Sometimes parenthood is an adventure in doing things you never thought you’d have to do. Serving as a rock-hard, fossil poop extractor and a vomitorium technician are a couple of things that come to mind. Or serving on the PTA…a trip through hell requiring a never-ending supply of fake smiles and a high tolerance for dealing with petty, catty behavior. But this week added a new notch to my belt of weird parenting experiences.
This past week was the last full week of summer vacation. All the summer camps were closed, except the one we had already been 86ed from early in the season. Our county department that coordinates an embarrassingly scant amount of “services” for children with disabilities actually came through for us, and offered to cover childcare hours for the week. The case manager told us about a nearby agency that provides services. We called and got things set up. The first two days would be a female caregiver that works for the neighboring school district, and the remainder of the week would be the agency director, Joseph, because the woman would go back to work at the school district on Wednesday.
We met both before the week, so Connor would be familiar with them. Monique came on Monday, and off we went to work. I checked in with her during the day, and she reported things were going well. That evening, Connor reported to us that she “was sleeping on the bed” in our bedroom.”
What. The. Fuck??
I started asking Connor more questions about this, and he eventually said, “I got you, I was joking.”
By that time, Hubs was tap-tap-tapping away on the computer. I was fairly certain Connor was trying to be funny, but it occurred to us that there was no way to know for sure. Any number of odd things could take place, and Connor wouldn’t think to tell us.
Hubs left for Fry’s, they were open until 9pm.
We stayed up until midnight, setting up the new camera. I never thought I’d have to stoop to using a “nanny-cam”, but here we were. The bonus to this was that I could check it using my cell phone.
On Tuesday I checked the camera periodically, with nothing unusual to report. That was a relief.
On Wednesday, Mr. Joseph took over duties. I spent some time that morning giving him info about Connor, including diet, behavior, preferred activities, etc. I kept my phone tuned to the camera all day, but the downside was the lens couldn’t capture the entire room. So while I had full view of one couch, the other was out of view.
That evening, Connor reported that Mr. Joseph took himself a nap on the couch that wasn’t in the camera view.
Now some people might not think that’s a huge deal, but I’m of the mindset that it’s not professional to sleep at your job, especially when the job is caring for a child. That motherfucker stretched out on my couch and caught some Z’s, while Connor was left to just sit and watch T.V.
But I couldn’t take Connor’s word for it, and I knew I’d have to confront him directly. The next morning when he arrived, I asked him directly, “did you sleep here yesterday?”
Joseph: “Well, I dozed off for about 10 minutes.”
Me: “That’s not okay with me. If you’re watching my kid, then you need to be watching my kid, not sleeping. Also, he is not to go to anyone’s home, only community outings.”
Joseph: With a look on his face that can only be described as a mix of surprise and incredulousness, as though this was a foreign concept, or something he’d never heard before. “Uh, okay, we don’t ever go to someone’s home, it’s against our rules.”
But, apparently, sacking out for a cat-nap isn’t against your “rules.”
Here’s the part where you might judge me. It’s okay, go ahead. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a position where you were backed into a corner, and had no options. That’s where we are. After all the summer camp drama, and the numerous calls before noon to leave work and pick up my child, my job is hanging by a thread. My husband started a new job in March, so he is in the same position. The only friend I have that doesn’t work during the day was out of town. And the going rate on care.com is $10-$12 and hour, which isn’t that terribly far off from what I make, so not a good solution.
No options. It’s a horrible place to be, and I hope you’re never there. With much trepidation, I left for work. I put my cell phone on my computer keyboard wrist guard, and kept the camera on all day. I typed and I glanced, for 8 1/2 hours. You know what I saw? I saw Mr. Joseph sitting at my kitchen table, on his computer. Out of a 9-hour day, he spent about 30 minutes playing or interacting with my child. The rest of the time Connor watched movies and cartoons.
Un-fucking-believable. But at the very least, I knew he was safe.
I went home that evening and Mr. Joseph needed a ride home, because his wife had the car. Awkward! I had already managed to put together a hasty plan for childcare the next day, so I was ready to be rid of Mr. Joseph. Upon pulling up in front of his house, he turned to me to clear the air.
Now, here’s the other part where you may judge me. On the first day, when I was telling this guy about Connor, the subject came up about how much Connor likes girls. I mentioned the story of a few months ago, at Walgreens, when Connor wanted to buy jewelry for a girl. I made the mistake of saying “ghetto earrings.” I know, poor choice of words. You can go ahead and think terrible things about me, it’s okay. In my defense, I hear that word everywhere, and it seems to be a part of culture. It’s a very, very commonly used word, which doesn’t mean it’s okay, but it has seeped into my vocabulary.
So after I called him out for sleeping, and he didn’t have the balls to apologize, he sat stewing all day and this is the only thing he could come up with:
Mr. Joseph: “I really appreciate you having a dialogue with me this morning about your concerns, and there was one thing I wanted to discuss with you. It’s about our conversation the other day, when you used the word ‘ghetto’ to describe something.”
Me: “Uh huh.”
Mr. Joseph: “Well, it’s just that that word is typically used to describe something in a negative way, and to stereotype a socio-economic class of people, usually black people.”
Me: “I believe it originated during World War II, to describe the Jewish encampments. They were white.”
Mr. Joseph: “Well, that’s true, but it’s come to typically describe lower income minority groups.”
Me: “It wasn’t my intention to insult anyone.”
Mr. Joseph: “Well, it’s just that I have friends in interracial relationships, and often the white partner will feel entitled to use certain kinds of words like that.”
Me: “Someone should alert Diddy and Snoop Dog.”
Mr. Joseph: “Well, uh…”
Me: “You need a car. Have a good weekend.”
So yes, judge me, I understand completely. But in this circumstance, where this douchebag didn’t even apologize for being a complete loser in watching my kid, and decided that the only thing he had was to throw that back at me, I just didn’t have it in me to be sympathetic.
Goddamn it, last week sucked! But that is our adventure in surveillance. I really, really hope we don’t ever find ourselves in a position like that again.