Monday, June 29, 2009

When I Am An Old Woman...

...I will not wear purple, because it's not a flattering color. Instead, I'll opt for browns, grays, blues, reds and blacks. Definitely blacks--I am part Italian and it's in my DNA code for how to be an old lady.

This morning I saw a beautiful older woman in her sixties or seventies with a dignified, graceful air, a head of bobbed silver hair and a look that seemed content and intelligent. "Ah, that's how I want to be an old lady", I thought to myself. So let's see how close to the truth this ideal is.

Hmmm...first off, graceful is not a word one associates with me. Nor am I all angles and akimbo, but the first step in Old Lady training for me would be some type of lessons in poise. Preferably before I begin needing a Poise pad.

Then, let's see, I'd have to grow about a foot. Okay, put that in the "impossible, but great idea" category.

Now, for the haircut. I am thinking that if I can't quite get the youthful coif of the woman I spied, at least we'll avoid the Cadfael bowl cut. Derek Jacobi's monk--never was there a more sexless mane!

(I'm sure fashion references to BBC's "Cadfael" series already have me dipping my toe into the Old Lady waters.)

What about her beautiful natural fiber clothing? So, in my old age I will have to stop shopping for clothes at Goodwill all the time and bust out some change for linens and cotton/silk/wool blends. Beautiful old ladies look so pretty in clothes that breathe and move, so I'd best start saving for my retirement wardrobe now.

To keep my intelligence, I will have to start taking the New York Times so I can eventually get past Tuesday on the crosswords. I'll learn sudoku, and then lament when it falls from favor and the newspaper drops it in favor of another puzzle. Perhaps the Jumble will make a comeback.

This is the kind of "flight of fancy" I've been reveling in this summer. We are slowly watching Morgan Spurlock's series "30 Days". I just finished watching "Picnic at Hanging Rock", which is just about the creepiest movie I've seen in some time, never mind that it was made over 30 years ago and has no blood, gore or slashing killer. While Joe was gone I watched more episodes of "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" than I will ever admit to in public. Addictive, even with the total ICK-factor working overtime.

I've even read Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Grey" in graphic novel form and am now following suit with William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice". AND we went to the Organic Brewers Festival this last weekend. AND hiking the next day.

This is the first stretch of days that have really felt like summer. I've been doing a lot of work as well, and flexing my brain in other areas. This last weekend, however, allowed us a little time to relax and just revel in the silliness of summer.

Maybe when I am an old woman, I will look back on those moments and forgive myself for being so darn frivilous. Maybe it will really be okay to read the condensed comic versions of books I don't have time to read right now. Maybe I'll cut myself some slack and remember that my son has been teething and nursing to the point that television is the only thing that's really making the all-evening milk-fest possible.

Or maybe, just maybe, I'll be that old woman who issues her regrets aloud and continues to strive for the ideal. Something like "This marionberry scone and lemon curd are divine, but I really should be making these myself" or the like. I hope I can let go and enjoy the food, enjoy the time. Maybe I'll be one of those divine old ladies who takes a glass of white wine with her grilled salmon and asparagus lunch and then lounges in the shade with a book in the summer, occasionally looking up at the flowers with satisfaction. I'll likely age like a hobbit, getting hairier and shorter, but I think that I'm going to like being older, hopefully wiser, and with a little silliness still in my heart.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

After toying with title upon title, I don't know that I can be sufficiently succinct, so this post will go untitled. And, as the Kiddo is playing at the neighbors and I should be outdoors toiling in the soil, I'm limiting this post to 30 minutes again.

In my last post I was looking forward to the Overview class on becoming a registered child care provider. It's easy to do your homework on this before taking the class; just check out the information at

http://www.employment.oregon.gov/EMPLOY/CCD/family.shtml

(*special thanks to Lissa, who helped me by finding a gagillion sites!)

The primary presenter did a great job of explaining the different kinds of licensing that are required for different situations, and introduced another person from Metro whose job is to oversee/conduct the inspection process that must take place for a home to be certified. He also spent some good time answering questions specific to the registered family care rules and regs. Overall, the class itself was very informative, and I think it gave some people food for thought.

That said, while I realize the state is trying to regulate child care for everyone's safety, (including, I believe, the care provider's), I am disheartened by the loose teacher:child ratios. This type of care allows one person to have up to ten children at a time. TEN! And while it only allows for two children under the age of 2 years, it does allow up to six children under the age of three. Four toddlers and two infants and one caregiver?! Good grief, that sounds like punishment! I think the registration process should include some review of how many children of which ages are coming and if the caregiver understands the magnitude of this sort of work. I'd prefer to see something more specific that takes into account the massive amounts of attention that sort of combination would require, especially when you take into account how much personal development children go through in the toddler and early preschool years in regard to toileting, self-care and self-regulation. It's just amazing.

I was also a bit surprised at the lack of knowledge many people have about quality care who want to go into this occupation. One exercise we were asked to do was to break up into groups and list some things that come to mind when one thinks of Quality Child Care. One person in our group was silent, and it wasn't because we didn't include her. Perhaps she is a treasure trove of information and wanted to let the rest of us figure it out, but I'll never know. A few of the comments from other aspiring care providers left me scratching my head ("Did they really just ask about their electric fence?") or shuddering, as when one person made it abundantly clear that their having to attend a half-day's worth of classes to receive an enhanced compensation rate from DHS was an inconvenience. The classes are all health and safety related and a bare bones minimum to keep the kids alive and in one piece, more or less. Her apathy and lack of concern for the children in her care was disconcerting.

This isn't to discount some of the women who attended (yes, it was as I imagined, all women), or their attitudes. Many of them were obviously passionate about early childhood ed. This was encouraging. So often there is an assumption that a person providing care in their own home is lazy or lacks ambition; the assumption is that watching kids is pretty damn easy. Well, caring for kids is what you make it: it can be just a way to make money, or we can strive to create a quality experience for families.

So, all in all, I came away with the desire to see this business professionalized even more. I'd like to see the standard for licensing raised by, say, requiring at least 4-8 hours of training at the time of the first application, on top of the basic health and safety requirements. The class was a good experience overall, and inspires me just that much more to become a top-notch, quality program. Our children, their families, and our communities depend on it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

30 Minutes or Less...

Ready, Set, Type!

I have thirty minutes before my beloved Joe steps out for a game of cribbage at the pub, leaving me to continue the day-long care of our son. We've been busy, too. This morning we went to our Monday playgroup.On the way home we stopped off at an elementary school and I sat down to cool my heels and my brain while the dear Kiddo poked a stick into the drainage holes in the wall by the basketball court. It was nice to just relax as he toodled about on the grass and a nice way to pass a little time before heading home to lunch and a very long, protracted attempt at napping. It did finally happen and I worked on a bit through this Reggio-Emilia-based book that is helping me reevaluate and reconsider my nursery-school-to-be.

Mapping out one's future professional digs seems like it should be easy, but truth be told, it's a challenge when the environment isn't actually in physical existence. This book is about rethinking the present situation, and I don't have a present situation as yet. At the moment, I can tell you what I do have: a sink of dishes, leftovers from dinner already in the fridge, and a living room that needs a bit of a pick-up and sweep. Oh, and Dad and Child playing atonal guitar to that d*mned Crowded House cd, again.

Maybe they'll get motivated and clean up for Mama? Yeah, right.

Tomorrow I start the first baby steps of getting my school (which doesn't yet exist anywhere but in my head) licensed. I'm taking an "Overview" class, which will hopefully get me pointed in the right direction. I've been really impressed with the classes that are being offered through the state's child care division, but found the information on the State Registry a bit disappointing. The Oregon Registry is a way to formalize the trainings/classes/degrees one has in Early Childhood Ed and Human and Social Development, and from what I could see, there doesn't seem to be any way to get credit for the past seventeen-odd years that I've been doing this. I can see why not, really, but that mountain of books I've read doesn't seem to count, either. I'll be interested to see if there's any sort of equivalency evaluation that would further my standing, but from the looks of it, right now I'm at big old Step Zero.

I have to laugh, in a way. I think of all the women who care for children who are just wonderful and referred through word-of-mouth and have no use for licenses and registries. Legitimizing the business is great, but I do wonder how/if hands on experiences and excellent references can count for anything on paper, when they count for everything when someone is placing their little one in your hands. The trust and partnership between caregivers and their families can't be measured and are of value beyond belief.

So, for those of you interested (if anyone is), I'm hoping to document this licensing process on this blog. Maybe it will inspire someone who feels a bit daunted by the process; I know that there are moments when I've wondered what the heck I'm doing starting this business, but that's to be expected when you are following your heart's dream. Okay, maybe my heart's dream is to have this space not be in my home, but that dream takes a little more capital than we have at present. Renting another space is part of our 3-5 year plan for the business, and it's going to be a great day when the living room looks like ours again instead of a mini-CDC.

Wish me luck! Wish me attentiveness and an imperviousness to being overwhelmed and discouraged! Oh, and a good night's sleep.

Ding! My thirty minutes are up. Off to take Kiddo for a walk...