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Private Eyes, They’re Watching You; Our Adventures in Surveillance

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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.

I hate Hall & Oates, and I hate that song. Let me now pass it on to you as my special gift.

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 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.”

This came up when I googled "ghetto."

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.


About Flannery

Kid, husband, dogs, my mother, full-time job, maximum stress, minimal relaxation...sooner or later I had to vent. AND we moved from California to Texas. I could start a whole other blog about that.

11 responses »

  1. We’re lucky that we don’t need the respite that we are entitled to. A little extra help, some sitter time, and adult time is the Scout leader so all good.

    But the Dr’s nurse told me I should get more respite… would lower my bp… yeah, sure, good luck fighting genetics… and I looked at her and said “and this is less stressful, how???”

    Best of luck with finding good care for your son.

  2. First off Flan–I would never judge you on this. Maybe your booze selection or handbag selection but never ever this.

    That guy had an objection about your word choice?? Get over it. I have an objection to his version of childcare. Napping and surfing the net do not even begin to qualify. You’re a kinder woman than I. I think I would have turfed his arse to the curb to figure out his own ride. He autta be ashamed of himself.

    And you the position you’re in—its a hard one and one that’s made worse by A-holes like him. Sweetie, I wish we lived closer. Nothing would make me happier than to have Connor stay with us when you’re in a pinch. Hugs to you lady, hugs.

  3. Wow, it really took some serious balls to call YOU out on word choice to deflect HIS napping on duty. The only thing I’ll say in his defense that is at least he admitted it instead of lying. He’s still a douchebag, but he’s an honest douchebag. I would tell you to complain to his supervisor, except that you’re kind of in a bind here–with so little services available, you can’t afford to get blacklisted. That sucks, and I am sorry about that.

    Does your school district provide extended school year(ESY) or non-ed funds for summer programs? There are rules for both, but if your son qualifies, that’s another option to consider for next summer. I’m probably preaching to the choir here, so I’ll shaddup now!

    • @Tina Rest assured, I will be bringing up ESY and non-ed funds in the IEP. I asked last year for ESY, and they told me they didn’t think it was necessary. I may need a special advocate this year.

  4. This is unbelievable, Flan! I feel like I’m watching an episode of 48 hours/20 seconds/Datenight/Lifeline and am waiting for the host to come in and call Mr. Joseph out. I can only imagine the stress you were under during all this. I hope this week is much smoother!

    You should totally mail his wife those earrings.

    • @Kara Tell me about it, it’s crazy!!! You have me laughing my butt off about mailing the earrings. That’s hysterical. I just know I’m going to run into him everywhere around town now, just my luck.

  5. Wow. Those people are unbelievable. So sorry you guys got stuck with that loser.

  6. We get respite funding, and can choose whomever we want for care. If that’s how your setup works, have you considered posting a notice on community college job boards for students in early childhood programs?

    Might as well weed out the undesirables before they finish classes.

    My kid’s been kicked out of daycares, preschools, public schools, after school programs. I’ve lost two jobs because, as a single parent, I was the only one who could pick him up and take care of him.

    I totally understand your frustration. It’s hard enough to find an agency that has care without worrying about them turning up late, or sleeping on the job.

  7. This is soooooooo familiar. When I call out teachers, guidance counselors, babysitters, camp directors, etc. on some behavior that isn’t professional and try to educate them on the preferred way to deal with children with special needs, there’s almost *ALWAYS* the retaliation phase of the conversation. “It’s not over until the perpetrator accuses me (or my daughter) of being a perpetrator,” is the phrase I now carry in my head. Not as pithy as the one about the fat lady singing, but it’s useful for me to remember that there’s almost always the backlash to come. Ugh! Sometimes it comes immediately, and then it’s easy for me to say, “Well, I’d be happy to talk to you another time about XYZ, but right now I’d like to stay focused on crappy behavior towards my child” (more or less). When it happens more distant in time, it’s tougher to say, “Time out. We were discussing *your* behavior.” In that case, I just smile and nod, and do not engage, because they can’t really make a big stink about me being polite (if noncommital) back, now can they? It’s hard to stay focused, because adults called to account can be nasty, back-stabbing, passive-aggressive, vicious toward my child, etc. But I’ve learned that, living in a small city, I’m bound to run into the asshole or the asshole’s sister, etc. the next time I turn around, for years and years. So, in other words, I say what I have to, do what I have to, and then duck-and-cover … Sad, but the strategy usually works for me. Not satisfying, but it gets me back to the next minute’s work load.


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