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Child Care Magazine

Issue 8, vol. 7.3

Articles Author Date Issue Section
Sports Activities in Daycare Emily R. Bridges 7/20/2001 Issue 8, vol. 7.3 Nurses in Child Care WC
Bullies Sharon Wren 7/20/2001 Issue 8, vol. 7.3 Child Care Issues WC
Q & A Weekly Column, Issue 8 Ed  Kemper 7/20/2001 Issue 8, vol. 7.3 Q & A WC
Kitchenlab Kindermath, Tutorial #7 Noreen Wyper 7/20/2001 Issue 8, vol. 7.3 Kitchenlab Kindermath WC
Teen-Age Talk Deb Di Sandro 7/20/2001 Issue 8, vol. 7.3 Humor in Child Care WC
In Tribute to Dad Jenifer McCrea 7/20/2001 Issue 8, vol. 7.3 Stay-at-Home-Parent WC
Creative Summer Activities Danielle Westvang 7/20/2001 Issue 8, vol. 7.3 Camp Counselors in Child Care WC
My Assessment Book, Article Victoria L. Pietz 7/20/2001 Issue 8, vol. 7.3 Start-Ups in Child Care
My Assessment Book, FORM Victoria L. Pietz 7/20/2001 Issue 8, vol. 7.3 FORMS
The Perfect Daycare Interview Ursula Vogt 7/20/2001 Issue 8, vol. 7.3 Child Care Advice
The Stress Watchers Diet Heather Haapoja 7/20/2001 Issue 8, vol. 7.3 Stress Help WC
John Constable's Perseverance Christine L. Pollock 7/20/2001 Issue 8, vol. 7.3 Music & Art in Child Care WC
Your Nanny is not the "Help"... Elizabeth Pennington 7/20/2001 Issue 8, vol. 7.3 Nannies and Child Care WC
Prime Time Parenting, Touching Bases Deb & Dave Graham 7/20/2001 Issue 8, vol. 7.3 Prime Time Parenting WC
 

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PRIME TIME PARENTING --

Touching Bases

By:   Deb & Dave Graham

Everyone needs to be touched.  It is the most basic of human needs and
one that -- if neglected -- leads to a lack of caring and understanding for
others.  Working parents and modern conveniences have promoted a wide spread
shortage of this in our society.  And inventions such as the car, the
microwave, and the television have made it possible for a child to be raised
in a virtual isolation even though surrounded by people.  

Association is not contact.  Yet, many of the families who have become
nothing more than an association of people living in the same house would be
startled to have this fact pointed out to them.  In fact, most of them are
caring parents who are doing their best to provide for their children in
every way they know how.  But in spite of this, their home-life seems to
suffer from the chronic symptoms of bickering, disorder, and a lack of
enthusiasm for anything other than immediate personal gratification.

The same mother who props a bottle in an infant's crib at feeding time
because she has to get ready for work, will do it again in a stroller at a
mall, simply because she wants to shop.  After awhile, it will become the
preferred mode of feeding because the child "seems happy with it" and there
are ALWAYS more things to do than there is time in a day.  On the other hand,
some children are born with the type of personality that demands attention.  
They have no problem with interrupting or jumping onto a parent's lap no
matter what the adults are involved in.  They will not go without the
necessary attention they crave even if it can only be gotten by getting
themselves in trouble.  Then there are the quiet ones.  They rarely get out
of line or in trouble, and are sometimes literally overlooked in the hustle
and bustle of things.  Because of this, they are often perceived as needing
LESS attention when in fact, they need more.  These children tend to actually
be more sensitive because they usually consider the wants and activities of
others more important than their own.  The trouble is, a personality like
this is a sure target for deep resentments if overlooked too long.

Touching means contact.  In the same way that a car with the engine running
will not actually move anywhere unless the gears are engaged, many people are
stifled in their potential to become more wonderful human beings simply by a
lack of enough "contact" with others.  Touch is the conduit through which the
current of our communications run most clearly.  It is instant access to the
soul.  But it can be light or lightning, depending on the delivery.  There is
more to touching than a hug or kiss goodnight, or an occasional pat on the
back for a job well done.  And a smack or a shove instead of an expected (and
therefore deserved) spanking can be devastating… especially if delivered in
error.   Once again, this is an area where parents -- for better or for worse
-- have the greatest influence over their children.  

Touching is the highest form of acknowledgment and recognition one human
being can give to another.   It means "you and you alone have my full
attention, and it is my sole desire at this moment to get a response from
you."    Touching sparks, makes contact, releases the current and tests the
temperature of the soul, communicating faster than words… and far deeper.  
Touching is entering and sharing someone's personal space.  All children long
for their parents to enter their personal space.  If they resist or are
"stand-offish" in any way, it is only because they have felt rejection at
some earlier time.  But before you insist how much you love your child and
would absolutely die before rejecting them, please realize that the emphasis
here is on the FEELING more than the rejection.  Children do not live in
make-believe worlds; their worlds are very real to them.  And the feelings
that tumble around in those worlds are genuine… whether perceived right, or
not.

If Johnny took it for a personal rejection that you chose to go shopping and
leave him with the Wicked Witch of the West for a baby-sitter at the precise
moment he came down with the flu -- then it was.  In HIS eyes it was.  And
chances are he will never even mention that you out-and-out deserted him in
his moment of crisis.  If he did, you would set things right, reassure him of
his importance to you, and not walk away from the encounter until your
relationship was on a firm foundation, again.  The trouble is, real life is
rarely that neat and tidy.  For the most part, we are NOT perfect
communicators, and little incidents like this tend to pile up on top of each
other without much notice until there is a fair amount of distortion as to
exactly how we feel about each other.  Of course they know you would "do
anything for them" all the way up to shielding them from a bullet if there
was a crazed shooter on the loose… but for Pete sake, how often do those
things turn up? A kid could grow up by then.

And many do.

Does this mean you should check your insurance policy to see if you and the
kids are covered for psychoanalysis to get some of these things that never
entered your mind in the first place, sorted out?  Not at all.  Childhood is
full of inappropriate thoughts, inappropriate responses, and enough
embarrassing moments to make us look ridiculous if we tried to pursue them
all.  But we need to cover our bases.  Very few hits end up in the outfield
when the bases are properly covered.  Touching puts a "short stop" to a lot
of emotions that could end up on the moon if allowed to go ballistic long
enough, and a quick response is better than a chase and a scuffle, any day.  
So, here are a few tips to help you get in the game:
 

  • ¨ A LIGHT HAND on a child when you are talking to them about something
    important puts you in their space and automatically triggers their full
    attention.

  • ¨ A TOUCH OR A SQUEEZE when passing need not have any words connected with
    it… it means you not only like being in their space, you like them.

  • ¨ HOLD THE BABY.  Infants need more touching than the time it takes to feed
    and change them.  Being held by a parent is such a comfort that it will even
    override an immediate need for food or dry diapers for awhile.  So the next
    time you're stuck in a long line at the market and it's way past junior's
    time for something, don't just let him howl away in his infant seat.  Pick
    him up.

  • ¨ KEEP YOUR TEENS OFF GUARD with a surprise hug or kiss… no matter what they
    are wearing.  They can't keep those walls around them so thick if you keep
    breaking through all the time.

  • ¨ DON'T BE PUT OFF by a cool shoulder or an out-and-out effort to escape.  
    It's just a ploy to be chased.  Remember, the ones that run need to be caught
    more than the ones that chase you.

  • ¨ DON'T GIVE UP.  A child that consistently resists or seems unresponsive IS
    feeling your contact and making a connection, whether they admit it, or not.
     

You do not have to be overflowing with emotions of love and kindness in order
to reach out and touch your kids.  Touching them should be so consistent and
responsive that most of the time you do it without even thinking.  Automatic.
 Like catching a ball that's coming toward you, or reaching out for one
that's flying by.  You'll be making contact every time you do, warding off
indifference and resentments that don't stand a chance against the kind of
acknowledgment and acceptance that only you can give.  Before you know it,
they'll be reaching back for you.  And when they do...

They'll be touching home.

 

 

In Tribute to Dad

By:   Jenifer B. McCrea

This past week a got a terrific lesson in how important Dad is. My husband had to go away for a week on business, so I was left alone for the week with my two year old son. Did I mention that I am also 12 weeks pregnant, and in the throes of morning, noon and night sickness?

I don’t think I realized, until he went away, how much my dear husband really does around the house. I remember my Dad would come home each night to dinner on the table and us kids bathed and ready for stories and bed. On the weekends he mowed the lawn (until I was old enough to do it for him) and weeded the garden (until my sister was old enough to do that) and he puttered around his woodworking shop. I don’t recall him ever loading the dishwasher, much less washing a dish. The only time my Dad even saw the vacuum cleaner was when he put it in the car to take it to the shop. My husband is a different story.

Scott is a great Dad. Even before he went away, you would never hear me say anything different. While he is great with our son, and plays on Alex’s level in ways that I can’t, he is also a good disciplinarian. He corrects Alex and isn’t afraid to use time-out when needed. However, when Scott left on business, I realized all the other stuff that happens because of Scott.

When Scott is home we all sit down to dinner as a family. No TV, maybe some music in the background, and we talk. Alex is a pretty good conversationalist for a two year old, and he contributes in his way. When Dad is gone, Alex and I ate pizza, every night. Mostly because that’s all I can tolerate right now, also because it’s one of Alex’s favorites and I didn’t feel a need to cook dinner. We ate in front of the TV, watching a movie that Alex picked, and we didn’t talk – that much. It can be hard to stop a two year old from talking, not that I try very hard.

Scott has been doing the grocery shopping. That’s been nice, since the sight and smell of raw meat is enough to send me running for the nearest bathroom. With Scott gone, Alex and I had to go to the store. I had the list and got everything we had on it, avoiding the Meat Department and spending a long time in Frozen Foods (smells less there). But it was a hassle just the same, and I started to appreciate my dear husband for stopping at the store nearly every night after work, battling crowds, just to satisfy my latest ‘craving’ which he knows will probably be gone by the time he gets home.

After dinner and on the weekends, Scott has had almost sole care of Alex, since by the time he gets home and we eat I am ready for bed. I forgot how exhausting pregnancy is. Scott does not complain, he just takes Alex along on his adventures at Home Depot. They probably stop afterwards at the Ice Cream store more than I would sanction, but what I don’t know doesn’t hurt.

My husband is far from sainthood. I don’t think he knows where I keep the dust rag or the vacuum, and he still doesn’t pick up his socks. I don’t really trust him to do the laundry, since I have a red sweater that I used to wear. It will now fit my baby when she’s born, assuming she’s a small baby. And the concept of bedtime for our son is still foreign to Dad. But Alex is learning all kinds of things that I couldn’t teach him. How to appreciate the subtle differences between Makita and DeWalt power tools, why you buy a garden hose with a twenty year warranty instead of a $5.00 garden hose. I sure can’t explain it. And Alex is learning that his Dad loves him, and enjoys every minute they are together. No matter what they are doing, Alex is learning to be appreciated for who he is, by his Dad.

 

 

John Constable’s Perseverance
By:   Christine L. Pollock

Here is a little quiz for you. State quickly whatever picture enters your head when I name a country. For example, if someone said “Norway” to me, I would immediately picture “Fjords”. Ready?

Scotland
Egypt
Alaska
Africa
England

My immediate answers in order were: Scotland – high mountains and heather; Egypt – dry and dusty with pyramids in the background; Alaska – frozen icebergs under Northern lights; Africa – elephants at a watering hole in the Savannah; and finally, England – gardens in a beautiful countryside.

I am not sure whether these images are from art I have seen or TV documentaries. Several of these places were countries I have never visited. There is so much we can learn in a picture. Last week Ralph Vaughan Williams took us on a journey through the pre-war countryside of England. Around a hundred years before his music, an artist named John Constable became famous for his romantic style landscape paintings of England.

As I researched this man for the article this week, his situation reminded me of the realities we see in our own lives and in our daycares. John’s work was not especially appreciated in England while he was alive, but he still kept on painting.

John Constable was born in 1776 in Suffolk, England. He was actually born in the town of East Bergholt. When he was a young child, John showed a desire to paint, but he worked in his father’s mill. Since his love of painting was so great, John started his art studies on his own by examining and copying the works of the great Dutch painters, Claude Lorrain and Jacob van Ruisdael. In 1799, he finally left the mill to go to a school for studies in painting. John attended the Royal Academy schools in London. 1802 was the year that Constable exhibited his first landscape.

He had a unique style of painting where John took away the brown underpainting which was common in his time, and he also did not use a paintbrush exclusively. Constable was fascinated with light, especially the reflection of light in water and in the clouds. He applied the colors to canvas with his palette knife. A century later, artists in the Impressionist era copied his style of work (like Monet with his studies of light). However, John Constable did not do all of his work outdoors as Monet did. He would start outside and finish his painting in his studio.

Although his paintings have come to symbolize England, John did not get much support while he lived there. It was in France that his work was appreciated. He had such a hard time selling his paintings that for a while John did portraits to make a living. He did not really enjoy this, though. Studying light and the clouds were his passion. John did a number of cloud sketches. An example of one of these can be seen at http://www.artchive.com/artchive/C/constable/constable_cloud_study.jpg.html. When he did these paintings, Constable took notes on details such as the time and wind direction. In his earlier works, Constable seemed to focus on calm summer landscapes. Later on, his paintings became more unsettled. He started painting choppy waters, stormy clouds and characters moving about in windy conditions. His wife, Maria, died in 1928 from tuberculosis and John stated that he felt, “the face of the world is totally changed to me”.

When he was 52 (the year after Maria’s death), John Constable became a member of the Royal Academy and yet even this bright spot was dimmed when the President of the Academy told him that he was “peculiarly fortunate” to be chosen due to the fact that several History Painters were on the list. Of his paintings, Constable was quoted as saying; “every gleam of sunshine is blighted to me in the art at least. Can it therefore be wondered at that I paint continual storms?”.

The more I got to know this man through my research, the more I was impressed with his perseverance. So many times the children we watch (or we, ourselves) say, “I’m not going to finish this, nobody likes it!”. John Constable has taught me a lesson about sticking to something I enjoy and doing my best at it in spite of what the rest of the world thinks of it. In his time, John Constable was not especially appreciated even in the country whose landscapes he painted. Now, several hundred years later, we identify him with England.

One of his paintings that I enjoy studying is “Branch Hill Pond, Hampstead Heath” http://www.artchive.com/artchive/C/constable/constable_pond.jpg.html. As you look at the picture, check out the fine details (the storm clouds coming in, the smoke rising from the chimney, the horse drinking water, etc). Where do you think the wagon is going?

Here are some ideas of things to do with your children this week:
 

  1. Working with thick paint (not watercolor), use different kitchen utensils (forks, knives, spatulas, etc.) as paintbrushes to get different effects and textures in a picture.

  2. Get pictures of scenes in other countries and see if the children can identify what country they are looking at. Discuss the climate and cultural customs in the other countries that give you clues in the picture.

  3. Have the children write down what they think the other children’s particular talents are (have the little ones whisper to you so you can write it down for them). When this is done, read all the comments out loud and discuss talents and whether other people appreciate their unique talents. Discuss how important it is to stick to things you enjoy and are good at no matter what the rest of the world says.

  4. Look at the painting, “Branch Hill Pond, Hampstead Heath” and see how many colors you can find just in the clouds. Have the children experiment with many colors making their own cloud formations.

  5. Make a weather chart for the week with cotton balls that the children can color based on what they see out the window.
     

John Constable died in 1837, but his unique style lives on in his works and also in the works of many other famous painters. Many, like Monet, worked outdoors and tried to capture light as he did. In fact, John had seven children and five of them were painters. His son, Lionel did some paintings that were thought to be his fathers’. Their style was so similar.

As I look at the works of John Constable, I am impressed with the way he shows light and texture and movement. However, I am mostly impacted with the determination of this man who was willing to keep going in spite of his world’s lack of interest. He kept up with his paintings and merely stated, “There is no easy way of becoming a good painter”. I, for one, believe his work paid off.
 

Sports Activities In Daycare
By: Emily R. Bridges

Summertime. School-aged children. They’re competitive, physically active, and willing to go to almost any length to prove themselves worthy of peer respect. Many times, the opportunity presents itself in the form of competitive sports.

Whether you embrace the opportunity to expend extra energy or run from it, consider these points:

PROS

  • Opportunity to enhance self-esteem and sportsmanship by inclusion in team-effort.

  • Improves strategic planning and abstract predictions, such as “Who’s he going to pass to…who’s near the goal.”

  • Encourages physical activity in our society of hand-held game devices.
     

CONS

  • Inherent risks of injury making the purchase of safety gear necessary.

  • Allows opportunity for an inexperienced player to be left out or ridiculed.

  • Many of the same abstract skills can also be found in games such as chess, etc.
     

Generally, sports played in daycare are mock-games due to lack of space, fewer players, and stringent rules enforced by the daycare to ensure safety. Games on daycare turf are different than team games and this should be understood before the game starts. All players should realize that if they play too rough, they would not be allowed to participate. Have all players stretch prior to games to minimize injury risk. Lastly, any player can (and should) call a time-out should they become breathless, tired, or thirsty.


GAMES THEY PLAY

SOCCER: Is gaining boundless popularity among the school-aged crowd. Though passing the ball back and forth doesn’t require as much room as other sports, be sure that there’s no possible way that the ball can be kicked into the street, where an engaged child might chase the ball into traffic.

EQUIPMENT: Soccer ball, shin guards for players, makeshift goals.

COMMON INJURIES: Leg injuries are most prevalent in soccer, necessitating shin guards and ‘careful kick’ rules.


BASKETBALL: Generally, kids are happy with the competitiveness of simply shooting the ball. Space requirements are not such a factor as with other sports, though the goal should be away from traffic.

EQUIPMENT: Goal, basketball.

COMMON INJURIES: Ankle injuries, twists and sprains. For more information about sprains, strains, and fractures, visit KidsHealth For parents at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/emergencies/broken_bones_p3.html.


 

BASEBALL/SOFTBALL: Because the object of the game is to propel the ball with force, it can be extremely dangerous if it strikes a child in the head or chest. Therefore, baseball/softball should be played only when every child’s safety can be ensured and wide-open space is sufficient to minimize the risk of ricochet or being struck by a the ball.

EQUIPMENT: If you do allow this game to be played, consider a plastic bat and wiffle ball to minimize the risk of a child being struck. A batter’s helmet should also be used. A hesitant pre-teen may be much more accepting of the plastic bat and ball if you have cool catcher’s mitts. Baseballs are much harder than wiffle balls or softballs and for that reason shouldn’t be used in the daycare setting, as is the case with metal bats.

COMMON INJURIES: The most serious of injuries are caused from being struck in the head or chest by a flying ball, hence the suggested use of plastic equipment. Otherwise, bruises, sprains, and ankle fractures are common in this sport.

 

BADMINTON: Is a nice alternative to rougher games, with the basic object being to keep the ball from hitting the ground. As with other sports, badminton should be played in a wide-open space where other children cannot wander in the path of a racket or stumbling pre-teen. Small children also should be kept away from the netting, which could pose strangulation issues.

EQUIPMENT: Two lightweight rackets, a shuttlecock (cork ball with stabilizing feathers), and a net.


COMMON INJURIES: Sprains of ankles, arms, and back.

 

BICYCLES AND TRICYCLES: Are probably the most frequently used sports equipment in daycares. If you haven’t purchased helmets for your bicycle and tricycle riders yet, consider doing so now. Habits start with little pedalers, which means you’re much less likely to go up against a rebellious pre-teen if they’ve had the habit since they were 2 years old.

Buy a helmet for each of your bikes and trikes so that there are no excuses for not wearing one. Soon, donning a helmet will be as natural as pedaling.

You can purchase a Bell® helmet at Wal-Mart for about $8.00. Bell® is a well-respected name in bicycle helmets and though this helmet is simpler than the fancily decorated ones, you and the children can decorate them with acrylic paints.

For added fun and value for your buck, let the kids sponge shapes on the helmets and you paint the daycare name on the helmet (large enough to be legible). With the written consent of the parents, you can photograph the children wearing the helmets on their trikes. What a great marketing opportunity! Parents that see the photo will appreciate your creativity as well as your commitment to safety!

For more information about sprains, strains, and fractures, visit KidsHealth For parents at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/firstaid_safe/emergencies/broken_bones_p3.html.

 

 

 

My Assessment Book, Article
By: Victoria Pietz

Unless you just put the children in front of the television and have them watch movies all day, you probably are teaching them things through out the day. Sometimes it is very easy to notice a child developing. Other times, it seems like the child will never learn.

Using an assessment book helps both the care giver and parent see how the child is participating and developing. Many times, a child that seems like they are not learning a thing will surprise you. It is very easy to see the difference when the book is done at least once per year. It can also be used as a guide for helping the child develop. The weak areas can be practiced. You should sit down with one or both parents and go over the booklet. This will allow for open communications and give everyone a chance to discuss problems if there are any.

Of course, any time you send things your child did home to the parents is greatly appreciated. I know as a parent my refrigerator is hidden somewhere under all the projects.

The following sample pages can be stapled inside of thick colored paper for a book effect. I would complete each page separately. One page per day. When the pages are completed, then I would assemble the book. Also, note, it is easy to mix up the pages so write the child’s name on each page. If the child is starting to write their own name, it is good practice to let them write their own name on the page.
 


My Assessment Book, Form

By:   Victoria Pietz

(Book is shortened here because of limited space, please visit the Forms page for actual version.)

NAME_________________________________

DATE_______________


(Substitute your information here)
My Daycare Center

Your Town

USA, 55555

Phone: 555-555-5555

Email: Name@Domainname.com
 


Page 2


MY SELF PORTRAIT
(have the children draw/color a picture of themselves)
 


Page 3

The following skills are practiced at our child care center.

This booklet is an outline to help you as a parent and myself

as a child care provider see how your child participates and is developing in these skills.


EMOTIONAL



______1. Has a good self image.

______2. Has appropriate control over feelings.

______3. Usually reflects happy disposition.

______4. Shows pride in accomplishments.

______5. Relates well with care givers.

______6. Accepts correction.



SOCIAL



______1. Plays well with others.

______2. Is willing to share.

______3. Able to play alone.

______4. Observes the rules.

______5. Listens in group.

______6. Apologizes to others.



COMMUNICATION



______1. Easily understood.

______2. Willingly takes part in group discussion.

______3. Communicates needs and wants.

______4. Talks with teachers and children.



Care givers comments:_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 


Page 4


GETTING READY FOR SCHOOL

(write child’s answers in spaces provided)



_______Recognizes name





_______Knows mom’s name___________________





_______Knows dad’s name___________________





_______Knows phone number _____________________





______Knows address __________________________________________________

__________________________________________________

__________________________________________________





______Knows birthday________________________


 

I CAN WRITE MY NAME




WHAT SHAPES DO I KNOW?

(check the shapes that the child can recognize)



Square ____________ Triangle____________




Circle_____________ Rectangle____________





Heart____________



Page 5


WHAT COLORS DO I KNOW?

(draw a circle of the color above the word.

Check off the colors that the child recognizes.)



RED ________ ORANGE_________



YELLOW_____________ GREEN___________



BLUE_______________ PURPLE____________

 

BLACK_______________ WHITE_____________



WHAT NUMBERS DO I KNOW?

(Circle the number that the child recognizes)



1    2    3    4    5     6    7     8     9    10



WHAT LETTERS DO I KNOW?

(Circle the letter that the child recognizes)



A    B    C    D    E     F    G    H     I     J    K    L    M    N    O    P    Q    R    S     T    U    V    

W     X     Y     Z




I CAN CUT WITH A SCISSORS

(Have child cut along the lines below with a scissors.)


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------





------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

-------------------------------------------------------------



I CAN CUT AND PASTE PAPER.

(Write down what I made)




THIS IS MY FAMILY

(Have child color/draw their family.)

(Make sure to label each person/ animal.)

 



 

The Stress Watchers Diet

By:   Heather Haapoja

I can hear the groans now… Diet? I thought this column was about long, hot soaks in an aromatic bath or lying in a hammock, being soothed by the sounds of nature. But no, first it’s exercise and now you want us to diet? I don’t even want to think about diets. I’ve been on so many different diets I can’t count them all! Diets never do any good…

But, we’re not talking about dieting for weight-loss.

Someone faced with a serious health condition like heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes has certain diet guidelines to follow in order to help their system cope with the illness. Excessive stress is another condition that can be managed with proper nutrition and, as with other health conditions, proper nutrition is also preventative medicine.

Stress should not be taken lightly, or thought of as something you “just have to learn to live with”. It can lead to serious health problems. It’s important to be aware of how your diet can affect your stress level for better or worse.

Basic good nutrition is somewhat common sense, especially with the wealth of information that has become available on the subject. We’ve all heard that we should eat more fruits and vegetables and less sugar and saturated fats. We know that we should drink more water and less coffee and soda pop. But there are some specific nutritional elements that are especially helpful in dealing with stress.

1. Complex carbohydrates – A diet must for fighting stress. Complex carbohydrates cause the brain to release serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical that has a calming effect on the body and mind. So, when you feel really stressed, try a piece of whole grain bread or maybe some oatmeal, knowing that your brain will soon provide nature’s own tranquilizer. Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains (bread, pasta, cereal, etc.), vegetables like broccoli, leafy greens, potatoes, and corn and also in bananas (although bananas are the only fruit that has this effect).

2. Magnesium – Magnesium is an essential mineral that the body uses to fight stress, relax muscles and promote restful sleep. Not only is magnesium reduced by stress, but also by the consumption of alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fatty foods. You can boost your magnesium intake by eating plenty of leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Be sure to make these a part of your daily diet.

3. Vitamin B6 – The B vitamins are calming nutrients and B6 helps deliver magnesium into the cells. Again, fruits, vegetables and whole grains are your best sources of B vitamins. If you want to supplement your diet, look for a B-Complex supplement* that includes all of the B vitamins, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B6, folic acid, B12 and biotin. The B vitamins are most effective when combined in the proper balance.

4. Vitamin C – Because Vitamin C is not stored in the body, we need a steady supply of this nutrient in order to reap its immune benefits. Unfortunately, stress (and many common substances like nicotine, caffeine and birth control pills) depletes the level of vitamin C in the bloodstream, leaving us vulnerable to all types of illness. For this reason, it is vital to include plenty of vitamin C in the diet especially when under excessive stress. Eat plenty of citrus fruits and consider a vitamin C supplement.

5. Calcium – The benefits derived from calcium are widely recognized, especially with recent heightened awareness of osteoporosis. Not as commonly known is the relaxing effect that calcium, in combination with magnesium, has on the muscles. This is an obvious plus when under stress. As stress is known to deplete calcium levels, calcium in the diet should be increased especially in stressful times. You may want to add a combined calcium/magnesium supplement to your daily intake.

The following substances should be reduced in any healthy diet. But in cases where stress has peaked to the point of severe depression or anxiety, they should be eliminated from the diet entirely.

1. Refined sugars – Excessive use of simple sugars can cause low blood sugar levels because of an over-production of insulin (the hormone that helps transport glucose to the blood). This is why a sugary snack can give you a quick burst of energy, soon followed by a sudden drop in energy. These low sugar levels can cause anxiety, depression, shakiness and less ability to concentrate on a task.

2. Alcohol – Another form of simple sugar, alcohol has the same effect on blood sugar, while also adversely affecting the nervous system and liver. The liver’s effectiveness at cleansing the system of toxins is reduced, creating further possibilities for illness.

3. Caffeine – Found in coffee, tea, chocolate and some soft drinks, caffeine has a stimulant effect that increases the stress that your body attempts to manage. Caffeine also robs the system of important nutrients that help maintain emotional stability.

As mentioned in the introductory article for this series, “Getting a Grip on Stress”, the use of these substances is often a response to stress. But the temporary “fix” only serves to add further stress to the system. This can create a dangerous cycle that is best stopped once it is recognized.

Now we’ve covered the basics of breathing, exercise and nutrition. As the series continues, we’ll be looking at some of the alternative methods for stress relief and stress management.

(I’ve been dying to do some aromatherapy research!) See you next week!

* I recommend Shaklee for high quality nutritional supplements. To find nutrition information and view their line of products, visit the Shaklee web site at
http://www.shaklee.com.
 



 

Bullies

By:   Sharon Wren

 

Bullies have been a part of school life for as long as anyone can remember, and probably longer. Just about every movie and TV show about schools has at least one in order to seem authentic – remember Nellie Olson on “Little House On The Prairie”? Unfortunately, like everything else about school, bully tactics have changed and not for the better. In the old days, it might have involved stealing another kid’s lunch money. Now it’s more likely to involve extreme physical and/or sexual violence.


Victims of bullying suffer both mentally and physically at the hands of their tormentors, often with tragic results. A twelve year old girl in the Detroit area committed suicide after repeated harassment by classmates because she was a Wiccan. The school district did nothing to stop the harassment and her mother recently filed a $10 million dollar lawsuit against the district. A 13 year old boy was violently beaten inside his school and the school treated him worse than the offender. He committed suicide a few months later and his grieving mother set up a website, www.jaredstory.com/, to share his story and offer advice on dealing with bullying.


Some parents and school administrators still believe that bullying is relatively harmless and just another part of growing up. But according to an article by Joanne McDonald in the February 1, 1998 issue of the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Times, 60 percent of kids who are identified as bullies by age eight will have a criminal conviction by age 24. That hardly sounds harmless.
How do you know your child may be the victim of a bully? If you notice a drop in grades, a sudden loss of interest in hobbies, a fear of going to school or just not being himself, that might be the answer. Try to get your child to talk to you. He may not tell you right away, for fear of being a tattletale. If he won’t open up, try saying something like “you can always tell me when something or somebody is bothering you. I’ll always listen.” That leaves the door open in the future. If your child is computer savvy, encourage him to visit Ask Jeeves for Kids (www.ajkids.com) to learn more about bullying. A search there leads kids to advice and tactics to help them deal with a bully. Being able to access information by himself may empower a child who is afraid to confide in anyone else.


What should you do if your child is being bullied? As tempting as it may be, don’t fly off the handle and try to take care of it yourself, at least not at first. Let your child try to handle it himself. If problems only occur when the child is by himself, encourage him to hang out in a group at all times; as the saying goes, there’s safety in numbers. If that doesn’t work, talk to the school. Many schools have zero tolerance for bullying and have programs in place to deal with incidents.


Unfortunately, not every school has a zero tolerance program. In that case, try these tips from www.JaredStory.com.


1. Give the school a reasonable amount of time to work out minor problems to your child's satisfaction and your satisfaction as a parent.

2. In cases of a major harassment situation such as a physical or sexual assault, call the police immediately. These types of serious offenses must be handled by the police and entered on the abuser or perpetrator's police record or juvenile record. School administrators can take some actions against the perpetrator(s) but they are not police officers.

3. Document everything. Tape record statements, type them up and have witnesses sign the statements. Take pictures of injuries, places (buildings), people, etc.

4. Write letters to school board members. Write letters to board members separately and after each incident of harassment.

5. Write a letter to the superintendent. Write a letter to the superintendent after each incident of harassment.

6. Write a letter to the principal of the school. Write a letter to the principal after each incident of harassment.

7. Go to school board meeting and speak out. It's not just your child that you are thinking about, but also all the other children who are harassed and have parents who won't, or don't know how, to speak for them.

8. Write multiple letters to your state representatives (The Education Committee). Tell them what is happening in your school and how your administrators are handling your child's case. Ask them to support state laws to protect kids who are whistle blowers and stronger laws to punish bullies and perpetrators of harassment. Write a letter to each member of the Committee separately and after each incident of harassment.

9. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Do not embarrass your child with details, but write instead about your school’s lack of response for harassed students in general.

10. Call a lawyer. If you have not been satisfied with the response you have received from school administrators within a reasonable period of time, then hire an attorney. If this is a case of a major harassment situation, such as a physical or sexual assault, call an attorney within 24 hours.


Another strategy would be to help your child’s school develop new policies to deal with bullying. There are many websites such as Bully Beware (www.bullybeware.com) that give parents and schools resources to work together against this problem. A search at Ask Jeeves (http://www.ask.com) or Amazon (http://www.amazon.com) will lead you to even more resources.


As parents, we are our children’s protectors. We feed them healthy food so they will grow up strong. We make sure they get their shots so they won’t get sick. We try to shelter them from violent images in the media. Protecting them from bullies should be no different.
 

 

Question & Answer Weekly Column,

Issue 8

By:   Ed Kemper

Welcome, readers. Before I begin answering your questions this week I’d like
to tell you a story. This story is about a story. Now that your wondering
what in blazes I’m speaking of, let me fill you in. I was recently surfing
through some different parenting sites, simply reading articles that looked
interesting. While surfing, I encountered an article, which quite frankly,
brought tears to my eyes. Yes, I’m not ashamed to admit it, actual tears.
It’s a very beautiful story about the bond between a parent and their child.
But don’t take my word for it, you can find it at
http://parentsplace.com/family/dads/gen/0,3375,13895,00.html. Take the time
to read it for yourself. You won’t be sorry. Now, on to your weekly
questions.


Q. I am 12 weeks pregnant, and live in NYC, where we have very hot & humid
summers. It has been in the 80's-90s' for over a week, evening temperature
dipping down into the mid 70's. My husband turns off the air conditioner
every night at around 2am. I wake up with a headache and very lethargic. Is
there any harm to the baby in this heat, sleeping without the AC?

If so, can you please alert me to this? I have been researching but can't
find anything conclusive enough to show my husband.

A. First of all, you should immediately see your doctor. There are many
dangers associated with heat. Be sure you do your best to keep cool, and
make sure you drink plenty of fluids. You definitely don’t wish dehydration
to compound your problems. However, it is important to note here that two of
the signs of dehydration are headaches and heat exhaustion (which could
explain the lethargy.) If a pregnant women’s interior temperature is kept
raised, the fetus temperature can also raise which can cause brain damage in
the fetus. If you plan on breast-feeding, milk production could also suffer.
So as you can see, the heat can cause many problems for you and the baby,
not to mention the stress of the entire situation. You should immediately
consult your doctor, he may be able to either speak to your husband or
provide documentation.

Articles on pregnancy and the heat of the summer.

http://pregnancy.about.com/health/pregnancy/library/weekly/aa062500a.htm?terms=pregnant+and+heat
http://pregnancy.about.com/health/pregnancy/library/weekly/aa060599.htm?terms=pregnant+and+heat
http://epregnancy.com/info/healthissues/qa-hotweather.htm
http://www.ababysname.com/nonos.html

Article on pregnancy and stress.

http://womenshealth.about.com/health/womenshealth/library/weekly/aa051799.htm?terms=And+Heat


Q. I’m concerned with what my child watches on TV and movies. I severely
restrict what he watches, but my husband thinks I’m being too harsh. For
example; my husband loves to watch professional wrestling on TV with my son,
but I’m against it. Am I being too harsh?

A. The most important thing to look at here is content, pure and simple. A
lot of parents are concerned of the fact that the ratings on movies are less
harsh than they used to be. This may be so. However, as a boy myself, that
“R” label drove the appeal of a movie through the roof. The biggest thing to
teach your child is the difference between illusion and reality. TV and
movies are “make-believe,” not real. The second most important thing you
have to do is screen the shows. For TV shows, watch a few episodes before
you allow your child to watch it. And then make sure you watch the show with
your child here and there to have a handle on what they view. Movies are
easy, simply watch it first. By the way, its interesting to note that movies
of late seem to focus more on special effects and action rather than nudity
(unlike the 80s.) As for professional wrestling, I wouldn’t mess with dad’s
time with his son. Those moments can be very special for your husband, but
the following link should help put your mind at ease.

WWFParents.com - http://www.wwfparents.com/


Q. I’d like to watch more shows with my 4-yr. old son. To be honest, I
really can’t stand the shows he watches. I don’t want him seeing this
negativity, but I just can’t sit through some of those cartoons. What can I
do?

A. Ah, for this one you’ve definitely come to the right place. I love
watching shows with my kids. I have a few answers for this. For one thing,
watch all the shows he loves. If you find there are a few that don’t bother
you, even repeat episodes, tape them. The greatest thing at my house is this
8-hour “Little Bear” tape that my kids adore. Second, relax your cable and
exercise your VCR. I can’t say I know the minds of the wonderful people at
Disney, but it seems to me that in the past several years they’ve really
focused on parent and child appeal. It looks like they are trying to make
cartoons that parents and their kids would watch together. They’ve got some
really great stuff.

Disney Website – www.disney.com


Q. What do the ratings mean for the TV shows?

A. All the ratings for TV shows and movies (and their respective
definitions) can be found on the Motion Picture Association web site at
http://www.mpaa.org/home.htm.


Q. How do I know if a toy is good for my child?

A. Check out the company web site of the company that makes the toy. If the
toy is new, odds are they will have a web site showcasing it somewhere. Then
you bring up your favorite search engine and run a check on that toy. There
should be a few sites about the toy, especially privately run sites. Check
some of those sites to see what they say about the toy. Another option is
the National Parenting Center. They publish reports on different products,
giving their seal of approval.

National Parenting Center - http://www.tnpc.com


Well, that’s all for this week Q&A Column. Don’t forget to send me your
questions, hints, tips, etc. at QandA.CCMagazine@Eudoramail.com. I look
forward to hearing from more of you. Have a safe and happy week. And by the
way, don’t forget to have a little fun.


Ed Kemper

 

 

The Perfect Daycare Interview

By:    Ursula Vogt, © 2001


Who conducts a daycare interview, the parents or the caregiver?

Ask a parent and I’m sure they’ll tell you they interview the providers before they decide where the comfort level is. There is a lot to consider while choosing who takes care of those most precious to them. And they’re right.

Ask a childcare provider who conducts the interview and you’ll get a resounding, “I do.” And, that’s right, too. They are responsible for making sure parents have the proper forms filled out, know their way around, the hours, the rules and regs…the list is exhausting. But that’s the least of it. Providers have the right and the responsibility of assessing whether their potential client is a good match for the rest of the group, and for their own abilities.

When parents and providers sit down to discuss possibilities, and both feel like they need to be in control, the end result is usually unsatisfying to one or the other, and often both. Like most situations, both have a common goal, but they come at it from different perspectives. In this case, the common goal is great care for a child. My suggestion is to take a little time to prepare before the interview and everyone comes out feeling more confident.

Try these three tips for both parents and providers. When it’s time to start the interview process, you’ll both feel more relaxed and able to concentrate on the goal.

First, set an appointment that gives the provider time to respond to questions. Asking for an interview during peak playtime is great for observing, but lousy if you need to ask questions regarding scheduling, fees and ever-important references. Parents, know that you’re talking to a professional who’s been hired by other parents to concentrate on their children. Try to respect that, and as hard as it is, schedule two appointments. Bring your child to one to see how they’ll interact, but be considerate and make your first contact as convenient to both parties as you can. You’ll both get more from the time spent together.

As for providers, if you have the first contact by phone, offer to send an informational pack before the interview. If you haven’t got one, consider taking the time to develop one. Cost is always a problem when you want to buy more color paper and equipment, so keep it simple. Offer to have it ready if parents would like to pick it up, a great save on postage.

Second, make a quick list of things you’d like to cover in the interview. If you have this ahead of time, you can save callbacks or important missed information. Parents, this works as a wonderful comparison list when it’s time to choose between your top two or three. For providers, this makes you look prepared and organized. It shows parents that you understand what’s important to them, and after all, isn’t that what most parents are looking for? Understanding and convenience come in a close second to their assessment of your abilities.

The third step is follow-up. For a caregiver, this is a wonderful marketing tool. Let’s imagine for a moment that your facility is in the top two and parents are making that decision. A low-key note offering to answer any stray questions, or a simple “thank you for the interview,” note can seal the decision. A word of caution here; no heavy sales pitch. Sincerity is always appreciated, but a sales pitch is as welcome as a telemarketer at diner time.

How about the parents in the mix, here? You’ve interviewed your bazillionth daycare and you’ve finally made your decision. Consider letting the others know that you appreciated their time, even letting them know that you like their setup, but the schedules didn’t match or the fees were not competitive. Again sincerity and diplomacy are appreciated. If you didn’t like a thing about them, don’t feel the need to critique, just move on.

Time is precious to all of us, but a daycare interview is no time to be rushed. Sure, it sounds a little time consuming for busy professionals, parents and childcare providers, but frankly, kids are worth the extra, wouldn’t you agree?

 


 

Kitchenlab Kindermath,

Tutorial #7


By:   Noreen Wyper


Mouse, cat, cow,
Big, bigger, biggest.
Mouse, toad, bug,
Small, smaller, smallest.

Measurement; Serration: Tutorial # 7
- to order two or more objects according to size or mass.

Using the paper towel tubes once again ( toilet tissue tubes can be used ), cut the tubes
into six different sizes. Place five of these tubes on the table at random. Have the child
choose the tallest one. Set it out in front. Now, have the child choose the second tallest
one. Stand it beside the first one. Continue until all five tubes have been placed side by
side from the tallest to the shortest one.


Take the sixth tube and ask the child, “Where do you think this one fits in the line of
tallest to shortest?” Place it in the suggested spot. “Does it belong there?” A little gentle
guidance may be needed at this point.


Now, tell the child to close his/her eyes. Place all six tubes at random on the table.
“Ready? Open your eyes.” This time have your child arrange the tubes from the shortest to the tallest, always working from left to right. ( reinforces directional skill for pre-reading ).


Ordering by size or events is called serration.

Cut up plastic straws and work through the same procedure as you did with the tubes.
Continue by using cans ( size or mass ), boxes or glasses.

Extensions:
Serration can be fun with stuffed animals. Sort them from tallest to shortest or fattest to
skinniest.

Let’s take a look at ordering events of the day. Ask your child, “What is the first thing
you do when you get up in the morning? What do you do next?” Order three or four
events. Add more as your child grows older.
Another time, try ordering the events of making breakfast, setting the table or getting
dressed.

Next Week: Sort & Classify into Sets.

TEEN-AGE TALK
By: Deb DiSandro

My teen-age son called an office supply store to ask if they had a certain item in stock. I overheard his side of the conversation and could easily imagine the poor sales clerk’s reply:


Teen: “Do youmumblemumblemumble?”
 

Store Clerk: What did you say?
 

Teen: (without changing, tone or inflection or mumbling, he asks again) “Do youmumblemumblemumble?”
 

Store Clerk: What???!!
 

Teen: (Sighs deeply) “know (pause) stuff (long pause) “write on” (longer pause) “postmumblemumble”
 

Store Clerk: “Did I hear you say POSTER?”
 

Teen: “Ye.”
 

Store Clerk: “Poster Board? Are you looking for poster board?” he shouted excitedly.
 

Teen: “Ye.”
 

Store Clerk: (wiping sweat from his brow) “YES, YES, we have poster board!”
 

Teen: “k, tha.”
 

I’m not sure when it began. But my son’s articulate and enthusiastic speaking voice has gradually deteriorated into an unintelligible, monotone mumble. And it’s continuing downward towards a grunt, a snort and sometimes an almost imperceptible nod of the head is his only way of communicating with the outside world.
Now if only I could figure out what the heck he WAS saying, I could hire myself out as an Interpreter for Teen-agers and make millions!
 

Of course, it doesn’t help matters that most teens are fascinated with their shoes, or maybe their teen brains are just too heavy to hold up, because they’re always looking down and talking to the ground. This makes it difficult to find out their plans for the day.
 

I’ve discovered the best way to make eye contact and hold a meaningful conversation with my teen is to flop face first onto his big shoes with a Twix bar in one hand and a Mountain Dew in the other.
Warning: Make sure Teen is not on skate board at the time or you could wind up between an ollie and a mini-van.
 

“So, Marcus,” I ask. “What’s the plan for today?”
 

“mumblemumblenothinmumble.”
 

“No plans?”
 

“Ye.”
 

“Would you like to go to the pool with your sisters?”
 

No reply.
 

“Was that a breeze blowing a strand of your hair, or did you kind of nod your head?” I ask.
“mumblemumblehead!”
 

“Okay, we’re leaving in ten minutes,” I say rolling off his shoes.
 

After church last Sunday, my son completely ignored his friend, Bert, while we stood talking to Bert’s parents. I called him on it afterwards and he claims he did talk to Bert.
 

“I didn’t see you wave or even grunt,” I confronted him.
 

“Did too. We talked about skateboarding later.”
 

“I didn’t see you move a muscle!” I said amazed that they could have held an actual conversation.
 

“Gosh mom. Like, I’m not gonna get all excited and start yelling like you do. That’s broke!”
 

“What’s broke?”
 

“Talking.”
 

“Talking is broke?”
 

“Ye. I lifted my left eyebrow. That’s how I asked him if he wanted to skate. He said he’d call me later.”
 

“And how did he answer you back without moving?” I asked in fascination.
 

“He lifted the top half of his left index finger.”
 

Gee, well that explains it!
 

I see a new survivor show in the making. The object of game is for adults to stay in the same room with a group of teen-agers. Whoever can decipher what they are saying is the winner. And the winner gets my teen-ager for a week!


 

Creative Summer Activities
By:   Danielle Westvang


Stave off the Summer time blahs by encouraging your children to explore and be
creative. Spending countless hours watching television or playing video games
isn’t always a good choice of activities, especially for many days in a
row. There are many activities that will engage your children for hours that
will peek their curiosity and help develop their creative expression. The
activity may be something very simple like going for a nature walk, or playing
in the sprinkler.

Children need to be encouraged to develop and use their imaginations.
Creating forts out of blankets in the backyard, playing dress-up, or having a
tea party are just a few examples of things that can be done with little
preparation.

When I worked as a Camp Director, one of the first activities I organized was
what I call “Activity Boxes”. I would instruct each child participating in
the program to bring with them a shoebox. I would provide stickers, markers,
tape, and scissors with different scraps of fabric, wallpaper samples and
scraps of colored paper. Their task was to use their imagination to
decorate the outside of their box. When their box was finished being
decorated and dried (it is recommended to use stick glue because Elmer’s glue
has a tendency to drip all over) the box is then filled with crayons,
markers, pencils, and a variety of photocopied crossword puzzles, coloring
book pages, and miscellaneous other activities that can be found online and
printed out.

Whenever there was a period of time in the day where the kids were bored,
or were waiting for the next activity, the children would be free to get their
boxes and work on something independently, or pair up with their buddy.
(The buddy system was something I always encouraged. This not only is a
safety technique but also a way to help children interact with those they
didn’t know before.)

Another fun project I would schedule each year always followed a field trip
to The Creation Station. This was a depository/recycling center where kids
were invited to build and create anything they could imagine with items that
were brought to the facility. Some of the items included empty film
containers, Styrofoam packing material, newspaper rolls, bits and twids of
plastic tubing, stickers from grocery stores, bingo dobbers, you name it…this
place had it. The Creative Station was definitely a treasure trove where the
children were entertained for hours!

Throughout the school year I collected recyclables from various sources as
well. Often I would send newsletters home to parents asking that they save up
miscellaneous items from around their homes. Most of the time the parents
would be more than eager to bring in bags full of things for the kids to
create with. These items were placed in bins and labeled. When summer began,
the kids were allowed to visit the Arts and Crafts Center and create with
these things that were collected. This was one of the most popular areas
with children ages 5 through 12.


The Internet has a wide variety of interesting websites that are
kid friendly. I have listed just a few that I felt would be fun and exciting.


For the bird enthusiast in your family Backyard Birding will take you on a
journey to learn more about bird species in your area, how to construct your
own bird house, and what bird seeds to feed your native birds. There are MANY
links on this page to other bird related web sites. All of the links are user
friendly and they contain a brief description of each site with the link.
There is also a section for an online newsletter subscription with archives
for back issues. Check this site out! Backyard Birding
http://www.bcpl.net/~tross/by/backyard.html. You will be SINGING its praises.

Games Kids Play
GAMES, Games and more GAMES! - This site contains the most extensive list of
rules/directions to over 250 popular children’s games. From Dodge ball, to
Simon Says.....to Red Rover to Tag.....this site has it all !!!! Most of the
game rules are divided up into links, click on the blue link and the screen
will pop up with the rules. Kids Games http://www.gameskidsplay.net/. The rules for the games are listed in a simple text format, easy to read and comprehend. This site is a MUST see!

Friendship bracelets are a hit among older kids. Making Friends.com has quite
a selection of friendship bracelet directions. Simple supplies are
recommended such as embroidery floss, yarn, pony beads, etc. These items are
generally things you have on hand anyway.

Encouraging your children to try new things is an excellent way to promote
creativity. As their young minds mature, they will begin to explore new
activities on their own. Until that time it is important to help facilitate
the creative process by providing stimulating activities.

Taking an active role in their activities also is something that they will
always remember. The extra 20 or 30 minutes that you spend with your child
playing a game or dancing to music in the backyard could make the difference
in how your child develops. Something that you might think is completely
silly, could make your child’s day and their Summer.

 

 

YOUR NANNY IS NOT “THE HELP”...
(so don’t treat her as such)
By:   Elizabeth Pennington



During my years as a nanny, there have been countless times when I have been treated as if I were “the help”, when condescension dripped off numerous lips and appreciation for my care of their children was not to be had. I have been disrespected and fully taken advantage of on more than one occasion. Bear with me while I rant, but this particular subject is near (but not so dear) to my heart, and if any parent who has a nanny in their employment takes heed of my story, then this rant will be twice as satisfying.


My first nanny job was when I was a very young 22 year-old, naive and trusting and eager. This was a live-in position for a couple with a two year-old little girl and a soon to be newborn. The bottom level of this three story home had been converted into a two bedroom apartment complete with fully equipped kitchen, full bath, and gorgeous furnishings. These were my living quarters. The front yard was a sandy beach and the Atlantic Ocean. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. The bliss was short lived.


A contract had been drawn up at the start of my employment, but being the inexperienced girl that I was, I did not take much notice of the fact that the contract was very much one-sided, that my rights were not protected at all. I was to give 30-day notice if I were to leave the job, but I could be let go at any time. The downstairs apartment could be searched at any given moment, not that I minded so much as I had nothing to hide. If I were to have friends over, they could not park in front of the house, much less in the driveway. The list goes on. I accepted the position despite such rules because the parents were charming and I was smitten with their little girl.


My working hours were 7am to 6pm. A long day that makes but not a problem. Well, it wasn’t a problem until the parents came home later and later in the evenings, stopping to pick-up dry-cleaning or some groceries or whatever else they felt was pertinent and impossible to accomplish before 6pm. Initially, they would call to let me know they would be late but, eventually, that consideration was no longer granted.


I would begin my day with a list of chores to do. Weed the geranium bed. Take the trash cans down to the curb. Clean kitchen (from last night’s dinner) and don’t forget the spinach that dropped on the floor. Dust the blinds. Strip the beds and wash sheets. Clean master bathroom. Clean up the potted plant that blew over in the storm on the back deck. Make fresh grapefruit juice. Scrub Jacuzzi. Take outgoing mail to the mailbox. Start dinner. When the baby was born and after bouquets of flowers had been delivered and were beginning to die, the mother would draw an elaborate diagram of which flowers to throw away that day. The diagram took longer to draw than it would have for her to have thrown the flowers away herself. All of these chores and others just like them on a daily basis I was expected to do on top of taking care of a very active two year-old.
 

As everyone knows, or should know, a new baby certainly brings on more responsibility and work. I was asked if I could work the weekends as well to help out until the household settled down. I agreed and for my efforts I was given a pay raise of $10 per week. I suppose I put up with it since they were so charming and generous with gift-giving, although I realize now they were simply buying me off.
 

I was dating a police officer and I was told that he was not welcomed in the house as long as he carried his gun with him (OK, that I can understand), I was chastised for giving the two year-old a grilled cheese sandwich (how dare I give her something so fattening!) for lunch yet the father would come home during his lunch hour with McDonald’s french fries for the girl. I awoke one morning at 5am with “my monthly” cramps, headed out to the store for some Midol as I knew I would not have the chance all day, and while I was gone, the father left the house for work, saw that my car was gone and called his wife on the car phone to let her know that I was not there. Upon returning from the store, I faced an irate employer demanding to know where I had been so early. I suppose they assumed I had gone out the night before and had yet to return. Even if that was the case, still it was no business of theirs as long as I showed up to work on time and performed my job to their expectations.
The job ended soon after that. I was called upstairs one Sunday morning and was told that I was to be out of the house within the week. No explanations, no reasons. I assume it was because originally the father had said he would have his accountant take care of my taxes come tax time and when I found out that he was going to treat me as if I was self-employed, I told him thanks but that I would take my taxes elsewhere. That was on a Friday and that Sunday I was jobless and essentially homeless. Despite the shock of the firing, I was incredibly relieved to be out of that job. A couple weeks later, I had a girlfriend of mine call them, pretend she was thinking of hiring me as a nanny and could they tell her how I had worked out. They did nothing but sing my praises. They would not say one thing against me. Go figure.


It is unfortunate that when I look back upon that particular job, much to my dismay, I do not think much of the little girl I took care of. That sounds harsh, but I simply wasn’t given the chance to bond with this child. I was so busy running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off trying to get the chores finished within the 11 hour time limit I had that I was able to give only the basic care and love to this child. I was miserable and she was miserable all because it was more important to the parents that the blinds were dusted and the grapefruit squeezed. They failed to recognize that I was someone who could be there to love their children as they would do if they were able to be home. I was doing something that they could not. Instead of appreciation for what I could provide, I was taken advantage of and made to feel belittled and unimportant.
 

Your nanny is not “the help”. She is a woman who is there when you cannot be, she is a woman who helps mold your children into healthy adults. Give your nanny the respect that she more than deserves.
 

 

 

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