Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Out of Control

Next to extreme physical pain, my experience shows the worst ever feeling is the feeling of not being in control. I felt it for a few months when I was new in Australia, unemployed, and desperately trying to find a job when no one would even talk to me let alone ask me to come for an interview.
A similar feeling is now creeping up, but this time around it's not job related but rather childcare related. Simply put, the service that Dylan seems to be getting at childcare seems anything but professional, yet barring one of us staying at home I don't see how it's going to get any better.
While his current childcare place is way better than the first one that tried to poison him, it is still a pretty lackluster affair. Want some examples? Here we go-
1. Twice he came back home from childcare with a major scratch / black sign of a bump. And I do mean major.
2. He came back home once wearing a nappy so small I'm worried about his ability to be a father.
3. He came back home once wearing a nappy that hasn't been changed for more than 8 active hours. It was soaking wet, and so was he.
4. Dylan shares his cot with another baby, given that he only goes to childcare twice a week. Despite repetitive promises and the carers looking to me in the eye while saying they have done so, it was pretty clear that on at least two occasions Dylan was put on a bed featuring dirty sheets (shits?) from the other baby.
5. 80% of the times I come to visit Dylan at childcare, be it in the middle of the day or at its end when I come to pick him up, I find him on this vibrating rocker. They only have one of them, and it has Dylan's name written all over it. Thing is, Dylan is past the rocker age (by now he is north of 10 kilos; we're talking a very big baby here, even disregarding his prematureness). It is not the right environment for a baby that is supposed to be learning to crawl and who likes being on the floor. It's really obvious the carers have identified the rocker as an easy solution to handling him, and they're pretty consistent about it. The most annoying thing is them telling me they do it because he doesn't like being on the floor, when at home Dylan is perfectly happy to spend most of his wakeful time on the floor. Lazy bastards.
6. There are signs very little efforts are made towards making Dylan do the right thing. He has 15 minute naps, hardly a third of a sleeping cycle; they don't bother trying to resettle him, and we get to pick up a zombie when we pick him up in the evening. He drinks 20cc out of a bottle of 200cc and they tell us he wouldn't have any more when at home the worst he will ever do is 60cc. When we get him home he is starving. Obviously, the real danger here is that he is developing bad habits; there are already signs of these having an effect at home.

There are additional examples, but the concept is simple: Childcare does the minimum it can get away with, and childcare does not hesitate to blazingly lie in order to satisfy us. Period.
Perhaps the mother of all lies is the routine childcare promise to follow the home routine while the child is under their supervision. Pure bullshit! Even if they wanted to, they don't stand a chance, simply because the environment is significantly different to the home environment. There are just way too many stimulants in the childcare environment, mainly in the shape of many screaming babies, and there are way too few carers around to provide the same level of attention the baby gets at home. The reason I'm complaining is not because the environments are different; there is nothing that can be done about that without a major league budget. My problem is that the childcare places know that but still promise you heaven. In my book this is called telling a lie.
Our particular childcare place takes matters a bit further: They use trickery in order to comply with regulations. You see, they supposed to have a ratio of one carer per five children or more, and one qualified carer for each non-qualified carer. However, in order to reduce manpower requirements, our place puts all the children (ages 0 to 5) in one room up until 9:30, a time in which most of the carers arrive to work, and does the same thing again at 16:30 - a good enough reason for me to pick Dylan up before 16:30 to avoid him being trumped over by the bigger kids on the block. Worse, they get over the qualified / non-qualified regulations by having more qualified staff working with the older children while having zero qualified stuff with Dylan's group of 0 to 1 year olds. And the effect shows.

Now I can complain as much as I want to but it won't do me any good. The only thing that could potentially improve matters is if we move Dylan yet again, but the problem is - move him where?
We're already on the local council's waiting list for both childcare places and home nanny services (or whatever these are called), but it was made clear to us we don't stand much of a chance there (the reason being the severely reduced costs over private establishments). Then there are other private childcare facilities, but the question will remain - how can we tell if these are any good? Well, we won't be able to tell, and that's the problem. If anything, the advantage of the current place we go to is that it's right under my office's nose and I can go and visit any time; a place next to where we live would be a place that is anything but under our noses, and with all our good intentions they would be able to sell us anything.
Of course, I am assuming the childcare places would have a spot for us. If there is one clear observation to make is that the places that are deemed good based on rumors (unestablished rumors at that, but they're still all we have) are fully booked from here to eternity.
What can we do against all that? Feel frustrated, as far as I can tell. Or wonder whether the grandparents might decide to relocate down under any time soon.

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