Archie started pre-school two days a week just before his third birthday. As I was working part-time I needed another day of care for him so decided to try Occasional Care. I found a centre in my neighbourhood and went there for a look-see. As I walked in it was as if I was invisible and I stood there unnoticed. That was my first red flag.
I approached the huddle of staff and waited for them to break up their conversation. This took a few awkward minutes and then one of them said in an unfriendly tone, ‘Yes?’ That was my second red flag.
I said, ‘I’m wondering what the process is of booking my son into occasional care one day a week.’ A woman took me through the ins and outs of it all and then when she went to take my booking said, ‘It’s $5.50 an hour or $4.50 if you agree to help here on one of the days he’s here’. I told the woman I’d be happy to pay the extra and not participate in helping. From the scowl on her face I don’t think she liked that. Third red flag.
The following Monday I dropped Archie at the centre. Again, no one seemed to notice me or Archie. Fourth red flag.
I hung his bag on a little hook and tried to hand him over to one of the staff and then left. I went back in the afternoon. None of the staff spoke to me. I collected Archie and in the car on the way home he said, ‘I don’t want to go to the centre. They put me in a cot.’ The next week I took him back and asked if he had to sleep in a cot. The woman said, ‘Yes, all children have a sleep’. I said, ‘But he hasn’t had daytime sleeps for a long time.’ And she cut me off and said, ‘All children here go to bed straight after lunch. If they don’t sleep, they rest on their beds.’
‘Does he sleep in a cot?’
‘Oh, he doesn’t like that, at home he sleeps in a bed.’
‘Until he turns three he’ll be in a cot, then he can be moved into the other room where he’ll sleep on one of the beds.’
‘Well he’ll be three next week.’
‘Then next week he’ll sleep in a bed, today he’ll sleep in a cot.’ Fifth red flag.
So I left him at the centre with the disagreeable woman.
In the car on the way home that day Archie said, ‘I don’t want to go to the centre, they make me sit on a rock.’ Once home I phoned the centre and asked if there is a rock children have to sit on. I was told Archie was in the sandpit and had been throwing sand so as a punishment he had to sit on a rock and not play with the others. I told her I wanted to take the cheaper rate and help out one day a week.
The next week when I dropped him off he started crying. All the staff ignored him. Sixth red flag.
I calmed him down and left but as I drove off I noticed he ran outside and stood at the cyclone wire fence in the pouring rain, rattling the fence to try and get out. Not good.
When I returned that afternoon I was told off for leaving while my child was distressed and that before I left that morning I should have handed Archie to one of the woman for consoling. (Had they broken up from their huddle and paid attention to the arriving children that would have been possible). Seventh red flag.
The next week I was there, on duty to see what went on. There were four employed workers and me the ‘volunteer’. The first thing they asked me to do was clean the kitchen and that included washing all their tea and coffee cups and wiping all the benches. This was while they stood in their huddle drinking more coffee. Next it was time to pack away the craft so I was told to clear all the tables, wash up the paint brushes and rinse the brushes that had been in the glue pots. Then wipe the glue and paint off the tables and set up for morning tea. After morning tea I had to wash all the plastic cups, dry them and put them away and again, wipe down the tables. No one talked to me apart from giving me my next orders. While the children were having lunch I was asked to set up all the beds. When the children were in their beds I had to wash up the lunch dishes, wipe down the benches and tables, stack the chairs, stack the tables and sweep the floors. I didn’t see any of the staff do much at all except drink coffee and gossip in a huddle.
By the end of the day I was exhausted and seething. I collected Archie and no one said goodbye to me or thanked me for doing the work of five all on my own. Eighth red flag.
In the car on the way home Archie said, ‘I don’t like the centre. I like pre-school’. I said, ‘You don’t have to go their again Archie, it’s not a good place.’
And to this day Archie says, ‘Remember that place where you made me go and they made me sit on that rock?’
Happier parenting experiences were making these Sante Biscuits (cookies) that my mother used to make me. The recipe is from the Edmonds Cookbook.
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: This recipe uses basic pantry items. I only had to purchase a tin of condensed milk.
- 125g (4 oz) butter
- 50g (2 0z) sugar
- 1 tbspn sweetened condensed milk (I added a bit extra)
- Few drops vanilla essence
- 175g (6 0z) flour
- 1 tspn Edmonds Baking Powder
- 50g (2 0z) dark chocolate (there’s every chance I added a lot extra)
Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F.
Cream butter, sugar and condensed milk. Add essence. Add dry ingredients and chopped chocolate. Roll into small balls. Place on greased trays. (I used trays covered in baking paper). Flatten with a fork.
Bake for 20 mins.
Want to keep in touch? Join the fun on the Hotly Spiced Facebook page.