts, as I have an hour long lunch break that I rarely ever do anything interesting with.

With that being said and done, I say good day and Best Wishes,
Preston


Personal Hygiene
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Let's talk about personal hygiene. This is something you would assume most children are taught, yet like the correct names for their genitalia, they are not.

Something as simple as hand washing is a foreign concept to most children who entre a child care centre, regardless of their age. Now hand washing is a simple thing that children should know, especially if they are toilet trained. Faces are a little harder, however by about four years of age they should be aware of whether or not they have food on their face.

Wiping after using the toilet is perhaps the hardest. Little girls are rarely shown how to do it right - pat, don't wipe. And little boys are taught they don't have to, that a shake will do.

Wrong.

Boys get UTI's too. Perhaps not as often as little girls, but there is no harm in teaching a boy to use a small amount of toilet paper to gently dab himself dry.

Little girls have it rough - currently in my room I am potty training one little girl (well, technically she decided at 21 months old that she was ready for the potty), and two little girls recently trained, and two who have been trained for 6-12 months.

Today one of them came to the centre with a bit of a vaginal infection. The culprit? Not wiping properly, or well.

Today I am bathroom supervisor, I wash hands and faces, change diapers, and wipe bums. So I sat the three older girls down, one on the toilet to pee and the other two on the edge of the bathtub, and we had a little chat about wiping. Because once they move to the preschool room the bathroom doesn't have a teacher standing there helping. There is already one little girl on that side who gets UTIs so painful she can't walk, let alone pee.

So I talked about wiping, which you may think is weird for me to be talking to little girls about, however it is part of my job. And today, because we already have one with an infection, I was Offical Bum Wiper. Mostly because I wanted them to use "baby wipes", those moist wipes you use on babys, to ensure they were clean.

I get to work all week, all month if I have to, to help these girls learn that wiping properly is a part of not getting sick. It's a strange aspect of my job, but it is one that has to be done.

At home their parents should also be working with them on this, as well as how to properly wash themselves. I don't really remember my mom teaching me that, just that I should wash.

I think many parents are nervous or embarrassed about teaching their children about their "private parts", so they give them silly names, and that's as far as it progresses. There are several reasons why it is important to teach your children the correct names for their genitalia (penis, testicles, vulva, vagina - these are all different parts), however the MOST important reason is the one most parents fear the most. Sexual assult. If your child does not know the correct names, their testimony will rarely stand up, because the court has to then take your word that that is what your child means.

Long story short, teach kids proper hygiene, and the correct terms for their genitals. This helps teach them respect their own bodies, and other peoples as well.

Best Wishes,
Preston


Today I dressed up like a cat, and went to work...
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Today was our Hallowe'en party. Why today - the 30th - you may ask, and not tomorrow? Because tomorrow we get to walk and take the little dears to the Fire Hall.

So now, in a smallish space you have 25+ children, dressed in costumes they have never worn before (and will only wear the once), full to the brim with candy and sugar, who normally don't listen anyway... and you're in cat ears and tail.

Inevitably one or two (or five) are going to have complete break downs, and have to just sit with a teacher trying to calm down. One of those children is going to be inconsolable till after lunch (when you pray to whatever deity you worship that he'll sleep for two hours). At least one child will vomit, either from excitement, or too much candy (or you know, the disgusting taste of black licorice).

During this time you'll get one little Hallowe'en sized chocolate bar to help elevate the stress, but you know you're going to knock back two STRONG coffees on your lunch (which is currently in progress).

After the children have been de-costumed, fed, watered, diapers, and put to bed... you get a whole new set of kids to watch, while you try to sweep the entire upper level of the daycare, and clean two of four bathrooms. Add to that they all now want their costumes back on.

All this time you remind yourself to stay calm and collected, getting them back into their costumes while you minus those minutes from how much time you have left to clean.

This is only the morning, you remind yourself, as you hope the afternoon will get better, and wish you could have something stronger than coffee at lunch.

The problem with this is that it just adds to the regular behaviour of the day, which is normally less than steller. Which is fairly normal for children between the ages of 1 to 6 as they figure out how to be people.

But damn I hate when things are done to make it worse.

I am looking forward to House,  and possibly something alcoholic in Coke later this evening... and an early bedtime.

Best Wishes,
Preston


Clothes
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As I sat today, watching the Kinder's play outside, the leaves falling from the trees, and a warm breeze blowing I realized that I kept seeing the one little girl who was playing tag hoist her pants up, trying to hide the little butter cracked that kept showing. This was not an issue for the boys.

And the more I thought about it, and thought about any wardrobe malfunction I have ever had to deal with, the more I realized, "Holy fuck... I am constantly pulling up the girls pants, or asking then too because their ass is hanging out!" This was an internal monologue.

I remembered a Blog post I read not that long ago (It's here if you're interested) by a mother talking about the difference in length between girls shorts, and boys shorts sold in Target. The average inseam (a.k.a. the seam from crotch to the bottom of the pant leg) on the toddler girl shorts was one inch, where as the boys was four inches.

But then I got thinking about the rise of little girls jeans - so from crotch to waistband. And while I do not have the measurements to show proof, I would say that the rise on a pair of preschool girls jeans is not as high as on a boys.

Add to that their underpants are made differently - weak elastic, not as much coverage, etc - than boys, this shouldn't surprise me.

Shouldn't children simply be able to play without worrying that their buns are hanging out? Or be able to sit in a pair of shorts without their panties (or more) showing? When did we start forcing on these little girls the idea that they must dress like miniature adults? Instead of simply finding them comfortable clothes, that cover their bodies, that stay up, and that they can play in.

The next time I have to hike a pair of jeans up over a little girls bum, and have them barely cover, I may scream.

Best Wishes,
Preston

PS: I just started a book called "The Explosive Child" by Ross W. Greene Ph.D. I think it'll be an interesting read.


Picture Day
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Today it is picture day at the centre. I understand why it is done, as many parents are not able to take their kids for formal pictures and it's a nice gesture from the centre - though the parents do have to pay for it.

However, this makes me want to pull my hair out of my head

Here's why: 1) a parent left me a note, a very nicely written one, asking I change her younger son into the provided (freaking awesome skull) sweater before pictures, and comb his brother's unruly hair. I read this at 9:15 this morning. Since then I have had not one, not two, but FIVE reminders from other staff, the assistant director, and one of the older children who was sent by the director.

2) Blood moon. That should be explanation enough.

3) There is no school today for the kids who are in the Catholic system, meaning we have approximately double the normal amount of children here today.

In short, chaos. Utter chaos. There is not enough coffee in the world chaos.

Plus this morning, while watching a video on fire safety, we had a fire drill - which is very loud and makes my little ones cry. This however, was not a normal fire drill. No, as we were in the basement,  we had to pretend the stairs were blocked, and go out the window.

My littles are supposed to go first, followed by me. There were so many kids, my littles almost got trampled. I had to reach into and over the big kids to lift them up, and pass them out the window.

Utter. Chaos.

I will be very glad when today is over, and even more glad that Monday is Canadian Thanksgiving, meaning I have a 3 day weekend, and payday is Wednesday.

I'm just glad the eye infection these adorable jerks gave me is pretty much gone - a swollen shut eye would have destroyed the group photo.

Best Wishes,
Preston


Dreaded Diapers
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There are both good and bad things about being the only toddler teacher in a centre.

Good things include:
- everyone always naps
- you have the smallest group
- listening to their little Whoville-esque voices all day

But there are also negatives:
- lots of crying
- separation anxiety
- breaking the "Soother" habit.
- trying to decipher Toddler-spek
- diapers

Mostly, diapers.

Toddler diaper changes are not like infant changes, though the risk of being peed on is much less. I have been an infant teacher as well, and have changed, on average 5 diapers a day on each child (for toddlers it's less). I'm sure that had I ever kept track I would be in the thousands by now.

Toddler diapers are also worse because this is when pottying starts, and the lovely line between them knowing they're wet and knowing they have to pee.

As the all powerful toddler teacher, it is my job to supervise diapers. Meaning I have to restock the diaper shelves, write names on diapers, and leave notes for parents who need to bring more.

Unfortunately because I also have the youngest group in the centre, I cannot leave them unattended (finding time to use the bathroom myself can get a little interesting at times).

This means trying to fit that diaper routine into a different part of my day, when my group is supervised.

I have decided it will be when I put down beds for nap. Thus lengthening my time spent away from the kids by 5 to 10 minutes.

It's not too bad. It gives me some quiet time before going up to tackle story time (or diaper changes, depending on the week) and lunch time.

I suppose things could be much worse, and the bright side is all these children will end up potty trained. Just perhaps not while they are still in my group. That will fall to a different teacher. For which U am grateful.

I will take dirty diapers over clothing changes from accidents any day!

Best Wishes,
Preston


The Honeymoon Period
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I was one of the lucky ones. During my high school years I was allowed to focus on my school work, instead of being forced to participate in extra curricular activities, or an after school job.

Granted, I spent the vast majority of my time engrossed in TeenOpenDiary, the Yahoo! chat rooms, and Role Playing.

The high school I went to was not exactly academically charged, and so I sailed through my classes without a care in the world, managing, in 2004, to graduate second in my class.

I moved from there on to University, the hum drum of classes I did not actually require for my BFA in Theatre Acting, dragged at me. Again, this was a time in my life when I should have found something else to take up my spare time, something more productive than watching Anime, still Role Playing, and now desperately trying to hold together a long distance relationship with my emotionally abusive boyfriend.

As the anxiety disorder I had been holding back all through high school rail roared through my life my grades fell, my nights turned sleepless, and my thoughts turned dark.

I did not go back to University the next year, nor have I been back since.

Instead I threw myself into work, holding down 4 part time, and casual jobs; gas jockey, server, substitute educational assistant, and substitute child care worker.

Eventually I was offered full time at the child care centre, and quit my other jobs. Now this job is the one I, unfortunately, still judge all other jobs against. It was perfect.

I got along famously with the director, and I loved working with the kids. I was allowed free reign as the supervisor, and my confidence soared.

However, this is when "Honeymoon Sickness" started to settle into my bones.

It began with distance classes, working all day to come home to assignments on child development, and disciplinary techniques.

After two years I quit to go to school fulltime. To simply "get it over with", instead of continuing with the sleepless nights.

Of course things in my personal life did not go smoothly - which I will probably talk about at some point, but to give you an idea of how bad it was, my anxiety disorder had now progressed to projectile vomiting.

I finished my first year of my Early Childhood course, and moved out of the home I shared with two roommates to find my own place, while working full time.

But then... Honeymoon Sickness.

It always seems to set in shortly after the first year I have been at a job. Whether I unconsciously seek out reasons to leave, imagine reasons to leave, or actually end up with reasons to leave... I always find something.

Perhaps it is kin to my, if you'll pardon the ethnic reference, "Gypsy Feet", a condition many people in my maternal family have, where the idea of staying in one place for longer than a few years makes us restless, uneasy, and grouchy.

But alas, even jobs with fantastic pay have not been able to hold me. In 12 months, 16 months, 20 months... I feel it. It starts at my base, deep in my spine, and works it's way up, finally fizzing, and popping like a bubble at the base of my skull. And I find a reason to leave.

It might be relationships with coworkers, or the boss. The reasons may be real, or they may be contrived. But there are always reasons.

I even tried going outside of child care, thinking that perhaps I was just burnt out, that looking after the children of other people since I was 18 was simply too long... That my mind and body just could not take it anymore.

But even retail, especially retail, could not hold me. The boredom, the drunks, the nasty customers, and the asshole boss.

Maybe it's a good thing my current job is only a one year term. The perfect time. To come into work, to give my love and attention to the children. And then, after a year, walk away. Give them back to their original teacher, and move on.

Maybe I'm meant to be a breeze. Refreshing and gentle, I blow away the dirt and dust, and then I am gone.

Maybe I am not meant to hold the same job for 30 years.

Maybe I am change.

Or, I may just be indecisive. Unable to make a commitment.

Maybe I've had too many disappointments in my life, and simply never want the Honeymoon phase of it to end.

Who knows.

For now, however, I will throw my tiny breeze into the work that must be done. To do otherwise would be unfair, one "maybe", or another.

Best Wishes,
Preston


The Beautiful Struggle of Nap Time
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Each nap time is different. It can go several different ways - smooth, crazy, or terrible. And as I lay out those institutional looking cots everyday, I stop briefly and wonder how today's nap is going to go.

I always hope for smooth.

The kids come down the stairs like water down a waterfall; seemingly never-ending, and the thought of "We are never going to get them all too sleep", crosses my mind as I smile nicely from the bottom of the stairs and direct them to their own beds.

Then comes the inevitable, "Please lay down on your bed, it's nap time", song that comes out of my mouth every single day, as little bodies jump on their beds, roll around in their blankets, and sit, staring blankly at nothing across the room (those are the really tired kiddos).

And eventually all (except that one little girl who refuses to lay nice, and is instead disrupting an entire side of the nap room by playing, singing, and spitting at the staff) the kids are laying nicely (or at least just laying) on their beds.

The staff, like ghosts (occasionally the ghosts of long gone Dictators, as patience runs thinner and thinner, and voice inevitably rise) move among the children, smoothing the hair over one tired little head here, or gently rubbing circles and figure eights on a deeply breathing back. Sometimes you get one who has to be wrapped up like a little mummy, and must be gently jiggled to sleep.

But still... there is always that one (or in the case of nap time yesterday, two) children who just won't sleep, can't sleep, or are at that awkward stage of only needing naps some days. Which is fine, so long as they lay on their beds nicely, and don't disturb all the children who are sleeping, and who desperately need sleep if their day is going to be smoother in the afternoon.

As they all drift off into sleep, and you get comfortable, sitting with your back against a wall, gently patting the back of that last child who is fighting sleep as hard as they can, you start to feel your own eyes getting heavy. You know, however, that your job is to watch over these slumbering children, and that falling asleep in the nap room is a big no-no.

But the soft breathing, and gentle snoring of 20 sleeping kids is like a lullaby, and the quiet music you, yourself, put on to help the kids sleep is gently rocking you to sleep... and you feel your hand starting to fall still on the now slumbering child's back, and your eyes close slowly.

"A couple minutes", you think to yourself, "that won't hurt". And it's a good thing that your position, leaning against the wall, isn't really as comfortable as you like to think it is, and the stairs creaking terribly when your nap time relief is coming down the stairs, because you cannot fall asleep in the nap room, not even if you stretched out on the carpet between the rows of nap cots.

And in those couple of minutes, when you close your eyes, you're not really sleeping... instead you're saying a silent prayer to whatever God or Goddess you pray to, thanking them for letting the children be able to sleep under these circumstances. Because all morning they had behaviour like little monkeys; running and spitting, biting and pinching. You know their behaviour will improve with their two hour long snooze, and while they sleep you soak in the silence. You let your heart rate slow down, and your stress level drop. You sit in silent meditation as little human furnaces slumber around you, their bodies finally relaxed.

Then, when your relief comes downstairs, and you go up for your own lunch break - the only sound in the center being the 5 Kinders, and 2 non-napping 4 year olds - you remember that for all the fuss, and occasionally, fight, that nap time is... it really benefits more than just the kids. It let's you recharge and relax as well. Have a cup of coffee, or tea (you know, one of those hot drinks you can't have out on The Floor). Read a book. Recharge.

Teachers love nap time too.

Best Wishes,
Preston


I Hate "Blanket Day"
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"What is 'Blanket Day'?" you may ask. Well it's very simple, it's the day that, after nap instead of me making the kids bring me their blankets (READ "sleeping bags" - horrible slippery sleeping bags) to put away in each individual cubbie, I instead ask them all (several times, often each one getting progressively louder) to PLEASE take their blankets upstairs and put them in the closets (where their jackets and hoodies and extra clothes live).

This inevitably turns into a gong show of kids who have no idea what's going on, put their blanket randomly in the middle of the floor in our room, to walk away dazed and confused back downstairs.

However, this isn't the worst part. Oh no.

I then put up my happy little sign, kindly asking parents to take their child's blanket (because, you know, the PILE of slippery fabric on the floor isn't a big enough reminder), and to return it after the weekend.

There is always at LEAST two parents who do not take the blanket, and at LEAST two parents (last time it was four), who do not bring it back.

The ones that do come back, come back a cacaphony of scents. The inevitable "My laundry isn't clean unless it smells like I rubbed it all over a meadow of flowers, and then dried it under a rushing clear spring". FYI neither of those two things ACTUALLY smell like the laundry scents, and if people spent more time outside, they'd know that.

So I then put these blankets out at nap (thank goodness I don't have to touch them in the morning when they are first brought back, the 7AM staff does!!) in an allergy induced haze of sneezing and snot, my head getting more and more stuffed, and the pounding starting behind my sinuses, signalling the fact that it's only 10:30AM, and it's going to be a VERY long day.

The worst part? The scent lingers for at least a week and a half, meaning that everyday when I put out beds at nap (it's my job, because I teach toddlers) I spend the rest of the day in this head pounding haze, that no allergy pill can touch.

So yes, I hate "Blanket Day", but man do I love nap time!

Best Wishes,
Preston


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