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A day in the day care

It seemed like it started out as a perfectly normal day. For me anyways. I did all the normal things a person does in the early morning; you know, yawn, stretch, drink a cola. Then everything changed. Stacey called me from Little Critters Daycare in Clark Fork saying she needed help. Carolyn had left to run to Sandpoint and Stacey had more kids than she was comfortable dealing with. “So mom, please come help me, I need you,” Stacey whined. I caved in and ran to help her like every good mommie does.

She said she had eight kids, but when I got there, I am pretty sure there was at least 40 and I am pretty sure they were attack children disguised as innocent babies. I sat down and my lap was full. I am sure all of their parents must have to be at work at the butt crack of dawn, because all the kids were tired. I rocked two to sleep, only to have Stacey take them from my arms, lay them down on a pallet and replace them with two more sleepy children. I think I might have sung “hush little baby” five thousand times before I was through.

School is out now, so Carolyn’s son Conorey is home. For some weird reason, he is intent on scaring ten years off my life daily and making the gray in my hair stand out more. However, at the age of nine you can’t ask for better helper bees than Conorey and his friends, Jamison and Nona. Frankly, while Stacey was sitting over in the corner, rocking back and forth muttering “save me” wildly, it was these three kids who rescued me.

It’s not that Stacey is a lunatic or anything, it’s just that this particular day, her own daughter Billie had choked on Cheerios, Evan had fallen off the porch and scraped his knee and a tick was found in another child’s hair. (An imported tick, not a Little Critter daily attendee!) So, not cool! I tried desperately to explain to her that these were just things that happen when you have several kids together, but I think her nerves might have already been trampled on too much by then!

I raised four kids, and managed to retain my sanity most of the time, but poor Stacey was not doing so well. Evan might have been traumatized by falling, but Stacey was hysterical. There wasn’t even a loss of blood!

Finally, I told Stacey to run to the store and take a moment to breathe, I would stay at Little Critters and watch the babies for her. Before I could even finish my sentence she had bolted out the front door. That right there should have been a sign for me, but I ignored it, as usual. I mean, how much trouble could I get into with sleeping children?

Unfortunately, when Stacey left, I think they somehow knew that I was alone with them and they all woke up. Slowly they all approached me, looking at me sitting there like I was a giant cake and they were all determined to get a piece of me. I jumped up and suggested that we all go outside to play, thinking that it would distract them until Stacey returned shortly. It was a beautiful day and all the kids readily jumped when I said “let’s play outside.”

They have every toy imaginable out in the yard, stuff I would have never even dreamed that kids would play with. Play cars that they sit in, not like the metal one I had when I was a kid. I had one that was bright red, shaped like a fire engine that I had to push like the Flintstone mobile. However, the play cars they have now have a play ignition, play radios, pedals and they don’t burn your butt when you sit on them either.

Then there is the soccer goal. You know, the kind that you kick the ball into to show the kids how to do it and then the ball accidently hits the railing because you have no athletic ability and then it bounces off and hits you in the mouth. Yup, that kind of soccer goal. After that I felt it was best to let the children figure out how to play with the toys on their own, because I am obviously playtime challenged.

I sat on the porch listening to their banter for about ten minutes, suddenly realizing that Stacey hadn’t returned yet. The mosquitoes were getting bad, and I put sunblock and mosquito repellent on 80 arms and legs, wondering why God created the whole blood-sucking thing. (Sometimes I think way too much.)

As I sat there contemplating on how best to torture my child when she got back, I noticed that Emmie Sue, a 2-year-old, was reading a book to Gizmo, the cat. She was serious about him listening, too. When he turned or moved away, she would follow him, turning his head towards her until he just gave in.

This watching kids thing wasn’t so hard. What had Stacey been complaining about? Ashton was playing quietly, my dog Aspen sunbathing nearby and Nona was following behind Billie, lifting her on Billie’s command. Life was easy today at the daycare. I should have know things were about to change.

About that time, Abbey told me that she was hungry. Then came Dillon, Nathan, Eloise, Elijah and Billie and oh my God, they had to eat? What was Stacey thinking leaving me responsible for 40 hungry terrorists?

Carolyn requires that all the people who work or volunteer at Little Critters have CPR cards, but even then, I had to watch them eat? I don’t like to do that even with my granddaughter Billie, just because I end up being a nervous wreck through the whole ordeal. Somehow I had been coerced into watching all these kids eat and I felt a little bit trapped. I would rather have dealt with tigers and skunks, but I had already done that last month!

The children led me into the house and I kinda felt like I was walking the green mile towards a high voltage chair that I wanted nothing to do with. There was a small gate between the kitchen and playroom, and I didn’t really want to cross it. I mean, there was a reason the gate was there; Carolyn evidently knew that a kitchen and myself don’t mix very well. There are sharp objects in there! But the kids were behind me, practically pushing me over it. I looked at the cabinet that their food is kept in and read the paperwork taped to it. On it were lists of things each child couldn’t eat because of allergies. I was sweating by this point. How in the world do Carolyn and Stacey make 40 different plates of food? This was much harder than I had anticipated and Stacey’s level of punishment rose a notch or two at that moment.

Stacey had been gone for almost an hour by my clock. Exactly how long does it take for the girl to “breathe?” I was shaking as I reached for the plates and I heard laughter behind me. Carolyn and Stacey had both returned at the same time. Thank God. I believe I had lost all the color in my face at the prospect of lunch time with the kids. Read to them? Yes. Rock them? You betcha’. But I wasn’t prepared for the feeding frenzy that I knew was to come.

I breathed a sigh of relief as Stacey and Carolyn took over. It’s no laughing matter to be in charge at a daycare. It’s not just about being patient and loving. You have to know the answers to stuff! In all honesty, Stacey was gone about 20 minutes, but it was a long 20 minutes. Still, I think I will volunteer to watch the four-legged Little Critters that live at Carolyn’s next time. It’s safer; they feed themselves and they don’t talk. Not that I am anti-child. Obviously I am just a wimp.

If you need a daycare in the Clark Fork area for the day, week or month, call Carolyn Vogel 208-266-1670.

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Jinx Beshears Jinx Beshears is a southern transplant to North Idaho, and shares her confusion with the Pacific Northwest Lifestyle in her column, Jinxed. When not writing, or living, her outlandish stories, she's generally lost somewhere in the mountains with her dog, Aspen.

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