Thursday, September 23, 2010


A few comments I've heard from various sources in the past month.

A teenager who works as an instructor at a gymnastics-based summer day camp: You know what's really sad, though, is that for most of these kids, they're being dropped off by their nannies, not their parents.

A retired teacher: It's just a shame the way people leave their kids unsupervised. When I was working, people would drop their kids off at 7:30 or 8 in the morning, long before the school opened. I thought, "Who's watching those kids?"

A mother-to-be, in response to previous comment: I have a friend who's a teacher and she has started going to work early just to keep an eye on all the kids whose parents drop them off early. It's not really her job, though.

A mother of teenagers: You should really get Gwen into ballet lessons, Laura. She obviously has natural talent.

The aforementioned gymnastics instructor: Do you ever take Gwen to the drop-in gymnastics? She would love it!

My city's Leisure Guide, re "Mom and Me Music - 18 months to 3 years":
What fun it is to sing, clap, move, dance and
learn. Participants will learn new songs, rhymes,
finger plays and dances all in a relaxed and caring
environment. One adult per child required.
Thursday mornings, 11:30am - 12:15pm.

Same Leisure Guide:
Twinkletoes, 2.5-4 years: Thursdays, 3 - 3:30pm
Jolly Jumpers Gymnastics, 2-3 years: Wednesdays, 10:30 - 11:15am
Tumble Bumble, 2-4 years: Mondays, 3:30 - 4:30pm
Mother Goose, 12-24 months: Fridays, 10:15 - 11:15am

Attention world: WE HAVE JOBS. We have to work. We're terribly, terribly sorry, but we have to. It is incredibly rare in this day and age to be able to own a home and raise a family on only one income. The implication is that kids who are being dropped off at their high-priced daycamp by a high-priced nanny are being neglected - that their parents don't care about them. The truth is, someone has to pay for stuff like daycamps and nannies (not to mention mortgages, groceries, utilities, school clothes, video game systems ...). Chances are that thanks to traffic and employers who actually want their employees at work on time, that someone had to leave for work a good two hours before your daycamp opens. The implication is that parents who drop their kids off at school early don't care about supervising them. The truth is, those parents are on their way to work - most of us have employers who DO NOT set our working hours based on school schedules. So school doesn't start until 8:45am? Well, Mom and Dad still have to be at work at 8am. What are you going to do about it? If you're really lucky, maybe you can afford (not to mention FIND) a nanny who's willing to fill that gap. If you're like most of us, you're going to drop your kid off early and hope for the best.

The implication is that my failure to register Gwen in any extra-curricular activities makes me cheap and/or uncaring. The truth is, my heart soars with excitement when I read class descriptions like the one above, and then is cruelly broken when I read that the class is held during working hours. After reading more than 50 enticing descriptions and an equivalent number of soul-crushing, impossible schedules, I feel like I've been beaten up. What's a working mom to do? Even if I could get two hours off work once a week, I'd have to take Gwen out of daycare in the middle of the day to attend the class, and that's disrespectful of Gwen's routine and of the caregiver/children who share that routine with her. (See previous post: I actually managed to find a solution to this, which is awesome. But I don't think my point is any less valid: a lot of people don't have the flexibility I have with understanding colleagues and a short commute.)

This is the kind of subtle abuse that working moms take, all the time. I'm sure none of the people listed above had any idea that their comments might be offensive or hurtful. I'm sure the organizers of our Leisure Guide didn't eagerly rub their hands together in anticipation of screwing over all the working parents and their poor, neglected kids. There is no malicious intent, but it hurts just the same. And what is the message to kids? If your parents work, you're not deserving of enrichment?

One more reason I'm in favour of government-subsidized preschool programs. Until we can offer all early learning activities to all children - whether their parents work or not - we're not serving them.

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