Who Shook the Baby?

Recently, there were two daycare workers who shook babies. I think both babies were about four months old – meaning, they had been in daycare for only a few weeks.

Once in January.

And once in March.

Once in Jerusalem. And once in the center, near Tel Aviv.

The daycare workers, obviously, need to go to jail. But there are a few other issues at play.

  1. Why the !@#$ was a four month old baby  not with its mother?!?! I’ll tell you why: because Mommy had to go back to work. Maybe she chose to – and that’s a different problem . . . and a big one.
  2. Why was such a person even working with babies? One of them had a criminal record. You know why? Because there is high demand and it’s considered an ‘easy’ job.
  3. Why the !@#$ was there one worker to six babies, two workers to ten or twelve babies? The reason is because the legal ratio is 1:6. That’s NUTS! There’s a reason why human beings usually deliver one baby, maximum two, at a time. It’s because that’s all G-d thinks we can handle. There’s a reason why, if you nurse, your babies will probably be no less than two years apart: it’s because that’s what G-d thinks is smart. For G-d’s sake, babies should *never* have to compete with five other babies in order to be fed, changed, or held. Oh. My. G-d.
  4. Why are we not pickier about daycare workers, and why are they treated like trash? Daycare workers are treated, and paid, worse than teachers. They make minimum salary. They hardly ever get a raise. They are considered sweet but not too intelligent. For G-d’s sake, you are leaving your baby with this person. Raise the bar! Lower the ratio! Oh, wait . . . you might have to pay more? No, G-d forbid. Your money is much more important than your baby.

The sad reality is that parents here care more about cutting out kids’ (and teachers’) vacations than they do about who watches their babies. The government has added two vacation days per worker, added an extra month of school for first and second-graders, and is working on other reforms. Why? Because parents kvetched.

But parents don’t kvetch about lower baby:caregiver ratios, or raising the bar for hiring daycare workers. They just kvetch about not getting the discounts.

Forget the fact that vacation is good for kids and teachers alike. Forget the fact that being in camp during the summer is better than being in school year-round. That it’s better for kids to run and jump outside with a babysitter than to be sitting in a classroom or even playing in the schoolyard.

No, none of that matters. All that matters is that parents pay more for camp than they do for school, and pay more for babysitters or vacation days than they would if teachers worked the same days as everyone else. Get mad at the teachers, and keep the kids in school. All that matters is money, and parents’ convenience.

And the truth is that as long as cutting out vacation is more important than making sure that every daycare worker is quality – this problem will continue.

Parents don’t want to raise their own kids.

They want to pay someone, cheaply, to raise their kids for them.

Which is not fine. But okay.

Just don’t blame anyone when your baby gets shaken by an underpaid, overworked daycare worker  . . . who does your job and the job of five other sets of parents, for minimum salary, 40+ hours a week.

The daycare worker isn’t justified.  But neither are the parents.

There is no reason why, in country in which you are paid 3.5 months of maternity leave have another 2.5 months of unpaid leave (and can take up to a year while your job waits for you) – almost every four month old is in daycare.

There is no reason at all.

If American mothers can take 8 weeks of unpaid leave, I am pretty sure that Israeli mothers can do the same.

There’s no excuse for a 4 month old being in daycare. Okay, maybe there is. But not for 99% of the population.

Sorry.

(For Shlomo, we took a private babysitter. A friend of mine, actually. For Tova, we worked our own schedules wacky because we didn’t really feel we had a good choice of babysitters. Yes, we made sacrifices. So? That’s part of what being a parent is. And please . . . don’t have kids if you can’t stand being around them for more than 26 hours a week.)

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