The Path to Better Child Care

Studies show that 90 percent of a child's brain develops by age 5. The obvious fact that teachers, other children and indoor and outdoor facilities offered my kids far more stimulation and learning opportunities than I (or another single caregiver) could provide at home is one reason I always felt that day care was a great choice. Or should I say good day care was a great choice.

Now a new "state report card" issued by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) points to "an urgent need in every state to improve standards and oversight of child-care centers." In plain language, a lot of states failed the NACCRRA test, and the association believes substandard day care is a national problem. With children of working mothers spending an average of 36 hours each work week in child care, improving the quality of care nationwide is in everyone's best interest.

Overall, states averaged 70 points out of a possible 150 score. Twenty-one states have no minimum educational requirement for teachers. Only eight states address all 10 of the NACCRRA's basic health and safety benchmarks, basics such as safe playground surfaces, diapering and hand-washing standards, prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and fire drills. Only two states (Nevada and Illinois) require full background checks of child-care staff. Pretty frightening results.

According to a news release sent out yesterday by NACCRRA, here are the top and bottom 10 states (listed alphabetically):

TOP TEN
Illinois
Maryland
Michigan
Minnesota
New York
North Dakota
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Vermont
Washington (state)

WEAKEST TEN
California
Idaho
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Nebraska
New Hampshire
New Mexico
Utah

This does not mean there aren't fantastic -- and awful -- day-care centers in these states. Statistics can never completely measure safety when it comes to young children. There is no substitute for parents' intuition when it comes to evaluating good and bad child-care situations.

But bravo to the NACCRRA for trying to quantify good child care. The association, which works with more than 800 state and local agencies, also provides several publications, a Childcare Connector referral for local child-care providers and a very useful Average Rates Finder, so that you can see what the going rate for different kinds of care is in your Zip code. Parents -- and kids -- would benefit from even more research to spotlight the quality of our nation's care of our youngest citizens.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  March 2, 2007; 6:45 AM ET  | Category:  Childcare
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second!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 7:41 AM

Then, I am First!

Posted by: first comment | March 2, 2007 7:50 AM

From the article: "The Defense Department stands alone as a model to the states."

It's probably worth recognizing that even with all of the challenges inherent to its mission the DoD is still able to institute standards well above any of the 50 states in this area. Kudos to them.

Posted by: A Dad | March 2, 2007 7:54 AM

I think it is great to start to quantify the quality of child care. And having minimum standards of safety are also important. But I hesitate for parents to use this report card as their only guide. Sometimes all the degrees in the world do not make a difference. On paper I am much more educated then the day care staff at my daughter's day care. But they have 15 years of experience in the industry and all 5 workers are mothers/grandmothers. We also have a staff to child ratio of 3 to 1 and 2 to 1 for infants. But more then anything they are truly loving, nurturing, and caring. That beats all the best preschool activities, degrees, and enrichment programs. I am more interested in basic safety and the caring attitude then impressive gym equipment, reading readiness programs. Trust your gut. Think if I were to stay home, which day care would most mirror the safety, values, and enviroment that I could provide.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 2, 2007 7:57 AM

This is how you justify this column on the quality of child care centers report: "Studies show that 90 percent of a child's brain develops by age 5. The obvious fact that teachers, other children and indoor and outdoor facilities offered my kids far more stimulation and learning opportunities than I (or another single caregiver) could provide at home is one reason I always felt that day care was a great choice. olumn blogging on the report on the quality of child care centers."

You really have not a clue about how to raise children or what is best for them. It's not "stimulation" from those employed at day care centers. the most important people in the world to those under five years old at Mom, Dad, grandparents, siblings, and extended family. If you want to know why Asian children (at least I can speak for the Chinese) learn self discipline, trustworthiness, hard work ethics, life long love of learning, and all those other things that studies show are typical of Asian students, it's because of the extraordinary "teaching" done by the extended family in the first five years of life. Building and establishing those bonds and relationships and learning by example of the most critical role models children can have (family members) is far more influential in how a child turns out than "external stimulaation" such as playgrounds, etc. I'm not suggesting there is no room for day care - there is. But good day care, especially important for socializing skills, (starting at age two or three, depending on the child's development progress) needs to be slowly worked into a child's awake hours, but not in place of family interaction and teaching. The learning environment that is most critical to how a child will turn out is that one at home during the first five years of life.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 8:02 AM

Martius Insania Initium

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 8:03 AM

This is how you justify this column on the quality of child care centers report: "Studies show that 90 percent of a child's brain develops by age 5. The obvious fact that teachers, other children and indoor and outdoor facilities offered my kids far more stimulation and learning opportunities than I (or another single caregiver) could provide at home is one reason I always felt that day care was a great choice. olumn blogging on the report on the quality of child care centers."

You really have not a clue about how to raise children or what is best for them. It's not "stimulation" from those employed at day care centers. the most important people in the world to those under five years old at Mom, Dad, grandparents, siblings, and extended family. If you want to know why Asian children (at least I can speak for the Chinese) learn self discipline, trustworthiness, hard work ethics, life long love of learning, and all those other things that studies show are typical of Asian students, it's because of the extraordinary "teaching" done by the extended family in the first five years of life. Building and establishing those bonds and relationships and learning by example of the most critical role models children can have (family members) is far more influential in how a child turns out than "external stimulaation" such as playgrounds, etc. I'm not suggesting there is no room for day care - there is. But good day care, especially important for socializing skills, (starting at age two or three, depending on the child's development progress) needs to be slowly worked into a child's awake hours, but not in place of family interaction and teaching. The learning environment that is most critical to how a child will turn out is that one at home during the first five years of life.

Posted by: Margaret | March 2, 2007 8:03 AM

Fred,
As a non-latin reader I say "huh?"

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 2, 2007 8:05 AM

We will wait for people's guesses. But it is quite a current topic.

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 8:07 AM

March Madness Begins.

Posted by: Lizzie | March 2, 2007 8:09 AM

Lizzie,

Precisely!

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 8:12 AM

Hey, I didn't translate Cicero's orations against Cataline for nothin'.

Posted by: Lizzie | March 2, 2007 8:15 AM

At first I thought Leslie was writing about NASCAR rating daycare centers.

Apparently I need more coffee and don't have much to post about right now. That's a first!

I'll check later to see if anything has spun out of control and where the tangents are going.

Posted by: cmac | March 2, 2007 8:15 AM

"Hey, I didn't translate Cicero's orations against Cataline for nothin'."

And I am glad that I did not have to! But my knuckles still hurt from Sr. Thaddeus's ruler!

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 8:17 AM

Margaret at 8:03
But what if the better infant/toddler teacher is the one at day care, rather than the one at home? I just don't think babies learn values at all. Indeed, kindergarden is about learning to share so values are just starting at about 3, probably 4.

Posted by: dotted | March 2, 2007 8:24 AM

The problem with day care is primarily that most parents can only afford to pay rates that only support less-qualified providers. Of course DOD has the best, the government - us - are subsidizing it. Whereever day care is subsidized, the quality will be higher. In high-income areas the quality will be higher. But for the low and middle classes, you would have to be lucky to find a high-quality provider you can afford.

Posted by: jj | March 2, 2007 8:37 AM

I put three different zipcodes into the Average Rates Finder and there was no information available for any of those zipcodes. There was information for Childcare Connector, but not for the rates. Not a very useful tool, IMO.

Posted by: huh? | March 2, 2007 8:42 AM

foamgnome, just checking: did you mean "We also have a staff to child ratio of 1 to 3 and 1 to 2 for infants?" That seems more reasonable.

At the risk of exposing my ignorance about daycare facilities, I think that it is very important to rate daycare centers. I think that there should be a set of standards that are enforced by a government or private agency. Just like the health code for restaurants, there should be a code for daycares. If one center continually falls short of the expectations, it is closed.

Is there anything like this? Don't centers have to become certifed? I worked at a preschool for years, but it was run by a church, and I never knew how much they were regulated.

As consumers of daycare services, parents have to be vigilant ("buyer beware" and all that). But it seems very hard to get objective information about a center if there are no regulations to measure it against.

Posted by: Meesh | March 2, 2007 8:45 AM

jj @ 8:37, it is not a market absolute that subsidies lead to higher quality. There is not a precise causal relationship between price and quality.

Example - per student expenditure in DC schools, vs quality of DC schools as measured by test scores.

There is no "of course" there.

I, for one, feel like my kid is in a great daycare in ex-urban NoVA (Burke) which was cheaper than the options in Arlington and Tysons Corner. The wife and I drive out-of-the-way because we toured many centers and felt best about this one. We are glad we did.

Posted by: Random Guy | March 2, 2007 8:47 AM

We've used DOD daycare from time to time and I'd caution against interpreting any general statistics as being indicators of a particular situation. Certain things just aren't quantifiable -- like the attitude the providers have towards the children, whether respect, love and kindness are being taught and modeled and so forth. I'm always sort of amused when I see how highly the DOD system is rated -- because we've had such mixed experiences in our own uses of it.

I learned my lesson about using statistics back when I thought that a school's SOL scores would be important in helping my family to choose a great neighborhood and school for my kids. SOL scores correlate mostly with the socioeconomic status of the parents -- and say little, if anything, about the quality of the teaching, administration, attitudes, etc. of the school.

I suspect if you dug deeply you'd find the same thing with the daycare ratings -- mostly they correlate with the cost of the daycare, the neighborhoods served and so forth. (Which seems obvious to me -- the only reason anyone would choose substandard daycare would be because they didn't have a lot of money or other options.)

Posted by: Armchair Mom | March 2, 2007 8:55 AM

To cmac: my husband this am said: we have the finest roasted arabica beans and *i* thought he said: we have the finest roasted rabbits. Clearly I needed my coffee. Billy joel was great last night tho.

There areStandards that day care centers can acheive. The natl assoc of something or other (nayec?) Can certify a center but it is optional.

Posted by: atlmom | March 2, 2007 9:01 AM

Question for the blog: My son seems to have major trouble separating. He was at home with me for a few years and has been with a sitter at our home for about 18 months. He cries when he is taken to preschool (3 mornings a week) and cries when I leave in the morning for work. He is 4 1/2. We are considering putting him in daycare in preparation for attending Kindergarten (full-time) in 2008, because we're concerned that he will not be over this.

Is this normal for a 4 1/2 year old boy? He has always had a thing for "mama" in particular but I worry that if it continues, there will be major problems with him starting school. I am thinking that being in a daycare center M-F will help him get ready. Has anyone else ever had this problem?

Posted by: Anon Today | March 2, 2007 9:07 AM

Another very useful source to check:

Whether the daycare/preschool is NAEYC accredited. It is amazingly difficult to obtain this and only 10% of daycares and preschools nationwide are certified by the NAEYC! You'll pay through the nose for these schools, but at least you can rest assured that your kids are safe and strigent standards must be met.

I would also only choose schools that allowed me to visit whenever I'd like. I have a few friends with kids in daycares/preschools who must schedule a visit to the classroom- this is ridiculous and very scary. An open door policy is all I'd accept from a place in which I entrust my child's care.

I also loved that I could take my daughter for a few days before she started so she knew the teachers and the classroom she'd be in.

I would check out NAEYC, though and push your school to use it if they don't!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 9:12 AM

to anon today. my eldest boy didn't like preschool. he never wanted to go. he liked kindergarten just fine. he separated with no problem. give your 4 1/2 year old time with you now, and he may be more ready for kindergarten when the time comes. my son had trouble separating from me in preschool, but the good part is that now at age 18, he likes to talk to his mother. I just hope he marries someone who likes her mother-in-law!

Posted by: experienced mom | March 2, 2007 9:13 AM

To anon today:

My son is the same age and I went back to work abou 18 mos ago. It is pretty normal, but you should also look at the behavior after you leave. Is he ok? Was it just an act for you? It has taken some time, but my son really loves school now and never wants to leave. He isn't so clingy to me anymore, which is good.
It really just takes time and will work itself out, no matter how much you torture yourself-you aren't doing anything wrong. When you're leaving, don't prolong it- say goodbye give him a hug and kiss, then leave.

Posted by: atlmom | March 2, 2007 9:15 AM

we laugh at how my youngest used to scream and yell and fling his entire body at the door after I went out. We thought he would break down the door. As soon as he heard my car drive away, he's turn to the sitter and ask her to play. I'm sure his emotions were real, and I knew I shouldn't worry about it, but he made me feel really bad. I was glad to know he was happy when I was gone. (Had the older kids as witnesses.) What made me more sad was the day he told me he didn't miss me when I was gone! probably around age 5, they get more independent then.

Posted by: experienced mom | March 2, 2007 9:22 AM

I agree that you should question the daycare people about your son's behavior 5 minutes after you leave.

My son was in daycare from the age of 7 months and so was "used to it." But every so often he would go through periods of testing us by acting distraught at our leaving. We kept it loving but BRIEF and the wonderful women at the center reassured us that he was happy as clams within 2 minutes of us leaving. He was MORE distraught if we allowed it to drag out. And of course, he always insisted I go run an errand or something if I tried to pick him up a bit early...having too much fun playing with his friends!

No idea what to suggest if your son is unhappy for much longer than 10 minutes after you leave. Good luck!

Posted by: Erika | March 2, 2007 9:23 AM

As a Virginia mom, what concerned me most after reading this study is that Virginia doesn't require checks of criminal records for child abuse and neglect by law. Surely, THIS is something we can change. Write your Delegates and State Senators and demand this change!

Posted by: tessajp | March 2, 2007 9:24 AM

Pretty much agree with Margaret...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | March 2, 2007 9:26 AM

I'm worried that states are too stringent in some ways. VA is trying to increase the licensing regulations for family day cares. One requirement would be that providers have to have at least a 2 year degree (AA). I'm sorry, but people that tak ecare of babies do not need a degree in early childhood education. They need to know how to take care of babies, provide a safe environment, etc. But these requirements will shut out a lot of people who currently provide these services and make care for infants that much harder to find and probably more expensive. For older kids, yes, teacher education is important. But I think the state is going overboard on some of this stuff for the family day cares. They are also requiring tons and tons more paperwork--again, the result is going to be fewer people providing services, not necessarily better quality.

Posted by: Arlmom | March 2, 2007 9:27 AM

To exp mom:

I know how much it hurts, but really, to reassure yourself, remember that your child probably doesn't know what 'missing you' really. Means.
When I came back from a business trip, I said to my oldest, I missed you and he repeated it back, but I don't think he really understood. It is good for teaching tho...

Posted by: atlmom | March 2, 2007 9:29 AM

http://www.naeyc.org/

Forgot to leave the website for NAEYC

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | March 2, 2007 9:30 AM

How long did it usually take your children to adjust to a new caregiver after you went back to work? We're in week 2 of the Bottle Wars with my breastfed 12 week old right now. She's with a part-time nanny, and daddy the other hours. She had no issues with the bottle when we introduced it many weeks before.

Posted by: D.C. mama | March 2, 2007 9:32 AM

To Anon Today, my son is the same. (Is this a boy thing?) We just try to remind him how brave he is, and I've spoken with his teachers and within seconds most days he is playing and romping around. I think it's a phase, though he's always loved his mom!

On topic, I hate studies like the one that Leslie is putting up today and think that they probably drive most moms frantic. I'm not saying I'd prefer not to know or antyhing like that, but I suspect (albeit without having the evidence to back up my suspiscion) that most of the parents on this blog are greatly engaged in the selection of childcare and are capable of discerning good quality care from bad. That's not to say we all have x-ray visison or anything, but there's a difference between high quality care and poor care. Unfortunately, the people who are penalized most are probably the ones who can't afford quality care and have to put their kids in whatever is most affordable.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 2, 2007 9:38 AM

I haven't found a strong correlation between cost of daycare and quality.

When DW and I were feds, the day care center to which our kids went was NAEYC accredited and it was very, very good, but the cost was very comparable to other day care centers in the area that weren't accredited and that we didn't like as much.

Having grown up in DoD schools and even "pre-schools" (they weren't called Day care centers at Ft. Knox back then), they're good not because of money/subsidizing, they're good because there's a general attitude that families are important to the military member's performance and you do what's necessary to help the military member do better. That means providing good schools, encouraging or even mandating parental involvement in schools, hiring quality staff, and encouraging staff-parent interaction. And very importantly, there's a mechanism for solving problems - it's called the Commanding Officer.

Yes, there are some problems at times, but just as the Major General was relieved from command at Walter Reed over their problems, other commanders can and have been removed because of issues they didn't take care of.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 2, 2007 9:44 AM

If it's possible, try having your husband or other family member drop him off. This worked for a friend of mine-- their son was happy to transition from Mom to Dad, and then from Dad to daycare, but not directly from Mom to daycare. Once the pattern of happy departures was set, the mom could take over the dropoffs again.

Posted by: Neighbor | March 2, 2007 9:44 AM

I think there are standards below which centers should not fall. The facility itself must be safe, the staff trained in hygiene. The food served needs to be safe and suitable for children. An acceptable ratio of staff to children factors into safety and hygiene as well.

Beyond that I think it's difficult to generalize. That's where the parent has to decide for themselves. I had active boys so a babysitter that was mobile and willing to take children outside and lived near a good park was a must.

If I was happy with the center and the staff I found that my children were happy.

I used the Child Care Connection in Montgomery County and found it to be useful. While a licensed provider was not a guarantee of quality it helped me to weed out those who were not committed to at least basics in quality.

Licensed facilities also qualify for food subsidies, which helps out. My social worker friend worked in Fairfax County "inspecting" home child care centers. She said she's never drunk so much tea in her entire life! In every home the woman (it was always women) was happy to see her and have a cup of tea.

Childcare needs change. What works for a baby isn't always good for a pre-schooler. I think navigating the child care situation was very frightening, but once I got into it then it worked out. The first child is really the hardest. Once you have one then finding care for the next one isn't such a mysterious challenge.

Posted by: RoseG | March 2, 2007 9:48 AM

Hi, 3 comments:

1) In response to:

Another very useful source to check:

Whether the daycare/preschool is NAEYC accredited. It is amazingly difficult to obtain this and only 10% of daycares and preschools nationwide are certified by the NAEYC! You'll pay through the nose for these schools, but at least you can rest assured that your kids are safe and strigent standards must be met"

I've spoken with 2 different daycare center supervisors who I highly respect (in 2 different states) who say that they each refuse to go through NAEYC accreditation because of the expense and the paperwork that the organization requires. Both say that their organizations abide by the standards, but the reason they refuse to get accredited is because they are frustrated with the NAEYC bureaucracy. As a public school teacher, myself, I totally get this emotion!

2) I am struggling to find an appropriate, affordable, full-day preschool for my child in the NOVA area. I've been to multiple preschool fairs and the majority of the programs are part-day. It's even hard to find out who is full-day and who is part-day through ads and word of mouth. I've started my search a YEAR in advance and it boggles my mind that there is no centralized place to even get PHONE numbers and basic information! In one case, I took a day off work to go to a fair. Out of the 21 preschools there, 19 were part-day and the other 2 were lovely, but over $20,000 a year!

3) In response to the comments about how extended family and parents are most important: In general, I agree that it is the parents' job to make sure values are instilled, not the daycare provider. HOWEVER, my son is in a home daycare setting run by a wonderful woman who I now consider a PART of our extended family. Also, because the earlier poster really seemed to be touching close to the "everyone should stay home with their kids" argument, I would ask her who would teach HER kids if I can't go to work and have someone watch MY kid?

Posted by: teacher | March 2, 2007 9:48 AM

to anon today:

I stayed home for 3 yrs before heading back to work. I personally (amazingly) didn't have any issues with my daughter separating, but I have to say that maybe all of the transitions are too difficult for him (being part time w/ a babysitter and part time at school) It's normal at this age to have a hard time transitioning.

I would try 5 days/week (in the morning maybe) and you should be the one to drop him off, not the babysitter. I think it would be easier for him to have a steady schedule each day.

My daughter gets all out of whack if we even pick her up 1/2 hr early! She likes her routine- so maybe that's the problem? Maybe he'd like a more set, "Mommy drops me off at school everyday and babysitter picks me up everyday at noon"

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | March 2, 2007 9:49 AM

Anon Today --

Second (third? fourth? fifth?) the notion of seeing how your son acts after you leave. My daughter could sense guilt like a shark smelling blood in the water --@ 3 to 3 1/2, we had recently moved and changed her preschool, so I was worried about how well she was adjusting. So at dropoff, she would go into this big whiney/clingy fit, which of course played right on my fears and made me want to comfort her. Result: I'd stay longer and longer to calm her down and let her transition -- and she'd get more worked up instead of calmed down. (Makes perfect sense, if you think about it: gee, if my mom is treating this like such a big deal, and if she's getting all upset about leaving me, then maybe it IS a big deal and I SHOULD be upset).

Then I mentioned it to my husband one day, and he gave me this look and said "what the heck are you talking about -- she never does that when I drop her off." Lightbulb! So next time, I dropped her off, gave her a quick hug and kiss, ignored the fit. Snuck back to look through the window 30 sec. later, and she was playing happily as if it had never happened. So much for the guilt!

She still totally works my mom, though. Massive irony: my mom NEVER had the slightest sympathy for that kind of thing. But man, my daughter has her snookered something good! I swear, one of these days, I'm going to make the girl a little Emmy.

YMMV, of course. I know another girl in my daughter's class who really is truly upset after mom leaves -- have seen her there 30 mins. or an hr later still crying. But it seems that by the time they hit 4 or 5, that is in the very, very small minority.

Posted by: Laura | March 2, 2007 9:50 AM

DoD daycare is good, but next to impossible to get into particularly if you have an infant and/or are not a single parent or a military-military couple.

Posted by: Military Momma | March 2, 2007 9:50 AM

----The obvious fact that teachers, other children and indoor and outdoor facilities offered my kids far more stimulation and learning opportunities than I (or another single caregiver) could provide at home is one reason I always felt that day care was a great choice----

Leslie, your "obvious fact" is neither obvious nor fact. While it is true that some parents may not be able/willing to create a home atmosphere where children can thrive, children have blossomed in the care of their mother or father or other caring family member for many, many years. Young children do not need to be institutionalized to learn and develop.

Posted by: MBA Mom | March 2, 2007 9:52 AM

To SAHMbacktowork...While NAEYC is good on its face, I would caution against using it as the barometer.

My oldest daughter was in a NAEYC center. When we moved here from New England, the center was recommended to us by several family members and friends. However, we found that that staff was unprofessional, and kids were out of control. She aged out of the center within the school year, so we no longer need to deal with that...However, my niece is there (my SIL used NAEYC as her barometer), and they've had nothing but issues. Some were definitely on my niece's end of things, but the center didn't make things any better, either.

Our two younger sons are at a great day care that is state licensed and accredited (there is a difference). The center applied for NAEYC accreditation, but was denied. My sons are at their home away from home, with a staff that loves them and cars for them while my husband and I work. No NAEYC accreditation could buy that.

Posted by: momof3 | March 2, 2007 9:54 AM

Teacher-

Re: #2

I'm an IT guy, and FFX county's Office for Children is one of the more rewarding clients I've ever had. We helped them enhance their Childcare search database. Their main site is here:

http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/ofc/

Go about halfway down and click "Perform Online Childcare Search".

They have a wealth of knowledge and will help you by phone if you don't find what you need.

In my opinion this office is one of the better uses of Tax Dollars that I've ever seen.

Posted by: Random Guy | March 2, 2007 9:54 AM

To our NC posters, what say you to this article??

Nifong has no recall of session
He, officers differ on meeting at lab

Nifong is fighting to preserve his law license.

Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong and the lead investigators in the Duke lacrosse case have different recollections of the first time they huddled at the Burlington laboratory that provided DNA testing for the prosecution.
Durham police Sgt. Mark Gottlieb and Investigator Benjamin Himan each listed in their case notes that they were at DNA Security on April 10, a week before any indictments in the case.

And Himan noted that Nifong was present at the meeting with Brian Meehan, head of the private lab.

But in a letter to the N.C. State Bar released this week, Nifong said he could not recall the event, although he acknowledged that a meeting occurred.

"I can only report that I have no recollection of that meeting and that I have no documentation or other evidence that I ever attended such a meeting," Nifong said in the Jan. 16 letter.

Nifong's letter was included in a voluminous filing Wednesday to the State Bar.

The bar, which oversees and disciplines lawyers in this state, charged Nifong in December and January with ethics violations related to his handling of the Duke lacrosse case.

Now the veteran prosecutor is in a fight to save his law license.

In his personal responses to the bar accusations, Nifong gives a glimpse of the case he planned against three former Duke lacrosse players -- David Evans, 23, Collin Finnerty, 20, and Reade Seligmann, 20.

Each is charged with kidnapping and sexual offense. Their accuser, an escort service dancer, said she was gang-raped at a lacrosse team party last spring.

Nifong said that in a photo line-up done April 4, the accuser had identified Finnerty and Seligmann as her assailants "to a certainty of 100 percent." She had identified Evans to "a certainty of 90 percent," he said.

"For me, this case was an eyewitness identification case, one in which I was looking for DNA evidence that either corroborated that identification or refuted it," Nifong said.

In January, Nifong asked the state attorney general to take over the case. Since then, special prosecutors have pored over the evidence and interviewed witnesses.

The timeline of Nifong's first meeting with Meehan could help clarify when the prosecutor first learned of the existence of DNA evidence from men not on the Duke lacrosse team.

Charges were filed against Finnerty and Seligmann on April 17.

In a Dec. 28 letter to the bar, Nifong said his first meeting with Meehan was April 21, four days after the first indictments.

It was then, Nifong said, that he learned of the presence of DNA on the accuser's clothing and body from men other than the tested lacrosse players and the accuser's boyfriend.

But in the Jan. 16 letter to the bar, Nifong wrote about a May 12 meeting in which Meehan provided a report to the prosecution.

"He also discussed with us the results of the tests he had performed since our April 10, 2006, meeting," Nifong said.

The bar has accused Nifong of withholding the evidence favorable to the accused and then lying about it to judges and the bar.

But Nifong said he did not see the test results as necessarily favorable to the defense.

"They neither suggested that no assault took place nor that the assault was committed by someone else," Nifong said.

In a December hearing, Meehan acknowledged that he and Nifong agreed to exclude evidence in the initial DNA report.

In his letters to the bar, Nifong said he did not intentionally withhold evidence nor did he mean to cause pretrial prejudice through the numerous interviews he gave to the news media between March 27 and April 3.

In one of the letters, Nifong said he feared the bar was "looking for a prosecutor" to punish for the misdeeds of other prosecutors whose misconduct has recently come to light and who have gone largely unpunished.

He offered several explanations for some of the problems that have arisen:

* The lacrosse case arose "during the last few weeks of a hotly-contested Democratic Party primary in which I was seeking to retain my office," he said. "I was not always able to give the case my full attention."

* The volume of material to be copied for each defendant meant that a number of lawyers and support workers were involved in the numbering and copying of pages, he said. "These people were neither concentrating on the actual contents of the documents being copied nor familiar enough with the facts of the case to have known whether anything was missing."

* He said he had never before encountered such determined pretrial resistance. "A well-connected and well-financed (but not, I would suggest, well-intentioned) group of individuals -- most of whom are neither in nor from North Carolina, have taken it upon themselves to ensure that this case never reaches trial."

http://www.newsobserver.com/102/story/548876.html

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | March 2, 2007 9:56 AM

I've spoken with 2 different daycare center supervisors who I highly respect (in 2 different states) who say that they each refuse to go through NAEYC accreditation because of the expense and the paperwork that the organization requires. Both say that their organizations abide by the standards, but the reason they refuse to get accredited is because they are frustrated with the NAEYC bureaucracy. As a public school teacher, myself, I totally get this emotion!

So they SAY they follow the standards. Do they provide checklists for the parents to prove this? Are the parents involved in the process? I honestly don't care how much it costs or the time involved- it's the fact that the center thinks it's worth it to show parents they are committed to the kids intheir charge. I'm the one who absorbs the costs anyway. I like for the NAEYC accreditors to actually show up and check it out. The parents are all aware of the standards and if something starts to slip- believe me, the parents speak up!

It's the JOBS of the daycare providers to ensure standards are met. There is a lot of paperwork that I don't enjoy filling out, but the process is the process and I abide by it.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 9:56 AM

I totally agree with MBA mom. It all depends on the person staying home with the child. I'm fully capable of providing my children an "enriching" atmosphere. Spare me the babble.

Posted by: just another mom | March 2, 2007 9:57 AM

Daycare workers are horribly underpaid. Daycare centers pay what? $8-12 an hour with little benefits and no job prestige. What kind of person would want that job? I know there are some martyrs that are willing to do that, but who is the typical daycare worker? Would any of the many professional want to up and quit their jobs for that kind of work? I know the attitude many people I know have and when someone says they are a daycare worker, it is assumed the person has no ambition and little education.

When I was in college, the friends I had the dropped out and flunked out got jobs at daycare centers. I live in an affluent suburb and the daycare centers a couple of my friends worked in were the high quality child care centers with the biggest price tags. One of my good friends who flunked out of college worked at the most expensive day care in the affluent suburb and eventually quit because of a cocaine problem she developed while working there. It was provided by another college dropout who worked there as a daycare teacher (with 5 years experience) who's boyfriend was a drug dealer. They would do coke in the daycare bathroom while on break. My friend's classroom was called the waddlers...I think they were around 9 months - 1.5 years or something like that. BTW, this friend was also constantly harassed and badgered by parents to watch the kids at nights and on weekends by the parents who thought she was so much better than any of the other teachers their kids have had.

I had another friend who was a nanny. We would go out all night and get back at 5am and she would go get the kids she was in charge of at 8am (with no sleep) and drive them (after consuming who knows how many alcoholic beverages and drugs the night/morning before) to the country club that the parents belonged to where she would pass out by the pool.

I can go on and on with examples of people I knew who worked in daycare centers who I wouldn't entrust the care of a child to......

These two friends of mine both eventually turned their life's around and got real jobs, but would never consider working in daycare again now that they have it all together.

My impression of "high-quality" daycare is formed by the people that I know who once were the "high-quality" day care workers. I don't think you can possibly expect to recruit quality people to such a low prestige/low paying job, but in order to recruit better people and institute some higher standards (perhaps passing a drug test) parents are going to have to spend a lot more money to send their kid to daycare, and most are already complaining about the cost.

Posted by: AllisonNY | March 2, 2007 9:57 AM

Okay, I'm having a prideful moment and I'm surfing the site.

I love the Fairfax County.gov site in general, as my guys helped design it.

But, Office for Children in general is a great client, a great office, and probably would be very helpful to many people on this blog.

Posted by: Random Guy | March 2, 2007 9:58 AM

To SAHMbacktowork...While NAEYC is good on its face, I would caution against using it as the barometer.

My oldest daughter was in a NAEYC center. When we moved here from New England, the center was recommended to us by several family members and friends. However, we found that that staff was unprofessional, and kids were out of control. She aged out of the center within the school year, so we no longer need to deal with that...However, my niece is there (my SIL used NAEYC as her barometer), and they've had nothing but issues. Some were definitely on my niece's end of things, but the center didn't make things any better, either.

Our two younger sons are at a great day care that is state licensed and accredited (there is a difference). The center applied for NAEYC accreditation, but was denied. My sons are at their home away from home, with a staff that loves them and cars for them while my husband and I work. No NAEYC accreditation could buy that.

Posted by: momof3 | March 2, 2007 09:54 AM

mom of 3- I agree that NAEYC (or any accreditation for that matter) is not the end all-be all of finding daycares. I just suggested it as a tool to search by and use- check out the website, learn their stadnards and gain some good pointers while looking for a center/school.
It was just a suggestion.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | March 2, 2007 9:58 AM

To WorkingMomX - I don't know that I agree that most parents are engaged enough in their children's daycare. Taking a lot of time and care to make the initial selection is not the same as ensuring that the center remains at top quality.

My mom taught day care for several years and was shocked at how unobservant parents were about the shortcuts the center's owners ended up taking because of financial difficulties. For example: the kids were served cookies and punch mix instead of fruit and milk or juice for snacks; toys and equipment broke and wasn't replaced; and there was a high staff turnover because no one ever got the raises that they were promised when they were hired. This was a center where most of the parents were white collar workers at the most prestigious companies in the city, so these parents probably had more options than most families do. Mom actually had to prod some of the parents to question the day care center's owner about some of the problems (she had already raised these issues with her boss and was ignored). Of course, there weren't serious health or safety issues, but I would say that it contrasts with Leslie's statement that her daycare "offered....far more stimulation and learning opportunities than I (or another single caregiver) could provide at home."

Posted by: notyetamom | March 2, 2007 9:59 AM

I question the statement that "90% of a child's brain develops by age 5." Really? What does that mean? The cynic in me thinks that these statements do more to scare parents than help. It seems like I've read of more and more studies proving how our brains continue to be shaped by experiences, learning, emotions, etc. throughout our lives. And the brain is a big place with a lot of functions. What part is supposedly developed by age 5? If anyone has a reference for that information, I'm all ears.

Posted by: really? | March 2, 2007 10:10 AM

AlisonNY-

That was the stupidest, most alarmist post I have ever read.

Yes, it's hard to find good recruits- the same way it's hard to find good candidates for ANY teaching position.

Are you a homeschool nut who won't send their kids to be taught by ANYONE? Because I hate to break it you- teaching is an all-over low prestige low paying job. Would you EVER put your child in anyone's care?

Wow- I feel sorry for your kids. Do you let them do anything?

There are bad apples in every profession.

I found a school who pays their workers very well (the numbers are open for all parents to see) and yes, I pay alot more, but the workers are healthy (through their health benefits package), devoted (turnover is VERY low- with 4 teachers being there for 20+years, including the director of the school) and happy.

You know who takes these jobs? Moms- there are 3 moms who want to flexibility/hours (some of the staff work 7-3, for example) so they'll be there for their kids after school.

Some think it's wonderful to nurture kids at such a great age- what is better than the wonder of 2-3-4 year olds learning letters and colors?

Posted by: to AllisonNY | March 2, 2007 10:11 AM

Just because a few people have had bad experiences, or knew a couple of people providing "high quality" daycare that should not have been, does not mean that high quality daycare doesn't exist.

My sons' sitter was an elementary school teacher who wanted the opportunity to stay home with her children and still bring in some money. She loves my children, her sons love my children, and my children love them. She is an intelligent, warm, and engaging woman. After two years, I trust her completely and cannot imagine placing my children anywhere else. Our sitter takes pride in her job and pride in helping to raise the best kids she can. To paint all daycare providers simply as people who can't get a better job is an insult to those people who really love caring for children.

http://lawyermama.blogspot.com

Posted by: Lawyer Mama | March 2, 2007 10:12 AM

You can have all the laws and regulations you want, but a lot of a center's greatness comes down to management and their overall committment to excellence.

Before my son was born I toured 8 daycares in Ashburn before settling on what I am still convinced was the best one anywhere. Its a national childcare chain, but it's overall superiority was due to the excellence in upper management and their recruitment of the best talent in the area.
Staff at that daycare told me they had left other childcare facilities just to work there because it was such a great place overall.
Then we moved here last March and in a hurry to get my son into daycare I went with the same chain hoping they would have the same high standards of our Ashburn facility.
No such luck. The center always seems to be at a level of barely-controlled chaos and I never get the feeling that the staff is held up to the same standards that the other one was.
My son seems reasonably happy, but I have him waitlisted at a new place that seems to have the same level of standards that our previous one did.

Posted by: MadisonWIMom | March 2, 2007 10:13 AM

We tried this with our toddler this morning:

"Thank you for throwing a tantrum. Your crying is very important to us. Please remain on the line and your concerns will be addressed by the next available representative in ... five minutes."

Didn't seem to make him happier.

Posted by: Tomcat | March 2, 2007 10:15 AM

Gee Lawyer Mama-
Don't you worry that your child isn't getting the proper stimulation and appropriate access to indoor and outdoor equipment? Are you holding your child back by putting him/her in a small loving environment? All sarcasm aside, good for you and your choices.

Posted by: just another mom | March 2, 2007 10:21 AM

I used to work in day care in college and I hate to say it but that is the reason I now stay at home. I'm not saying stuff that what I saw happens at all of them but I worked at two different centers (both places where I would have thought they were really nice previous to working there) and I DID not like what I saw. Let's face it, the pay of daycare workers is crap, if they had any other choice the majority would probably be working somewhere else. That isn't to say all of them or even most of them are bad but there is a good percentage that isn't very good. You really have no idea what goes on when no one is watching.

Even if the worker is good then there are still things I want to have more control over that I can't when they are in daycare. For example, I remember one time the classes were outside and there was a rainbow in the sky. One girl asked a teacher, why are there rainbows and the answer she was given was that God made it. I stay at home so that when most of these questions come up I can give my children the answer that I think they should have.

Perhaps I'm just annoyed by Leslie's subtle implication that by staying home I'm harming my child because I'm not giving them an "enriching" experience so I'm coming off as harsh.

I just find her comment annoying, maybe I should send them off to daycare so they can get incorrect answers and be "enriched".

Posted by: normally a lurker | March 2, 2007 10:23 AM

High quality day care = Mom or dad! Simple.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 10:24 AM

To normally a lurker:
Why be annoyed by Leslie's comments? This is the lady that parked her kids in front of the tv for three movies on their snow day while she blogged on the computer about over the top moms that bake cookies. I could have baked 3 batches of cookies in all of the time she takes complaining about being unbalanced and stressed out. Her kids were obviously better off in day care...and at least she realized that.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 10:27 AM

oh god another sahm v wohm debate. yippeee!

it's fridau- can we talk about porn yet?

or even better-

let's talk spring fashions! it's beautiful in dc today

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 10:28 AM

I have experienced a school that was not NAECY Accredited, and one had is - and they are night and day. The accreditation stanards are rigorious and relevent to developmental needs of children. I would never send my child to an unaccredited school in the future - it makes a world of difference!!

Posted by: single mom | March 2, 2007 10:28 AM

The obvious fact that teachers, other children and indoor and outdoor facilities offered my kids far more stimulation and learning opportunities than I (or another single caregiver) could provide at home is one reason I always felt that day care was a great choice. Or should I say good day care was a great choice.

Yeah, clammoring for attention from the caregiver is so stimulating, napping in sleeping bags on the floor like Jonestown is so terrific, never having any real quiet time to think and create on your own. Sounds fun. Can you imagine being in those rooms all day - i can think of no greater misery. Since all these other people can provide things Leslie can't maybe she should just outsource the whole thing. I bet there is someone who can tell more exciting bedtime stories and is better at math homework too. The most skewed logic and thin argument for day care I have heard in a long time.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 10:30 AM

"The obvious fact that teachers, other children and indoor and outdoor facilities offered my kids far more stimulation and learning opportunities than I (or another single caregiver) could provide at home is one reason I always felt that day care was a great choice."

Here we go again....repeat after me:

"Just because you're a SAHM it doesn't mean you have to stay home."

(or "just because you have a nanny or grandma as your caregiver doesn't mean they have to stay home.")

Your argument about why (good) day care is a great choice might hold water if you never left your house, never took classes with your child, never went to the library, never went to the park, never joined a playgroup, never had playdates, and never explored your community to see what's out there that would stimulate and enrich your child's life (farmers market, nature walks, visit the pet store, play areas at coffee shops, ??) and instead sat in your house playing only with the toys you own and never seeing another person.

That said, I agree that quality daycare for those who want and need it (and *especially* those who currently can't afford it) is extremely important.

Posted by: momof4 | March 2, 2007 10:31 AM

It is disheartening to hear stories occasionally from those on the "inside" of daycare centers, but I also hear many, many good stories from people whose children seem to love their teachers, their friends, etc. Let's face it: the pay of anyone having anything to do with children (with the exception of pediatricians, I guess) is CRAP. I mean, social workers, teachers, day care workers, etc. You are going to get malcontents in every field and maybe a greater percentage in a field that's so horribly underpaid. But what is the solution? I'm sure I don't know. My sister tells the story of being at a home daycare in the late 70s/early 80s where she and 4 other children were forced to stay downstairs and play unattended while the "sitter" sat on her tush and watched soaps all day upstairs in the living room. And yet she survived and thrived. I'm not advocating for flying by the seat of your pants when it comes to selecting childcare, but maybe temper your anxiety at "what might happen" with the realization that you simply cannot control every aspect of your child's life -- even if you spend every waking minute with your kid.

I seem to keep bringing up the book Freakonomics and I'm going to quote it again. Who we ARE as people/parents matters much more than the choices we make for our children.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 2, 2007 10:32 AM

I see both sides of the daycare/stay-at-home issue, but I do feel that Leslie's post this morning was rather inflammatory. I am surprised that the stay-at-home/work issue hasn't completely overtaken the blog today given the setup we got this morning. Not yet, at least. ;)

Posted by: Neighbor | March 2, 2007 10:34 AM

"That was the stupidest, most alarmist post I have ever read."

It was stupid to give some examples of people I have know employed by high quality child care centers and advocate for the need for better pay and benefits for daycare workers?

Yes moms sometimes do work at daycare centers but again in my experience, the moms I know who worked in daycare aren't the most impressive either. Just because someone is a mom, doesn't mean they are a good childcare provider (the nanny in the example above was actually a mom wanting flexible hours). I am not saying that you should never send your kids to daycare. What I am saying is that even with accreditation some of these high quality centers aren't filled with people that you would want to have much influence over your kids. I have seen some parents make a statement similar to Leslie's, "The obvious fact that teachers, other children and indoor and outdoor facilities offered my kids far more stimulation and learning opportunities than I (or another single caregiver) could provide at home" Which I find incredibly insulting, as if Leslie (or any of the many others who make these statements) is implying I wouldn't be able to provide the stimulation and learning activities that a day care worker (considering my personal experience with daycare workers) would be able to provide to my kids.

I don't think all people who work at daycare centers are like the people I mentioned either, but I do think there are more like that than you would think. My grandmother worked at a daycare center for a little while- although she quit because she didn't like the way kids were treated there and a friend of mine had a stay at home mom who tried working at a daycare center after her kids moved at of those house and I am sure both of these women were good caregivers. Although neither stayed in daycare long.

"Yes, it's hard to find good recruits- the same way it's hard to find good candidates for ANY teaching position."
Public school teachers in suburban upstate NY are actually paid a decent salary for the schedule they work. There was an article in the local paper here last weekend and I think the salaries were around 37-80k. The cost of living isn't that high here.

Posted by: AllisonNY | March 2, 2007 10:36 AM

I think it is important that we differentiate between a day care and a pre-school or a day-care with a pre-school program. Since I never considered a day care for my children, I can't really add much to the posts above except to agree with most of them in some respect. The only daycare we considered briefly was an all day NAEYC accredited facility which was clean and proper but it was in a downstairs section of a building and was kind of depressing (to me). So, my experience is only with pre-schools and I have to say that the neighborhood and the quality of the "parent body" makes a huge difference. My son spent a year in a school that underpaid its (wonderful) teachers and neglected the physical facility of the building. Parents fought the school management for a while even using the county agencies, but did not succeed. The other pre-schools I have visited were a lot more expensive but had all the attributes of a great learning experience for my children and this is where I would agree with Leslie although Margaret is also right, that the educational experience my children are getting in pre-school is not what I can provide to them at home. So while it is may be true that (some) day care centers don't require any qualifications from their workers, I found that this is not true in the pre-schools. But again, maybe it is just Mo County or my narrow experience...........

Posted by: bethesda | March 2, 2007 10:36 AM

"Perhaps I'm just annoyed by Leslie's subtle implication that by staying home I'm harming my child because I'm not giving them an "enriching" experience so I'm coming off as harsh."

I'm more annoyed by the subtle-as-a-brick implications that I'm a horrible mother because I work out of the home.

Posted by: anon today too | March 2, 2007 10:36 AM

To all the people who feel that the only proper care for children is the family - sorry that train has left the station. We don't all live on farms or run family business where we can combine working and watching the kids and two income families (or single parents of young children) are not suddenly going to have a parent quit working so that they can stay home. I believe the majority of people are in two income families, many just to survive. We need to figure out ways to have high quality care because it is a reality of life.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | March 2, 2007 10:38 AM

Meesh, I meant to say is for infants over 18 months there is one adult for every three kids. For infants under 18 months, there is one adult for every two infants. Sorry, was running out the door while posting. I think this is fairly normal in this area. I think the 1 adult to 2 infants is actual the law in the metro DC states. But in DE, my SIL sends her daughter to a day care that is 1 adult to 7 children over 18 months old. That seems unreal. But from what I can tell, the kids have not died yet and seem happy. So who knows.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 2, 2007 10:39 AM

I would rather stick a needle in my eye than engage in the incredibly tired sahm vs wohm debate. Enough already. Ick!

Here's a question. For those of you who have kids that are a little older (6 - 9 years old), how much of an allowance (if any) do you give them, and do you make them do chores for this money, or is it a given not tied to chores? My son's chores are to to sweep the stairs and kitchen, on Satudays, and every day, make his bed and pick up his toys, straighten out the family room. And I give him $5 a week to spend. But lately, he has been offering to do extra stuff for more money, and I don't know if that is a habit I want to encourage. But I do love it when he runs the vacume or dusts the furniture. Any thoughts?

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 10:40 AM

Snarky comment alert:
PLEASE QUIT MISUSING THE WORD THEN!!

It seems to be a very frequently misused word on here, especially by a few...it drives me crazy!!

then: next in order of time

than: used, as after comparative adjectives and adverbs, to introduce the second member of an unequal comparison

Posted by: Anon this time | March 2, 2007 10:41 AM

"If you want to know why Asian children (at least I can speak for the Chinese) learn self discipline, trustworthiness, hard work ethics, life long love of learning, and all those other things that studies show are typical of Asian students, it's because of the extraordinary "teaching" done by the extended family in the first five years of life."

Careful with your generalizations there. While this is true in many Asian households, it's not because they don't send their kids to daycare. Most of my Asian friends are doing quite well, and none of them spent an inordinate amount of time with their families. All of them, in fact, were in some type of so-called "outsourced parenting" environment. My best girlfriend didn't even have a mother. BF is doing much, MUCH better than me at 24 (and I'm 28), and was in daycare. His mom was one of those dreaded high-powered executive types. My mom was an underachiever who only worked after the divorce, and we lived with my grandparents. I'd say I spent the most time with extended family of the two of us, and it didn't do me any favors. I think the difference is the standards they hold their kids to. The kids learn discipline because their parents TEACH it to them, instead of bequeathing them an entitlement complex. Being exposed to people outside of the household teaches a child diversity and differences in communicating, eliminating various predispositions the family may have. For example, if all you ever knew were Jesuits, you might never know anything about Buddha, Mohammed, etc. Trust me. I spent lots of time with my family throughout my entire childhood, and it was only in my twenties that I started to get a fairly decent idea of what the world could be like.


Wait, why am I responding to an anonymous poster?

Posted by: Mona | March 2, 2007 10:42 AM

I think that those talking about the importance of continuing to monitor your daycare situation are right on.

Almost every daycare has high turnover rates, and so much depends upon how good the teachers are that are actually in the room with your child. Plus, as someone noted, I think the financial strains on daycare workers/owners is such that there is a tendency to cut corners or overlook things unless they're watched.

I try to check the website of our state's licensing agency every couple months to monitor complaints, investigations and visits - you have to be realistic and realize that every center is going to have complaints, even the best - but hopefully you can get enough information to see whether it's something legitimate or not.

I find the biggest thing in our center is a tendency to be out of compliance with ratios in the morning - I think they legitimately have a hard time predicting how many kids they will have at what time, as I know I drop my son off at varying times in the morning, and the number of kids there varies a lot from day to day. But whenever I see this happening at drop off I mention it to the director, and I wouldn't hesitate to call in a complaint about it if I felt like it was happening more than occassionally.

Posted by: Megan | March 2, 2007 10:43 AM

i'd still rather talk about spring fashions

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 10:43 AM

"I'm more annoyed by the subtle-as-a-brick implications that I'm a horrible mother because I work out of the home."

Before I post, let it be noted that I wasn't one of the ones who "implied" that.

***
I think it's better to be direct and to the point (the people who said "children belong with their mom" or whatever it was they said) than passive aggressive ("The obvious fact that teachers, other children and indoor and outdoor facilities offered my kids far more stimulation and learning opportunities than I (or another single caregiver) could provide at home").

Also - does Leslie have more of a responsibility to be neutral on the issue of SAHM/WOHM than the rest of us do, since she's the moderator/writer of the blog? Obviously blogs are opinion pieces...but if this is to be an inclusive blog for everyone (SAHPs, WOHPs, childfree, single, married, divorced......), shouldn't she not make subtle comments about which situation she thinks is "right?"

Posted by: momof4 | March 2, 2007 10:44 AM

This is the lady that parked her kids in front of the tv for three movies. . .and then they walked to a theater for another movie, while my kids spent hours outside sledding. It's not because Leslie's a working mom, I know plenty of working moms that are very involved with their kids.
Leslie makes inflammatory statements on purpose because it gets people so riled up, then the blog posts increase.

Posted by: experienced mom | March 2, 2007 10:45 AM

Watch out folks - the grammar police are out today. Watch those fingers as the spelling police will be next.

Posted by: DC lurker | March 2, 2007 10:46 AM

Emily:

"Here's a question. For those of you who have kids that are a little older (6 - 9 years old), how much of an allowance (if any) do you give them, and do you make them do chores for this money, or is it a given not tied to chores?"

We give them $5/week and tell them they need to give us $5/month to put into the bank [they can figure out how they want to budget for that].

Each child has set chores that are required [11 year-old has a weekend task of loading the wood pile on the back porch -- it's a nice 30 minute manual labor task].

Occassionally we have extra chores that we will go ahead and pay for [$1/per pair of shoes shined is the most common].

Seems to be working well...your mileage may vary.

Posted by: A Dad | March 2, 2007 10:47 AM

My daughter attends a daycare in Arlington with which I am really pleased. It's part of a national chain, but it has a very low teacher turnover (most have been there for over five years). Her primary teacher has been with her for over a year (the teacher moved up into the next room when a group of her students did, although that's not the norm). She adores her "Miss CiCi" and asks, "where's my Miss CiCi?" when she's at home. She talks about her teachers on the weekend and she's made great friends with other children in the daycare. She sees her friends from school on the weekends sometimes, and all the parents are becoming friends as well. She recently started phonics class at the school (she's 2!) which is something I can't offer her at home. Nor can I offer her the exposure to other children or other languages that she gets at school (yes, we call it school because she really does learn there.) We are so happy with how well-adjusted and outgoing she is, and I have to give the school credit for that.

Her lunches and snacks are catered (the catering company delivers every morning) and range from spaghetti and grean beans to chicken breast and mashed potatoes, for example. (She eats a lot better than I do at lunch.) And because the school has a great open-door policy, I have been during the day and I know that she is really getting these things - the lunches are what the school says they are, for example.

And by the way, the daycare is not NAEYC certified.

I don't ask her teachers to babysit, it's certainly not their job. She has a regular babysitter for the times when we want to go out on the weekends, a 25-year-old college grad who is a friend of a co-worker. She, too, has become part of the family and my daughter loves the time she spends with her because of the wonderful crafts that our babysitter brings with her for our daughter to do.

Great childcare doesn't just happen, it doesn't just fall into your lap. You have to seek it out and create your own opportunities sometimes. I certainly wouldn't have known about our current babysitter if I hadn't asked around, a lot. And great childcare isn't always the most expensive, but it's also not cheap. We pay our babysitter $15/hour, but our daycare is probably right around average for the area.

Above all, I know we are very very fortunate to have the situation we have. Our child is loved and taken care of during the day and when we're at home. And I have peace of mind.

Posted by: PLS | March 2, 2007 10:50 AM

"Here's a question. For those of you who have kids that are a little older (6 - 9 years old), how much of an allowance (if any) do you give them, and do you make them do chores for this money, or is it a given not tied to chores?"

Hey Emily - great topic. My ds who is 6 gets $4 a week allocated as follows - $1 to save, $1 to spend, $1 to invest and $1 for charity. His allowance is not tied to chores. I believe that chores are something we all do to contribute to the well being of the family. I don't get paid for fixing dinner, he shouldn't get paid for bringing in the trash cans. We all have an obligation to contribute to the household. However, the allowance can be witheld as punishment which we haven't done yet. My 2 cents, I'd love to hear what others do.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 2, 2007 10:53 AM

Ok, there are government sites that you can look at their past five ratings based on their annual check ups. But I would not just look at their total quantative score but the in depth report. Like my day care got one failing mark for not having the menu of the day posted. Good golly, why is that important. The kids can't read and for the most part the parents only look at the menu of the day occassionally. But more then anything, visit with the day care staff. Talk to the workers, the parents, visit odd hours. You will get the feel of what it is like. We found our day care through a service provided by my agency. You list all your qualifications and they send you a list of the top 5 that met that criteria. Then you go and interview them. Be careful because some day cares offer different things that appeal to different parents. Like SIL is all into their enrichment programs. She wanted french classes, dance lessons, professional pictures on the spot. I wanted loving and nurturing attitude, small staff to child ratios, and good values. Also little turnover. We only had one staff member quit during the 3 years. She left to be a stay at home mom. I also checked into their benefits and how they treat the staff. They get paid holidays, paid vacations but no health benefits. All the women are married women who get benefits from their husbands. Also all the women bring their own children to the center. That was a good indicator that they get free day care and were generally happy to have their kids there too. Also just talk to the director. See what their philosophies are. One of the best things that I love about my day care is they market themselves as a support network for the whole families. They listen to parents and are willing to tailor their programs to the individual children. When DD was diagnosed with a speech delay, all of her teachers went and took the 2 year old work shop on language development in toddlers. They were not required to do this and they did this on their own time. They did it to help DD and any future pupils with these issues. I would say trust your gut.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 2, 2007 10:55 AM

My older kids receive an allowance for their spending money. We don't pay much - the 15 year old receives $6/week (I sometimes raise it on their birthday and just realized I didn't do that in January oops) and the 12 year old $5/week. The younger children (4 & 6) don't.

Their allowance isn't specifically tied to chores, although they do have things they're expected to do (regularly and when asked to help.) We feel it's important for them to manage their spending money rather than be constantly asking for money for snacks, movies, dances, new video games, etc., but it's given to them because they're members of the family, not because they work for us.

Posted by: momof4 | March 2, 2007 10:56 AM

"And because the school has a great open-door policy"

Sorry, I don't want to add to the terrible stories from former day care workers, but when I saw this I had to say that if your daycare or preschool does NOT have an open-door policy, I would be very concerned.

I worked very briefly at a preschool that discouraged parents from coming at any time of day other than their scheduled pick up/drop off. They claimed it was because it was too disruptive to the kids. The reality was that the place was frequently out of compliance with ratio requirements and often did not follow the curriculum/guidelines for the type of school it was supposed to be. If your child's school/center doesn't welcome you at any time of day, I would be very curious about why. Based on my past experience I have made it a point to occasionally drop in at odd times to pick up my son so I have a better sense of what's going on during the time they don't expect us to be there.

Posted by: Megan | March 2, 2007 10:57 AM

Snark alert:

Guys, the blog today is about reforming day care. Can we stop hijacking the thread with all the useless opinions about staying at home and parents being the only good caregivers? Find a blog about how staying at home is much better for kids. Your opinions will be valued there. What are they really adding to today's conversation, other than just rehashing the same f*&$ing SAHM/WOHM debate?

Snarkfest over

Texas Dad of 2, I live in Apex NC but haven't really followed the Nifong case. I have an opinion, but it's certainly not informed. In terms of that article you posted, Nifong comes across as kind of a doofus, don't you think? I mean, who says "I don't remember." It reminds me of the TV commercial from cable about blocking shows. The woman asks the mobster if he remembers the episode when he whacked Vinny with the shovel. The mobster giggles with his friends and says "I don not recall that."

Posted by: Meesh | March 2, 2007 11:01 AM

I see a couple tantrum stories - I sympathize. My kids never had them but when I dropped my son off at preschool the first time he sat at the activity table and cried, trying to be brave, and weepingly saying " IIII LOOOVVVEEE YOUUU, MOMMMYYY. I'LLL BE OKAY" It broke my heart.

But I left and 2 minutes later he and I were both fine.

The comment on lack of criminal background checks in Virgina is very troubling. Can't believe this hasn't been addressed by an advocacy group.

Posted by: cmac | March 2, 2007 11:02 AM

While I agree that GREAT childcare services would be a wonderful thing, it seems that only last week folks were bemoaning how expensive our existing childcare system is. Pick your poison: either you get wonderful childcare and pay through the nose, or you get cheap childcare and well, you get what you pay for. Seems some folks want it both ways, and that's very unrealistic.

Posted by: StudentMom | March 2, 2007 11:13 AM

My oldest went to a Parents' Morning Out program two times a week. She started at 19 months, and the first day she separated with no problem. The second day, realizing that I would actually be gone, she was hysterical. On the third day, she asked me, "Mommy come back?" Heartbreaking if you think about it-- she thought it might be complete abandonment (though I had always said something like "see you soon."). When I assured her that I would return, she went off merrily. She has never cried about separation again. Her younger sister is still intermittently upset-- there's no telling how she will be on any given day.

Posted by: Neighbor | March 2, 2007 11:14 AM


I was in daycare when I was little...first in at at home daycare with the mother of a woman my mom worked with; she was great and like a family member to me. When I was three I started going to daycare (which I thought was "school") part time, and then full time at four and five. I loved it...it wasn't misery at all, I liked having my friends and carrying my lunchbox and having field trips and activities.

In a good situation daycare, at least at a certain age, can be fun for a kid. Not that the alternative (at home with a parent/relative)can't be fun too. As a previous poster mentioned...stay at home caregivers can provide stimulating environments for children. It really depends on the person...one thing the at home provider couldn't provide for me were all the other kids I met at daycare. There may have been ways for her to do that if it had been necessary.

I will say that the type of stimulation Leslie is talking about would be more important to me as a parent after age 2 or 3. I don't think an infant benefits from being in a daycare. Not that it harms them...just that there isn't a benefit over being at home with a parent or relative/caretaker.

I don't plan on being a SAHM at this time...but I do think Leslie's hypothesis that she just couldn't have provided the "stimulation" the daycare could provide are a little disingenuous. Somewhat like the fathers who always "mess up" the diaper changes or the dinner...there is an element of condensation to it...if she is capable of doing her current job well, she could have provided a stimulating environment for her children at home...it takes thoughtfulness, resourcefulness, and dedication...just like any other job.

I think daycare can be a positive experience...I also think having a stay at home parent can be positive. It all depends on the players involved.

Posted by: Maryland | March 2, 2007 11:17 AM

"IIII LOOOVVVEEE YOUUU, MOMMMYYY. I'LLL BE OKAY" It broke my heart"

cmac, that is just precious. It would break my heart also. My son started daycare when he turned 2. Before that, my husband took care of him during the day. We eased him into daycare, starting out with 3 halfdays a week, and then slowly increasing the time he spent there until it was considered full time (generally 10 am until 4:00 pm) My husband was a student at the time, and depending on his schedule, would often drop off late or pick up early or even drop in for lunch. In any case, he is the one who did the dropping off. In the beginning, I worried about the separation, but my husband told me our son adjusted easily and did not cry. It was only a few years ago that he admitted that there was some crying the first few weeks, but he did not tell me because he did not want to upset me. I forgave that lie instantly, as it was a merciful one.

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 11:18 AM

Meesh, I'm sorry. I almost started it up! I tried to stay away from THAT debate in particular, but it could have been a lit fuse. Thanks for pulling me back. I'm sick of hearing (the phenomenon I WILL NOT NAME) as I'm sure everyone else is. I can't contribute to the daycare discussion (no experience), but I will be reading along, to get some ideas. :-)

Posted by: Mona | March 2, 2007 11:21 AM

Agree with Foamgnome: education is not the only or best predictor of a childcare provider's talent and reliability.

Separation: my daycare center helped me so much with separation from my first child. He was having a terrible time, and I made it worse by coming to visit at lunch. They gently advised me to leave fairly quickly in the mornings, with a smile, and to skip the noon visits. They explained that my projection of confidence would help my son see that he would be okay. It worked -- took a few weeks, though. Every day got a bit better.

Re: zip code rate finder. None of the zipcodes I put in for DC worked, but when I put in my old zipcodes in Minneapolis, New York and New Jersey there was good info available.

Posted by: Leslie | March 2, 2007 11:21 AM

Working mom x:

Pediatricians are the lowest paid doctors out there, so I've heard

Posted by: atlmom | March 2, 2007 11:22 AM

My children have been in home-based day care and center based child-care. There were pros and cons to both.

Home based biggest pros -

My children were together when both were preschool and together after school when the oldest went to school.

The day care provider seemed more like a beloved family member than a beloved teacher. She was involved with children beyond the daycare hours.

Home based biggest con -

No back up care when day care provider was ill or had an emergency of her own.

Center based day care biggest pros -

No cancellation due to absence of day care worker since there was a staff and not a single provider.

More same aged children to play with. My oldest went through a short spell at home based day care when she was six but the next closest to her age was 3.


Posted by: Just a thought | March 2, 2007 11:25 AM

Re: Allowance / Chores

None of my kids gets an allowance. I think it just encourages kids to beg for money everytime you ask them to do something. Not that this can't be a lesson in the future if your child pursues a job in government contracting...

I tell my son to take out the trash and mow the lawn because these are the things he needs to do in order to marry a nice, pretty wife.

I don't think that an allowance teaches kids the value of money, especially for a 9 year old, the only thing they want to do with it is spend it on a slurpie. But then you can not allow them to spend it on what they want, but this defeats the purpose of teaching them the value of money.

ocasionally, I might slip my kids a few bucks now and then, but I find it a lot easier just buying them a few things they want and I have control over what they spend it on.

Lastly, doing the accounting for several kids gets tedious, especially when they want to borrow their allowance into the future to get the thing they want right now. I suppose you could give them a lesson on credit, but I try to make parenting as simple as possible and the allowance thing just adds another dimension of effort with little or no payoff.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 2, 2007 11:27 AM

Allowances:

First, they're not tied to chores. That's what they get. Chores are separate items; there are consequences for not doing their chorese but those consequences aren't financial.

Amount: it started off low, probably about $1 a week. Now, the high schoolers get $12 per week and the 5th grader gets three. However - they MUST put half of that in the bank. We all make a trip to the bank; they fill out their own deposit slips and put the money in. We don't do this every week; more like once a month or so, but they'd BETTER have the amount of money that's supposed to go in.

So they get 3 or 6 dollars per week to spend. Note that this does NOT include: gas money for the ones who drive; school lunches; or family events. (In other words, if they want to go to the movie with friends, they pay; if we take the whole family to the movie we pay.)

The oldest three have jobs at least part of the time - the 18-year old works at a pizza place; the 16 year old umpires little league baseball games in the spring and summer; and the 18 and 15 year olds baby sit. So I'm thinking of phasing out their allowances, but they really don't want me to yet. (Although when DD goes away to college next year, we'll have to change the allowance system.)

OT: college scorecard for DD: one acceptance; one rejection; 6 still to weigh in. With high school softball tryouts going on, and the college process, it's not real pleasant around my house right now. :-(

Posted by: Army Brat | March 2, 2007 11:27 AM

Center based biggest con -

Children were separated by age, including siblings.

Staff turnover was unpredictable.

Posted by: Just a thought | March 2, 2007 11:29 AM

Army Brat - interesting system. My allowance stopped when I got a job - in college, they paid for college, that was it and certainly enough. I had to make all my book and beer money! haah I find all the different families so intersting.

Posted by: moxiemom | March 2, 2007 11:33 AM

My allowance stopped freshman year of high school. By then, I could babysit and make loads more money than my parents could give me.

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 11:36 AM

"I don't think that an allowance teaches kids the value of money, especially for a 9 year old, the only thing they want to do with it is spend it on a slurpie. But then you can not allow them to spend it on what they want, but this defeats the purpose of teaching them the value of money."

I think it does teach them something about the value of money, because they learn that if they want a slurpie, that they have to choose to spend their own money on the slurpie instead of something else, and that Dad won't buy them a slurpie because they can use their own money on it. Usually they figure out after 47 slurpies that they could have had 3 or 4 new computer games for that amount of money and that was a lesson learned.

I do agree that we shouldn't dictate to our children what they spend their allowance on, and that's we don't make our kids put part of their allowance in savings or give it to charity. They're already learning how to save by figuring out that slurpies are shortlived and that there are other choices for spending money that require waiting a bit and saving that are more satisfying. And I don't think you can force a person to be charitable.


Posted by: momof4 | March 2, 2007 11:38 AM

I'd just like to point out that the research consistently shows that high quality child care environments are correlated with higher educational achievement, lower teen pregnancies, less time in jail, etc., FOR AT RISK CHILDREN. Typically, at risk is defined as lower socioeconomic status. That's why we have Head Start. If anyone wants further information, the High Scope research foundation (google it) has a wealth of evidence dating back to the 1960s and ongoing today.

For more advantaged children, there is no, NO evidence that points to any long term (beyond a year or so) benefit to a child in child care. And that may be a good thing (see my next paragraph)

Evidence is also sadly clear that parents are often highly satisfied with care that is not high quality by any means. The single most important predictor of a high quality experience for children is the child-staff interaction. I once heard a parent tell me how much she liked the center their child went to. It was just as good as the one they used before, but much less expensive. The only thing she didn't like about it was that in the morning when she brought her child to daycare, the children were playing on the floor, and the teachers were sitting at the table reading the newspaper. I wish this was an atypical example, but any one who studies parent satisfaction with child care settings is aware of many more stories like this.

Posted by: child development researcher | March 2, 2007 11:40 AM

Army Brat- It sounds as if you're very busy, but I just got a huge smile while picturing the college app process and how exciting it will be. I still remember how eager I was to go off to school and (now I know why my mom was so emotional) what it felt like to grow up. I don't want to wish away the young years, but what a great time- over with the really bad teenage crap and on to a whole new phase of watching your kids become responsible adults!


As far as allowance- these allowances seem very low to me. I'm only 30, but I know I got $20/week when I was 13/14/15. And that barely lasted- that was a movie, pizza, and some lipstick or something.

I got $20 just to learn to budget (I was required to save at least $5 of that) If I went above and beyond I'd get "points" and get a new purse or outfit I'd been eyeing (but this was before 16 yr olds were carrying Vuitton and Coach...)

I thik 14/15 is still too young ot have a regular part time job- I can see a summer gig as a camp counselor, et al. 16/17 seems to be a good age to get a regular part time job to help pay for gas and insurance and spending money.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 11:40 AM

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo just started up down here in my next of the woods...so I'll be spending this weekend looking at cows. With my FIL in the ranching business, we get an chance to keep up on good looking animals and new breeds.

The chili cookoff was this last weekend, which is a funny name becasue they actually do more barbequeing than chili cooking. BTW, there are a lot of chili cookoffs in this state, and they are taken deathly serious by their entrants. Kinda funny, actually.

So I hope everyone gets some of fun and sun weather we are enjoying down here soon. Should be about 78 today, with a low near 50.

BTW, for you NC folks, the Rodeo is our NASCAR equivalent. :~)

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | March 2, 2007 11:40 AM

It's been so many years, I almost forgot that I interned/volunteered at a daycare about 15 years ago. This was one in DC, a rather prestigious one for the Hill crowd's kids. I was completely horrified with how they treated the children on several occasions. Case in point: on one occasion we were supposed to walk the kids (4 years old) to a museum one day. Sounds fine, right? It was a hot day and the staff brought NO water. These kids were crying all the way there and back, asking to please take a break to sit down since they were tired, asking to get a drink of water - but nope, the director had a strict schedule to follow and couldn't be bothered by something so mundane as the kids' comfort. When we got back to the daycare center, she put me in charge of the long line to the water cooler: I was instructed to let the kids drink for no more than the count of 3. As I considered that cruel and unusual and didn't want to reenact the Bataan Death March on a bunch of preschoolers, I let them drink from the fountain until they were comfortably quenched. I was asked to leave later that day HA!!!

Posted by: StudentMom | March 2, 2007 11:41 AM

I try to teach my son to be careful and frugal in how he spends his money. We never by new video games. Used ones are usually so much cheaper. Lately, he has been on a Captain Underpants kick, and wants to buy the whole collection. I can't seem to convince him that the library is a better option. So we spent a good part of Saturday at Second Story books looking for these blessed books. On the other hand, they are books, and I would much rather that he spent his money on that than on video games.

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 11:43 AM

Separating by age is a good thing. My son was mobile relatively early (8.5 months) and got bored very easily and could be a disruptive to the non-movers so they moved him up to the next age group room where they had a more walker-friendly environment.
In his new center they have the 2s through 4's only vaguely segregated and there is multi-age interaction which sometimes works out poorly for the younger, smaller, shyer kids. 4 year olds are just bigger, louder, faster and more mobile, skilled, and aggresive than the younger kids. In a small (home) environment this may stimulate the younger kids to develop faster, but in a large setting I think herds of 4's can be intimidating to the younger kids.

Posted by: MadisonWIMom | March 2, 2007 11:46 AM

Emily,

Treat it like a real job. Make them do the extra work for no extra pay! ;-)

I can't really give any advice because my son hasn't gotten to the allowance stage yet. He's still trying to remember how much a quarter, dime, nickel and penny are worth.

Posted by: Working Dad | March 2, 2007 11:47 AM

Mentions of both NASCAR and rodeos make me cringe. I suppose my East Coast elitism can't be contained for too long.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 11:47 AM

Emily- I LOVE Second Story books in Dupont- maybe we've run into each other before with our kids- funny to think about, huh?

Also, I'm with you on never limiting books being brought into the house. I rarely buy my daughter toys (she's spoiled by grandparents already anyway) but I ALWAYS buy her books.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 11:50 AM

For those parents who need childcare, all I have to say is

Statistics, damn statistics, and lies.

My son attended a NAEYC accredited center for three years and we ultimately, along with several other families, pulled our kids out. He was then and our infant daughter is now in a home-based center with a wonderful woman who does an excellent job.

Parents really need to interview any childcare center rigorously on everything from training, licensing, procedures, daily schedule, variety of activities, even they types of cleaner used in the building. Once your child in enrolled you need to actively engage your child care provider about his or her day, talk about development, find out what issues are happening at home and at the center.

As for Leslie's comment regarding the stimulation provide by teachers, I don't take offense. As a parent, I view my childcare provider and my son's teachers as partners in educating my kids. Certainly they are not full partners in the sense that my husband and I are in our children's upbringing but they are important. My son was walking at 10 months not just because of his natural ability or our work with him, but also because he had childcare providers who understood the importance of helping children achieve their developmental milestones and were trained to do just that.

Posted by: LM in WI | March 2, 2007 11:51 AM

Rodeos are neat to go to. I liked the little kids race with the wagons!

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 11:52 AM

"I thik 14/15 is still too young ot have a regular part time job- I can see a summer gig as a camp counselor, et al. 16/17 seems to be a good age to get a regular part time job to help pay for gas and insurance and spending money."

I think 14/15/16 is a fine time to have a regular part time job, as long as the hours are not too long. At 14, I provided aftercare to four 5-8 year old kids who lived near my high school. I would pick them up from elementary school at 3:30, walk them home, and stay with them until 5:30. I got 5 bucks for each kid which was a sweet deal (they were not related to each other - the parents shared my babysitting services). I did this all through high school, and it never interfered with homework or other activities I was interested in. Plus, I did not do sports because I hated sports. I learned to manage my money early on, and always felt like I could take care of myself if I needed to. I think the confidence that I gained from working was even more important than the money.

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 11:52 AM

i am soooooo bored today!!!bored of work, bored of this blog, can we talk about something else???

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 11:58 AM

On the subject of daycare:
Parents should not put their kids there.
They get hopped up on sugar,
Are watched by Freddy Kruger,
And eventually wind up on welfare.
Rather instead-
You should strap them in bed
To save money and keep them out of your hair.
:-P

Posted by: Chris | March 2, 2007 11:58 AM

"Mentions of both NASCAR and rodeos make me cringe. I suppose my East Coast elitism can't be contained for too long.

Posted by: | March 2, 2007 11:47 AM"

Believe it or not, we do have opera, ballet, art museums and symphonies out this way. Some of us can even tell the difference between a Monet and a Manet!

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 12:03 PM

"Believe it or not, we do have opera, ballet, art museums and symphonies out this way. Some of us can even tell the difference between a Monet and a Manet!"

I thought they had this stuff everywhere?
Although I am with whoever posted about not liking rodoes!

Posted by: scarry | March 2, 2007 12:15 PM

Who would be the worse baby sitter, Britney Spears or Michael Jackson? I say Britney, as long as there wasn't a sleepover.

Posted by: Tomcat | March 2, 2007 12:16 PM

Leslie, thank you for the child care referral services' website. I had NO IDEA a resource like this existed. It's great! Now I can make an educated decision on the best type of care for my little ones!!!

Posted by: Ladybug | March 2, 2007 12:22 PM

On Allowance - how timely for me. I have been wndering what others do. My kids - 6 and 9 - each get $2 a week. I think that is low, but really, they only buy crap, so I'm OK with the amount! :) They don't borrow into the future or anything. Every Sundyay they just get $2. My 9yr old spends it like *that*, 6 yr old seems to be saving for college! Anyway, they have things that are just expected of them - make beds, pick up clothes, keep bathroom neat - and they have chores that they do to get their $$ - set/clear table, let the dog out/in and feed him.

They like to buy ice cream at the pool, every now and then we go to target and they get a toy, football cards. Some of my friends think I'm mean to make them use there own money for things like the school dance admission ($1) and snacks while there, but I think having them pay for the inexpensive school functions are a good start to understanding that you need $$ to do things, and someone has to pay.

Posted by: JerseyGirl | March 2, 2007 12:23 PM

On Allowance - how timely for me. I have been wndering what others do. My kids - 6 and 9 - each get $2 a week. I think that is low, but really, they only buy crap, so I'm OK with the amount! :) They don't borrow into the future or anything. Every Sundyay they just get $2. My 9yr old spends it like *that*, 6 yr old seems to be saving for college! Anyway, they have things that are just expected of them - make beds, pick up clothes, keep bathroom neat - and they have chores that they do to get their $$ - set/clear table, let the dog out/in and feed him.

They like to buy ice cream at the pool, every now and then we go to target and they get a toy, football cards. Some of my friends think I'm mean to make them use there own money for things like the school dance admission ($1) and snacks while there, but I think having them pay for the inexpensive school functions are a good start to understanding that you need $$ to do things, and someone has to pay.

Posted by: JerseyGirl | March 2, 2007 12:23 PM

"I thought they had this stuff everywhere?"

Yes, but some people from either coast are genuinely surprised to find out that we all don't walk around with rifles in our pick-ups and cowboy boots on our feet. Some of us can even hold a conversation on more than 2 topics!

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 12:24 PM

My allowance stopped freshman year of high school. By then, I could babysit and make loads more money than my parents could give me.

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 11:36 AM


Same - I babysat then got a job in 10th grade at a clothes store. In 11th and 12th I was working at a restaurant in their office everyday afterschool for 3 hours. My parents gave me very little money in HS basically because I didn't need it.

I think getting some type of job whether it is baby/pet sitting, lawn mowing, etc builds responsibility - especially in a 13 and 14 year old. It also depends on activities. My husband CLAIMS he couldn't work during football season in HS although I know plenty of people that did - I just tell him he was a typical lazy teenager.

Posted by: CMAC | March 2, 2007 12:27 PM

No, they don't have opera, ballet, museums, everywhere. People wouldn't flock to NYC or DC to see these things if they were everywhere. There are goodm useums outside of NYC and DC but it's no where NEAR comparable.

The only other place I'd be willing to move (other than a major European city) is Sante Fe or Taos, NM. THe art scene is amazing and the culture varied and very cool.

And I have to agree with the NASCAR and rodeo thing- yuck. I can see there being some fun farm things for kids, but NASCAR??? How on Earth this is the most popular "sport" is beyoond me. Sitting in those stands for hours in the heat breathing in all those fumes with drunk shirtless fans- oh, yes, what a joy...
I'll take an art museum ANY DAY.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 12:31 PM

Yes, Fred, but the real question is: Do you have good porn there? Rodeo themed, maybe?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 12:34 PM

I went to a rodeo when I visited my sister who lives in Dallas. After watching the bull riding and the wild horse(sorry - not sure what it is called) I wondered what the leather strap they kept picking up on the ground was.
Boy was I embarassed when I found out!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 2, 2007 12:37 PM

I said whip it! Whip it good! duh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh Crack that whip!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 12:38 PM

I guess that no world class art museums exist in Chicago or L.A.?

As you point out people flock to NYC or DC to see thing and then they are very happy to return home.

Not wanted to start a cultural war here but many of us have lived and visited the east coast and choose to live elsewhere.

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 12:43 PM

Fred,
Them's fighting words!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 2, 2007 12:44 PM

I , in particular, like the demolition derby and all the festivals that happen through out they year where I grew up. I think there are good things everywhere, but I don't think that one area is better than the other, just different.

When I lived in Utah they had parks where you could see dinosaur bones. That was really neat. And arches Natural Park is still my favorite place anywhere!

Look Fred I just held a conversation on two topics: festivals and dinosaur bones. Okay, now my head hurts, time to go get my gun. :)

Posted by: scarry | March 2, 2007 12:46 PM

Let me rephrase that, the upper east coast!

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 12:46 PM

Jerseygirl- Back in the 80s my poor mom somehow managed to give me $5 a week, with which I promptly went out and purchased a new Transformer. She was fine with that as they were stimulating toys based on a morality themed cartoon. In addition to appreciating the value of money, I developed a sense of honor at a young age- AND acquired some valuable collectables in the process. :-)

Posted by: Chris | March 2, 2007 12:47 PM

No, they don't have opera, ballet, museums, everywhere.

have you been everywhere?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 12:48 PM

"Let me rephrase that, the upper east coast!"

How upper is upper?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 2, 2007 12:48 PM

LA is so disgustingly void of any real culture. The entertainment industry pretty much ruins that.

Chicago is a great city. I must amend my list (but I still wouldn't want to live there since it's so darned cold)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 12:49 PM

Hey guys. Just wanted to give you an update. I spoke with him last night, and since he was unwilling to agree to seek any counseling as a couple, I have decided that it is best for me to take steps to end our marriage. Well, in reality, he's the one that took that step before our marriage even began, so there it is. I can't shake the feeling that I won't be able to trust him ever again as completely as I did just a week ago. Perhaps no amount of therapy would fix that for us anyhow. I was willing though, to honor our marriage with that attempt, but he wasn't. This speaks volumes to me about his personality, as well as how he views our marriage on the priority list.

I am in fight mode now. Any tears I shed now are from anger and frustration. I'm done with the hurting, at least visibly to him. The thought of ever sleeping with him again revolts me. I don't expect that to change. It goes against my nature to give up, but I keep reminding myself (well, my friend has, too) that he's the one who did this to me. I realize now it's far beyond the desire to have a child with him. Sure, it's what I thought I wanted. But it's not meant to be, with him. It will be a long road to accept that fully, but the picture becomes clearer to me with each passing moment. I realize now when we said those vows, we were on two very different pages.

I'm considering moving closer to my Mom. She wanted us to do that, so I know she'll be happy. It just won't be us, it'll be me. I've made arrangements to go see her, and tell her this in person this weekend. I'll see what comes of the next few days and weeks.

Thanks once again for the advice and support. It means more than you could possibly know.

Posted by: Chrissy | March 2, 2007 12:52 PM

To anon at 11:40

Yes, for the high schoolers the amount (effectively $6 per week) is pretty low, but they mostly spend it on entertainment or junk, so I haven't felt the need to raise it. As I noted, we also give the drivers gas money, we give them a clothing budget, etc. It hasn't been much of an issue.

Re: the jobs at young ages: I wouldn't really want a 14 or 15 year old to have a 'steady' part-time job. Our oldest started working at Safeway right after she turned 16 and that was borderline. She quit after about 6 months - interestingly enough, right after having paid off the union initiation fee. (If she'd quit earlier she'd have actually had to pay the union for the privilege of quitting.) Now that she's 18, she can manage her hours at the pizza place on her own.

The next two, who are 15 and 16, don't have such jobs. The 16 year old umpires little league baseball games (and he's refereed a couple of soccer games, too.) They pay him about $20 for a 90-minute game (compare that to your day-care providers!) He's going to be at the park anyway, so he figured he might as well get paid for it. The 15 year old has umpired softball games and now babysits. She didn't like the abuse she got from parents during the softball games. (Although I have a very fond memory of a discussion I had with one mother who'd yelled that my daughter was a "stupid b*tch". But enough of that.) Now she just babysits for neighbors and friends, and works it into her schedule.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 2, 2007 12:55 PM

No, they don't have opera, ballet, museums, everywhere. People wouldn't flock to NYC or DC to see these things if they were everywhere. There are goodm useums outside of NYC and DC but it's no where NEAR comparable.

The only other place I'd be willing to move (other than a major European city) is Sante Fe or Taos, NM.
Posted by: | March 2, 2007 12:31 PM

and with this attitude, many of us are quite glad you won't consider relocating to the cities we live in. It makes getting affordable season tickets to the opera, ballet, and museum show openings (yes, they are popular enough and good enough to require ticketed admission) so much easier.

I visit NYC and DC regularly for many reasons, but it's not because we don't have great cultural institutions where we live.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 12:56 PM

Chrissy, thanks for the update- I am sure everything will work out and you will eventually find the right guy. Good luck, God bless, and best wishes. :-)

Posted by: Chris | March 2, 2007 12:58 PM

To anon at 12:49
LA is so disgustingly void of any real culture. The entertainment industry pretty much ruins that.

________________________

Define "real culture". I've lived all over the world, from cities like Munich, Germany; to Chicago, the Baltimore/Washington area, Silicon Valley/San Francisco, and then places like Fort Knox, Fort Polk and Fort Jackson. I've found "real culture" pretty much everywhere I've looked for it, including LA. Let's see, start with the Getty Museum, then move on from there.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 2, 2007 1:00 PM

Chrissy,
Please take care of yourself during this difficult time. I hope you find the peace you deserve (being close to family will be a great comfort).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 2, 2007 1:01 PM

Allowances: Daughter is approaching 6, so this is all very helpful, as we're soon going to have to figure out what to do (at least once she learns not to trade a $20 for two singles! Thanks, Grandpa.). I'm thinking maybe 4 quarters/wk when she turns 6, with the rule that 2 of them need to go into the piggy bank.

For older teens, I like what my mom did:
when I was @ 10th grade, she turned over my dad's child support check to me. It was $150/mo. (@ 1980), and we both agreed that I would immediately put $100 into the bank for college (negotiated my way to $75 by my senior year). The rest was my "allowance" for the month, and had to cover all my bills, unless I earned more by babysitting -- food, clothes, gas, etc. Of course, first month it was gone in two weeks -- I was RICH, whoo-hoo!! Think I signed up for one of those record-a-month deals with all my newfound wealth. :-) But within a couple of months, I had it all figured out. Doing it on a monthly basis was great training --adjustment to the "real world" was easy (financially), because I was already used to a monthly income and budget.

The important thing wasn't just the money management, though, it was being entrusted with the responsibility -- it was my job to nag my dad if the check didn't come in (love him to death, but some ADD issues). Plus I really had ownership of the choice to put a big chunk away for college instead of blowing it all on school lunches because I was too lazy to pack a sandwich. It made me proud that my mom trusted me to manage myself like an adult, so I was bound and determined to live up to that expectation.

Posted by: Laura | March 2, 2007 1:02 PM

Go Chrissy -- best of luck getting through this. I'm glad you drew a line at the counseling. This is a very big deal in so many ways, and he should be doing everything in his power to earn your forgiveness. If he isn't even willing to go to counseling to help you get through it, then he either doesn't get it or doesn't care (enough). I'm sorry he didn't come through for you, but I'm glad you did.

Posted by: Laura | March 2, 2007 1:08 PM

Chrissy, why are you using this board to share your tragic personal life? I really don't care because I don't even know you. In fact, I thought we were discussing quality childcare today, not broken marriages. geez.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 1:12 PM

hmm... on child support. My dad never paid a dime, nor did the state make hime, so as I have it figured I am owed at least 18 years worth of back pay. Talk about rich if I could only manage to collect. I would love the interest too...

Posted by: Chris | March 2, 2007 1:13 PM

Chrissy, I wish the best for you in this difficult time, and do hope you speak with a counselor to get past the feeling that somehow you are giving up. Give yourself credit for taking charge of your life, your decisions and your happiness. Lots of us stay in denial of a variety of problems in our marriages and relationships so that we don't have to figure out what to do. You have shown a lot of courage in facing this problem head-on, particularly (and please don't think this is condescending because I don't mean it to be) at your age.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 2, 2007 1:14 PM

Chrissy,

I think I speak for everyone here when I say we are proud of you for being strong, and for making up your own mind.

We wish you well, and when you do find that right guy some day and eventually bounce that baby on your knee, you'll see that this was just the road you had to travel.

Best of luck, and Godspeed...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | March 2, 2007 1:15 PM

OK, here's a question for the gallery:

My husband agreed to watch a SAHD's kids while he did some volunteer work. The kids are both younger than ours and required an incredible amount of attention-- which is fine. What is not fine is that we discovered after they were dropped off that the younger one was visibly and viscously sick. Our younger daughter contracted the illness from her and has been out of school for a full WEEK. She's been miserable, too-- fever, vomiting (up 7 times in one night), cold/flu. We called him to ask what his kid's symptoms were and he confirmed she had the same thing at that time, but did not apologize.

What do you suggest? He was not a great friend, but a friendly acquaintance. Right now we are considering just ending any relationship with him, without getting into why. But we're not sure.

Posted by: Neighbors | March 2, 2007 1:15 PM

There are good museums here in Raleigh. There's also a big art center downtown. I think that the trick is fine out where all the colleges are. That's where the art will be. There are so many colleges in the Triangle that finding a starving artist is like shooting fish in a barrel. And since it's the state capital, there're some historical buildings.

I'm with all the rodeo and NASCAR haters. Rodeo is so sad to watch!!! I'd rather be watching football or basketball, which certainly isn't classier. Just less cruel than rodeo and less environmentally unfriendly than NASCAR.

My two cents on allowance (HAR!): I never had allowance; I just asked my parents for money. As an adult, I had to max out several credit cards before I learned about finances. Today, my husband handles our family budget because I would be more likely bounce checks and forget the mortgage. So my advice to to get them familiarized with money (whether through allowance or other avenues) as soon as you can if you don't want to be lending them money when they're out of college (thanks Mom, by the way!).

Posted by: Meesh | March 2, 2007 1:17 PM

Chrissy, I'm so glad that you are looking out for yourself. You gave him every opportunity to be a mature, loving, caring partner, and he has failed 100%. This is not your fault in any way. God bless.

Posted by: experienced mom | March 2, 2007 1:18 PM

Neighbors, this guy sounds like an upstanding pillar of society- and a great parent to boot! He is teaching his child to share at a young age, and that is to be commended, even if the sharing is of germs. Misery loves company, so... make sure for Christmas you send him a rotten bag of spinach and some tainted peter pan peanut butter. Maybe he will get a clue. :)

Posted by: Chris | March 2, 2007 1:20 PM

Chrissy you will be fine. I wonder what will happen to your soon to be ex? I just finished reading "The Kitefylier" which is about the "hero" or at least the proteganist of the story doing some truely awful things as a young man and attempting to redeem himself as he ages. If I were writing a novel, i would want to develop some way that your ex could find demeption. I'm not saying that he can ever work his way back into being your husband and loved one. that ship has certainly sailed and you have every right to close the door to that. He sounds like an ass, but perhaps someday he will realize this and I wonder what he can do to make it up to you? Maybe you can have some fun (I bet you could use a laugh right now) imagining what he can do to deem himself-- become your housekeeper? no, you don't want him in your house.

your gardener? still too close.

Write songs extolling your beauty and wisdom, paint pictures of all the wonderful dreams you expressed for your marriage-- maybe that could work? and he'd ship the stuff to you from some lonesome island far, far away.

Hope this helps you smile!

Posted by: Clarina | March 2, 2007 1:20 PM

Anon 1:12:

I'm so very sorry for stepping on your toes. How very selfish of me. You see, a week ago, I thought I would soon be a parent, just like you. I had hope, anyway. I reached out when i was grasping at straws for some support. I'm glad your marriage and life is so wonderful that you can feel nothing for someone who only wanted the same. Please forgive me for interrupting this blog. I will not bother you again.

Posted by: Chrissy | March 2, 2007 1:21 PM

neighbors, please call him and tell him politely why you are unhappy. OMG, vomiting, who would knowingly inflict that on someone else's child? He needs to know not to do this to anyone else, ever again.

Posted by: experienced mom | March 2, 2007 1:21 PM

Sorry I meant "The Kiterunner"-- must read book. I feel like a better person for having read it.

Posted by: Clarina | March 2, 2007 1:22 PM

Anon 1:12:

some of us, many of us, perhaps, do care about Chrissy.

Posted by: experienced mom | March 2, 2007 1:25 PM

Ignore the anon guy and feel free to bother us! The key to humanity is being humane. Sometimes it is necessary to stray from a topic to address an important issue- which by far yours has certainly been the most so...well... that and the psycho astronaut from a few weeks ago.. ;-)
Reading your story made me contemplate learning some things that were hidden from me, but later revealed. I think I have managed to work through them, but it is still difficult. I am glad you are able to make a stand. Please stick to it- and seek REAL help if things start to get ugly. If this guy could hide that all this time, there is no telling how low he would go. I say it not to inspire fear in you, but just encourage you to be careful. I would not wait to tell someone such as your mom- just so somebody else knows what is going on- for your own safety. I say this as a security specialist- seeking anonymous advise can be great, but you need someone in the real world who can watch your back.

Posted by: Chris | March 2, 2007 1:28 PM

Chrissy, good for you! Do what makes you happy--don't worry about what others say. I have a friend in the same situation, but she is choosing to stay for the sake of the kids. I have advised her to move on, but she won't. I'm glad you had the strength to do so. Godspeed and many blessings to you :)

Posted by: Ladybug | March 2, 2007 1:29 PM

Chrissy,

Ignor anonymous trolls...if Leslie had a nickel for everytime this blog gets sidetracked for a more interesting personal story, then she and Wapo would be rich.

Also, this blog would onl have about 50 posts a day. Stories like yours make this blog what it is.

Again, postings like anon 1:12. And do let us know how things unfold for you...

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | March 2, 2007 1:29 PM

Oops. that was supposed to say:

"Again, IGNORE postings like anon 1:12"

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | March 2, 2007 1:31 PM

Chrissy, don't listen to anon BS. I echo the sentiments of previous posters--I admire your strength very much. You seem to have a decisive nature, and that helps a lot when it comes to not getting stepped on by the ones you love. You were generous to give him a chance to redeem himself, to try and work it out, but clearly he's not willing to work WITH you. I applaud your strength and wish you nothing but the best!

Posted by: Mona | March 2, 2007 1:32 PM

Chrissy, go out and get Diana Ross' greatest hits CD and listen to track #2: It's My Turn. That has always liberated and empowered me when I broke up with my significant others. Try it, and you'll feel so much better!

Posted by: Ladybug | March 2, 2007 1:33 PM

More about NAEYC accreditation:
My child is in a NAEYC accredited daycare but they will not renew this accreditation because it has become unreasonable. NAEYC has added criteria such that all classes have to have teachers with certificates and college degrees. They have also significantly hiked the cost of the accreditaion process, making it out-of-reach for a not-for-profit daycare.

My center is now beginning the process to be accredited through the state of MD, which has a rigorous, but reasonable, system and standards. I'm afraid it may hurt their ability to pull in before- and after-school care kids (there is such a low supply of pre-school aged daycare that I don't think there will be a problem keeping those slots full).

Anyway, just an update on NAEYC.

Posted by: MaryB | March 2, 2007 1:33 PM

Chrissy,
If we are giving musical inspirations go for Aretha - RESPECT!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 2, 2007 1:35 PM

Chrissy,
Good for you!! I second Megan's Neighbor about getting some therapy for yourself. I am sure this was a great shock to you. You seem to be very strong and sensible, and I am sure you will work through this. I also had a failed marriage in my 20s, and believe me, you can come back from this and rebuild your life. And in the end, you will be a better person for it.

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 1:42 PM

Chrissy -- you say it's not in your nature to give up. You may be leaving a bad marriage, but you are not giving up your dream of having a child (some day), you are not giving up your dream of having a healthy marriage (with a great new guy, some day), you are not giving up your self-respect. You are not giving up.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 2, 2007 1:42 PM

There once was a woman named Chrissy
Whose husband was a liar and sissy.
The tale, above blogged,
Shows he needs beaten and flogged
But that is a different story.

I say this of Chrissy's husband
His lie was meticulously planned
Until the last phaze
Where he is left in a daze.
And stuck alone with his hand.

I hope that cheers you up. ;-)

Posted by: Chris | March 2, 2007 1:46 PM

My personal favorite break-up song:

You Just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 1:48 PM

Chrissy - Being close to your mom will be such a help. You are young and have your whole life ahead of you. Good Luck.

Posted by: CMAC | March 2, 2007 1:55 PM

Chrissy, maybe some Beyonce in there- Irreplaceable. TO the left to the left...

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 2:03 PM

Chrissy don't worry about the anon-jerk.
You have just as much right to post here as they do and most of us are nice people, who like to help other people out. Don't leave the board or say you are going to. That makes nasty people happy believe me a few of on here know all about it.

I am so glad that you are talking to your friend and going to spend time with you mom. I will also second Arlington dad, you are not giving up, you are moving on with your life.

Posted by: scarry | March 2, 2007 2:04 PM

How long did it usually take your children to adjust to a new caregiver after you went back to work? We're in week 2 of the Bottle Wars with my breastfed 12 week old right now. She's with a part-time nanny, and daddy the other hours. She had no issues with the bottle when we introduced it many weeks before.

Posted by: D.C. mama | March 2, 2007 09:32 AM

No one had answered your post yet so I thought I would chime in. My DD was breastfed almost exclusively until she was 10 weeks old. At this time I went back to work and my MIL got her to take bottles, it took about 1 1/2 days of MIL fighting with DD. However, once she was taking bottles we had little to no issue with anyone else giving her a bottle(except me, because 99.9% of the time I breastfed her). I would say that maybe your caregiver is not confident with babies or this issue would have worked itself out within a day or two since your baby is used to getting bottle fed by dad. Maybe daddy could see how your caregiver is feeding the baby and give some advice as to how he does it.

Posted by: to D.C. mama | March 2, 2007 2:13 PM

I'll chime in here again about Chrissy's situation. FWIW, after my first marriage ended, I initially felt very embarrassed that I had not been able to make it work. It did feel like a failure. But in time, I realized that I had two choices. To give up on myself and my future happiness and stay in an unhappy and unsuitable marriage, or give up on the marriage and continue to have faith in myself and my future. I don't know if you remember the move "You've got mail." When Kathleen Kelly and her fiance figure out that they don't love each other and should break up, he asks her if there is someone else. She says that no, there isn't, but that there is the dream of someone else. I think that is very wise.

Sometimes, we stay with what does not work out of fear. Your decision is being made from a position of strength and a knowledge that you will find your way in a brighter and more hopeful future. That is not giving up. It is called faith in yourself. Good luck!!

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 2:14 PM

Don't take advice from Beyonce! "I could find another you in a minute... don't you ever think you're irreplacable" Huh? That's called making the same mistake twice. Hold our and find someone who really is irreplacable.

Posted by: Arington Dad | March 2, 2007 2:15 PM

Chrissy -- I'm glad that you are strong enough to end it and move on. Hurrah!

I'm one of those anon bloggers who usually annoys the heck out of the regulars with real "names." Go figure. Anyway, your post yesterday really touched me. The level of dishonesty your husband inflicted on you was really heartwrenching. You've probably already made the toughest step. Keep walking. And let us know how it goes.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 2:20 PM

There has been a lot of criticism of child-care workers, but consider their situation: most are paid just over the minimum wage and have little or no benefits (universal healthcare would be a help to them). Why do we put so little value on childcare? We want good care but we want it on the cheap. In order to attract high-quality, educated, committed teachers for early childhood care and education, the job would need to have good pay and solid opportunities for increases in pay. Are we ready to pay for this? Do we value our big SUVs, cable TV, and Disney holidays more than we value the care given to our children? It's all a matter of priorities and, for most modern professionals, their priorities are private consumption of high-end goods.

Posted by: MontgomeryMom | March 2, 2007 2:23 PM

Since there always seems to be a lot of lawyers on this board - why isn't there (aren't there) state regulatory agencies that garnish a deadbeat parent's wages for child support? Why can't we contact their employers and make part of their paycheck go to child support?

Posted by: Question | March 2, 2007 2:27 PM

But it's usually the people who have "big SUVs, cable TV, and Disney holidays" warre are also paying for and getting the "high-quality" child care.

Posted by: Arligton Dad | March 2, 2007 2:28 PM

Don't take advice from Beyonce! "I could find another you in a minute... don't you ever think you're irreplacable" Huh? That's called making the same mistake twice. Hold our and find someone who really is irreplacable.

Posted by: Arington Dad | March 2, 2007 02:15 PM

Arl. Dad - you could probably do worse than listen to Beyonce! Maybe Beyonce is just having fun until the irreplaceable one comes along. Chicks really love "To the left..." don't argue with us. haha

Posted by: moxiemom | March 2, 2007 2:28 PM

Oh moxiemom, you've never been in the car with me. I'm all about the "to the left, to the left..." It's a fun song, but I don't think it's a song of empowerment. Now the song she sang in Dreamgirls -- I'm ready to hear that on the radio!

Posted by: Arington Dad | March 2, 2007 2:32 PM

Gloria Gaynor and "I Will Survive." is a great break-up song.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 2:33 PM

now i'm picturing everyone jamming to HOT 99.5 hahaha

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 2:34 PM

Question, I'm not a domestic relations attorney, but in Virginia you CAN contact someone's employer to garnish his/her wages if he/she owes child support (provided you have a court or administrative order).

Or were you asking why doesn't a state agency automatically do this?

Posted by: yet another lawyer | March 2, 2007 2:35 PM

My secret ultimate guilty pleasure in music is 50 Cent. go go go go go go go shorty...

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 2:35 PM

i will survive is the worst break up song. it's now just a cheesy POlly Esther's tune. and of course they always have to play it at gay clubs. why this is, i'll never figure it out because gay guys don't like it either

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 2:37 PM

I'm one of those anon bloggers who usually annoys the heck out of the regulars with real "names."

you only annoy us when you are nasty.

Posted by: to anon | March 2, 2007 2:37 PM

Normally a Lurker -- I am really sorry I offended you (but glad I inadvertently got you to post a comment!).

My choice is my choice, and naturally I want to support and promote the "rightness" of my choices. And also, I feel good daycare needs defending because it is often unfairly maligned.

I WANT my children exposed to other views and religions and even GERMS. That's one reason I like daycare and other kinds of childcare. My kids wouldn't even know who Jesus was except that our first daycare center was in a church. But you don't feel that way and of course that's fine.

I wasn't trying to be subtly offensive. Sorry again.

Posted by: Leslie | March 2, 2007 2:38 PM

It's funny- it is exactly that statistic (that 90% of the brain develops in the first 5 yrs) that made me want to stay home!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 2:42 PM

Chrissy,

the level of deceit you were subjected to is unbelievable. There is nothing wrong with not wanting kids--but to get a vasectomy while planning a wedding and not tell your partner? What poor excuse for a man does THAT?

Take a deep breath. You are better off without him.

Good luck.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 2:44 PM

Chris, your 1:46 poem shows true talent, ROFL!

On topic, neither of our children were good in big settings so traditional daycare was out. For our oldest, the first two years, we had the pros and cons of family care given by elderly, but spry and interesting, family members. They do things their way. Parents get over it. Child still hates getting dropped off but really, really gets to know family members. To this day, our son is very comfortable with older people. From 3 to 5 he was in a small, in-home private provider environment. Our daughter also was with an in-home provider before she started pre-school. It had the disadvantage of no-back-up care when our provider was ill, but the advantages were so great: real love and affection, 3 - 4 kids of different ages, no attrition, and lots of craft projects.

foamgnome got it right in her first post. I could care less what educational background my childcare providers have and think it's ridiculous to require a bachelor's degree for finger-painting with three-year olds. I want my childcare providers to truly like my child, supply warm hugs and kisses, be in an environment where there is low, low turnover, and to be someone who enjoys working on art projects, getting outside and playing with my children.

North Carolina has a star-rating system from 1 to 5. A 5 star facility is only better than a 3 star facility if you CARE whether there's an industrial kitchen. In the last 4 years, a great many really good, very affordable church daycares, including many that provided discounted rates on a sliding scale to those that needed them, have left the business of providing childcare rather than be designated a 3 star facility, because the state is emphasizing and rewarding things like degrees and the presence of a industrial/commercial kitchen over the hugs and kisses that, in my experience, parents value most. Like NCLB, be careful what you wish for in ratings systems because, IMHO, such systems have the unintended consequence of limiting parents' options and raising prices. When the only affordable childcare options we have are commercial enterprises and franchised daycare providers, it's more limiting for parents rather than less.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 2, 2007 2:44 PM

Chrissy, I am so proud of you. And I am so glad you decided to end your marriage. If he wasn't going to go to counseling, then he was not interested in marriage.

anon 1:12- I am usually pretty cordial but here is a first. YOU ARE A JERK! Enough said.

momof4: I agree that some SAH enviroments can be as good if not better then some high quality day cares. I think it really lies in the type of person that is watching the child. My mom was really into being a SAHP for the first 11 years. I think she kind of checked out a bit when the youngest went to middle school. But she did all the early development stuff, museum trips, awesome halloween costumes, ran children's activities. She never got into cooking and cleaning but she was a good SAHP and lousy house keeper. But I know myself that if I stayed home full time, kid would watch a lot of TV. I just don't find arts and crafts all that interesting. So I think it really depends.

Researcher person: forgot your actual tag name. But I agree with child/staff ratio thing as being a good indicator. It was a big decision for me. But to be honest, how many parents haven't read the newspaper, cooked dinner, folded laundry, while the kids played. I think it takes a teaching kind of parent to involve the kids in all those activities. Bravo to those parents but some of us really don't have it in us. I am not all excusing that sort of behavior from a paid baby sitter. I am just saying, I doubt it is that far from a lot of families realities. I think I read a study that SAHPs only spend 2 hours more a day actually engaged with the child. Children who stay at home, on average, find they need to amuse themselves because mom or dad need to get housework and life stuff done. To be honest, if we left parenting to only the ones who are activily engaged with their kids 8 hours a day, we would really see a decline in the human race. Oh quick call up Greenie. He would like this idea. But for most of us, we love our kids but really aren't interested in doing it 24/7. And we really did not know that till after they were born. I don't find watching my kid mind numbingly boring like some parents. But I don't talk incessantly to her and try to engage her all the time either. I guess that is why she is delayed. Just kidding. I think most of her delays are just who she is. But I often think she might make more progress in a more talktive family then ours. So thank goodness for some day cares. At least they seem to talk to her all the time.

Posted by: foamgnome | March 2, 2007 2:44 PM

To yet another lawyer - yes, I'm wondering why we don't automatically do that (garnish wages of child support supplying parents). Thank you.

Posted by: Question | March 2, 2007 2:47 PM

"It's all a matter of priorities and, for most modern professionals, their priorities are private consumption of high-end goods."

based on . . . what?

let's try that obnoxious sentiment with a different target. "It's all a matter of priorities and, for most modern SAHMs, their priorities are getting to the gym on a daily basis and putting their kids to bed at 7 so they can have adult time with their husbands, rather than giving their husbands time to play with their children."

There are so few parents who fit these stereotypes, they are better left unstated. Most of us, whatever our childcare choices, are doing the best we can with the limited resources we have to raise happy, healthy, independent children.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 2, 2007 2:56 PM

Allegheny county in Pennsylvania (think Pittsburgh) does indeed default to garnishing wages of child support supplying parents. And it doesn't automatically stop at age 18, 19 or 21. The child support parent has to file to stop payment (essentially paying another 1K) for any reason (including child attaining majority, child no longer dependent on child support receiving parent, death, etc.)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 2:57 PM

If I knew you, this is the Breakup mix tape I'd make for you, Chrissy:

Hit the Road, Jack (R Charles)
I Will Survive (G Gaynor)
Irreplaceable (Beyonce)
Delia's Gone (Johnny Cash)
Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac)
Don't Come Around Here No More (T Petty)
You Oughta Know (Alanis)
You Give Love a Bad Name (Bon Jovi)
These Boots are Made for Walkin' (N Sinatra)
Since U Been Gone (K Clarkson)
It's Too Late, Baby (C. King)
I Can See For Miles (the Who)
Total Eclipse of the Heart (Bonnie someone)

Be strong and move on.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | March 2, 2007 3:01 PM

"Allegheny county in Pennsylvania (think Pittsburgh) does indeed default to garnishing wages of child support supplying parents. And it doesn't automatically stop at age 18, 19 or 21. The child support parent has to file to stop payment (essentially paying another 1K) for any reason (including child attaining majority, child no longer dependent on child support receiving parent, death, etc.)"

It doesn't cost $1K to file to cease child support unless the child is under the age of 18. Parents who pay child support may file to cease payment (with a $50 fee, no attorney required) when the child is 18 AND has graduated from high school or in the case where the child has been declared an emancipated minor.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 3:13 PM

I like the song linger by the cranberries for a break up song.

Posted by: scarry | March 2, 2007 3:13 PM

Also, all counties in the state of PA do automatically garnish wages, even if the payor lives out of state.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 3:14 PM

Its a beautiful day and I'm going to go kite flying with my kids. Enriching enough for you Leslie - sucker - you are missing the best things and the best years.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 3:17 PM

I guess that 'high quality daycare' is subjective. For some people the interaction and personality of the provider is what is important.
For others, it is the educational levels of the provider plus the stimulation and educational opportunites that are available in the day care. Neither style is better than the other, just different.

Foremost for all, is that the health and safety of the children are paramount.

Go with your heart and the style that best suits your child and your priorities.

Posted by: anon this time | March 2, 2007 3:18 PM

Thanks for the nice posts guys. If you really don't mind my posting here, I will stay. The support has been really helpful.

Posted by: Chrissy | March 2, 2007 3:22 PM

Don't forget Pat Benetar!

You'll be okay, Chrissy. And I forget if you are Catholic or not; if you are, your marriage will definitely be annulled if you seek it. It's time-consuming and requires a lot of thought and paperwork, but you may find it useful if you pursue it. Obviously if you're not RC it's a moot point.

I was very, very lucky to have family in the area with strange work hours. So I enjoyed family care, and the kids got tight with their cousins, grandparents, etc.

I did use an individual who did childcare on the side out of her home, she had previously been licensed but wasn't looking for more kids. It worked out very well.

Posted by: MdMother | March 2, 2007 3:22 PM

workingmomX, I totally second "Since you been gone" by K. Clarkson as a great break-up song.

How about "It Ain't Me Babe" and "She's Your Lover Now" by the truly irreplaceable Bob Dylan?

Posted by: Meesh | March 2, 2007 3:26 PM

'No, they don't have opera, ballet, museums, everywhere. People wouldn't flock to NYC or DC to see these things if they were everywhere.'

People flock to Florida to go to Walt Disney World.

If the 'culture' is important to you, that is perfectly fine. You just don't have to be so condescending to others who don't give it the same importance.

I don't care for opera (would rather go to a rock concert), or ballet (unless it's my daughter's class), and I only like museums a little bit. I am more of an outdoors/sporty woman and would rather go to the beach, or the mountains, or a baseball game than the places you mentioned.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 3:26 PM

Also "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" by Dylan. It has these words:

"I gave her my heart but she wanted my soul, but don't think twice, it's alright"

Posted by: Meesh | March 2, 2007 3:29 PM

Yesterday, I was the one trying to give your husband the benefit of the doubt and hoping that all the good between you could be saved and improved.

I guess I was overly optimistic. I'm sorry that things turned out this way. Even when it is for the best, "Breaking up is hard to do". Good luck to you.

Posted by: to Chrissy | March 2, 2007 3:30 PM

I think its so funny that all the posters who are so happy with the daycare facility or home based provider they have found are willing to list the city its located in but not the name bc they don't want anyoen else to know about it bc everyone knows hwo difficult it is to get into good daycares and noone wants to share a good thing and risk ending up on a waiting list

mine do preschool 2-4 mornings week but if I could find a wonderful daycare I would put them in 20hrs so I could work, as being a SAHM is not my calling, I find it so smothering and demanding. ..

Posted by: fairfaxnewbie | March 2, 2007 3:32 PM

Sunshine Kids Club is good. (Carroll County, MD)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 3:35 PM

Question
When I was divorced in MD, it was stipulated in the divorce decree that my child support be paid through the state's child support office. They automatically went after him for the missed payments including garnishing wages.

Posted by: normally lurking | March 2, 2007 3:35 PM

"Its a beautiful day and I'm going to go kite flying with my kids. Enriching enough for you Leslie - sucker - you are missing the best things and the best years."

I bet this person is raising polite little angels.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | March 2, 2007 3:36 PM

Great topic today. It inspired me to write a long letter of advice to a friend of mine who is expecting in May:

PS. I live in Ohio

I recommend that you (potential new mom) visit NOW during the week some daycares in your area to get a feel for what's out there. It's important to prepare BEFORE the baby comes, because you will be very occupied and it will be much more inconvenient to do once the baby comes.

Plus, some places may have a waiting list. If so, and you want that place, best to find out and get on it now.

Trust your gut. I have visited virtually every daycare around my area. I only found 1 that I would even consider. The rest, I walked in, and immediately, my heart SANK!

I would see things like: 1) loud music (not for the kids, either); 2) Kids with snot COVERING their faces; 3) Incredibly tiny rooms for active toddlers; 4) Lunch/snack menus with extremely high processed food/sugar content; 5) Indifferent or rough caretakers.

Your state will mandate a caregiver to infant ratio.

The one home daycare person I visited immediately offered my son the TV. Her husband completely ignored me, and she had two young daughters she talked to more during the visit than me! One had black circles under her eyes and was very thin. She was obviously very ill.

However, I would consider a home daycare if I found a good one. I know there are good ones out there (I've seen a couple I've considered visiting on craigslist, but don't have a need at the moment). Churches may have good daycares as well, but don't assume that because they are with a church, they are "better." Not necessarily true.

The one daycare I did like was called the Goddard School. Expensive. But it had a great environment, I liked the feel of it, etc. This is a franchise and you may have some in your area. I imagine quality varies.

If you go the sitter route, advertise on craigslist and the LOCAL paper. Try to get a local person rather than someone who lives 45 minutes away. It's going to make life easier for you both. All my sitters live within 15-20 minutes (I have 4 at the moment), in the same town or the next one over. They are more likely to be on time, feel connected to you as a family because you live in the same area, etc.

I also recommend that you break up the day into two halves, morning and afternoon shift (if needed) and get two sitters. It's tough to watch kids all day long, especially if they are not your own. Few people have the stamina for a full day, but you'll increase your "marketing potential" a lot if you only need 4-5 hour shifts. Plus, it's built-in backup care (my sitters will often call each other to rearrange hours; thus, no one misses out)

Also, cost: I pay $7/hr (remember, I live in Ohio!)

Just my two cents on all this! Finding good care can be a journey and if you can avoid any of my mistakes, it's worth it.

PS. Don't forget to ask any potential sitters about 1) Do they smoke?; 2) Do they LIVE with anyone that smokes? Both answers should be no. I had a sitter that didn't smoke, but lived with a heavy smoker. She absolutely stank. I didn't want my son to have to endure that...

Most important thing I've found -- trust your gut. If anything rings a bell, DO NOT hire that daycare/person. You WILL regret it. Keep looking! Good people and situations are out there.

Finally, but know that you and your DH will have more influence over this little baby than any daycare or sitter. Those come and go, but the baby will know that you both are the emotional center of his/her life.

Posted by: Rebecca | March 2, 2007 3:39 PM

"Its a beautiful day and I'm going to go kite flying with my kids. Enriching enough for you Leslie - sucker - you are missing the best things and the best years."

That's just insecurity masked as smugness. Must be awful to live with.

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 3:40 PM

"Its a beautiful day and I'm going to go kite flying with my kids. Enriching enough for you Leslie - sucker - you are missing the best things and the best years."

That's just insecurity masked as smugness. Must be awful to live with.

We should ask the kids--particularly when they are teenagers.

Smug parents tend to have a karmic clue-by-four waiting 'round the bend for them.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 3:46 PM

Re: Allowance

DD gets $5/month (she's 8). She does some chores, but they're not tied to the allowance. Allowance will be withheld as punishment on occasion. In our case, giving her her own money has been a good lesson for her on savings. She decided over the summer that she wanted an American Girl doll (not an inexpensive purchase) and announced that she was saving her money to purchase it herself. I was so impressed that she didn't even ask us to buy it for her, I told her that if she saved up the $100+ to buy the doll, I'd pick up the tax and postage, etc. She squirreled away all of her birthday money, and never spent her allowance. I paid her to do some extra chores around the house at the holidays as we were hosting several family members for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I let grandparents know her plan and suggested they give her a little bit of money for Christmas. She was so proud when she counted her money in January and she had reached her goal.

Another related question -- we are considering paying her for grades. We know several parents who do this (saying that school is their child's job) and it seems like it would give her more financial independence. My parents never paid for grades and told us they thought we should be working for the intrinsic value of a job well done. My mother told me recently that she thought that was a mistake and she wishes she had rewarded our grades this way.

What do you think about this? I'm on the fence, but DH and I are starting to discuss. How much is fair? Most seem to be paying $5 per A, $3 per B, and perhaps $1 for a C or not at all below a B.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | March 2, 2007 3:47 PM

Personally, there isn't a big problem with rewarding the kid for a job well done.

Delayed gratification is fine, and it's a great thing to learn that you have to sweat, toil and sacrifice a bit to earn what you REALLY want. But few people go to work every day for free, INDEFINITELY.

I mean, we get rewarded periodically, right?

I mentally do a happy dance every payday, as it permits me to live indoors and eat. Things I've grown accustomed to in my middle age!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 3:52 PM

I am against paying for grades. My mom always said that you are supposed to do well in school because it is the right thing to do, not because you will be paid for it. That had a big impact on me.

My daughter had friends who begged the teacher for extra credit because they got so much more $ for A's than B's.

I believe that children should be taught that they should do their best in school because a good work ethic is desirable. The child needs to learn the inner satisfaction of a job well done. Hard work and good grades can be celebrated with the family with a special dinner, movie night, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 3:54 PM

My parents sort of paid for grades. I received $100 for all A's...nothing if there was a B or lower. It was a good incentive, but I seriously doubt it would work for all children. I was bored through most of elementary and middle school, so $$ was incentive to stay focused. Once I got to high school and was able to take dual enrollment courses, the boredom disappeared (and consequently, so did the offer of $$ for grades).

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 3:54 PM

Paying for grades? I don't think so. Good grades should be their own reward. I really think that children should try hard in school not because they will get money for it, but because they are learning new things and stretching their minds and abilities. I also think that they should be encouraged to love learning for it's own sake, because it is interesting and fun and enriching.

I also worry about what message paying for grades would give. I don't want my child to always go for the money. It is sometimes better to go for what makes you happy and what you enjoy? If they think that money is an end rather than a means, they might end up making decisions that will ultimately make them unhappy. Like my friend who went to law school because she thought she's make more money (and she does) than by pursuing an advanced degree in English Lit (which she loves). Now, she hates being a lawyer, but feels like she gets paid too much to ever consider quitting (she is actually a pretty good lawyer even though she is not happy with it), and does not even have time to read for fun because she spends all her time working. Sad.

Posted by: Emily | March 2, 2007 3:58 PM

it cost me 1k to terminate child support in pittsburgh. Child support services would not stop garnishing my wages until I got a court order to tell them to stop garnishing my wages, not just a court order to say child support was no longer due. Since allegheny county earns a small % of every $, it was to their advantage to keep garnishing.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 4:00 PM

that was me at 3:54. sorry I forgot to sign.

My mom also said that my A's were the reward for the hard work - you work for A's, not for $.

My children just hate that we stick with this philosophy. They are older teens now, and I find that it is a constant battle to have them do things 'just because'. For example, when it snowed, they thought they should be paid for shoveling because it is not a regular chore. I don't know why they push the issue because they know that our standard answer is "everyone in the family pitches in, and you are part of the family".

This doesn't mean that we never give them extras or treats, just that we don't materially reward everything they do. Thank-yous and hugs are abundant in our house.

Posted by: anon this time | March 2, 2007 4:02 PM

another great break up song

'I will get by' Grateful Dead

Posted by: experienced mom | March 2, 2007 4:06 PM

Earlier this week, I was cursed with John Denver songs runing through my mind for two consecutive days. Now, don't get me wrong, it's an improvement to be imagining Jon Bon Jovi and hearing the chorus of You Give Love a Bad Name, but still. You are a cruel, cruel group.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 2, 2007 4:10 PM

Oh, and Chrissy, thank you for checking in. I've had you on my mind since yesterday and I'm relieved to hear you're okay and making good decisions.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | March 2, 2007 4:14 PM

"I'm Looking For A New Love, Ba - bee, A New Love . . . ."

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 4:22 PM

About paying for grades - I don't think you should do it, but once my brother wanted my parents to do that, and they figured out how much his "rent" would be, his part of monthly utilities, food, etc. and then added everything up for the semester, and I think he was "making" in the $100s for going to school [we live in MA, so obviously the cost of living is high here].

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 4:28 PM

Chrissy's mix tape is not complete without the 16 minute version of the Gap Band's

"You Dropped A Bomb on Me."

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 4:30 PM

Don't pay for grades. Not every child has the potential to earn A's in all subjects. My parents took my siblings and I to an amusement park after school got out for the summer if we tried our hardest at our classes and achieved our potential. One of my siblings has a slight learning disability and for her making a B in handwriting was a major accomplishment. I wasn't allowed to go my 7th grade year because even though I earned the A in Reading (Literature as opposed to grammer/English)I didn't read the books because I wanted to read books of my choosing.

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | March 2, 2007 4:35 PM

Forget who sang it and the name but the words say it all: I am woman hear me roar!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 2, 2007 4:36 PM

Army Secretary Harvey just "resigned" - heads are rolling all over the place.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 2, 2007 4:37 PM

(Long meeting; finally over - thankfully!)

Pay for grades? I think not. Good grades are what you get as a reward for your hard work.

Although the one time I was tempted was with my son. He got an academic scholarship to his Catholic high school by scoring in the 99th percentile on the standardized admission test - I was told he was the first kid who ever got an academic scholarship with a 2.2 GPA from middle school. (Asked why at his interview, he told them the truth, "I didn't try and the teachers didn't make me. I got C's, the teachers left me alone and I'm used to Mom and Dad's nagging.")

As a scholarship recipient, he has to be in all the honors sections. Also, he has to get at least an 85 average to keep the scholarship. He got a 100 on his first-quarter Latin final to finish the quarter with ... 85.1! And he FAILED Latin for the quarter. How do you get a 100 on the quarterly exam in a class you fail? Motivation.

I was seriously tempted to start paying him for grades, just to see if it would help.

We decided that wasn't fair to his sisters, so we went to the principal and asked him to tell DS that there's a new rule, just for him: he has to get a 95 average to keep his scholarship. The principal wouldn't do it, but he did promise to have a weekly meeting with DS. It's helped; his average is now up to 92.

But no, you don't get paid for grades.

Posted by: Army Brat | March 2, 2007 4:38 PM

oh, KLB. I'm so disappointed in you. Helen Reddy. "I am Woman".

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 2, 2007 4:38 PM

Try Tracy Chapman's "This Time".

Posted by: Bookworm Mom | March 2, 2007 4:39 PM

Megan's neighbor,
It must be the fact that my power was on and off all evening and night and I was afraid it wouldn't be on for me to shower, etc this am so I tossed and turned all night.
And I was bummed that I couldn't watch my new tv :-(

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 2, 2007 4:41 PM

Does this sound like blackmail?

"A woman accused of running a prostitution service catering to men in hotels and homes in the Washington area was indicted on federal racketeering charges yesterday in a case with a twist: She has threatened to peddle "the entire 46 pounds of detailed and itemized phone records" of her clients to raise money for her defense."

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 2, 2007 4:43 PM

It is interesting that no one has brought up the issue of state-subsidized preschool. France has an excellent system of childcare for young children that is offered to parents -- one does not need to break the bank to participate. Imagine if we set up a system, based on taxes, that would offer solid, healthy, caring childcare for every child who required it. Would we be willing to accept such a tax for a "public good" if it required curbing our private spending? Good childcare would no longer be a class privilege.

Posted by: MontgomeryMom | March 2, 2007 4:44 PM

Paying for Grades - My brother and I didn't get paid for grades, but if my parents felt we had tried our hardest and gotten decent grades each quarter, we would get a small "report card present." These were things we wanted, but not extravagant - maybe a $20 item (mid-late 80s). I don't think we got them anymore in high school, but I can't remember for sure.

Allowance - I got a pretty small allowance, but it was mine to do with as I wished. My parents provided all clothing, school supplies, gas, etc. If I wanted something extra (an expensive article of clothing, a trip to the movies with friends), then I paid for it. I still remember saving my allowance ($2/week, at that point) for long enough to buy a $50 item when I was about 10 - boy was I proud of myself! Allowance was not tied to chores. Chores were just expected. The only thing I got paid extra for was ironing - $0.50/shirt or pants for my parents, nothing for ironing my own things.

Posted by: FutureMom | March 2, 2007 4:51 PM

ack!! You hooked it up yourself, successfully, and then couldn't watch it? How frustrating. You are hereby absolved of all guilt for being old enough to remember Helen Reddy well, and the fact that I am Woman was in heavy rotation for about 50 weeks, and yet forgetting her, LOL. Because I say so.

I'm ambivalent on paying for grades. Before kids I would have said, absolutely not. Puritan work ethic and all that, and it just seemed to be something wealthy (in my opinion) families do. Now, I have a child who is very bright but hasn't yet developed any self-motivation, and is not motivated by long term or intangible rewards. Really he's just immature and, yes, ADD. We may decide moving into middle school that cash payments are appropriate, or we may reward him in some other tangible way that resonates with him, e.g., going to see a live band with his dad, or taking him and a friend to the bowling alley. ($5 per A might be cheaper.) He would find it motivating and we wouldn't be nagging, which makes him feel all sorts of negative emotions about himself. Just throwing it out there that maybe this is a kid-by-kid decision and more complex than "by God, yes" or "hel* no".

and because our kids are 6 grades apart, we don't have to treat them identically, in my opinion, but we can treat them fairly. We can say, this is what we do starting in middle school, if we need to, and not pay our daughter, for whom I suspect money is not the best motivator, for earning As in 1st grade. When she gets to middle school, we'll come up with a reward that pushes her buttons. We'll see when we get there.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 2, 2007 4:54 PM

I was quite proud of myself moving the 37" CRT out of the armoir and hooking up the new one (lots more cables). Yes, I was really bummed when the power went out. It isn't so bad when it is during the day as you can read but after dark sucks. I am not Abe Lincoln and can't read by candle light.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 2, 2007 4:58 PM

KLB - yes, but if you read the article it sounds like she thinks she's going to blackmail the prosecutors, not the clients. She told them that if her list becomes public there will be such a flap that it apparently will interfere with their ability to prosecute her or seize her assets.

I wouldn't think that kind of thing would go over well with prosecutors, though.

Hmm - wonder what the special of the day is over on e-bay?

Posted by: Army Brat | March 2, 2007 5:00 PM

Army Brat,
Do you think eBay special is 46 pounds of names?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 2, 2007 5:05 PM

It is interesting that no one has brought up the issue of state-subsidized preschool. France has an excellent system of childcare for young children that is offered to parents -- one does not need to break the bank to participate. Imagine if we set up a system, based on taxes, that would offer solid, healthy, caring childcare for every child who required it.

Posted by: MontgomeryMom | March 2, 2007 04:44 PM

This sounds like an idea Leslie would like since she believes that the feds are the solution to all problems. If you believe that government-funded or run daycare would produce solid, healthy, caring childcare for every child, you must have rolled off the turnip truck this morning.

The federal government screws up everything it touches.

Bad ideas:

government hospices
government assisted living
government daycare

France is not a country whose ideas, processes, or mode of government I wish to see duplicated in the U.S.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 5:08 PM

Thanks for the feedback on paying for grades. Like Megan's Neighbor, before children, I would have said "heck NO" if the idea was proposed. DD has not asked to be paid for grades. I'm not even sure she's aware some of her friends are paid. This started because I started hearing her friends talk about how much money they had saved up, and I was really curious how 8-year-olds were saving $200+! I asked some of the parents I'm close to and the two main sources seem to be payment for grades and money from grandparents. DD just doesn't have the type of grandparents who will slip her a sawbuck everytime they see her, and I'm certainly not going to suggest it. My suggestion for a small cash gift for Christmas was ignored by all but my Mom, and even she opted for an American Girl gift card over cash.

I don't think she needs the motivation to earn the grades. She's a straight-A student and in the GATE program. If anything, she's a little bored with school. The behavior marks are much harder for her, and earning an E on those scores is a big deal for her. She's not the type of girl to sit still and be quiet. What she's dying for is independance -- pretty much from day one. She doesn't like asking me for money. She wants her own to spend.

Maybe what I should consider is either upping her allowance (her's seems small compared to what I'm seeing here) or rewarding for those behavior E's that are more of a struggle for her.

Thanks for weighing in. I'm going to think about this some more.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | March 2, 2007 5:16 PM

"It is interesting that no one has brought up the issue of state-subsidized preschool. France has an excellent system of childcare for young children that is offered to parents -- one does not need to break the bank to participate. Imagine if we set up a system, based on taxes, that would offer solid, healthy, caring childcare for every child who required it. Would we be willing to accept such a tax for a "public good" if it required curbing our private spending? Good childcare would no longer be a class privilege.

Posted by: MontgomeryMom | March 2, 2007 04:44 PM"

Whoa! Who's going to be paying for this? If you take it away from welfare junkies or the "Let's see how many countries we can invade" fund, I'm all for it. If it's going to be taken from the poor college student whose waitressing job doesn't cover her rent, and who can't get a student loan because the money is all wrapped up in childcare subsidies, let's keep talking.

PS by "welfare junkies" I don't mean people who are on drugs. I mean the ones who rely on welfare as the only source of income for extended periods of time.

Posted by: Mona | March 2, 2007 5:20 PM

hee. hee. well-handled, Mona.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 5:28 PM

"Good childcare would no longer be a class privilege."

sure it would be. the wealthy could avoid the government-run system and everyone else would be stuck with it.

We've seen this before in another context. It's called the public education system, often funded by tax dollars based on property taxes. No Child Left Behind put the last nail in that coffin.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 5:33 PM

"No, they don't have opera, ballet, museums, everywhere. have you been everywhere?
Posted by: | March 2, 2007 12:48 PM "

Sorry I misspoke. I have only been to 47 of the 50 states. Alaska, NC and SC are on my list to visit.

My point is that the nation outside of NYC & DC is not devoid of culture. The issue we in "flyover country" have with elitism is that if an event, concert, exhibition etc. is not one that an "elite" would consider attending, that event is unworthy and beneath contempt. For those "elites" to discount an experience without experiencing it first hand because it does not match their cultural background is simply snobbish.


BTW, Posted by: | March 2, 2007 12:31 PM, you my care to try a spell check and a grammar check for your post.

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 6:53 PM

"and then places like Fort Knox, Fort Polk and Fort Jackson. I've found "real culture" pretty much everywhere I've looked for it, including LA. Let's see, start with the Getty Museum, then move on from there."

Army Brat,

I was actually a bit disappointed with the Getty. But the Ft. Puke and Ft. Nuts museums were top notch!

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 6:56 PM

Fred

Are you still there? Ignore those elites.

Posted by: scarry | March 2, 2007 7:02 PM

Anybody home?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 7:03 PM

I was gone all afternoon, just returned to the house now.

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 7:07 PM

good, I just took a home pregnancy test and I am pregnant! Yeah, your the first blog friend to know. :)

Posted by: scarry | March 2, 2007 7:08 PM

Scarry,

CONGRADULATIONS!

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 7:11 PM

I am so excited! I jumped on the blog to see if any of you "laters" was still on.

THANKS!

Posted by: scarry | March 2, 2007 7:13 PM

to Chrissy,

Crossroads by Tracy Chapman

(I will save my soul save myself)

besides, it has a great beat!

Here are the lyrics:

All you folks think you own my life
But you never made any sacrifice
Demons they are on my trail
I'm standing at the crossroads of hell
I look to the left I look to the right
There's hands that grab me on every side

All you folks think I got my price
At which I'll sell all that is mine
You think money rules when all else fails
Go sell your soul and keep your shell
I'm trying to protect what I keep inside
All the reasons why I live my life

Some say the devil be a mystical thing
I say the devil he a walking man
He a fool he a liar conjurer and a thief
He try to tell you what you need
Try to tell you what you need

Standing at the point
The road it cross you down
What is at your back
Which way do you turn
Who will come to find you first
Your devils or your gods

All you filks think you run my life
Say I should be willing to compromise
I say all you demons go back to hell
I'll save my soul save myself

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 7:14 PM

WOOHOO! Congrats Scarry.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | March 2, 2007 7:20 PM

Congratulations, Scarry! That's awesome news!

Posted by: Neighbor | March 2, 2007 7:31 PM

Just showed up now, haven't read much of today's posts, but...

CONGRATULATIONS SCARRY!!!

Posted by: catlady | March 2, 2007 7:37 PM

BTW, Posted by: | March 2, 2007 12:31 PM, you my care to try a spell check and a grammar check for your post.

I made a boo boo, that should be "you may care to..."

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 7:38 PM

Yes, and as usual I was just about to go back to the doctor and say something is wrong with me.

Posted by: scarry | March 2, 2007 7:39 PM

Catlady,

the only ones worth reading are mine, anyway!

snark!

Posted by: Fred | March 2, 2007 7:39 PM

Well, yours and most people's (not naming any names, of course)!

Posted by: catlady | March 2, 2007 7:46 PM

Congratulations, Scarry!

Posted by: KB | March 2, 2007 8:50 PM

This is all ridiculous. We live in the most self-indulgent society and it makes me ill.

The best 'daycare' for a child is a parent in the home. PERIOD. You will NEVER convince me otherwise. You can't pay someone to love a child the way a parent does.

Our children suffer for our selfishness. To imply that they are better off in daycare is pathetic and simply wrong no matter how you spin the data.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 2, 2007 9:43 PM

yeah for Scarry!

Posted by: experienced mom | March 2, 2007 10:12 PM

"I made a boo boo, that should be "you may care to...""

You may want to check your spelling in your post to Scarry about her pregnancy, as well. ;)

Posted by: Fred's Spelling Police | March 2, 2007 11:44 PM

Wahoo! Scarry! great news! You must keep us informed. I don't know why I'm praying for twins, nor do I know why the news is making me so happy, but wow, congradulations! Maybe it's the Irish in me.

Posted by: Father of 4 | March 3, 2007 3:44 AM

Scarry - May your pregnancy be peaceful and uneventful - congrats!

Posted by: cmac | March 3, 2007 8:38 AM

WOW - Congratulations, Scarry!

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | March 3, 2007 9:51 AM

Leslie, your opening line about brain development is pointless, meaningless, and, worst of all, without data to back it up. What precisely does that mean that "Studies show that 90 percent of a child's brain develops by age 5"? What "studies"? As a neuroscientist, I can tell you that what you're saying is total B.S. I don't know where you picked it up, but you definitely should not trust that source again.

Posted by: Ryan | March 3, 2007 11:03 AM

Wow, had to work late and missed the big news. Congratulations, Scarry!!

Posted by: Laura | March 3, 2007 11:16 AM

Chrissy,

How could I be so prosaic, so pedestrian, such a rube by offering Tracy Chapman for your consolation?

Please try Niccolo Paganini's Caprice No. 24 in A minor. It is truly such a beautiful and contemplative work.

Posted by: Fred | March 3, 2007 12:29 PM

"You may want to check your spelling in your post to Scarry about her pregnancy, as well. ;)"

Posted by: Fred's Spelling Police | March 2, 2007 11:44 PM

Yea, I knew it was wrong the instant I hit the submit button. But I did not want to bore people by issuing a correction.

I gotta' find my shotgun and go deer hunting!

Posted by: Fred | March 3, 2007 1:26 PM

HOORAY, congratulations Scarry!! Wheee!!

Posted by: Megan | March 3, 2007 1:38 PM

Congrats Scarry - take care.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | March 3, 2007 3:36 PM

A research team in Berkeley has found that spending more than 6 hours a day in preschool hampers the social and emotional development of white middle-class kids. They have some short term academic gains, but by the 3rd grade, the academic gains are gone, but their social skills haven't caught up.

http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2005/11/01_pre.shtml

Either we need to stop putting so many preschoolers in daycare/full day preschool, or we need to change the environment so that they're actually healthy places for children.

Don't ask me to pay to send your kid someplace research suggests is bad for them. Everyone talks about wanting better childcare, but the impression I get is that what they really want is cheaper, more convenient childcare.

Posted by: the downside to preschool | March 4, 2007 8:50 AM

"Don't ask me to pay to send your kid someplace research suggests is bad for them."

Reading carefully is FUN-damental. According to this dated 2005 press release, the data did not suggest that pre-school and daycare were bad for kids. Data suggested that a duration in excess of 6 hours per day produces a decline in certain skills (cooperation, sharing and engagement in classroom tasks) for a particular subset of kids, white middle-class kids. The results were different for kids who spent less than 6 hours per day at preschool, and for kids with other ethnicities.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 4, 2007 5:14 PM

Oops. I almost missed your news, Scarry!! Congratulations. That's wonderful news.

Posted by: Emily | March 5, 2007 5:00 PM


I do have to take issue with Leslie that 'stimulation' is a reason to return to work and put your little ones in daycare. there are other good reasons, but this is not one of them.

when i was home with my kids, we had loads of friends (people I would never have known if I had been at work), went to museums, parks, music and gym lessons, library twice a week, indoor playgrounds, day trips apple picking on a wednesday....it was endless fun. and we also traveled a lot, they are both good travelers. they were HIGHLY stimulated and both entered kindergarten reading. if on the other hand you stayed home and parked them in front of the TV all day, that would be a disaster. It depends on the parent.

I completely support every effort to improve both the quality and availability of daycare. The issue I have is when parents treat daycare as a substitute for being parents. i'm seeing this now with my sis and brother in law. their reason for putting their six month old in daycare (and both working twelve hour days) is 'its really hard in this day and age for one parent at home to adequately take care of their child, I'd rather depend on professionals whose job it is to do this. its better for the kid.'

This is just nonsense. Its better for the kid to have confident parents who take the time to learn how to parent, because daycare will not last forever. I see this at my daughter's school, where (very upper middle class) children are dropped off at 6:45 AM in the Before school program, eat all their meals except dinner at school, attend school, do their homework and are picked up at 6:30 PM (and some parents want this time extended). I think this is nuts. You get so used to parking your kid with someone else all day that you can't even deal with a weekend alone with them: its too 'hard'.

This post, for the record is from a mom who works full time.


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