Category Archives: Irritants

Corner Dad

Today I met a potential future version of myself that I both admire and hate at once. He is the dad that lives at the end of my street, and has three young children. Let me explain.
I live in a townhome in a community of townhomes. This particular dad, we’ll call him ‘Corner Dad’, lives well, on the corner of the block. Our community is setup to where all the driveways face each other, and since he’s on the corner, me and everybody else has to pass by his house to get in and out. Refer to the drawing below. This information will be relevant in a minute I promise.

My neighborhood

My neighborhood

I admire Corner Dad very much. As neighbors I have often seen him playing with his kids outside, and he really gets into it with them too, participating in their games and having fun. In other words, he’s not just there watching them he’s usually present and active in his interactions with them. I live in the Midwest where the winters are long and cold, but even then I see him out there with his kids making the best of it. Sledding down hills of snow, building snowmen, what have you. Come the holiday season I even see decorations on his house that were obviously made by his kids and are the kind of artwork only a parent could love. These pieces of work are proudly displayed in his windows and on his door; facing out, no shame in his game. He obviously puts his kids first, which is why I admire him. Kudos to you, Corner Dad. Unfortunately his laser focus on only his kids is also why I hate him.

He seems to only care about his kids and not us neighbors. In his children’s frequent play outside, they are 100% of the time playing in the driveway area out behind his garage. Now there’s really nothing wrong with this unless you consider again the layout of our community. Because of the layout all of us neighbors have to drive by his driveway every time we come in and out. And as attentive as he is, even Corner Dad cannot keep tabs on three kids at once, especially when they’re playing outside.

In one of these instances several months ago, his youngest child who is an baby boy not capable of walking yet, apparently got away from Corner Dad and ended up just crawling around on the street. At this same time, which was around 6pm on a Tuesday, I happened to be coming home from work. As I rounded the corner (at a reasonable speed mind you), I found myself having to yell out ‘there’s a baby in the street!’ (refer to the drawing below). This exclamation was to nobody in particular since there was only me in my car and a baby in the street, with no other person in sight. But the shock of this random and totally unexpected thing caused me to cry out. Soon Corner Dad appeared to pick up the baby and rush him quickly back into the garage, with not a word to me while I sat in my car in shock.

This is the baby in the street and me in my car barreling down on him

This is the baby in the street and me in my car barreling down on him

I was feeling terrible for days about what happened and how close of a disaster that was. However as time passed I just got more and more angry at Corner Dad, and his selfishness. It’s great that you play with your kids, but please don’t ignore the rest of humanity, especially your neighbors. I realized how unfair a position he put us all in. Every time we come in and out there may be a human obstacle course where it should not be. The community should be able to expect that its roads are clear of pedestrians for the most part, and especially babies that can’t even walk! Add to the fact that our community actually has large grassy areas where children can and do play, it is even more ridiculous that Corner Dad sees fit to let his three kids roam on the street (Again look at the picture. Yes, all the green stuff is grass, and is perfect for playing on. There are also sidewalks for bikes). God forbid anything ever happen, but if it does, then surely Corner Family would suffer the greatest but the unfortunate neighbor who was just trying to come home from work would have to live the rest of their days with overwhelming guilt. Everybody loses.

For these reasons I hate you Corner Dad. But you teach me a valuable lesson. Make that two lessons. The first is that even though I will put my kids first, I will not ignore the broader situation. It is unfair to ask others to sacrifice or risk themselves because of my kids. Secondly, I learned to watch for babies on the street!

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You win, daycare

My wife and I both work fulltime, and would both like to continue to grow our careers.  We enjoy the opportunity to develop and learn that having a career gives us, as well as the social aspect of interacting with coworkers.  Furthermore, even though the cost of full-time childcare is astronomical, it still makes financial sense to have us both continue our current positions (purely from a numbers perspective).  All this is to say that in our specific situation, it seems to make sense to utilize a form of full-time child care instead of having a stay at home parent.

Live-in Nanny

We evaluated several types of care, the first of which was a live-in nanny.  This is a very good option for several reasons.  With the nanny you get more flexible schedules than with other forms of care since they are living with you and aren’t going anywhere after 6pm.  Nanny’s will also often do things for you around the house, like some cooking and cleaning.  This is a big win.  If the cooking and cleaning is reduced for you and your spouse, everyone is happier.  And depending on your cooking ability, possibly even better fed and more satisfied.  Pricing for nannies varies, but is generally cheaper than daycare centers.  And of course your child is less likely to get sick versus those kids being cared for in a group setting.  These are the major points that have floated up in our discussion and research into the live-in nanny situation, and they make a strong case.
On the other hand, there are several aspects to having a live-in nanny that could be considered drawbacks depending on your views.  For us the biggest drawback is having another adult living with us five days a week.  This means that our current world of two people will not just expand to be three but four, and that fourth is another adult.  So no more running around the house naked and no more impromptu songs sung loudly.  Even if you were brave enough to continue these types of habits, there’s not a nanny out there that would stick around after the first naked sighting.  Also with a nanny you have to get very comfortable and trusting with someone you have known for basically no time at all.  You will be trusting this person with your whole life.  They will have access to your house and everything in it for 9 hours a day, not to mention sole access to your brand new child.  All the security spy cams in the world cannot mitigate a bad intention or even just plain laziness (ie nanny takes a nap).  Related to this potential issue is the fact that you are basically putting all of you childcare eggs in one basket.  If a nanny is sick or has a sudden emergency, you are hosed.  If a nanny goes nuts you are hosed.  If the nanny doesn’t feel like giving your baby any attention, your baby is hosed.  This list of drawbacks is also not exhaustive, but these were the main things we considered in coming to a decision.

Daycare

Daycare centers were an obvious thing to consider.  They offer many good qualities, most prominent of which is the reliability in schedules.  Daycares are basically open when they say they will be open, and all the risk of schedules not working is with the new mom and dad.  They have an entire staff so one sick teacher does not mean you will have to find other care for your child that day.  There is also the reduction in risk of things like a caregiver going nuts or acting inappropriately, because there are numerous other adults around who will act as a natural safeguard against unacceptable behavior.  The last major point is the social aspect for your child.  They will be exposed to interactions with many different adults and children, better socializing them from a young age.  All these major points of benefit drive strong piece of mind if you have found a good daycare center.
Major drawback: price.  Daycare is expensive, and to me it is offensively so.  To have someone watch your newborn child (our boy will be about 6 months old when he goes off to daycare) on a fulltime basis can range anywhere from $1,000 to over $2,000 per month in our area.  The low end of that is about the same as our mortgage, and the high end can cover the mortgage, HOA fees, homeowner’s insurance, property tax, and all utilities combined.  Let that sink in a bit.  Then consider the fact that some places had the audacity to tell us they charge $5 every minute you’re late picking up your child.  Excuse me?  Are you a $300 per hour attorney disguised as a daycare worker?  Am I getting some kind of legal advice, or at the very least a physical checkup for my $5 a minute?  That’s crazy and offensive.  Add to this the second biggest drawback of increased illness.  Babies get sick a lot at daycares.  You will be able to navigate from work, to daycare, to the pediatrician’s office blindfolded within a month from what I hear.  If you need any more cons beyond this, there surely are some, but these two major points were enough to base decisions off of.

Grandparents

This really isn’t an option for us since our folks live in different states, but having grandparent daycare is a strong contender to consider.  It’s free, reliable, and flexible, while it has the added benefit of having your child bond with more family members.  What’s not to like?  I would imagine the major drawback is you asking a few more years of childcare from the person who already spent 18+ years of their life raising you, and even more years in childcare if you had siblings.

You win, daycare

So with all that we concluded that daycare would be the best choice for us given the reliability and piece of mind it provides.  I say here that daycare wins because to me it is a fight where I’m trying to resist but just don’t have the power to do so.  I really do want to avoid the exorbitant price tag and germ exposure for my child, but my desire to cling to what independence I have left before my child can kill it is very strong and I don’t want a live-in nanny to do it first.  You win, daycare.  You win.