A back of the pack blog, for anyone who's interested in reading how I approach training for and finishing an IronMan triathlon... Slowly, and while dealing with all that life throws my way!
Monday, August 10, 2009
The REAL Real World
This blog post has nothing to do with triathlon, per se, other than how most of us age groupers manage to fit this enormously time-consuming hobby into our lives... And how it sometimes takes a back seat.
My wife and I have been discussing day care options for when she returns to work in September. We have not put 100% effort into FINDING day care, as we are (like most first-time parents, I would guess), reluctant to face the reality of not getting to spend all day/every day with our cute little girl. But today we woke up, ate our Wheaties, and figured we would just slay the dragon and get things done. I actually had planned on doing a medium length run this afternoon when we had finished.
I did not run today.
Searching for a day care that you trust, it turns out, is a gut wrenching, appaling, eye-opener of a reality check. I know there are LOTS of really awesome and well-run day care centers in the world; this isn't a generic commentary on the industry. I can say with the utmost confidence, however, that we visited ALL of the worst that have managed to be licensed in Washington state.
It felt like we were touring drug-addict training facilities, and sweat-shop employee orientations.
In one facility, a disheveled "director" met us at the entrance, wearing sweatpants, slippers, and a giant men's shirt (she was not a man). She had either not bothered to comb her hair for the day, or I am just not up to speed on "director" hair styles. Based on the facility, I would guess it just wasn't combed.
On the tour she mentioned about 3 times for us to ignore the "dirty mess" because they "just hadn't cleaned up in a few days."
"Um, is that why it smells like rotten beef and cat piss in here?" I wanted to ask (but didn't).
Then, we went into the infants room, where one of the "teachers" was asleep on the floor. I know she was asleep and not dead, because she got up and started playing with a baby when she realized we were in the room. The fire exit was propped open by a crib with no fewer than 4 infants in it, and some lady was playing with another 2 kids just sitting on the ground outside. The "director" pointed at that scene, and said "That is our fire drill crib (WTF is THAT?!)... And Jane there, her English is pretty good." She said it with pride.
Then she asked the floor-sleeper if they had any room for another infant; oddly, after about 5 minutes of discussing it, they couldn't decide if they had an opening or not. Why the floor sleeper would know this info, and the "director" would not is still a mystery to me. I also wondered why she didn't ask "Jane." After all, her English is pretty good.
So, we went back to the front door, and politely asked for a rate sheet, as we had other facilities to look at. The receptionist gave us a rate sheet, and in a moment of full disclosure, told us they had recently had a violation with the state. Where a child was pulled over the fence. By one arm. By an employee who had worked there for one hour.
So, we looked at a LOT of day care sites today, and we did actually find one. The only one where baby girl smiled at the infant room teachers, and where they spoke intelligently and politely to us.
And did not sleep on the floor.
I also got a funny Facebook response to a shorter version of this rant... A friend said this reminded him of the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, where Robin Williams calls pretending to be a string of terrible babysitters. At one point he yells into the phone, "IT GETS BACK IN THE CAGE OR IT GETS THE HOSE!"
First and foremost, I am a normal guy... I am not an elite level athlete, and I don't pretend to be. I work hard, I have an amazing wife (think beautiful and smart, way out of my league), am excited about our new family... Like many, I stumbled into the wonderful world of triathlon completely by accident, but had such amazing experiences with training and racing, that 3 years, 30 fewer pounds, and 3 IM finishes later, here we are...
-Married to a gorgeous, brilliant woman, who is oblivious that she is WAY out of my league (please don't tell her); am a brand new daddy; 3 time IM finisher (Coeur d'Alene 2007, Lake Placid 2008, Coeur d'Alene 2009); Proud "Back of the Pack" athlete!