Monday, February 14, 2011

The Fourth Job.

The long wait for this post is to symbolize the long wait before I had another job. But first I need to edit my last job post. Katie was 15. I so don't remember that. So that means I was younger than I thought and I drove to and from work every time. I guess I was confusing the 'Katie takes over the car' stuff with high school in Utah. So there.

Now. After leaving Godfather's Pizza, I remained jobless. We got word that we were transferring. To Utah. So I didn't get another job. And now, a therapy moment. We moved to Utah in July of 1988. Right before my senior year in high school. Oh, just kill me now. Um, then. Never mind. I was excited at the prospect of a new place. New home, new school, new friends, new lots of things. When we got here I realized how much I had needed to get away from many of the 'friends' I had in California. Bad influence. But it was still a tough move.

My dad bought a small car, a Dodge Omni to be exact, for Katie and me to get to school in. It was a car only in the academic sense. It went. It needed oil. But it couldn't be driven in snow. And Katie apparently had to drive all the time. Wait. That's another story for another time.

Let's get back on track...

Moving to Utah did become somewhat of a problem. It was difficult finding a spot in the senior class among kids who were set in their groups. Getting a job was last on my list. So I worked to just be done with high school.

For my graduation, my grandparents, Meme and Opah, sent me a plane ticket to come stay with them in Southern California. It was open ended and they said I could stay for 2 weeks or longer if I so desired. So I went. I packed up my bedroom thinking this was it for me. I was going to California and, more importantly, I was leaving Utah.

After arriving, I found living there with my grandparents, and with my aunt Ruth and her family close by, to be extremely fulfilling. My aunt Meg and her family lived pretty close by, too and we did a lot together to fill the summer. Beach, shopping, eating out, staying up late, beach, etc. I was having fun.

Then Meme did something to me. She told me I had to get a job. Yuck. I was having so much fun. She told me to evaluate what I wanted to become. What did I enjoy doing? In high school in California, I did early child development and loved it. So I said I wanted to be a teacher. There was a Kindercare (day care center) close by. So I went and applied. I got the job!

I was put in the toddler room with another teacher, although I worked with many team teachers over the years. And thus began a journey that helped shape me. Into what? Hmm. We'll get to some of it. The kids were 18 months to 2 years. I loved it. I enjoyed the gals I worked with and got an education in so many things. Cigarettes being one of them. Almost all the teachers smoked. And smoking was allowed in the building. In the break room. Oh, how many times did I come home smelling liked I had smoked a pack? I would rather smell like sour milk from scooping ice cream than like stale cigarette smoke. One lady had yellow eyes, so help me, yellow eyes, from smoking. She had been told to quit, but wouldn't.

I learned about ab*rtion. There was one girl I worked with who would go out with another of the teachers (they were best friends) and said that every time the other girl got pregnant, which was quite a bit, she would go get an ab*rtion. Several times a year. That was appalling.

There was another teacher who I got to be great friends with, Susan, who told me about another teacher who asked her to “swing” with her and her hubby. I didn't get it. Go dancing? The swing? She explained. Yikes. Susan declined, saying she and her man didn't do that.

I twisted my ankle on a block in my classroom and found that you have to advocate for yourself because the business doesn't want to pay for it. I didn't have insurance and they wouldn't pay for me to see a doctor. I finally told them that I couldn't fulfill my duties with these toddlers because I couldn't walk. Judy the cook took me to a doctor. I had sprained it and they had me start physical therapy. Send the bill to Kindercare please. Judy was annoyed for some reason, and made her feelings clear to the director. She still thought I was faking it. Whatever Judy!

I did still enjoy the spaghetti and green beans she served for lunch, though.

One older lady worked in the room with me for a while. I loved working with her. She was slow, but she loved on those kiddos! I sweat. Well, my head sweats. It's just a part of who I am. But I was always hot. Id' like to think it was because the room was kept at 73 degrees. But this lady thought I might die. She told me about a friend of hers who was always hot and who sweated quite a bit. Doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with her. She burned up. Literally. To death, even. So she told me I might just burn to death. Thanks a lot!

One of the gals was having a party. We were all invited. A few of them asked me if I'd drive them there and back. I said I would. Luckily I recognized the smell of pot from high school. No!! I didn't smoke it!! Sheesh! In the parking lot. That's where the kids would smoke it before and after school. Back to the party. We ate, watched TV, talked bad about other work people. Oh yeah. High class! Then they broke out the pot. When I could feel the effects on my brain I finally said I was leaving. The gals I brought weren't ready! C'mon! They finally gave in. And I understood. I was the designated driver. I didn't go to any other parties.

But it wasn't just “those” things that I learned. I learned about kids. I loved those kids. They were the best little people in the world. But I learned quickly that when you are a constant in a child's life, during the bulk of their waking hours, you easily become a parent figure. There were kids who would want me in the middle of the night when having a nightmare. There were many who called me 'mommy'. There was one little boy who got chicken pox and his mom had to bring him in to see me every day because, well, because I was a constant in his life. I decided while working at Kindercare that I would NEVER put my children in day care.

The politics helped affect that decision, too. I could clearly tell you which teachers didn't like kids. The director's job wasn't to make sure the children were getting the best care, it was about getting as many children into a classroom to make a buck. There are laws about teacher to child ratio. No matter how much one complained about needing another teacher in a room because there were more kids coming in because the director kept enrolling, we would always be understaffed.

I stayed at Kindercare in Southern California until I moved back home. About a year and a half. When I moved back home, I went to the local Kindercare. They were fully staffed and so I went to another school nearby. I waited until the local school had an opening. I didn't have to wait long. I worked at that Kindercare until I went on my mission in 1992. For 3 years I loved those kids. I made sure that if they had to be in day care, they deserved to have the best teacher to care for them. Me, of course.

Working in a day care was one of the toughest jobs I've ever had. So many emotions involved. Politics ran rampant. Drugs and alcohol were used a lot. Not one teacher was required to have an education. No child development or early childhood education, much less a high school diploma. At the time, Kindercare was one of the best reputed centers in the country. And my experience left me wondering how parents could leave their children in such a place.

I am grateful for the experience. I learned a lot. About kids, about other people, about me. And I can most assuredly tell you...I have the BEST job right now. I wear my title proudly. Mom.

1 comment:

Kim said...

How neat that you got to work there for so long! And that would be quite an eye-opening experience, working with so many people with so many problems. Thank goodness you came out of it unscathed. ;) And I bet that all of your children LOVED you!!