This blog is old. You don't want to read an old blog, do you?

If you are not redirected to the fancy new blog in about 6 seconds visit
http://backpackingdad.com
and update your bookmarks.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Daddy Wars

When I looked through the window into Erin's daycare room I saw all three of the teachers kneeling, pinning a thrashing, writhing ball of snakes in tiny yoga pants to the floor. I did a quick surveil of the room, a headcount that confirmed my paranoid instinct: that for some reason it was Erin they were wrestling with as she panicked to get away from them.

I wasn't any more relieved when I walked in and saw that her face and hands were covered in blood. Blood that was still pulsing out of her nose despite the sopping tissue being applied by one teacher while another held Erin's flailing arms and the third pinned her legs.

In retrospect that was one of the least stressful parts of my day. It was a moment, one that could be dealt with immediately. It didn't linger, like the rest of the moments of the day lingered.

It was a Monday like many another. I dropped Erin off at daycare in the morning and then headed off to school. My plan was to sit at my desk and work, writing a paper on Hobbes and absolute power for the rest of the day, with minor interruptions to pick up Emily at the airport around lunchtime and also to take Erin to swimming class in the early evening. I needed to make good use of this time because the paper, like most of the papers I've ever written in my academic career (and I'm in grad school now, folks, which means I've written a lot of these damned things) was due the next day.

After only an hour of solid work I received a call from Emily saying she was on an earlier flight. No problem. I'd pick her up and be back to school right away, leaving a big block of time to work in the afternoon. But on the drive to Emily's office from the airport my phone rang. I didn't answer right away and I checked the message as I was dropping Emily off. A short "This is Erin's teacher. I just need to talk to you for a moment," was all that was on the system. A little concerned I decided to just drive over to the daycare, a couple of blocks away, rather than calling.

I walked in on the crimson horror movie scene and before I could wonder if this was related to the "I need to talk to you" message from a good fifteen minutes earlier, I saw that the cause of all of the carnage was an absent scab on the end of Erin's nose. She had done a good header down the indoor slide last week and received a nice carpet burn on her face for her trouble. It had scabbed over, blackening, over the weekend, and for whatever reason Erin had decided to pull the end-cap off just minutes before I arrived. The subsequent blood-letting was quickly attended by the teachers who applied some pressure and were in the process of cleaning her up and putting her shirt back on when I came in. As Cleese would say, "It's just a flesh wound."

Lamenting a little the fact that my daughter can't seem to go to daycare without being bitten, biting someone else, burning her skin off on carpeting, or ripping her face off, I composed myself and asked the teacher if this latest macabre tableau was the reason for her call.

No, actually. It wasn't Erin's nose. It was her eye. Her goopy eye.

The daycare has a policy of kicking you right to the curb if there is a hint or whisper of pink-eye, so they needed me to take Erin home and not bring her back until she had been cleared to return by a doctor. They were also sending another little girl home. Probably the one who gave Erin the goopy eye.

Not really knowing what I was getting myself into, but hoping that Erin would be okay (apart from the river of blood she had unleashed on the daycare) and that I would still be able to finish this soon-to-be-late paper I packed her up in the car and immediately drove her to the pediatric clinic.

After waiting to see the doctor for an interminable age (or thirty minutes; pick your poison) and after assuring her that I wasn't there because of the bloody honker, I was asked where I'd like the prescription for eye-drops sent. The doctor couldn't tell just by looking whether the infection was viral or not (and I'm still not sure which one I ought to hope for) but five days on the eye drops should clear it up.

Five days without daycare.

I packed Erin up in the car again and drove back to school to pick up my computer and books. I hoped to be able to work on the paper during her nap in the afternoon. Well, later in the afternoon. I had already burned the early afternoon. Then it was off to the pharmacy, and by the time we were done with that we were about an hour and half past Erin's usual nap time. She was in good spirits, and had started to ask for more bandaids to put on the end of her nose; she wasn't bleeding, she just wanted to play with them. But her good spirits were quickly doused when we arrived home and I had to pin her down like a daycare teacher wrestling with a bleeding panicked toddler in order to drop liquid bombs into her eyes.

She didn't manage to fall asleep for another hour. And I didn't manage to do any work. I was so exhausted from the day that I fell asleep myself, dreaming of an absolute monarch who could just terrify the daycare into taking care of Erin despite her possibly-not-pinkeye. I woke up, and woke Erin up, and we went to pick Emily up at work.

Then we went to Boston Market where inexplicably there were about half a dozen people playing Scrabble.

Home again, and bed time for Erin (after more torture and eye drops). And then I pressed on for an hour or so, trying to write a paper.

But the day's events were lingering. And non-scholastic stress was outweighing my scholastic stress.

To get the paper done would require me to go into school on Tuesday. But that would mean that Emily would have to take the entire day off to stay home. To go to my morning classes the rest of the week would mean Emily would go in late. But she can't go in late on Thursday, so Thursday I will just stay home and miss class.

And all the while little Miss Erin endures the psychic torture of her parents staring into her eyes and then betraying her with a liquid assault.

Daycare is supposed to make the world predictable, manageable. It is supposed to be an aid. But this week it feels decidedly like an impediment to everything: to Erin's health, to Emily's career, to my school work.

Add to this the feeling that I don't really want to be writing a paper on Hobbes an absolute power, that I'd much rather stay home to take care of my goopy-eyed daughter, and I have the barest hint of an internal Daddy War, career versus family.

But for the moment I can have it all. I wrote a 3000 word paper in three hours this morning, in plenty of time to submit it on time. Emily spent a wonderful day at home with Erin and they will have a lovely breakfast together tomorrow while I go to class. For this week we don't need daycare.

We certainly don't need it to goop up Erin's eye and burn her nose off.

I do like that they provide all of the diapers for the day, though. So I guess we'll keep going.

33 comments:

mcCutcheon said...

wow, I didn't know daycare could be so strict. I mean, people get sick and in places like daycare, school or even university they tend to make others sick as well. When I was a kid I don't think anyone was ever sent home for something like pink eye. Only for lice - they were terrified of lice and if you so much as scratched your scalp you were going home. all I can remember is that painful comb...

Congratulations on getting your paper done though. I have the deepest respect for anyone who can do philosophy, let alone with a kid at home.

However, I totally agree with Erin: scabs are there to be picked off. With time she'll learn how to do it without blood gushing everywhere :)

for a different kind of girl said...

Glad you got your paper done, and hopefully the pinkeye/not pinkeye will clear up fast. We had a case of that here last week, and involved a lot of time where I walked around asking, "Does this look like pinkeye to you?" and searching the internet for clues. Because that's pretty much the way I make every decision in life. Last Monday, the non-pinkeye sporting child went to school. He was there 10 minutes when the nurse called to tell me he was in her office. I could hear him crying, that quiet little heaving cry that rips out my heart and asks him to hold onto it. I knew he wasn't sick (the not pinkeye had cleared up days before), but he hypnotized me into going up to the school and getting him. When you make $27/shift, it wasn't that difficult a decision, and he has the whole cuteness thing on his side, so it was nice to just lay on the couch and snuggle up.

This went so off track. Imagine that.

mumma boo said...

Pink-eye stinks. Cheeks still talks about the torture of the drops. Good luck, BPD. The balancing act is always tough, but you're finding the good in it, as always. (and kudos for getting the paper done!)

Kyddryn said...

You are awesome.

From the bottom of my shriveled heart, I thank you for actually giving a damn about your child and about daycare policies.

Policies put in place to keep the maximum number of kids at the center healthy with a minimum of stress for the very few people looking after them.

Can you tell I used to work at a daycare? One where parents thought it was fine to bring their plague ridden children to? And then not come pick them up when we discovered disease and called them about it, so the poor kid had to sit in isolation until we could locate SOMEONE, ANYONE to come get them? Ugh.

Meanwhile, hurrah for you rolling with the punches! Among other things, parenting is a lot like learning to ride chaos without a harness - one sticks with it or one fall off and is trampled.

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

Will said...

Ordeals like this are just one in the many reasons why I loathe daycare. The quick to judge, daycare workers think themselves hospital workers capable of diagnosing any ailment with a level of accuracy that'd put the great Doogie Howser to shame. I don't miss it one bit, but my hat's off to you for putting up with it and grad school man.

Jennifer said...

argh, I think 'pink eye' in a daycare is like screaming 'fire' in a crowded movie theater. Every time I take her, I just pray that they don't call me that day, especially when I have stuff that HAS to get done.

And dude- they provide diapers? AWESOME!

abdpbt said...

Glad you got your paper done, and hope the eye is clearing up. Sucks, but I guess it's a good thing they're so strict about sending kids home.

Miss Grace said...

One slightly nicer thing about in-home care is that they tend to not freak out so much about a goopy eye.

And by the time I was finishing grad school, I wasn't even considering thinking about my papers until hours before they were due. It's a fine art: the minimum amount of effort you can put into your work and still be regarded as successful and intelligent.

AGSoccerMom said...

Here's a trick I learned with the drops. Tell her to close her eyes, put the drops in the inside corner and when she opens her eyes, voila.
It works. My daughter has allergies so she use to get pink eye all the time.

Lori said...

Our doc has always said that after 24 hours of eye drops they're not contagious anymore. I can't imgaine having to keep them home for 5 days! We have pink eye go the rounds at least twice a year! Glad you got your paper done, though.

Kei said...

Busy busy crazy life of parents. Hope her eye clears up quickly, whether it be pinkeye or not. Glad you got your paper finished in time. Now breathe.

Swirl Girl said...

The 4 year old asked me just yesterday why I call day care (and places like Chuckee Cheeses and the play pit at the mall) a booger factory.

This is why...

sorry about your goopey eyed little one, but glad you got your work done with minimal disruption - disruption nontheless.

Aunt Becky said...

Oh, how I hate pinkeye. So very nasty.

Hope she feels better soon, dude.

Mama Smurf said...

I will never complain again.

You're like....SuperDad....

You need a SuperDad costume for halloween.

Jenni said...

Wow, that' quite a day.

Hope the munchkin is feeling better tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

When my daughter had pink eye we found a trick that made it easier to get those blasted drops in her eyes...lay a blanket on the floor and have her lay on one end of it with her arms at her sides and help her roll herself into it like a baby burrito... then you can kinda sit on top of her and give her the drops...her arms are trapped so she can't really fight it too much.
Great job of the juggeling act that is parenthood!
-non trolling anonymous

cIII said...

I had to go pick up the Goat this curssed Day.

And the culpret was Pink Eye. The eye in Question continued to worsen as, we too, waited 30 minutes to see the Good doctor.

Then the Drops. Sweet Iodine in My Eye. No one likes that stuff. But seriously.....c'mon. I haven't even opened the Seal yet.

Good luck BPD. I'll be thinking of you as I duct Tape my Oldest to a chair.

Fancy Schmancy said...

I was so lucky, the lady who took care of my son was so laid-back and easy going about just about everything. Her attitude was, by the time the symptoms show up, everybody's already been exposed to it! No matter what "it" was.

miko564 said...

"that for some reason it was Erin they were wrestling with as she panicked to get away from them. I wasn't any more relieved when I walked in and saw that her face and hands were covered in blood."

Yeah...that would be the moment ,I would be trying to describe to the judge, as I pleaded for leniency on the Assault charges against the daycare people...

Momo Fali said...

Egads. Rough day, much?

I have the best of both worlds, in that I am able to work at my kids' school as a teacher's aide. There's no question that if one of them gets sick, I stay home. They even told me that when they hired me. BUT, I only make $9.00 an hour, which is significantly lower than the incredibly high salary I used to have as an operations manager...you know, before I had kids. Back when my life was my own.

Really? Did you ever thing that you would be discussing the benefits of free diapers within the same post as Hobbes?

Danielle said...

Once they are on the medicine for 24 hours, they are no longer contagious and *should* be able to go back to school.

Get a doctor's note...

5 days out is BS. (Unless you want 5 days out...)

That's my assvice.

(It irks me when really sick kids are in school infecting everyone else, but if they feel fine and aren't contagious, then it's "get yer backpack on and let's go")

Danielle said...

Oh- And great job getting your paper done amid all the chaos!!

manic mariah said...

Pink eye SUCKS! I think daycare sucks too, they all overreact about everything. What's with all the biting?

motherbumper said...

Don't you wish they had a mini-sick room at the daycare, I've heard of it before but suspect it's probably in the super expensive centres. Wish I could lend you a hand, wish there is no pink-eye, and wish you didn't have to deal with this crap. Balance in parenting is a struggle.

BethanyWD said...

Even though you have to treat the eye stuff for awhile, shouldn't it clear up before five days? My kids have had it a few times (EACH!) and the eye usually looks better in 24-48 hours.

Poor girl!

'Nette said...

In defense of Daycare, center-based or not:
I ran an in-home daycare for three years. Pink-eye does suck, but she CAN go back after 24 hours on the antibiotics, if that is what they prescribed you.

Yes we have to be strict. It's for the health of all the other kids, not to mention the caregiver, and at that age, EVERYTHING is highly contagious. You wouldn't believe the amount of soap that a daycare goes through. Well, a good one anyway.

Glad you finished your paper. I was never able to juggle work, parenting, and school very well. Can't wait till the Teenager has graduated.

Missives From Suburbia said...

Ugh... pink eye scares me almost as much as lice.

I hope you rocked that paper despite all the daycare drama. I hate daycare, too.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

What Lori said.

Redneck Mommy said...

I got the Pink Eye.

I'm blaming you. I read this post and then POOF! I am oozing stuff out of an eye that looks like it enjoyed a small toke of the wacky tobacco.

I am soooo seexxxaaay with the devil eye and pus slowly seeping out the corners.

All. YOUR. FAULT.

anymommy said...

Rough day. Rough week, actually. Kids are germ magnets, we've never had so much crud as we've had since my oldest two started toddler school last year. I had pink eye. I always imagine that room crawling with little buglets. I'm not helping am I? It makes them stronger. I'm not sure what it does for you.

ya ya's mom said...

glad you got the paper done...good luck with the goopy eye...my shorty had it back in late sept/early october and was out of daycare a week...i even posted pics of her sad eyes on my blog back then....i'm sure she picked it up at daycare too...argh...

Jess said...

What a day! Around here you have to provide your own diapers.

I'll be posting an award for you soon.

Backpacking Dad said...

mccutheon: picking scabs is both awesome and gross.

FADKOG: You make so much more than I do per shift. :}

mumma boo: kind of balancing.

kyddryn: well, I didn't have a whole lot of choice in the matter :} I innocently walked into the lion's den and they were all "Surprise! Take your kid home!" :} But yeah, I understand why the policies are in place.

will: put your hat back on. Your hair looks terrible.

jennifer: I know! That almost made the choice between day cares right there. Free diapers.

abdpbt: yeah. Best work I've ever done.

miss grace: I don't think they regard me as intelligent anymore. I think I'm just seen as there.

agsoccermom: best trick ever. It even works on this little girl here. Thanks.

lori: yeah, it's a weird combination of daycare policy "Don't come back until cleared by the doctor" and the doctor saying "Do this for 5 days." The note the doctor gave us just said she was taking the drops and didn't have the added benefit of indicating to the daycare that she was no longer contagious (if she ever was). So we're in a weird crack.

kei: breathing deeply.

swirl girl: booger, vomit, scab factory.

aunt becky: that ain't no pink eye. It's the livin' dead.

mama smurf: me? I hardly did anything. Emily took the entire day off of work so I could pay the price for my procrastination.

jenni: she's feeling much better. Immediately better, in fact.

anonymous: I really should just burrito her on general principles so we can have some quiet time. ;}

ciii: good luck!

fancy schmancy: that's how I feel about a lot of things. :}

miko564: it was one of those times that giving people the benefit of the doubt was useful. Because it kept me out of jail.

momo fali: If Hobbes only understand how nasty poor, brutish short and smelly life IN the commonwealth was he'd never had suggested forming a social contract.

danielle: word.

manic mariah: I think kids just like to bite.

motherbumper: yeah. Although I'm also glad that they told me about it so I could do something right away rather than after the entire day had passed with her eyes getting goopier and goopier, feeling miserable.

bethanywd: Oh, it cleared up the next day.

'nette: I believe it. I co-op there and I feel like I'm washing my hands every 20 minutes.

missives from suburbia: I doubt I rocked the paper. I just hope it was at least as good as a paper can be when it's written in three hours.

tootsie farkelpants: yeah.

redneck mommy: I don't think you understand contagion :}

anymommy: I've been scratching at my eye in paranoia all week now.

ya ya's mom: I would hate to have pictures of it. Ew. :}

jess: free diapers make the world a better place.