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Nuances of Child Care

By Cheryl Petersen

The phone rang. I answered, “Hello.”


I heard in response, “Hello, I am the Director of the Day Care at SUNY
college.”
Her voice had the tone of a pioneer. She had my attention. I listened to
her story.
The Day Care’s full-time cook had been in a car accident a month earlier.
Therefore, the administrators had been working overtime, cooking and
baking during her recovery. And now, the cook’s recuperation was
protracted. So, the Director called me, who has a cooking background and a
local SUNY student who has taken classes on cooking, to help feed 70
mouths—most mouths belonging to persons shorter than 3 feet.
We met that afternoon in the Directors office. The Director, shaded with
savvy; the student, stunningly beautiful; and me, having flashbacks of
cooking for a lot of people under a time constraint. Our dialogue was brief.
The student and I were only able to work part time. The director, knowing
her willing and industrious staff would fill in the gaps, showed us a menu and
asked how we could participate in the feeding frenzies. Breakfast, lunch, and
a snack were to be garnered 5 days a week.
It didn’t take long for the student and I to access the situation. The Day
Care facility could easily adapt to our cooking and baking ahead of time. We
would freeze prepared food, or put it in the refrigerator, so the secretaries
only had to heat and serve the meals on the days we were absent.
We all agreed to give it a try.
Ah, but first, stringent regulations for employment at the Day Care
required me to be fingerprinted, get a physical, be tested for TB, have a
background check, write down my life history, and give references.
Nevertheless, I was at work in the kitchen within a week.
Over the next few weeks, I learned the regimented allotted amounts of
fruits, carbs, protein, and vegetables deemed necessary for well nourished
children. And, I still am remembering who prefers a vegetarian diet, who
drinks soy milk or Lactaid, and who has what allergies. Fortunately, the
supportive administrators come just before serving times to assemble the
settings and help dish up the food for distribution throughout the center.
How does the dazzling, sometimes mind boggling, nuances at the Day
Care affect my behavior while in the kitchen?
I respond according to what I understand. Every day is a day to learn and
progress with poise. From the modern version of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science
and Health,” Isn’t having a child a great responsibility? Raising a family is
serious, worthy of respect. It is more important than climbing the corporate
ladder or accumulating possessions. Narrow-mindedness, greed, and bad
habits should not be transmitted to children.”
My husband and I lived with two spectacular daughters on an orchard in
Washington State. We also fostered children for 15 years. Fresh fruit was
plentiful; we rarely ate processed food; we preserved garden vegetables;
and the outdoors was our playroom. Reading was fun. TV was never a
subject for debate because we had no TV reception. Character traits
blossomed and humbled us in unexpected ways. The children we cared for
were never enrolled in a Day Care.
However, my understanding is: that staying at home with the children, or
employing a Day Care facility, is not right or wrong. Parenting or nurturing
healthy minds and bodies is an unending, universal occupation. And, it is
profitable for our society to recognize the uniqueness of each child and
family situation and adjust our care to what is better for the whole. It is silly
to think that what is good for one child is good for another. It is natural and
possible for humanity to appreciate and help one another as if we all belong
to one another.
I have found the touch of hard work, honesty, and humor to be valuable
protectors of our children; whereas, sloth, complaint, and impatience need to
be guarded against in any Day Care, but, so also at home. Ironically, there is
not a time when humanity can rest on their haunches when it comes to
caring for our children. It takes a great deal of effort to stand back, look at
the big picture, and advance what is in the best interest of our children and
world.
The responsibility of being a child deserves a child’s full attention. They
are in the business of drawing pictures, learning to share, and taking naps.
Quite a few of them are engaged in potty training and learning new words.
We adults do not have to feel torn between doing the most important job of
properly raising children, and taking care of the bills. We can strive for a
balance between producing useful persons and being useful in our
community.
Undoubtedly, it is not easy to leave our children at a Day Care. It also is
not easy being at home with children. The goal though, to nurture the
greatest potential in children and adults, pioneers accomplishments. Forward
answers are discovered and acted on when we respond to each person’s
spiritual nuance, each person’s willingness to work together, and each
person’s unique position in this world. The job of feeding our minds and
bodies with a positive diet continues.