So most of you, I’m sure, have been fired from a job at least once. I’ve been fired at least three times that I know of…once from Barnes and Noble because even though I’d been hired as more than just seasonal help, they fired me at the end of the Christmas season anyway, once from a dry cleaning job where I’d been told I wouldn’t be doing anything but running a register and calling up clothes on the fancy clothes moving machine where the boss called me at home and said “Yeah. You suck. You know NOTHING about this business and ah..we lied. We really don’t want to have to teach you so..FUCK OFF.” which was very weird. The call came at the end of a long day where I’d been working in a dry cleaner business with NO air conditioning and it was summer. Which, this being Texas, meant it was hotter than hellfire inside the store. I was hungry (I hadn’t been allowed to take a lunch break) and exhausted. When the boss called and told me I was fired, I was just so overwhelmed and tired and sweaty and hungry that I burst into tears. My husband grabbed the phone from me and ripped the boss a new one, because I didn’t have the strength to do so right then.
And then there was the day care I worked at when my son was a toddler. That job nearly broke me in so many ways it wasn’t even funny.
When I got hired, the way they trained me and a few other new hires was to hand us these manuals that were as thick as an unabridged Oxford English Dictionary and said “Here. Read this. In two hours we’re going to give you a test but don’t worry, you can TOTALLY get the answers from the manual.”
So I spent six hours that day sitting on an uncomfortable floor that appeared to be (at least to my highly sensitive butt) nothing but concrete covered in a thin layer of indoor/outdoor carpet, leaning against a wall which caused my butt to go numb and the worst back pain I’d had since being pregnant (when my son was sitting on my fricking sciatica) in a dark and unused classroom.
Little did I know this was only the beginning of the six weeks of sheer hell I was going to endure.
The next day, I was assigned to an infant room with infants up to six months. It was kinda cool, I liked it. Not too hard, since most of the time the babies were asleep anyway and I could sit in a comfy wooden rocker and read a magazine.
After that, I went back to my old job to finish out my last two weeks before starting at the daycare. That’s when shit really started to go sideways, that first day I came back to the daycare.
So I arrive at the time I’d been told to arrive and go straight to the infant room where I’d been before because nobody had said any thing different to me, that I would be in another room, nothing. The assistant director came flying out of her office and started screaming at me that I wasn’t supposed to be there, that I had been assigned to another room, that she’d left messages..MANY messages…on my answering machine stating this change. Which she had not. I was kinda scared and confused but I did what she told me to and went to another part of the building, because I was supposed to be in a room with kids who were 24-36 mos old. Ok. Fine.
Except that there were like 25 kids and only myself and the head teacher to deal with them. That VERY FIRST DAY one of the girls fell off (or rolled down, I don’t remember which) a big foam wedge thing they had in the room and got a rug burn on her cheek. I didn’t realize she’d gotten a rug burn (because I didn’t see it happen, only got shown it later on the CCTV tapes) and got reprimanded because her parents flipped out. I was kinda freaked out myself but you can’t have eyes on every kid all the time when there’s only two of you and like 25 of them. Which, if I recall, was totally more than what the website promised the ratio of kids to teachers would be (it was supposed to be like 6 to 1 or something).
I also found out, walking the kids down the hall one day to the gym and passing the infant room where I THOUGHT I’d been assigned that the assistant director LIED. One of the things she told me when I found out I’d been reassigned to Toddler Hell was that they didn’t NEED a second person in that particular infant room. It turned out they just didn’t want ME in that room..the job had gone to a staff member whose daughter was in my class. That kind of irritated me but I tried to shrug it off.
There really should’ve been at least one more teacher in this toddler room, I swear. Because we had Staff Member’s daughter (the one who got the plummy job in the infant room) who liked to go into the shared bathroom (between our class and the one next door), climb up on the sink, soak a handful of paper towels and then shove them in her mouth. We had one kid who (because I was alone with about 15 kids at the end of the day) ate an entire tube of Desitin. I felt SUPER shitty about that but I honestly didn’t know what to do and I was terrified that if I reported it to the assistant director, I’d be in a lot of trouble. So being young and terrified, I did nothing. The Desitin eating kid was at the daycare the next day so I assume it didn’t hurt him too much. The SAME girl who slid down the foam block thing and got a rug burn on her face accidentally peed through one of the canvas cots we used at nap time which was fine. I was able to get her and the floor (tiled where she was, thankfully) cleaned up, no problem. But when I asked another teacher (next door class) what to do about the soaked cot, she said to just leave it and stack it on the very top of the pile when I picked up the cots at the end of naptime. Which was weird but I didn’t know what else to do.
And then there was Houdini Jr…he liked to escape out the side door that DID NOT LOCK FROM THE INSIDE into the play yard. Let me explain..the door LOCKED, but it didn’t lock from the inside. And by that I mean, there was a twist lock on the handle, but it only made it where if you were outside you couldn’t open the door. If you were inside you could totally open the door. And Houdini Jr. liked to get out the door. I was told, by the assistant director, “Well just lean a table against the door.” Because yeah..leaning a giant round table that’s a good IDK..3 feet across and weighs a fucking ton against a door when you’ve got toddlers in the room is a GREAT idea. She also suggested that, instead of actually paying to get door knob protectors (which I just looked up..cost all of like 5 bucks for a 4 pack) for the bathroom door to keep Staff Member’s daughter OUT, she told me to take the top from a can of hairspray and put it over the knob. I was to cover THAT with a toddler sized sock and secure it with a rubber band. WTF? Seriously? And there were no locks of any kind on the lower cupboards where the Desitin, etc were kept (because the upper cupboard were out of reach to both Lead Teacher and myself since we were short people and those cupboards were CLEARLY put there by tall men. Boo.) so there was always the danger that some kid would come along, open the cupboard and get into diaper wipes, etc.
Not only all of this, but I was expected to work twelve hour days, which coupled with a half hour commute each way, meant that I NEVER saw my own son. By the time I got home, it was usually after 8 pm and he was in bed. Or if he wasn’t for some reason I was like “No. Just get him away from me. I’ve had kids climbing all over me all day and I am just DONE.”
Oh..did I mention yet that they had NO employee break room? At all? The closest they came was a tiny little rectangular room at the back of the building where the employee bathroom, a refrigerator (NOT to be used by employees, per a sign on the door), a sink and a dishwasher were located. Also, it was highly discouraged (or at least it seemed that way to me) amongst employees to actually bring your lunch. We were given a one hour lunch break and I actually got scoffed at by one person because I brought my lunch every day and spent my hour crouched in what I imagined was probably the server room (there were big computery things in there) for their CCTV network or whatever. The one time I did try to go out for lunch, my credit card was declined and I felt like an asshole, but the Chinese lady working at the register took pity on me and comped my food.
Maybe this is true for all daycares, I don’t know, but the expectations for the employees seemed ridiculously high. We weren’t to have food in our rooms, except at the meal times (they had a small kitchen somewhere and meals were delivered twice a day) UNLESS we had a kid who was allergic (which we did). I had to hide my lunchbox so that, if we got a random inspection by one of the higher ups, I wouldn’t get in trouble. At the end of the day, in addition to having to go to the gym to watch the handful of kids who were still waiting to be picked up (most of whom didn’t leave until at least 6:30), I was supposed to spend at least an hour cleaning my room. Which, OK, fine. But if the last kid from my class didn’t leave until 6:30 or 7 and I was SUPPOSED to get off at 7 and I could not leave my kids in the care of one of the other 5-6 teachers in the gym..when the fuck was I supposed to clean my classroom? Because I was not (per the daycare rules) allowed to clean any part of it as long as I still had kids. I will admit, I half-assed the cleaning pretty much every single day because I wanted to go home. I would leave no earlier than about 7:30 or so EVERY SINGLE FRIGGING DAY and have to lie about what time I got out of there on the sign in/out sheet we had instead of a timeclock. Because the few times I TRIED to be honest about what time I left, I got griped out about it by the assistant director.
I think the final straw came when I simultaneously got called on the carpet for both an escape of Houdini Jr into the play yard AGAIN and the fact that I had said I was NOT going to attend a last minute staff meeting on a Saturday (when the daycare was closed) because it was my son’s birthday which has always been kind of a big deal to me. The assistant director LOST HER FREAKING MIND over these things and when she said I was fired, I was relieved. Because working there had just been ridiculous. I didn’t even care that they took $25 out of my final paycheck to cover the cost of the ugly, partially see through, dead Barney purple embroidered scrub tops that constituted our uniform.
Somehow despite what appeared to be gross incompetence by me (again..I don’t work in daycares, I had never worked in a daycare before this, I am not an expert on daycares, etc. I just saw what I saw and experienced what I experienced.) the daycare has remained open. There are 11 franchise locations now, according to Google and they seem to get mostly glowing reviews on Yelp. So I’m assuming things have changed since I was employed by them, or at least I hope so.
Because that..was sheer torturous hell beyond anything I’d ever experienced.