Do you love to be interrupted during a rare moment of respite? Can you plaster on a smile and generate impromptu dialogue? Do you enjoy small people yelling imperatives at you, such as: “Come!”; “Look!”; “Wipe!”; and “Mom! Mom! Mooommm!!!”? If so, apply for a job as a childcare first responder.
A childcare first responder’s job is to triage children’s constant needs. Parents are frequently interrupted—especially when taking a shower—by a shriek indicative of a horrible accident. As they race to the scene—because time is of the essence with a severed limb—they discover their child only wanted to let them know that the movie ended. Since this is the umpteenth time they have raced through the house panicked and dripping wet, they will hurl a string of expletives instead of being thankful that their child still has all their limbs intact.
Parents are busy people trying to meet the daily demands of jobs, maintain a household, and drink strong cocktails to help stifle the voices in their heads urging them to pack a bag and run away to Bali. They need our help. As a childcare first responder, you can ease a parent’s burden by racing through the house, assessing the severity of the situation, and finding the severed limb or a new movie for the child so that the parent can take their first uninterrupted shower in weeks.
- Respond immediately to trigger words, such as but not limited to: “Mom!”; “Dad!”; “Come!”; “Look!”; “I’m hungry!”; “Watch me!”; “Wipe me!”’; “The iPad is broken!”; “Help! My head is stuck in the chair!”; and “Can I write on the walls with this black marker that smells funny?”
- Display appropriate facial expressions when a child yells any trigger word, even if you are in the middle of an important activity, such as writing the ending to the novel that has been tormenting you for twenty-two years. You must stop typing and, with a concerned and loving face, analyze the gooey piece of God-knows-what-that-thing-is growing in the child’s belly button while at the same time swallowing the vomit filling your mouth. When you return to your story, you will have forgotten the Pulitzer Prize-winning line that had popped into your head pre-belly button situation, and now that sentence is gone forever. Worse, you can’t unsee that mystery goo in the child’s naval. You must not burst into tears and burn the house down.
- Provide the appropriate feedback to child such as, “How are you hungry again? We just ate fifteen minutes ago,” or “No, that is a Sharpie, and it must never be used anywhere unless you are the president and then you can use it on an NOAA Hurricane map.”
- Demonstrate impulse control. For example, when the child yells, “Help!” you race to the scene asking, “WHAT?” When the child answers, “Is this marker blue or yellow?” you must not yell, “WHAT THE FUCK? I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD! AND IT’S BLUE!”
- When the house is quiet, you may partake in your hobbies such as knitting, reading, or fantasizing about an Olympic-pool-sized piña colada served on a tropical beach far, far away from your meaningless life. Just remember that the minute you are in your flow, you will be beckoned to gush over the child’s drawing of one crooked line or answer probing questions like, “Why did Daddy kiss the babysitter?”
- You must learn when to take care of the child’s issue yourself and when to call a parent. For most situations that arise, such as replacing dead batteries, cleaning belly button toxic waste, or removing black Sharpie from the kitchen wall, you will solve the problem yourself. For real emergencies, you may contact the parents. I think they reside in Bali now. Or at least one of them does.
Payment & Hours
As with any career in childcare, expect long hours, low pay, and bladder difficulties due to limited time to use the restroom. But you will be nurturing the next generation. Who can put a price tag on that?