Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Guest Post: Childcare from Hell

Once upon a time, before maternity leave was available, I had to return to my university clinic job 3 weeks after birth of first child. A home day care provider was chosen who had lots of good references. She was mid 50’s, her own children grown, with husband who worked as the maintenance engineer in a nearby condo. Only cared for two children at a time. The couple fit their roles well, except they lived in the condo instead of a double wide. She was overweight, teeth gone, smoked over a pack a day (but not when baby was there). His teeth were also gone, and he had a 2pack/1pack habit. (2 packs cigarettes/1 six pack beer daily). But she was a fantastic care-giver for a newborn. Content to rock the baby for hours a day, extreme caution and attention to safety, etc.

It was a dream situation for three years. Then, one day, day care provider found out maintenance engineer husband had been having an affair with the “dumb fat front office receptionist” as she phrased it. As soon as husband came into their apartment, with the two children there, she chased him around with a butcher knife threatening homicide. He left. I picked up son later, unaware of the drama. Later that evening she took an overdose. Local ER trip for stomach pumping. That’s when I was called by her daughter-in-law that I couldn’t bring son back in the morning. Next day, she hired a U-haul, loaded in all furnishings except one twin bed, one chair, and one cup, dish and utensil set. Even cut up the wall to wall carpeting to roll it up into the U-haul. And rode off into the sunset.

Grandparents were called into town until new arrangements could be made. Child was initially upset with new day care situation. But – he’s now an MD himself, and fantastic father to two toddlers. What can I say?



  1. OMG! Can feel the hair on the back of my neck as I remember the day one of my nurses (in a small town practice where everyone knew everyone except me, the newcomer) hinted that my nanny had "neglect issues" with her own child. This was despite excellent references. I NASCARed my way home to check on my sweet 5 month old son to find all was well - but she never kept him again after that. Twelve years later, that childcare crux still can make my head swirl.

  2. Gee, my sister (also an FP) had to bail her nanny out of jail after a "domestic disturbance" at nanny's home...sure glad she didn't go the live-in route.

  3. I had a similar problem (only hinted at in my post) regarding "one day there, then next day not" and with a similarly dramatic story attached....15 years later, I still cringe at the "what ifs".

  4. Ok this puts our own childcare trials and tribulations in fantastic relief. Yikes!


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