separation. anxiety.

Update: Miss Kim was there today! Little Guy started fussing as I got to the door, but before I could even get through, she had already gotten him interested in a high-spirited game of "Run to the other side of the room and get that great big ball! Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!" I left to the sweet strains of his giggles. He screwed up his face and let out a howl when I walked back in after my workout, but Miss Kim assured me that it was all an act for my benefit. Guess he thought he had my number after yesterday's fiasco!

A few weeks back I finally bit the bullet and joined a gym. The weather has been less than predictable (70*last Wednesday followed by an ice storm) and as a result so has my training for this year's Broad Street Run. So with less than 10 weeks to up my mileage and work on my pace, I turned over my credit card to the nice man at the nearest Philadelphia Sports Club and was soon a full fledged member with all the rights and privileges due my now lighter bank account.

After introducing Little Guy to Miss Kim in the studio used for childcare, I went upstairs to introduce myself to a treadmill. We hit it off rather well, my shuffle filling in any awkward silences.

I ran. The next day I came back, left Little Guy in the hands of Miss Kim II, and ran some more. And the next day and the next. I jogged! I loped! I scampered! I flew! I was the Winged Victory of Samothrace! With a head! And no wings! And not nearly as voluptuous! In running pants and a sports bra! I was Nike in my Brooks running shoes! I doubled my mileage! And added some elevation! And forgot to pay homage to that other oh-so-important-Greek, Achilles, who got pissed off at me and decided to subtly remind me that shoes do not the runner make, especially if that runner has improperly stretched and strengthened her Achilles tendon. Said tendon tightened up like a 36 year-old piece of beef jerky that has been lying in the dashboard of a 1971 Plymouth Duster a la Al Bundy. And said runner no longer ran. Said runner now hobbled. For a week. That flushing sound? That's my training schedule headed down the toilet along with my enthusiasm.

But I decided to pick up my now-rested-and-thoroughly-stretched- on-a-daily-basis heels and start training for what was going to be my ultimate goal, the Philly Distance Run. I was like, "Sorry Broad Street Run. Anyways, I was just trying you out so that if I didn't like all the running I wouldn't have locked myself into anything and have to go explain to the whole entire Internet why I wussied out. But definitely next year. It's a date, BSR." So I headed back to the gym today in the hopes of meeting up with my old-new treadmill friend.

Cue dramatic music. That my friends? That was all set up.

Miss Kim was not there today. Miss Kim II was not there today. I pushed the stroller up to the childcare studio door and then waited for Miss Sophia to reluctantly unlock it so that we could come in. In her defense, she was holding a much-younger-than-Little-Guy baby, so getting up and unlocking the door was a bit of a hassle. And the going rate for childcare at PSC? $4 per hour. Not exactly jump up and shout hallelujah type money. But I digress. As the strains of the anti-Christ Barney and Friends hit me full force in the face, Miss Sophia sat herself back down and went back to whatever she was doing before we got there. Fine. There were other kiddos in the room and LG was already rearing to get out and Play! Play! Play! With all the toys! And the balls! And watch the TV! Because it's Barney! So I got him out, unwrapped him from his blanket, hat, and jacket, and set him down. I walked over to Miss Sophia, showed her his snack bag, told her that he had his water bottle, his blankie and his phone in the stroller should he need them, and signed him in. Miss Sophia nodded to acknowledge that she heard me. Miss Sophia did not introduce herself. Miss Sophia put the baby she had been holding down in his stroller and glanced around the room from her perch by the door. Clearly Miss Sophia was settled in. Miss Sophia wasn't moving.

I kissed Little Guy on the head, told him to be good and headed for the door. 1 step, 2 steps, 3 steps... "Wahhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Now what do I do? Having worked with toddlers in a daycare environment, I know that often times the parents who hesitate and linger to make sure that their own "Little Guy/Gal" is going to be okay cause more trouble than they prevent. LG's recognize that if they screw up their faces just right, they're bound to get some much-desired attention, and that's exactly what they do. And, realizing their power to make full grown adults come running with a well-timed "Wahhhhhhh!", they made full use of that as well. Those parents who expect the caregiver to take charge of the situation and run interference are the happy parents who are able to leave and get to work on time. And soon they are the lucky bastards whose child runs from them to the play-do table the minute they walk through the doors. So I kept walking.

Expecting Miss Sophia to take charge of the situation. Expecting Miss Sophia to distract Little Guy. Expecting Miss Sophia to move. She didn't.

"Wahhhhhhhhh!" followed me all the way to the door. Now, theory is nice. Theory says you get what you expect. So theoretically, I could walk out that door and expect Little Guy to stop crying and go find some toys to play with and forget all about me as I went upstairs to do my thing. Theory sucks. How cold and heartless do you have to be to open a door, turn around to shut it, see your wailing child on the other side of the glass and keep walking? Apparently I haven't gotten there yet. I did walk up the stairs and around the corner to see if me being out of sight would put me out of mind. But either he could still see me or my scent lingered because he wasn't fooled. And with no one to distract him, he stood there at the door, pitifully blowing snot bubbles, howling.

I caved. I went back down the stairs, opened up that door, scooped him up and went over to the stroller to get blankie. Miss Sophia bloomed where she was planted. He stuffed the corner of blankie in his mouth and calmed right down. I sat him down, got him involved in some toys, and tried again. This time I said to Miss Sophia "I'm going to go get changed, then I'll peek in as I head upstairs to make sure he's doing all right." (The studio can been seen into without having to go to the doors, so I could check on him without him seeing me.) I got up and headed to the door.

1 step, 2 steps, 3 steps, 4 steps, 5, 6, 7... "Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" I purposefully kept going, walked out the door, shut it, walked up the stairs, and into the ladies locker room before Little Guy reached the door. I put my bag in my locker, grabbed my shuffle, my water bottle and a small towel (let's just say I don't glow), and headed up to the equipment room. I paused to peak in at Little Guy. Miss Sophia spotted me. She hadn't moved. Little Guy was standing by the door, face all scrunched up. Miss Sophia pointed at him. The two mobile children in the studio (one walking, the other scooting) moved over to him. Miss Sophia looked at them. Little Guy howled. He twisted blankie in his mouth, then pulled it out and let out another howl. Miss Sophia? Stationary.

My heart broke in half and I headed back down to the studio. Little Guy's body shook with sobs as I gathered him up in my arms and walked back over to the stroller. I rocked him on my lap, gave him blankie and whispered to him until he calmed down. We played together with some of the toys around us. He checked out the exersaucer for a bit and when he climbed inside, I pulled it over to where he could see the TV. He didn't even flinch when I walked over to the stroller to get his phone and his waterbottle. I thought I'd give it another go.

1 step... "Wahhhhhhhhhh!" I didn't even get my left foot picked up off the floor.

It was 11:45. We got to the gym at 11:20. Childcare hours run from 9am to 1pm, so I would have had ample time to get in a good workout (just to be clear, I'm talking about no more than 45 minutes, start to finish, including showering and getting back into street clothes. Gym rat I'm not.) before we needed to head home for lunch (generally between 12 and 12:30) if I had been able to start fairly soon after we got there. But 15 minutes does not a workout make, especially when you know that you have a emotionally-drained, getting-hungry-by-the-minute, almost-time-for-his-nap toddler downstairs waiting for you. So I scooped him back up, and headed to the locker room to get my gym bag.

I was pissed.

I stopped at the front desk.

"Is the girl* doing childcare today new?"

"No, that's Miss Sophia. She's been here a while. She's subbing for Miss Kim."

"Oh. Does she have regularly scheduled days, then, or does she just fill in?"

"She just fills in. She used to be here regularly."

"Oh. So Kim and Kim will be back."

"Yeah." Quizzical look.

"Well, it's just that Kim and Kim are always so good with Little Guy. They're always good to distract him if he gets upset when I leave to go do my workout. Miss Sophia didn't seem interested in doing anything with him, so now he's so worked up that we're just going to have to go. I just wanted to make sure that Kim or Kim will be back here so that I can get my workout in when I come back tomorrow."

Blink blink. Blink blink.

Little Guy and I got my gym bag and headed back to the studio to pack up the stroller. Guess where Miss Sophia was. We packed up in silence and headed to the door. Which I unlocked and opened. Miss Sophia may as well have been comatose.

I almost jumped out of my skin when Miss Sophia suggested "Walk him around the block and if he goes to sleep, he can come back..."

I think it was the lasers shooting out of my ears that made her stop talking. That or the red-hot daggers that launched from my eyes. It was all I could do not to channel Satan as I replied "No, we'll just go home today. Maybe Miss Kim will be here tomorrow and be able to distract him so I can work out."

"Are you sure?" she queried sweetly.

I shrugged and kept walking. I just didn't have time for homicide today.

*I didn't know her name until this point.

So tell me, Internet, was I totally out of line? Are my expectations unrealistic? It's not like I'm expecting any fantastic art projects or for LG to learn to tie his shoes during my 45 minute workouts. I don't expect them to do diaper changes and they can totally give him his snack bag and let him pilfer through it himself. Is it really too much to ask for a wee bit of interaction to get him involved in something so that he all he sees as I leave the room isn't his momma deserting him? I recognize that he's 16 months old and nearing the peak of the separation anxiety stage. I know that my workouts can be interrupted if he is so out of control that they need me to take over. I get that. I'm his mother and I'm willing, no, HAPPY to make that sacrifice if it is needed. But come on, shouldn't I get a fighting chance? As it is, I think my new MO will be to call the gym before I leave in the morning to see who is on duty.



The Curmudgeon said...

As you pointed out, sometimes kids can be, uh, manipulative... but I agree -- Miss Sophia did seem to be a tad passive....

Amy Jo said...

You know my feelings on dealing with sub-par child care from gym employees. I think you could have made much more of a stink and still been in line. I agree that these folks don't need to be teaching them fractions, but there is an element to the job that requires getting your butt out of a chair every now and then!

Tracey said...

Boy would I have COMPLAINED!!!They would've known my dissatisfaction -everyone from the janitor to the manager. You are PAYING FOR THIS OUT OF YOUR MEMBORSHIP. Some people are not cut out to work w/children. I think calling before you go is an excellent idea. I wouldn't leave my hamster w/Miss Sophia.

MaryP said...

You've worked with toddlers before, I work with toddlers now. We both know Ms. Sophia is a dud.

The weird thing is that her immobility (which could be termed 'laziness') is only going to make her work environment that much more unpleasant for her, too. Even on my crappiest, tiredest, most unmotivated days, it is sheerest self-interest to peel your butt off the chair and greet a child cheerfully.

Jacqueline said...

wow. I'm no mom, but that ticked even ME off. I probably also wouldn't have said too much (but we all know I'm a weenie), but I would DEFINITELY call before I went. sigh. I hate incompetent people.