Life with kids

What is respect anyway?

Me looking confuesd

How parents are treated these days in Germany – a very long rant on everything wrong with the daycare system… (also completely unedited and raw, therefore sorry for repetitive phrases, spelling mistakes and weird sentences).

This article is off topic. I know. It is not about minimalism, it is not about sustainability. It is just about my everyday life as a mother of a kid that happens to be in daycare, so I can work and study while recovering from a chronic illness that put me in pain for three years straight, and has been worsening thanks to daycare being denied to parents in 2021.

So that is my background. Very literally slowly getting back on my feet, I am happy that we had the right to emergency daycare after a two very hard months. And no, I do not care, if it was harder for someone else out there. There is always someone who has even more shit going on than you. I’m aware. Thanks. This is my blog.

Last week my kid was sick. Not hospital-sick. Just a stomach bug. I get that some parents find that scary, I personally don’t. I’ve worked with enough veritably sick kids in hospital to know what a sick kid looks like. I took her temperature, which she found very funny, and we stayed home. She had no fever, it was a weekend, she was just a bit tired.

The next day, which was a Sunday, my kid was fine again, and we actually thought she would just go back to daycare the next day. But she didn’t want to. She wanted to stay home. And I said to myself, well better leave her home, because maybe her stomach (by that time already craving for chocolate and porridge) is still upset, who knows? After all, you want to avoid being quarantined for no reason, just because your non-infectious perfectly normal kid maybe didn’t take some heavy meal super well. So she stayed home two days, because I decided to.

I decided to do that on my own. To spare everyone the trouble. Me, her, the teachers in daycare. For me, it is a biggy. I have to be careful and can’t carry her around all the time. And yes, I know, I do hiking. You know why I actually do that? It helps with the pain in my extremities, for whatever reason. Yes, it is also a fun hobby, but it is not something I do because of that. I 100% only got back into it because I discovered that it helped. Still, everytime I mention it, I have to justify myself. “Aren’t you sick?”, “But how come, you can go peak-bagging and carry a backpack but not your kid?” Well, people, I use ultralight gear (<3 kg = 6 lbs) and my kid weighs 15 kg (30 lbs). My kid weighs 5 times my backpack’s weight, okay?

Anyway, people usually get it, but I still don’t mention it, especially not towards daycare. I don’t know how much my kid tells them. She is very talkative… So she also told them that she was sick the weekend. They did not mention it to us. No doubts, no calls, nothing. We told them she was sick, and it was fine.

My “sick” kid at home, too sick to play, obviously. Too sick to go to daycare. But then again surely healthy enough to drag her through a city of 1.5 million to get her to have an unnecessary test that isn’t even recommended.

Now, a week later, my kid was “sick” again. She threw up a bit of milk. From what I could understand she was eating a lot of cereal. I frankly don’t really care what exactly happened, but throwing up once and being fit, happy and doing headstands in bed is rarely “sick”.

Get this straight please, if you are a daycare teacher. A kid that throws up once is not ill. It’s a normal thing that happens. Children have a shorter oesophagus and they throw up more easily than adults. Mine actually finds it funny. It happened before when she was trying to rip a huge burp.

So, when I get “Well, I was there, I cleaned it up” from one of our teachers, I can only add “Well, I still know my kid better than you.” And I don’t even challenge any of these rules. Letting your kid stay at home when they got sick in daycare is a good thing. But as a parent, you just constantly get the following passive-aggressive vibes from teachers:

“I would never give my own child into a stranger’s care.”

“I would stay at home with my kid for three years.”

“I am the professional here, not you.”

“Your kid spends so much time in daycare, I know here better than you.”

These are the unspoken things you hear if you work with teachers actually, or also with pediatric nurses. I have heard them a few times from friends, but apart from that it is not really hard to tell that these reservations exist. There are probably parents out there who could work less. Sure. And earn less, and not live in Munich then. Fine.

But why, if I believe that daycare is such a bad thing, would I work there? That’s what I don’t get?

I worked in several hospitals. I was a patient in the same hospitals myself and I felt perfectly safe. If I hadn’t, I would not have worked there. I would not have been in that system. How fucked up is that acutally?

Anyway, so my kid was sick, she came home, and the first thing I hear out of my husband’s mouth was: We need a PCR test, daycare demands it now.

I was really surprised about that, because here rapid antigen tests are the standard. And that makes sense. “Rapid tests are considered most accurate in a patient who is having symptoms of COVID-19.” (https://www.memorialhealthcare.org/whats-the-difference-between-covid-19-rapid-and-prc-tests/) That is, if you have symptoms, get a rapid test, not a PCR test.

However, the daycare center now demanded the latter (the one that makes little to no sense in the contect). So I decided to find out where this is coming from. The evil and disrespectful thing I now did was to just call the public health office of the district and ask them if they make such rules, if they make daycare centers do this.

It just seemed so overproportional and unnecessary to me that I didn’t even think of calling the daycare center. After all they already told us to get the test and there wasn’t much room for asking why – what was I supposed to ask? I assumed that they had some protocol in place (I was right) and that I would not be able to argue with them (I was right again) and that my opinion and expertise wouldn’t matter anyway (I was right once more).

Anyway, I guess I am a bad person, because I assumed the daycare center did nothing wrong. I assumed they just wrote a protocol because they had to, because the Gesundheitsministerium makes them do that. So I called the next health office in line, because I thought it must have been their fault. I expected they would tell me it was and that this was a new rule.

What happened instead was that two pretty nice and forthcoming ladies from the COVID hotline told me that there was no such rule. That in fact the daycare centers made these rules themselves and also that they could basically do whatever they want and noone could keep them from doing it – since this is all private business. And if you don’t like it, well you’re the customer, you can choose a different daycare place then. Unless you live in Munich and your ability to work depends on it and you don’t have much a choice.

No. Let me correct that. You basically have zero choice. They have all the power. They can do whatever they want. You can do nothing about it. The only thing you can in fact do is complain to an authority. And for that they can even “fire” you. Even though you pay betweek 400 and 1800 € per month for some private daycare centers in this area. That’s what it is actually like, just to get that straight. (Luckily, now state daycare is free here, but we didn’t want to do that to our kid, to get her into another facility for the last year.)

So what happened next? Well, the friendly lady told me that I was right and they were overdoing it and that not even the public health office would have such crazy rules. And she offered to call them and clear it up.

At that point, I was pretty hesitant. I said that she should please be nice to them, because we are actually happy with their work… Not with the rules though, those have always been over the top actually – such as “green runny nose” meaning you have to stay at home, because it’s not normal that a kid has a cold…

Yeah, makes sense. 2 year olds only have 8-9 colds a year anyway, so whatever, right…? But as long as it’s not green you’re safe, lol… totally. Don’t trust anything a nurse says, sick children should be locked in with their stay-at-home mothers. Oh wait, daycare was for working parents, right? Too bad then…

Anyway, I always thought that this rule in particular was stupid, but I never challenged it either. It would be easy to do. A lot of doctors even recommend to send your kid to daycare with a mild fever, if they feel well otherwise. That having colds is normal and how they train there immune system. I absolutely agree with that. But I also get that they daycare workers don’t want to get sick…

Or do I?

Well, partially. I have worked ENT wards, so there is green stuff running out of noses everywhere. I think that if you work in that enviroment, your immune system shakes it off easier than most peoples’. And I assume that they know that too. I assume that they know it’s kind of part of the job. And if you are afraid of a runny nose (after all for it being infectious, the color doesn’t matter shit anyway), you should get another one.

I did not like working in ENT, which I did for half a year. I was sick all the time. But after two months, I got used to it and grew really resilient. This kind of stuff, you can’t hold it off with masks or hygiene. If a patient really has something, in 50% of the cases, you get it too. And at that point, I think it’s important that hospital workers stay at home when they are sick. You don’t want other patients to get sick too. But what do you think happens in the real world? Like in the world where you can’t just tell the parents to get their kid? Hm?

I tell you what happens. You still have to work. Unless you have a fever and can’t work, you show up. In a hospital everyone is allowed to be sick but the staff. That’s the reality. And it is the reality for a lot of people in a lot of different jobs.

So I find it quite a bit ridiculous if you choose a job where you know you’ll be around kids and you can’t deal with the fact that you will have to go to work when you have a cold.

I personally don’t ever call my kid sick if she has a cold and no fever. She’s fine. Her nose is running. “That’s not sick” I say to her every time. “Sick is if you lie in bed and you don’t want to go anywhere.” And I stand for that. You are not sick until you can’t get up and you really feel under the weather.

Should you be careful around others? Yes. Should you try work in the home office? Absolutely. But if you work with kids who are sick 9 times a year anyway, how does this even matter? Sure, call in sick, if you don’t feel like working. But other than that, none of this should matter. Runny nose… Holy shit. How did humans actually survive on this fucking planet? And those pussy rules have existed since we signed up.

I didn’t feel like saying anything about it, but now that I think of it, it’s actally an utterly idiotic rule, and I hope you read this, I hope you read it to the end.

We parents work our asses off day and night. I work and study while sick for fucks sake. And you send my kid home for basically nothing. We parents, we take crap from all sorts of institutions 24/7. And on top of it, we are supposed to feel bad for even giving our kid into daycare. We are bad moms because we want to what? Work? Afford a decent apartment? Live a life next to having given birth? What is it again?

So I talked to the nice lady from the office. And faster than I could say no, she said she’d be calling our daycare facility. I was pretty hesitant, and yes, despite all the very stupid and ill-definied germophob rules they have, it is a wonderful daycare center. They are bilingual, they are super nice (at least up until today), it felt like a little family.

Now I am at the point that I actually feel like it was all just such a commercial lie. All of it was face friendly. Nothing was real. We pay them a huge sum and they play nice. But after all, it feels like a total shit show.

The office employee then talked to one of our teachers. Let’s just call her Maria, to make it easier to write about. She told me that the lady on the phone was pretty rude, which is funny, because that is exactly what the office lady also told me. I actually don’t get where my place in this is. I just called to confirmed that the rules were made by the public office, which they weren’t. And the lady offered to call the daycare center and inform them about their rules being 100% over the top and even more harsh than the friggin public health offical rules. SO WT FLYLING F?

I actually think that this was between those two. Yes, I didn’t call Maria first. But I didn’t think in my wildest dreams that she had anything to do with it. After all, I don’t get what they are all afraid of, they’re all fully vacced anyway. But hey, who am I to judge. A stupid nurse and scientist. I can’t read a paper. Totally out of my leage. And even as a parent, how dare I to question the daycare facility we pay a full wage to, right?

Just a reminder to anyone thinking about finding a private daycare facility in Munich: Don’t do it. Just don’t. It’s not worth it. If you let yourself be treated like that, at least make sure it’s for free. I actually have to pay to be yelled at, so I feel really stupid at this point.

So yeah, I made the unbeareably “disrespectful” (what she said) mistake of not calling our teacher first about a problem that I didn’t think I had with them. And then that nice office lady called them to mediate, stepped on their foot and they got pissed at… not them but me? Okay.

You know, one of my physics professors, a very good one actually, told me once: If something is utterly stupid and doesn’t make sense, there is simply no way to understand it. Don’t try and understand stupidity.

I think I will apply this here. It is all stupid, and if not that then it’s miscommunication. Maria called me right away, she started the talk by shouting at me, she ended it by hanging up. She did not listen to what I said, because she was full-on ranting in my ear. I tried to tell her the story, it didn’t seem to get through to her. So what can I do at this point?

I personally was pretty shook by this. Which is why I am writing this. I want to remember this but also get it off my chest. I don’t actually think that I did everything perfectly. But I also have a fair amount of stress, I was at home alone with my kid, worried that we would lose a whole week (that is just how long a test from the doctor actually can take in this country, no it is not done tomorrow – but that it why we have rapid testing, you get it?).

So sure, I could have called them, but what would I have said? Why do we need the test? Why can’t we get the rapid test? Why this one? Why knock me out for a week, unable to work or do anything?

I did ask that. After all I gave her a call back, to make things right. But I did not get an answer. It was all just “We have this protocol. That’s how it is. Your voice doesn’t matter.”

Before that it was even worse though. I called her, and at some point I mentioned that she gotta understand my perspective as well, or I mean, it would be the decent human being thing to do. I said that she know how sick I was, and what Maria said to me is: “Well, after this I really do know how sick you are.” Making it sound like “Yeah bitch, you’re mental, how dare you question anything we do here.”

I felt like shit after that. I’m sure she did too, but that would be kinda the right feeling if you say this crap to a mom, so sorry, not sorry.

How dare I what? What is the problem? Yeah, I called that office, I get it. They called them. Okay. Probably not an amazing phone call. But how is that my doing? Is it my fault that they called? I don’t know. The office asked what the name of the facility was and I gave it to them. They probably would have called anyway. I have no idea. Personally I think, if you work in that line, you have to expect to be checked on eventually. That’s normal. You can’t have a major meltdown everytime you get such a call.

The irony was that Maria called me “unprofessional”. But seriously, I am the parent here. In which capacity I am a “professional” anyway in this scenario? To me, this actually seemed very personal. My daughter, who was fit and healthy last week, was called “repeatedly vomiting” and “sick” and we were accused of not disclosing that to the facility (which we did btw). My kid was sent home, so far nothing wrong with that, but out of the blue they kind of changed their protocol and said that they don’t accept a rapid test specifically from us.

On the phone, Maria made it sound like I didn’t take good care of my daughter. She said I should have her looked at anyway at a doctor’s office. She, who knows nothing about health care, is not a health care professional, has never worked with anything in hygiene medicine in her life before… And I am the one who is overstepping? Did I get that right? Are you fucking kidding me?

That was the moment she hung up, because I dared to say, sorry, I am after all a scientist and a registered nurse, it’s not like I know nothing about this stuff.

Let me reinforce that.

I know a shitload about hygiene protocols, medicine, illnesses and – most of all – what sick people look like. Moreover, I am perfectly capable of judging whether or not me, my kid or another person should see a doctor or not. That is in fact my job.

Never in my entire life has it even happened that I went to a doctor and got a suprising diagnosis or learned anything new except my bloodwork maybe. I actually work with doctors quite well and whenever I go to one we can communicate almost on the same level. (Also, it’s not really hard to read medical papers, so I usually know what I am talking about before I do.) I am not saying that to brag (maybe a tiny bit, but what’s wrong with being good at something and knowing that you are? I’m not a Swedish citicen yet lol). So yeah, I am usually a good judge of my and other people’s health. That is an asset, not a threat.

So I know that when I go to the doctor with my perfectly healthy looking kid at this point, they won’t take her blood or do some diagnostics. They will look at her, listen to her tummy for bowel movements (which I already did and they sound normal). They will look into her throat for signs of infection (which she does not have). They might also look into her ears and nose, where also nothing will be found. And sure, they would listen to her heart and do a very superfical neuro status. And then we will have wasted 4 hours, we’ll be send home, and for the PCR test we have to go somehwere else, so waste anouther 4 hours or what, and then we can send our kid back, yay.

I am not saying that I am against having her tested. Although vomiting isn’t even a cold-like symptom. Although she has not been vomiting repeatedly. She has been sick twice as a matter of fact. Repeatedly is multiple times a week. It’s not once the week before last week technically (it was Saturday) and then this Monday. LOL no. That’s not how logic works, my friend.

Anyway, Maria was pissed beyond recognition. She yelled at me. She never once settled in her voice, it was all just blindly angry yelling. And yes, I 100% think the feeling of disrespect is what I should describe I experienced. Much more than she did.

I did not call that office out of “disrespect” but she called me “sick” and that I would “lack the decency” of whatever, I forgot… So I am not a decent person, okay. Pretty hard words if you ask me for something as innocent as a phone call to someone who can’t even get to them. Literally no practical harm has come to their facility through me. All it was was a not so aweseome call. And that makes it okay to call me mental? And even if I was, even if I had yelled at her, which I actually did not, how would it be okay to do that? How was any of this ever proportional to what I allegedly did (still don’t know what my bad inappropriate doing was but fuck it)?

You know how that would have went down in my line of work? I will tell you.

If I had talked to a patient like that, I would have lost my job.

Fact.

In no way would it have been okay to yell. Not at a patient, not at a superior, not at anyone in the hospital. Having worked in an ER and stood in multiple ORs, having worked with women who gave birth and people who were dying, with mothers who lost their children, you know what I have never witnessed in five years of my work experience?

Yelling.

Oh, wait, one moment… That was not entirely correct. Doctors are actually yelling at other doctors. Nurses not so much. And well, in the psychiatric wards, you know, the patients there… yep, there was some yelling. And if you count people who are in pain…

But overall I would say that 100% of everything I have experienced as a – how should I put it – professional, all of that was far from what Maria said to me on the phone. Never in my work line has someone spoken to me in that way, not even a drunk addict. So yeah, I guess that says a lot about what and who is “sick” in this context. I leave it to the reader.

Yeah, I wrote all of this. Yep, I am angry, disappointed and upset. One thing I do not feel is sorry. I feel sorry for my kid and sorry for the lady who called Maria. She was really nice. I don’t get why people can’t let each other talk, be forthcoming, ask what is wrong and why. But it’s not my problem.

My kid will be in this facility for just another month, which Maria felt the need to remind me of, letting me know and feel that after that she would never have to deal with someone as awful as me ever again. Sure. Cool.

If I had to choose one word to describe this shitshow, it would be “immature”. Not sick. Just not very grown-up. Miscommunications happen. But you don’t have to be a total bitch about it. You just say what you think, stay calm and listen. It should always be about coming together. It should be about understanding each other.

So yeah, Maria, if you read this, I did not mean to insult you. You however wanted to do exactly that. You said the things you did because you were hurt and you wanted to hurt me back. But the need for revenge is one of the most childish emotions. It is extremely immature, and I personally don’t want it in my life. This article is not revenge. After all, it’s completely anonymous. I don’t get anything out of it other than remembering how it happened and getting it off my chest.

I also want other parents to know that this kind of crap sadly is normal. You can pay however much you want, and even if you don’t make such an outrageous mistake as I did, well, even if everything seems fine (which btw it did to me just an hour ago), you might step on someone’s foot and have to “apologize” for it even.

They have all the power and they know it.
They might like your kid, but they don’t really care about you. And in those moments, you will learn all about it.

I learned a lot today. I will surely apply this to the next time. As in call my lawyer first. Yep. That is a very good thing I know now. Yes, I am sorry. To myself. Why was I so stupid? Maria might think I should have given her a call. And you are right, maybe that would be a great heads up for you. But seriously, none of this was evil bad intention from my side. And yeah, I’m one of those creeps who think that this actually matters. So the only thing I regret at this point is that I didn’t call my lawyer. I don’t regret that phone call. I was in the right to call them and ask where these rules are made, what I am supposed to do now and if I had any other options.

At this point, I have to take care of my daughter and myself first. The last thing I want to worry about when I know that I am looking at 5 days of being unable to provide for my kid, is what a daycare worker thinks of me as a person. No. That is not on my agenda today. It simply doesn’t matter.

So, if anything, the list of people who can kiss my ass has become one line longer today. I care so much about this kind of crap. I try to be nice and I suck at reading social cues. This shit is hard for me as it is. All I can take away from this as of now is to stay away from humans even further.

I don’t want to hurt anybody and I don’t want to get hurt. You can always ask me anything, I don’t care so much about boundaries as I do about being formally polite and personally sincere. I want to be that and I am constantly trying to communicate it. It is just so weird to me when people don’t get that.

I live by this idea of “Ask, don’t assume.” And I don’t even think I violated it. I just didn’t even think that they would have anything to do with “making the rules”. That also was an assumption, but a pretty basic one, I’d argue… The “Ask, don’t assume” rule is more of a warning to be open and not assume that someone is bad or has harmful intentions. At least that is how I read it.

Therefore, I find it very intrusive to be accused of having shitty intentions. No, Marie, I didn’t have them. I just simply didn’t. I did not want you to get hurt or feel disrespected. But I also believe that you brought that on yourself. Maybe you were in a bad place that day, I do not know. If anything, this was an honest mistake, and like you said to me, we all make them.

We all make really stupid mistakes all the time. So we should expect others to make these. You can simply not go apeshit on another person, a person that almost spends half her wage on your facility, like that. It’s simply not right. I did not denunciate anybody, I simply asked a question. Could this have gone down any better? Maybe. But either way, as an adult you have to deal with it in kind of a chill and settled way.

So no, I did not see that meltdown of yours coming. No fucking way. To me this is all pretty weird.

Anyway, she made it pretty clear to me that they don’t really care about us. We will be gone in a month and it doesn’t matter much to her. She took part of it back, but you know, in things like these there is also some truth. There is also truth in what I say. As in: I actually have more expertise on this than you. Just because you work with children, it does not make you a healthcare or pediatric care professional. Just because you have my kid for 8 hours a day, while I have her for another 16+48 on the weekend, you don’t know more about her. Just because you have an education, you are not more professional, and you certainly did not act like it.

I think you know that and if by any weird fucking coincidence you read this, you know that I do. I respect you both professionally and personally. But just because you work somewhere it does not make you more “professional”. Just because you take care of my kid, you are not a better human. You were pretty shitty to me today. Pretty fucking shitty.

And yes, I 100% think it’s fine to say shit and fuck.
The only people who are told to not do that are elderly people in homes and little kids. I personally find it disrespectful when nurses tell old folk to not say shit. They have worked their whole life – probably not to be told what to say by a 30-something. Also, I am not 80 and I am not a little kid. I can say shit and fuck all day long, and guess what, because we don’t have these dumbass taboos here, my kid doesn’t even desire to use swearwords. Boom!

Okay, now I’m done. That’s it. That’s all of it. I am so happy that I got rid of this chunk of ridiculousness. Thank you for reading, whoever you are. You got some endurance 😀

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Janey
    June 29, 2021 at 3:44 am

    I feel your frustration and anger. Hope your day gets better

    • Reply
      Undine Almani
      June 30, 2021 at 1:47 pm

      Thank you! It already did. Letting anger go is a constant exercise. I try to do that and even if it might not be working always, it is getting better 🙂

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