What a grueling year! And it’s only day 16. With tenure ahead, I’ve been working like a maltreated donkey, spending 10-6 in the office, going home to see about Ziya, and then starting to work again, after she’s gone to bed, from 9-11 or midnight. And of course, Zi’s still up close to four times in the night, Goddess alone knows why.
Each time I think I know what exhaustion is, I learn more about just how penetratingly deep it can go…and you still have to get up in the morning and go to work…and you still have to be nice to your baby, despite the fact that she doesn’t have a pause button, when you come home. And, yes, in all this, I’m still wondering about having the second one…insane huh?
I tried to find a little nursery for Ziya to begin to attend one or two days a week, to ease up her grandmother whose looking a little peaked these days, and to give me an extra half day at the office, strictly for writing. And here I encountered the vast, undiscovered world of nurseries and pre-schools.
First there was the one I visited on what seemed to be a particularly chaotic day. The very nice Auntie had about eight children, where she normally had four to six. Zi and I went to check out the joint and I admit to wanting to run when the arms, legs, noise, crying, playing, pulling and TV singing-along simultaneously hit me. We have a lot of quiet time in our house. May manna from heaven rain down on those people who spend their days with babies and children. They have more patience than Mandela and they are very, very special people. I, however, am not one of them.
Zi on the other hand, seemed perfectly fine and cruised her way over to a toy which she played with by herself while keeping one hand protectively on me while I chatted with Auntie. At one point, Auntie’s adult daughter, who is autistic, came over and yelled at Ziya, who by the way did not jump as much as I did. The daughter thought Ziya was a girl, which she is, and didn’t react well to her as a new person in her space. We then had to convince the daughter that Ziya was a boy (??) and, despite that, she actually yelled at her twice in a manner that was clearly threatening and conveyed her feelings of being threatened. This was then followed by a stern talking to by her mom, tears from the daughter and further chaos when I tried to say, ‘it’s okay, everything is fine’ to the daughter and thoughtlessly touched her arm all friendly-like, which of course autistic folks often don’t like, provoking another round of intense, up close and rather alarming (at least to me) engagement between mom and daughter.
This doesn’t mean that I didn’t like Auntie. I did, but I still ran out of that place clutching my baby who, while I was there, was offered two small marshmellows by a little girl who had not washed her hands before she started to munch on the bowl of them given to her by her parents. Now you know, I’m not giving Zi marshmellows, and the wash hands thing just made me paranoid about flu, late nights, lost work time, extra doctor’s bills and overall regret that I just didn’t keep her home and take up telemarketing instead of trying to up my publications production. In the end, Auntie wouldn’t take her until she was 17 months, so I reached a dead-end there anyway.
Nursery no. 2 made me realize what goes on to make those parents you hear about want to join the right social clubs or tennis groups, so that their children could get into the schools they want them to. You need a recommendation letter from a parent with a child at the school to even get an appointment for an interview to have your child be considered. This, folks, is not a members club, it’s a day nursery. So, I said, well, I don’t know any parents with children at your school, is there any other way to be considered for an interview? Apparently, not. My mom suggested waiting outside the gate and stalking a parent, again all friendly-like, until I got a recommendation letter. Ever seen that Law and Order episode where a parent eliminates the kids who are before her child on the school’s waiting list? I can see how these places can make you crazy if you are on the edge already. Me? The secretary in my office organized a letter of recommendation from a parent whom I had never met but who had seen me on TV enough to be able to speak to “my background and character” as a parent. Oh yes, indeed. Anyway, that school was all booked and wouldn’t even let me in the door to look around.
Today, I visited two more, but neither would take her before 2 ½. I almost asked one woman today if they regularly steam clean the whole parcel of land, but I stopped myself. Then, I saw the mats for sleepy time and wondered if the same side is always put on the ground or if no one notices which side the baby puts her head on. Oh, the swimming pool with twelve at a time! As South Park said about the ph balance, is it all ‘p’ and no ‘h’? Anyway, I got numbers for two more who take babies from a few months on….so the search continues….though the more I look the more I’m secretly glad we’ve got her safe at home….regardless of what happens with my publications.