Policy

I received an email from the Head Start HR department:

While we all appreciate the distress over losing a good teacher, the policy our organization has had for many years regarding an “AWOL” situation is one we have held very firmly to. One way to be a voice for change is to join the Policy Council as your center’s representative. This is a parent board that focuses on staff, the policies that affect how they work and who we hire. I encourage you to please fill out the community complaint form as well.

So it looks like I am joining the Policy Council. Even though my daughter may only have another year at Head Start (if I don’t withdraw her before then), and  I may never get Spot rehired, I feel like I have to do something. I’m also getting on the Agenda to bring this up at the center’s parent meeting next month.

If I nothing else, I am going to ask the parents to use the remaining funds in our account for a stipend for Spot. If they don’t go for that, I will suggest a goodbye gift for him. I fund-raised for our center, so part of that money came from my direct effort. I hope the other parents will back me up.

I also turned in my complaint yesterday with a letter describing the effect this decision had on the kids, parents and employees at the daycare. Attached to that was a numbered list of reasons why their “Zero Tolerance Policy” hurts their organization.

Ugh. Can I add Political Activist to my resume yet? I guess its just part of being a parent.

P.S. LB’s cough is definitely better today 🙂

P.P.S. If you would like to email the HR Director and let her know your opinion on this issue, or your personal experience with losing a good teacher, please do so at  Mariao@tchs4c.org

Spot

You all remember “Spot” right?

Click here to or Here  refresh your memory.

Its kind of a running joke between us, the whole “Spot” thing. He actually signs her daily sheets with “Spot” instead of his real name. He’s been LB’s teacher at her daycare for almost a year now. She runs to hug him in the morning. Every week he shows me pictures and tells me funny stories about her. She talks about him on the weekend. Monday is her favorite day because she goes back to see him. Did I mention he’s really cute and I have a minor crush on his uncanny nurturing manliness?

He was fired today. “Spot” is gone.

I’m so upset on so many levels, I don’t know how to express it.

I made an utter fool of myself, sobbing on the phone to the Head Start Central office, asking them how they can justify firing someone who has never been late once in their entire career, except for this one day when his alarm didn’t go off? I blubbered that I’m a single mom and my daughter doesn’t have a lot of positive male role models, so this man was extremely important to her, let alone the rest of the kids.

They flatly told me that they have  a zero tolerance policy on “AWOL” employees. I told them I’m filing a complaint with the Board to have that policy changed and “Spot” reinstated.

I know I don’t need more stress in my life, but this is just WRONG. I have to do something. My daughter is losing a very important person in her life. “Spot’s” losing a job he loves.  Its making me sick and angry, but mostly, sad. Very sad.

News & Advice

Good News! It looks like LB may still qualify for Head Start! They base eligibility on last year’s taxes, and I didn’t start my new job until January, so I still fall within the Po’ White trash guidelines. That means no moving her to the more expensive, but closer ( literally, downstairs) daycare. No filing another modification of Child Support.

Oh the luck!

I also got an email from one of my mom’s friends, who also happens to be a single mom. She raised her daughter from a very early age, and apparently read my post at Rocky Mountain Moms Blog. Since there’s been so much discussion about single moms dating lately, I thought I’d post her opinion on the subject, after living single motherhood for more than 30 years:

 Being a dating, single mom is tricky, but not so hard.  I strongly suggest what I did.  I kept the guys away from my daughter.  They knew about her, but they were not exposed to her.  I was out to have a good time.  Not find a daddy.  However, if I found someone that I really enjoyed, and the feeling was mutual, and I was hopeful, then they could meet her because I was not going to spend a lot of time without my girl.  They had to be worthy, and they had to be good with kids.  Or that was it. 

I really hear her on “having a good time” vs. “finding a daddy”. This is the argument that I keep trying to make. That single moms CAN have a sex life, an adult life, and that life doesn’t affect or hurt their child in any way.  The question is, can we bring this philosophy to the next level?

Daycare knows best

I went to pick up LB after work, and noticed that the signature on Tuesday was not Rooferman’s. Guess who is now picking up my daughter for her boyfriend? Yeah, Blondie.

I pointed out to the daycare employees that she is not on the authorized pick-up list. They informed me that LB’s dad had come in and told them he has a legal right to make his own pick-up list. Obviously he put Bimbo Blondie’s name on it.

 Blondie obviously has educated Rooferman on his legal rights. The legal rights that he never showed any interest in until he met her. What a coincidence. Really, what is she getting out of being his cheerleader/maid/nanny/cook/attorney/brain?

I left the daycare center, fuming. One of LB’s teachers stopped me outside and apologized for the situation. I told her it wasn’t her fault, legally I have to let any idiot Rooferman deems worthy pick up my daughter on his days. Just another thing I have to get used to as a single mother. The teacher said, “I know, but personally I think its BS. I would be just as angry as you are right now.”

Blondie and Rooferman can play their little games. The daycare people know who takes care of LB. They know I’m the one who comes to the parent meetings, and volunteers in the classroom. Its my name on the check they receive every month. They know who to credit LB’s bubbling personality to. They got my back.

I asked “Spot” (LB’s male teacher) when I had to start looking for a new daycare. He gave me a look of horror.

“She’s the youngest one in the classroom! Why would you start looking for another daycare?

I told him that yes, she will be turning 3 this summer and didn’t I need to move her to a pre-school class next? Spot shook his head and said, “Oh we’ll just start lying about her age at that point so she can stay in our class. We’ll fake a birth certificate if we have to.”

Kinda warms your heart when someone else loves your kid, doesn’t it? Its definitely not helping my crush on him either.

No sympathy for the deadbeat

I didn’t think I would re-qualify for WIC, but I did. Cutting back on food costs will be a tremendous help this winter, since rent, heat and electric bills are all going up. The only good thing about the economy right now is gas has miraculously dropped below $2.00 a gallon.

I’m also in the process of writing up my answers for the State of Colorado Admin Asst. Test. If I do get this job, I will no longer qualify for ANY state assistance, so that’s a little scary, but good. I may be able to afford a non-subsidized apartment, closer to town. I would be able to grab LB a spot at the rockin’ early childhood education center that is located ON SITE at the workplace. I might even be able to afford a car payment. There would be a LOT of changes involved.

I picked up LB from visitation last night, and she reeked of s***. I flashed back to this day, and asked LB if she had to go potty. She promptly replied “I pooped.” Blondie looked at Rooferman. He looked at her. No one said a word. Finally Blondie threw some baby wipes at Rooferman and I rolled my eyes and said “I have clean clothes in the car, don’t worry about it.”

Rooferman told me he was going to pick up LB at 8:30 am on Thanksgiving. No discussion, no questions, no asking for my input. I told him his mother expressed interest in seeing her too, so they would need to work something out where both of them could spend time with her. He replied shortly, “Oh, she’s coming to Thanksgiving with us.”

As I tried to wrangle the foul undies off my child in the backseat of my car, she asked me “You Mommy and Daddy?”

“No, LB I’m just mommy.”

“I not LB, I’m Precious.”

“Ohhhh I see.”

She then devoured the leftover banana bread I had brought to the parent meeting at her daycare. At home, she fell into a peaceful sleep, almost immediately upon closing her bedroom door. I watched Run, Fat Boy, Run.  I was really looking forward to an interesting story about two single parents, but I was sadly disappointed. There were a few laughs, but my bitterness towards Rooferman prevented me from truly enjoying a sympathetic take on a lovable deadbeat dad.

This morning at LB’s parent/teacher “conference”, Scott told me that she’s become less clingy towards him now that her daddy is involved. I’m torn between happiness and an impending sense of doom. Its a lovely feeling.

The child’s best interest

I fell into bed last night at 9:30 pm. I still slept through my alarm this morning. I don’t know how much sleep is going to satisfy me. I had 9 hours and 15 minutes of sleep last night. Why am I still tired?

Still having crazy dreams. Saturday night I dreamed Michael Jackson was married and had been hiding his wife in the basement like that sicko in Austria. I had other dreams involving my friends Curmudge and Jiji, but I can’t even begin to make sense of them. My brain is exhausted. The moon looked full last night, maybe it was effecting my unconscious.

Still no word from Rooferman. Its been 7 weeks since he’s seen LB. No dreams about him this weekend, thankfully. Apparently his presence has made his way to Boulder to infect my friend’s dreams. Sorry Elly.

There was minor chaos at daycare this morning. A little boy who has been in the same class as LB since he was 18 month and she was 12 months didn’t want to say goodbye to daddy. He is the youngest in a family of 7 girls. He LOVES his dad. Since he was a baby he has cried miserably every time his dad drops him off.

My own daughter barely mentions her dad. She sometimes says “Daddy gone” or “Daddy not here.” Occasionally its been “Daddy’s truck broken.” Other than that, she doesn’t cry for him, ask me when he’s coming, or even acknowledge the fact he exists 90% of the time.

 I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing.

I want my daughter to have a dad. I want her to have his support and his love, and to reciprocate these feelings. I want her to have as normal a life as she possibly can. I want her to bond with him. I want them to value each other’s presence.

 However.

I don’t want her to feel pain because of her dad. I don’t want him to disappoint her. I don’t want him to abandon her, or chose other things over her. I don’t want her to feel like she is somewhere on his priority list under his job and his new family. I don’t want her to be emotionally and mentally damaged by her father, and I think its natural for a mom to want to protect her child from that.

The courts want you to have the “child’s best interest” in mind. How can a relationship where a daughter’s trust in her dad is constantly being shattered, be considered in her best interest? How can regression in emotional (separation anxiety), mental (sleep disturbances), and physical (potty rejection) development be considered in her best interest?

I know I have to look at the bigger picture. If I bring up potty training issues, a judge will most likely look me in the eye and say “She’ll survive.” I have to remember that one day she will be a semi-self-sufficient school aged kid who is capable of making her own decisions. Its hard to keep that in mind when I’ve been making all the decisions for her. She’s only 2, she’s still dependent on me. Her best interest has been my sole responsibility, and I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job of it. Its especially hard to keep the big picture in mind when I’ve had to compensate for her dad when he doesn’t keep his promises.

I’m trying really hard not to become that bitter single mom who shoots herself in the foot in front of a judge. Cause I’m not that mom. I’m only 26. I’m too young to be jaded, broken and hating the world.  I’m a good mom who wants the best for her daughter, who will support and encourage a text-book “loving, meaningful relationship” between her daughter and her ex. At least I will try.

This must be my mantra. This will lead me to the promised land.

Right?

Guilty

Ms. Single Mama had us all going on a “fear” topic, so I’m switching gears to another pleasant subject.

Guilt.

I feel a lot of guilt in my life, which is odd cause I wasn’t raised anywhere near the Catholic Church.  To understand just how much guilt I feel on a daily basis, everything posted in red is something I feel guilty about.

don’t think my parenting decisions are bad ones, or that I’m slacking when I could be excelling. But I can’t help feel that twinge of sickness in my stomach everytime I make a choice for myself, which may or may not put my kid in the backseat.

Sometimes when I’m at work staring at the clock, waiting for 6:00 pm to roll around, I start fantasizing about cocktails and margaritas. I start salivating at the thought of sitting on a patio listening to live music. I pictureshameless gossip and greasy taquitos. I start drooling over the thought of flirting with a studly stranger. That’s when I pick up the phone and call my friends to set up dinner plans.

I’m not thinking about my daughter, and the 10 hours she spends at daycare everyday. I’m not thinking about how her face lights up when I go get her (which is one of the best feelings ever). I’m not thinking about how she’s probably tired, and just wants to go home and hang out with mama. No. I’m not thinking about what my daughter wants. I’m thinking about myself, and how much mama wants to have social interactions that don’t involve scheduling meetings and filing or washing underwear and talking about poo.

Last night’s battle over bed time and potty usage still wasn’t over by 11 pm. I finally broke down and cried a little while I was trying to get LB to lay down for the 10th time. She looked at me and said “Mama Sad. You Ok?” I swear she goes from Toddler Monster to darling daughter in 1.2 seconds, and what does that make me want to? A body shot off a six pack.

Since I work for a school district, I have access to lots of books, which I flip through while my boss figures out how to send an emailduring my free time. My boss has lots of books written by Berry Brazelton, and one is called “Toddlers and Parents.” Even though it was written in 1974, it has a section on single parents, which gave me a little comfort on my creakhead-like need for girl talk and bean dip.

“Being an only parent is lonely work. Days can stretch on interminably, relentlessly, and nights are hard to fill up. A job may break up the powerful monotany as well as providing necessary income, but the ups and downs of a family are all on one parent to manage, and its demanding responsibility. There’s no one else to pick up the pieces at the end of the day…but most important of all, no one but children to talk to.”

I hate talking on the phone. Its been an aversion since I was a kid, living on a hippie farm in the middle of rural Vermont. I think we used to get an average of one phone call every few days.  Since becoming a single mom, I have forced myself to use the phone. My phone is my only contact to the grown-up world (besides the internet). After LB is in bed, I am chained to my apartment. I cannot leave. Sometimes I feel like a grounded teenager, stuck babysitting. I used to brush it off when I got someone’s voicemail, or a busy signal. Now I want to cry when I can’t hear another adult’s voice.

“Children’s talk can be fun when its mixed in with adult conversation during the day. But there’s a stagnating aspect to it too. The responsibility which an adult feels when she is trying to listen to a child- to understand what the child means, what he is trying to say, to supprot and encourage him and then lead him into more complex thinking- is strenuous and demanding.”

After I clock out, sometimes I can’t face the thought of returning home to a place where I am constantly powerstruggling against a 2 year old. Where every answer is “No.” Every word is a demand, and every activity is interrupted after 1 minute  with “I don’t want to.”

“The first year is rewarding; each of the infants new achievments is like a new petal opening up, and the problems are those that lend themselves to a one-on-one relationship. Not so for a toddler. As babies become more independent, more active, more demanding- and more negative- they are suddenly cats, not kittens. This year can represent a crisis in many ways for a single parent alone.”

Yay. Is this why I would rather table dance at the end of my workday than go pick up my toddler? Is this why I ate a bag of Salt & Vinegar kettle chips while watching Resident Evil  last night?

My boss keeps telling me not to worry, she won’t be wearing diapers to her wedding, and as for the whole “sleep” thing…well..I just won’t think about that for the next 16 years.

What do you feel guilty about?