Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Charlie Brown Christmas

The title doesn't really refer to our children's Christmas-time experience. However, we do know the real reason for this season is the birth of Christ and not the commercialized event that it has become. I'll start by saying that... before I get into what funny things they have said lately.

We were watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas" which is a pretty common movie to watch this time of year. It has a great point. A child, we don't really know his age, has conflicting thoughts about Christmas. Why? Because of the commercialization and so many things that come along with it. For instance, questions like, "Why aren't we nice to each other every day, instead of just on Christmas Day?"

Anyway, Kaleo, my very sensitive sweet-hearted child, asked me towards the end of the movie, "Where are all their mommies & daddies?" I guess it had never dawned on me that there are absolutely no adults in the Charlie Brown holiday movies. I say this because I bought them the set of movies. The "great pumpkin" and the "Thanksgiving" and the "Christmas" movie all in one handy set. No parents. No adults. Very strange. And yet, I never noticed it.

So Christmas is truly upon us. I have friends who enjoy the hussle & bustle & get out & fight the crowds and go to the malls & do all of the shopping the last two weeks before Christmas. Not me. I had my shopping pretty much done in October. And most of it, I had done online with free shipping. I don't understand why people wait until the last minute, or why anyone would want to go out and fight crowds. It takes away from the joy of the season, doesn't it? Those angry Christmas shoppers do not bring joy, and when one of them bumps into you and yells into your face, for no apparent reason, that does not bring anyone joy. I say, stay home, shop on Amazon & get your gifts before or after the rush. Stores have clearance sales in February & in October. Why not do your shopping in the stores then? And then the expense is spread throughout the year instead of all in the last two weeks of December.

We got the kids their big gift in September off of craigslist. Who cares if it's used? Two 50's, a quad-runner & a little dirt bike. They needed a little bit of work, but Davin fixed them up and has tested them out (that was the highlight of my day... watching him drive around the neighborhood on those little 50's). And now we're just waiting for the big day. Other than that, we really didn't dive into commercialism this year. We did try to have a little something for each individual, especially those we knew would be buying us things! But there was a $10 limit. I am not sure if that was reasonable. But it was what had to be done.

"Merry Christmas Charlie Brown"

Friday, December 4, 2009


So the roller coaster ride has almost come to a stop. It's kind of at a coast at this point in time, though. Basically, after many hospitalizations, I had to have emergency surgery on 9/22. I also lost my childcare license that day because although I was not at home, the parents that I do daycare for still left their children in the care of my husband, Davin! Obviously, this is not allowed by the US Navy's standards. He was doing the extremely nice, gentlemanly thing by taking a bunch of kids on when he knew I was at the hospital by myself having surgery. It was a very emotional time! I woke up with no one there. That was very upsetting, of course.

But not to get upset by these details... since then, I have gone before the Quality Review Board of the Navy to petition the charge they had assessed me with. They took back the charge and gave me back my licensure plus a bonus to boot. Now Davin is in the process of getting certified to do childcare so that he is able to help me when I need his help. We never want to run into a situation like this again.

I took a part time job working at the local Sears Dept Store. That was a huge mistake on my part. At the same time, it opened my eyes to what hourly employees have to go through. I have been a salaried employee for such a long time, and Davin has also. We haven't had to face the reality of what hourly workers go through to earn that little tiny paycheck at the end of the week. Even though I have a B.S. in Business & a M.A. in Human Services I took a minimum-wage paying position solely because the Human Resource Department gave me permission to make my own schedule around my husband's schedule. I figured... this is going to be so easy. Every dollar I make is free & clear, I'm not paying for any daycare, and I'm getting out of the house a little bit. Getting out of the house is something that I have been struggling with, as I have been locked in the house for the past 6 years finishing a Master's degree. I have longed to be a part of the outside world. That is, until I actually joined the outside world.

The experience taught me a lot of things. First of all, Human Resource Departments do not keep their word when they give permission for such things as a hiring agreement to "make your own schedule". After the first two weeks, I had one manager in my face yelling at me that if I couldn't work when she put me on the schedule, that she would have me fired. I gave her my availability, and she gave me the schedule the exact opposite of that. That would mean I was making minimum wage, and would have to pay $3/hour per child (2) for my children to go to daycare somewhere. Now, would you work for nothing? I tried to resolve this issue with the management team. I wrote two separate letters to the Human Resource office. I physically went into the store to talk to management on two occasions, and I called the Human Resource attendance line to try to resolve the issues.

I never used my degree to an advantage. I never talked down to anyone. But I will never forget how bad the experience actually was. Years ago, when I was working on my Business degree, I read a book called "Nickel & Dimed in America" about a woman who went from town to town as a single woman and tried to make a living on minimum wage. She tried it in various locations all over the country to gauge the differences in the cost of living, etc. However, minimum wage has since gone up. She wrote about how ignorant some managers were. She wrote about how, although she had a Master's degree, that she never used that education to get her a higher position. She wanted to see what it was like. Not so the case for me. I have applied to 80 institutions of higher learning. I have gotten 3 responses, but I cannot start teaching until the Summer 2010 or Fall 2010 semesters at any of them. Ideally, this is what I hope to do with my life. However, I am impatient. I applied at Sears one day when I was helping a neighbor's kid on apply for positions. I thought, "a pricing associate, how bad could this be?" And I found out upon being hired.

Although it's been a difficult thing for me to adult whole-heartedly, I will confess that doing childcare for the US Military is a whole lot less stressful than working for minimum wage under ignorant management. This is for many reasons, but mainly because the military lets you set your rules (under their rules of course), and keep your customers in line. I have maintained professionalism throughout the years (even though I'm working with children - and their parents), and could not believe how the outside world's professionalism standards have flopped into the toilet. Davin had previously warned me. I did not believe him. But I will say, that I will not forget. I will not forget anything that I went through. I will not forget that the paychecks after busting my pregnant butt all week long were not enough to pay for groceries for our family. I will forever be grateful to the freedom that I have had through running my own daycare. And although sometimes I feel that the Navy keeps childcare providers from having any privacy, I will be thankful because I am a salaried employee. I take additional children, I make a lot of money. They pay for food. They pay for the parents to get a discount, and they help to make sure parents do right by us. I couldn't ask for more.

I do long to change careers, obviously. On a scale of valuable employees from 1 to 100, childcare providers are ranked #22 by way of respect & by way of pay. However, minimum wage pricing associates aren't on the list at all. And so maybe I'll take that #22 position for the time being. My children are young. And I don't desire to juggle them. I long to teach at the adult level (or at least the teen level), but I know now that patiently waiting for the RIGHT door to open up, is likely the thing I ought to do, rather than taking anything that comes my way.

Thankful, is what I am!! :)