September 25th, 2006


hours of operation

A few years ago while I was still getting used to my babysitter there was a big snow on a weekday and people were delayed returning from work. I was the first one to arrive that evening; it was probably about 6:10pm. The door opened and I saw a line of solemn, snowsuited toddlers--in their boots! (no one wears shoes inside)--waiting just inside. I said hi and one of the kids said, "Daycare is closed." I laughed and looked to the couch where Maureen was sitting. She wasn't laughing, she was practicing her baleful stare. Snowdays are long days.

Her days are long ones anyway. Right now she is watching a girl whose mom works until after 10pm. Sometimes her grandmother will pick her up earlier, but at least three days a week she stays until late. Today when I came to pick up Victoria, there were three other kids waiting. She asked me to watch them while she took a shower. While she was thus occupied, one mom picked up her son. When she finished getting dressed, Maureen told me I could leave; she was taking the other two kids with her to the mosque.

On Friday I stayed a while to talk with her. Catalog season has begun and Victoria was browsing through one that offered party items. She saw something particularly astonishing and exclaimed, "What the hell?!" with the final el sound drawn out in a way that sounded very Maureenish to me. I practiced my look of consternation. "Did you hear what my little angel just uttered?" Maureen pointed to the clock. "It's 6:15," she told me, "Daycare is closed."