First of all, let me just say it was Little Bear's birthday last Wednesday, and she turned 6! The reason I never blogged about it was because I had taken a picture of Little Bear's biggest present, and I was planning on posting a blog entry saying, "Guess what Little Bear got for her birthday?" and then putting the picture. But my computer has been sucky lately, and I haven't been able to get the picture out of my emails, so I'll just have to tell you. It was a TRAMPOLINE! Its provided hours of fun for everyone, including the adults in the house. Little Bear is always on the move, so the trampoline gives her a way to get all of her "jumpies" out in a safe, appropriate way, instead of bouncing around on the furniture, etc.
Second of all, I probably posted a while back that I was so sad about not being able to go to the BlogHer Conference. Adding insult to injury was the fact that BlogHer was right here in my hometown! But I just could not afford it. I can't even afford gas right now!
So instead, I got a job for the weekend. I answered an ad on Craiglist asking for people who would be willing to help provide child care for children with special needs at a conference in a near by hotel. I got hired right away for it, but I didn't have any idea what conference I'd be working at or what the kids would be like. I did some Google searching and found out that I would be providing child care at the CHARGE Syndrome Conference.
I had never heard of Charge Syndrome! I did some more Google searching and found some medical jargon about whaat it was, but it didn't really tell me what the kids would be like. But then I realized, where there are children with CHARGE Syndrome, there must be mom bloggers of children with CHARGE Syndrome!
Sure enough, I found The Adventures Of Kennedy, The Mighty Max Update, and Makenna And Camille, It was so cool to get to read about them and their lives, and then actually meet them at the conference! It also helped ease my anxiety, because I'm always a little nervous about meeting a bunch of new people, and knowing that there would be some mom bloggers there made me feel more like I belonged there.
So... the child care job went pretty well! The kids were wonderful! The conference felt like a huge family reunion, with everyone just so happy to be there and to be with each other. It was awesome to be a part of it!
I have to say, I was not crazy about the corporation that provided child care. Its weird because I was sort of comparing it to the times I volunteered at a summer camp for kids in foster care and the time when I worked at a Family Camp for kids with special needs. Both of those were run by non-profit organizations and staffed mostly by volunteers or very low-paid employees. But both of those camps had such a cheerful, celebration-like feeling, At these camps everything was set up to kind of dazzle the kids and make sure they had the time of their lives. And all of the adults involved would always be so friendly, and the supervisors would be so super caring and cheerful, and there was this feeling that we were all in it together for the sake of the kids.
But the child care at this conference had more of a day-care feeling. The supervisors were kind of distant, and the atmosphere felt more like, "Do what we tell you, keep the kids busy, and don't make us look bad in front of the parents." And, you know, like, every possible corner was cut. In the beginning we staff members were told that the days were going to be really structured, and there would be games and toys around just to fill in any empty time. But a lot of the activities never materialized. Most of the structured activities we did do were crafts... It was as if they just put in a big order at Oriental Trading Co and called it a day. I mean, I love crafts, but by the end of the first day I felt bad asking the kids to do yet another craft. How many different things could I tell them to paint (with face paint, strangely) and decorate with alphabet foamies?
I think the people who really made it great for the kids were the teenaged volunteers, mostly siblings of kids with CHARGE Syndrome. Six-to-ten-year-olds are fascinated by teenagers, and these teenagers gave it their all! They let the kids climb all over them, do their hair, stick stickers on them, etc, They played games with the kids and goofed around with them and basically treated every kid there like a younger sibling for the weekend!
Anyway, it was a long weekend but definitely worth it, and I was sad to see it end!