I’m now a CPS working parent

December 4, 2009 at 12:14 pm 10 comments

Goods news and bad news – I’ve finally landed a full time job.

Now begins the trials and tribulations of combining a new work schedule with getting a 6-year-old boy to school each mornings, dealing with the multitude of CPS days off, and generally entrusting my son’s school to “raise” him about 9 hours a day.

I’m lucky in that our school allows you to drop your child off at 8 am (schools starts at 9am) for no extra cost and we have an very cheap after-school program that runs until 6pm.  However to utilize the before-school “care” (I use the term somewhat loosely) you need to put aside concerns about child abductions, wild-dog-on-playground attacks, and kids who get locked out of school buildings because they hid in bushes or chase squirrels off the school grounds.  The kids can be dropped off in the cafeteria at 8am and they hang out until about 8:30, mostly socializing which is great for most kids.  But my kid is an anti-social loner so he’s often sitting and staring or playing his Nintendo DS.  The good thing is that he can get the help with the DS that I cannot provide him with at home.   In a lucky world, he might even make a new buddy during this morning time.

At 8:30 am the kids are allowed to go out on the playground, where I *think* there is one school-designated adult who keeps an eye on things.  But truth be told, there’s no way every kid can be accounted for.  I often would lose my son on the playground there when I watched him… just so many places to duck away.   I’ve reviewed the procedure for getting locked out of the school with my son (go to front door, ring bell – I’ve showed it to him several times.)  I’d heard a story about a Kindergartener at another school getting locked out and wandering around outside for a long time, unable to get in.

I feel OK about it in general given that he’s in 1st grade now.  Not sure last year would have felt right.   Now he seems to think he could kick anyone’s ass with his ninja moves so I’m trusting that this is true.

The weirdest thing about working is just the lack of time I’m around the school.  Last year I saw the teachers, parents, PTO people, principals, etc all the time.  This year I see the before-school ladies every morning and that is it.  I feel very disconnected from the place but luckily comfortable knowing that I trust the administration and teachers and staff to take decent care of him without my eagle eye on everything.

So as you’re out there looking at schools, keep in mind this intangible element – the general vibe you get at a school from the people you meet there.  There’s definitely more to a school than just academics.

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10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Y  |  December 4, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Congrats on the job. I thought this blog was your job. 🙂

    One thing to remember about child abductions is that nearly all of them are perpetrated by a family member in a custody battle. Abductions by strangers does occur but the number of incidents is very, very low. The milk carton campaign in the 80s created this fear but never disclosed the circumstances behind the missing children.

  • 2. another working mom  |  December 4, 2009 at 3:22 pm

    You will also have to deal with stay at home ‘room mothers’ who box you out to attend all field trips and helping at parties even if you schedule the day off a month in advance – not appreciating how important it is for you to be able to do it on the rare occasions(while using a full vacation day) .

  • 3. dazedandconfused  |  December 5, 2009 at 8:57 am

    first congratulations!! second does this mean you’ll have less time for us?????? 🙂
    i live a block from your school. i’ll keep a look out for him wandering around the school. hee hee.

  • 4. Coonley Mom  |  December 7, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Congrats!!!! As a stay at home “room mother”, I can tell you that anytime you want to go on a fieldtrip, or help w/ a party, just let me know, always love all the volunteers. (plus, we can keep a close eye on our boys;-).

  • 5. workingstiff  |  December 7, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    Welcome back to the working (outside the house) world. How did you find a CPS elementary school with childcare between 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (ours goes only 9 to 2:30 with no before-school care and no after-school care)? It’s really hard to find care before and after school while being a 9-5 working mom.

  • 6. NWside Mom  |  December 8, 2009 at 10:56 am

    I couldn’t agree more with your last paragraph. The other aspects of a school beyond academics are critical, especially if you are working and your child will be spending extra time there. Congratulation on your new job.

  • 7. dave4118  |  December 10, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Congratulations! Even more to juggle now. I just returned from taking my daughter to her assessment…..gulp! She was in there about 45 mins. She had a slight cold, of course, but we didn’t want to reschedule. She was in good spirits and I was more relieved than anything when she came walking back in. Now we wait.

  • 8. 2cents  |  December 11, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Dave, not to get your hopes up too high, but 45 mins is how long my son was in…and he got in to 1st choice. BUT, who in the world knows how they will ‘really’ decide this year. GOOD LUCK!

  • 9. dave4118  |  December 13, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Thanks 2cents, we aren’t getting hopes up…just …waiting…and finalizing alternatives. LOLOL it is a bit terrible, not knowing. I will say that the testing was smooth, we got there about 35 mins early, and they just checked us off the list and saw us next, irregardless of scheduled time. So if one is eager to get on with it, then show up early. also, the parking directly across the street is on the dashboard ticket system, we got three hours and it wasn’t necessary. Two hours, tops. We were in and out in about 75 mins.

  • 10. Give me a break!  |  January 13, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Hey, “another working mom”: No one is trying to “box you out” of field , parties and such. The truth is, TEACHERS decide who gets to go/help, based on how quickly parents responded to the request, frequency of previous volunteering, dependability, friendliness, etc. You should talk to your kid’s teacher and ask WHY you are not selected. Maybe she/he has a mistaken idea about you that you can clear up. Maybe you may hear something that will surprise you about how you are coming off to people.

    I throw my hat in the ring with anyone else who wants to go/get involved in these things, which is unfortunately a precious few. The teacher then chooses who they want. (Sometimes, I have held back to give other families a chance, and then the teacher asks me any way because they had such a crap response from the working parents.)

    This year’s teacher has gone so far to say she picks me because she trusts me, unlike how she feels about some of the other parents. Case in point: we have one dingbat parent who always volunteers for stuff but seldom shows up and when she does, she seems high or is too plugged into her office via Crackberry to pay attention to the kids.The teacher will not choose her anymore, so that means more “work” for us SAHP. Now I am (fairly happily, I will add) on the hook for every event, party, field trip, holiday gift organization, etc.

    Then again, some of the parents of the gifted kids are maniacs. Complete loons who think nothing of asking your kid personal questions about how much they read, what they read, what they got on their report card, what their parents do, etc. (This has happened to us!) I feel like parents of kids in GEAP should have a warning label on them that says “May kill for better ranking.” Teachers do not want those types near the kids, either.

    I have a toddler at home so volunteering at my older kid’s school creates some scheduling snafus, but I make it work. I have even paid a babysitter $15 an hour for my toddler so that I could chaperone my kid’s museum trip for a total of 6 hours. 90 bucks so I could have a tense day with 28 kids at a downtown museum, eat a brown bag lunch and hear the entire “100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall” in an hour-long bus at full volume, all with a happy smile on my face. So please don’t act like working parents are the only ones who make sacrifices to be there for their kids and are under-appreciated.

    On the flip side, I get a lot of BS from working parents about how they’re so glad/grateful that I’m “not busy, so that I can go on these trips with the kids, etc.” I left my rewarding and fun $65,000/year job 7 years ago to be a SATM. I love it, but to make it work, I torture our budget to the bone, clip coupons, provide afterschool care for my son’s classmates, take on part-time jobs so I can stay home and THIS is the respect I get from sooooo busy and important working parents??

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