Monday, September 15, 2008

Oh my God, am I?
My little Edie goes to a great daycare – wonderful staff, organic meals served up everyday, communication notes left all the time, bilingual, no t.v. policy….I could go on, but it’s been great, just great, really really great. And she loves it there. There has been a change though. She was bumped up to the Senior Room in September, a prep course in kindergarten if you will. The regular care-giver, an efficient, loving woman, has had to take leave for an undetermined amount of time. Shake up number 1. Shake up number 2, a new staff member has been hired as the primary caregiver in Edie’s room, and, brace yourself, he is a he. A man. A man, who is not Edie’s father, grandfather or uncle, is caring for my baby. He seems nice enough…actually, to be fair, he seems extremely nice. He has his early childhood education certificate, he is qualified. I’ve spied/observed the class and all seems in order. But I can’t shake the fact that this is a man looking after her, a man I don’t know, and I have to admit, I am confronted with the fact that I am a sexist. My gut is telling me that she is fine, but I’m also filled with thoughts that he is not a woman, therefore not capable of giving her the same kind of care that the fairer sex can. I have always thought myself to be a fair, unbiased person who would never discriminate. But here I am, discriminating and riddled with insecurity about Edie’s care.

I’m the first one to pump my fist in the air and fight for gender equality, but my roar is a whimper now that the roles are reversed.


xup said...

It's your baby we're talking about so you don't have to be politically correct. I always think it's very strange when a male chooses a job working with young children. In your shoes, I'd be grilling him (in the most subtle possible way) about himself and his chosen profession -- just to set your mind at rest. And, if you want I'll sneak down periodically and peer through the windows!!

~Jobthingy~ said...

xup took the words right out of my mouth.. er.. fingers?

i think i would be a little weird about it also

marymurtz said...

How old is she?
I had your EXACT reaction when my daughter moved into a classroom at age 3 with a male teacher. He was over six foot tall, and a very structured classroom presence. My daughter absolutely flourished in his care. She followed the rules, she became less clingy, was happy, was learning....and the little boys in her class were even better off--so many of them didn't have dads, and Eric was a terrific role model.

In our case, we knew from talking to the director that Eric was highly experienced; he and his wife are the adoptive parents of three foster children, and has a master's degree in child development with many years at the center.

But I checked into his background just like I checked into the backgrounds of my daughter's female teachers.

meanie said...

xup - thanks! it would put my mind at rest if you were to do a little spying, though I don't want daycare to think you are a creepy peeping tina!
(but do we question when women want to go into male dominated careers? or just encourage them wholeheartedly?)

jobthingey - i know, i know, i'll do some digging and get to know him better. it's funny, i'm sad that she isn't getting the hugs and cuddles she got from the female caregivers, but i'd probably being even more uncomfortable if he was super cuddly guy (he doesn't seem to be that way at all). i'm so torn up.

mary: phew, thanks for that. very reassuring to hear about someone in a similar situation, really.

Mud Mama said...


My partner Papa Pan is a teacher - he works spec ed. Let me tell you, he LOVES working with little kids but at the same time he hates it. Why?

Because as a man working with children he can not, CAN NOT, be as warm a teacher as women are ALLOWED to be. That sexist line is firmly drawn in the sand and he is TERRIFED of crossing it. When he works one on one with girls in resource he ALWAYS makes sure he has a witness there - so he doesn't work in his classroom unless there's an aide present, or if the little girl doesn't have an aide he works with them in the library. He must maintain a distance a female teacher can easily cross without issue.

So year, I'd worry about my kids with a male teacher in preschool k-3 too! Not because of anything untoward happening, but because my littles would be MISSING OUT on sitting in a lap in a rocking chair on bad days.

The thing is, women are as likely to abuse kids as should we be skulking around mistrusting them with our kids too?

Should there be a DON'T TOUCH line drawn for anyone working with children? Poor babies!

meanie said...

mud mama - thanks for you comment. it's funny, I spoke with someone yesterday who volunteers at a school 3 days a week. she works in a jk class room with a male teacher. she said this teacher is amazing and the kids and parents alike love this guy and all hope their kids will be in his class room. some people have commented that they find it suspicious when a male chooses to work with young children. however, this woman had a different take on things, she remarked that for a man to choose this demanding profession, to work with young children, he must really love what he does, whereas some women are simply in the profession to earn a pay check. i really liked hearing the other side of the coin.
and yes, i agree, how sad that some kids may miss out on needed hugs out of fear of retribution.