You know, SB is completely right in her comment to me about my sticking my big old opinionated opinion into a conversation to which I was no part of in a coffee shop. I was a Supah-huge wench to that woman in the coffee shop. She would have been well within her rights to tell me where to go and how to get there.
I also know that SB knows and loves me Long time in bloggy and even Real World, so I can take her criticism with the grain of salt it is intended. Had someone tried to do that same to ME in a coffee shop, I can assure you that there would be one verbally battered patron exiting...and it wouldn't have been me.
But let me tell you WHY it is important - that term "Day Care" as different from "Child Care" or even better: "Early Care and Education".
After I graduated from the University of Vermont in 1992, in the Upper 1/3 of my graduating class with a Bachelors of Science in Education and a minor/concentration in English Literature, my first job was at a child care center. Due to some very strange economic issues, there were NO teaching positions when I came out of college - particularly for beginning teachers. We couldn't even get subbing work. Many of us were funneled into Child Care positions. Similar skill set, after all.
In hindsight, one of the more amusing things to me is that vast hand of destiny in my future career and professional life. I would have never chosen to work with infants, yet that is what I ended up doing. Most of the other "Real Teachers" in Child Care wanted to at LEAST have the kindergarten age kids. I mean, then they could use their knowledge of lesson plans and academics to feel like they hadn't wasted ALL of the money.
A rare few of us migrated to younger children. We found we had talent. We found that this age - this Infant through Two Year Old group - Well, if you could manage them successfully, you could do ANYTHING.
By this I mean, they had the most challenging Parents. The relationship with parents, by virtue of their child's still developing communication skills, had to be close and personal. Furthermore, parents are SUPER vulnerable to judgement in these years. Even if a family had more than one child, each child was completely different and new. Almost nothing that THIS child did was the same as the previous and/or subsequent child. This uneven ground that constantly shifted and changed made parents, in particular, feeling like they never really Knew what the hell was going on. Every time they thought they figured it out....It changed.
Then there was the observation skills. The best lessons I ever learned about observation and recording were learned on the floor of the infant room at Alphabet House. We watched the children. We lay on the floor with the children. We wrote down what we saw. We discussed it as peers with each other to gain other opinions about any concerns or general observations. As an infant caregiver, I had to set aside anything I knew and simply Watch. I had to formulate and reject or accept theories based on all the developmental knowledge I had accumulated to that point. I learned to watch the children and ask "Why"....because there was always an answer.
In this group of infants, I also honed my presence with children. If there is a Tough Crowd in any situation, it is a group of 12 infants. You show fear...or disrespect and they will eat you alive. They will refuse to eat. They will refuse to sleep. They will refuse to allow you to touch them to change their diapers. Infants and Toddlers are the absolute personality detectors. Later on, I could often tell if someone was even going to get an second interview by watching them approach an Infant or Toddler in the room. 90% of the people came directly AT the child, with some crazy fake voice...which tells the child to RUN AWAY, THIS UNKNOWN ADULT IS CRAZY! 10% may sit down on the floor and wait for a child to approach them ...those were the ones with potential.
So, imagine my surprise when people would hear that I worked with Infants and ask me "So you are a babysitter? When are you going to get real teaching job?"
That was my first glimpse into the fact that the work that I did, everyday, was not valued. It was throw away work, that Anybody could do, and which certainly did not require a Bachelor's Degree in Education! In the years I worked as a Child Care provider, more people than I can count told me I was wasting my talent, or asked when I was going to leave to get a "real" job. Many more were stunned when they learned I had a University degree. I mean, I COULD be working in an office photocopying and making more money than I was making caring for children.
And it was true. It was awful to see people being offered 10 dollars an hour to deliver pizzas, when I was earning 7.50 per hour caring for people's infants. And paying for my own health care.
Oddly, I remember the day that something in my brain switched over. I was calling a parent to tell her that I was pretty sure her daughter had impetigo, and needed to be seen by her Pediatrician.
This baby, in particular, had been a tough nut to crack as she had been a VERY HIGH NEED child, and by the time she got to me at age 5 months, had been asked to leave three other child care situations since she screamed ALOT. I carried her in a sling for a month to prove to her that I was a trustworthy adult, something she had not had a great deal of in her previous child care situations. Needless to say, this baby eventually attached to me - as did her parents - and we had a great relationship.
The mother's assistant answered the phone and I explained who I was and that I needed to speak to the Mom. The assistant paused and asked, "So this is her babysitter?"
CLICK in my brain.
Babysitter? I had been screamed at by this baby for a solid month. I had worked with her and gotten her to trust me so that she could now easily go down for naps...or play on her own...or smile and laugh! I had worked with her parents so we had a routine for separations which were neither Sneaking away (I'm being abandoned by the adult I love most) nor Endless lingering (Are you happy? I'm going to stay until you get upset, cause I need to see you upset to see me go or I can't separate!!!)
"No.", I calmly said. "This is her Child Care Professional."
When the mom got on the line, she was laughing. "She'll never call you a babysitter again!"