07 December 2005

Decisons, Decisions

The twists and turns of my life never cease to baffle me. I mentioned that my current situation reminded me of the last time I worked at a daycare centre. I'll admit that my nervous feelings in regard to resigning from Montreal Playskool stemmed from my prior experience. The reaction that I got from Brenda yesterday has renewed my hope in humanity, and possibly in daycare centres.

Flashback...I had the most dreadful work experience of my life during the two months that I spent working at Garderie Betty, a daycare centre in my neighbourhood of Ville Saint-Laurent. I don't want to dredge up the entire scenario, but I'll give you the major details...

At Garderie Betty, I worked in the nursery. I was responsible for ten babies between the ages of 9-14 months. Given their young age, most of the day was spent feeding them, comforting them when they cried and changing diapers. It was very difficult planning for such a young age group, but I managed to come up with simple art activities like finger-painting and collage. I would also read them simple storybooks, sing to them (some were able to sing along) and allow them free playtime with the few toys that the daycare provided while supervising them cautiously and attempting to give them as much one-on-one attention as possible.

My co-educator Sophie was as useless as they come. She refused to help me plan, prepare or carry out any of the art activities for the babies. Her attitude was terrible. She would often ignore crying babies and didn't believe in giving them individual attention, stating that we weren't permitted the time to give them the attention they needed, so that was just too bad.

When the babies would go down for their nap, I'd spend my time cutting things out for cut and paste activities, cleaning the classroom, washing the toys, checking the diaper inventory, etc. I would usually only take 30 minutes or less for my actual lunch-hour, because I had so much work to do. Sophie, on the other hand, would spend her time doing her nails, plucking her eyebrows, leaving the daycare for up to two hours at a time to go to the tanning salon, meet friends for lunch, etc. I should also mention that she had had no previous training in childcare whatsoever. She was in fact a licensed esthetician. Go figure.

The worst part was definitely her treatment of the babies. She showed preferential treatment to those she liked, and ignored or screamed at those she didn't like. She overfed the babies and fed them way too quickly, causing some to either throw-up or have severe diarrhea on more than one occassion. The most horrible thing I caught her doing was feeding the babies using the same spoon or even worse, wiping their faces with the same cloth she had used to wipe the table.

I finally decided to speak up and the director (the evil Betty herself) pretended to believe me and sympathise with me. However, she never said anything to Sophie. When I gave my two weeks notice, she flat out refused it. She said that she wouldn't accept my resignation and that we would have a meeting to discuss the problems immediately. Of course, Sophie denied everything and since she had been there for several years, Betty believed her. The only thing that Sophie fessed up to was taking the long lunch-hours, although she made it sound like it was a rarity when in fact it happened almost every day. Betty made her promise that she would not take more than an hour for lunch. She also said that she would move me to another class as soon as possible, since "things weren't working out" between Sophie & I. That was about it.

As far as I know, there was never any effort to move me to another class. I suppose Betty thought that things would settle, imbecile that she is. You can only imagine what Sophie's wrath was like. She totally freaked out on me, called me a liar, said that I'd betrayed her...all this in front of the babies. She still continued to mistreat the babies, in addition to making my life a living hell. She took shorter lunch breaks, which she would spend going to the other classes and bad-mouthing me to other educators.

After about a week of this, I attempted once again to resign. Again the pleading and the promises resumed. Betty also started with the guilt-trip about how I would be letting the children down. I put my foot down and said, "I want to leave! You can't refuse me." Finally, she said, "You want to resign? Well, I won't accept your notice. Finish your day, then leave!"

I never got to say a proper goodbye to the babies or the parents. Some of the mothers started crying when I told them I was leaving that day. It was horrible. However, it gets worse...when I picked up my final paycheck, there was the most hateful letter I have ever read included in the envelope with a note stating that this was the letter that had been given to all of the parents. Basically, the letter was a major assault on my credibility and character, a bunch of venomous fabrications about how I had never had any intention of staying at the daycare and that I had lied about a doctor's appointment and instead had gone to a job interview, blah, blah, blah. I actually kept the letter to remind myself of just how mean-spirited and dishonest people can be.

So...that was the short version. It makes me sick just remembering that horrible experience. Those of you who've known me for a long time...I'm sure that you remember how devastating that experience was for me. I'm sure that you could all imagine why I was so skeptical about how Brenda would react to my resignation this time around. I was also very worried about Tatiana's reaction. Would it be a repeat of the Sophie situation? How would it effect the kids?

So...I called Playskool early Tuesday morning, and told Pamela that I wouldn't be coming into work but that I'd like to have the opportunity to talk with Brenda. She passed the phone to Brenda and we arranged a meeting at 11:00am. I had written a formal and straightforward letter of resignation effective immediately, requesting that the notice period be waived. I also intended on simply telling her that Tatiana and I had very different views on the concept of teamwork and that it just wasn't working out. I was prepared to go into more detail if Brenda seemed receptive. She has always been very understanding and far more present than that Betty scumbag ever was. Still, it was with trepidation that I presented her with my reasons for resigning.

Well...before I could even provide her with details, she let me know that some of the other teachers had expressed concern as to how both myself and Vanessa had been treated by Tatiana. She stated that she felt that Tatiana is very set in her ways and that she's been under a lot of stress. I said, "Working with children is very demanding, however there's no reason to be this stressed out. It just isn't right."

I told her how I felt that from day one, I was spoken to in a very condescending manner, reprimanded (in front of the children) for not doing things Tatiana's way and constantly given unsolicited advice on how to discipline children regardless of the fact that I have a degree in Child Studies and roughly three years more experience with this age group than Tatiana.

I also expressed how I felt that I was constantly being given mixed signals and that there was a gross lack of communication. I explained that many decisions regarding curriculum and classroom management were decided by Tatiana without discussing or even mentioning anything to myself or Vanessa. I reminded Brenda that I had worked with over a dozen different co-educators at the Community Centre and that I had never experienced such a complete lack of communication, not to mention respect. Needless to say, I have never included my two-month stint at Garderie Betty on my resumé.

I cited a couple of examples of Tatiana's unreasonable behaviour and suggested talking with Vanessa as well. I told her that both Vanessa and myself are talented educators with a lot to offer these children, but we haven't been permitted to adequately display this due to Tatiana's behaviour. "She just takes control," I told Brenda. I was careful to mention a couple of positive things about Tatiana. Believe me, that was a difficult task.

Brenda seems to think that Tatiana has difficulty accepting new educators because she was so attached to Sylvie (the educator I replaced). Tatiana started at Playskool as an intern and was basically trained by Sylvie. I can't figure out what she learnt from her, because apparently Sylvie was a good teacher. I met her once and she seemed very warm.

Currently, Brenda has placed Rebecca (who formerly worked with the three-year-olds) in the class. She thinks that Tatiana will react well to this internal transfer. I don't think that Brenda fully grasps just how harmful Tatiana is to the children, regardless of how good an intern she may have once been. It's obvious that although she seemed to have done a decent job when Sylvie was there, she is now completely out of control. I am hoping that Vanessa will speak up and provide Brenda with more details. She has been there longer than me and if we both speak up, it should have more of an impact.

In regards to my feelings and my resignation, essentially, Brenda was very understanding and apologetic. She expressed deep regret in losing me. She told me that the other educators want me to stay. In fact, she has offered me a job in the three-year-olds classroom. She said that she understands that I have a "bad taste in my mouth" and that I may not be comfortable in coming back. I told her that I would think about it.

Of course, I also have the English teaching job to consider. I've told both Brenda and Nadia that I would get back them before the week is up. So now I have to make a decision. Incidentally, the job at Telelangues is only part-time and the first contract (beginning 10th January) is a 1.5 hour bus ride away. I am considering a request to work part-time at Playskool, that way I could possibly take on both jobs.

I should mention that Brenda told me that I didn't have to commit straight away. She said that if I wanted to, I could give it a two-week trial. I think that I will be doing that. However, Nadia is going on holiday from 14th December to 6th January, so she needs an answer from me ASAP. I have to make up my mind by tomorrow! Aarrgh!

Gambarre masu!

05 December 2005


Well...it's been a while. You'll notice that my regular posting stopped when I started working at Montreal Playskool. I haven't even been working there for a whole month and I will be giving my notice tomorrow. In all honesty, I'm scared shitless at the reaction I'll get. I know that I will be letting both the administration and the kids down. However, I must do this...both for my health and my emotional well-being.

Last week, I went in to work from Monday to Wednesday, regardless of the fact that I was feeling rather sick. On Wednesday, my psychotic co-educator Tatiana fully laced into me and after two and a half weeks of being subject to her condescension and eratic behaviour, it was the final straw. The next day, I awoke feeling completely run-down and congested, not to mention repulsed at the thought of having to deal with Tatiana, so I decided to call in sick.

I got a call from Brenda, the daycare director who implored me to come in the following day for parent/teacher interviews. I told her that I would be there. I went to bed early, around 10:00pm, but at 5:00am, I was still completely awake due to a throbbing headache and earache and a sick feeling of what the day would be like meeting with the parents alongside my unsupportive co-teacher. I left a message on the daycare's answering service, saying that I'd be dropping off the 12 out of 24 report cards I was responsible for (each of which was a ridiculous 5 pages long) but that I wouldn't be able to come in to work.

After dropping off the report cards, I went to the clinic. I was diagnosed with a severe sinus and ear infection and given a prescription for antibiotics and a steroid nasal spray. I spent the weekend resting and of course, come Sunday night, I was tossing and turning all night once again. Still, I woke up, got ready for work and as I was about to leave, I suddenly felt very nauseous. I ran to the toilet and threw-up my entire breakfast. Once more, I called in sick.

This afternoon, I got a call from Nadia at Telelangues International, the language school that had offered me a part-time job just days before my interview at Montreal Playskool. It seems that they have an opening beginning 10th January and can offer me 15 hours a week to start. I was asked to go in for training next week. So, I will give my notice tomorrow, letting Brenda know that I am willing to complete this week. This means that I will be unemployed for a few weeks, which will be a financial strain, but as I've said, my health and emotional well-being are most important.

I have decided that I will never work at a daycare centre again! I had a similar experience at another daycare centre a few years ago. I worked there for two months, with an equally psychotic co-teacher and constant bouts of illness. Daycare is definitely not for me! It's not like teaching 2-3 hour preschool programs, which I did successfully for four years at the John A. Simms Community Centre. In my opinion, it's unnatural for children aged 1-5 to spend 11 hours a day at "school" and the profession seems to attract crazy people, not to mention these places are a breeding ground for all kinds of illnesses. This experience simply strengthens my views on Daycare Centres. If I ever have children of my own, they will never set foot in one!

So...that's all I have to say for now. Wish me luck in both resigning and completing this week, which will be hell on earth, I'm sure. Mata ne!

07 November 2005

Blustery Day

There was an intense storm in Montreal this evening, with strong winds and heavy rain that reminded me of the ol' typhoons back in Nakatsu! This storm was the result of the devastating tornado that ripped through Kentucky and Indiana early Sunday morning killing 22 people and injuring 200. Mother nature continues to freak me out!

Once again, I was busy uploading piccies to smugmug today. I managed to upload another 100 or so pics, including all of the most recent ones from Japan and yes...Christmas 2004! It's about time desho? I've still got over 150 pics to add to existing albums. I'll try to finish that tomorrow. After that, I'll start with the Egypt photos (over 300) and of course the ones I've taken since I've been back in Montreal. Then...I'll have to continue working on all the descriptions and captions as well. Hopefully, I'll be able to get everything done before I start working full-time, either this week or the following. It isn't easy when you're working on a computer that crashes, on average, five times a day...taihen desu ne!

BTW, don't be shy about leaving comments on this blog or on smugmug...or both! Any feedback would be greatly appreciated. I know that Candice, Laverne and Isa have been keeping up with all of my hard work, but...anybody else? I know that I've been neglecting my e-mail since I started this project and I apologise for that. I will catch up soon, I promise! I also realise that those of you with keitai e-mail are unable to see any of this, so here's a message for those of you fortunate enough to have internet access...please tell them (the keitai users) what they're missing! Arigatou!

06 November 2005

More smugmug updates...

Well, I've been busy again today! I've uploaded over 100 new photos to smugmug. Actually, some are new and some are old, since I'm updating all of my galleries. I hadn't realised just how much I'd been slacking. I actually still haven't uploaded my piccies from Christmas 2004, not to mention all of the missing pics from loads of existing galleries! Gomen nasai. Pretty pathetic, I know. That's why I'm starting from scratch and revising all the old galleries as well as creating new ones. So, keep checking back for updates onegaishimasu...

Oh yeah, and Laverne will be glad to know that I've added more captions, and yes, the Family category has been completely updated so you can now tell who's who. My, those kids have grown, haven't they? And...Isabelle will be pleased that I've put more piccies of myself up on smugmug...you're right, I'm usually behind the camera! I can always count on you two to pay attention to everything that I put online. Thanks!

Oh yeah, and Angie-dahhhling will be proud to know that I've been catching up on The OC! I'm well into season 3 and soon will have to start watching it when it's televised just like everybody else...rather than watching it on videotape!

Oyasumi nasai!

BTW...anyone hear from Atsushi yet? Chotto shinpai yo!

05 November 2005


Izogashii! I've been very busy updating my online photo galleries at smugmug for the past two days. Omoshiroii ga taihen desu! It's not easy working on this s-l-o-w computer of mine. Kono pasukon wa totemo furui desu! Unfortunately, I'm in a bit of a catch-22 situation. I'm trying to get this done now, whilst unemployed, because I have time. However, I can't hook up my newly-repaired, speedy laptop to the internet because I can't really afford the router that I need to do so. Ah...dilemnas.

Soon, my financial problems should be rectified. All of the job hunting I've been doing has finally paid off. I have actually been offered two jobs! Sugoi ne? Firstly, I was offered a teaching position, teaching French-Canadian business people the art of the English language. It pays well...$16/hour for new teachers. However, they can only give me a few hours a week until the new session starts in January. I have also been offered a full-time position as a pre-kindergarten educator. I will be going in for a trial-run on Tuesday, 8th November. I will post my decision next week...so please stay tuned! Of course, once I start working, I won't have as much time to work on this blog or my galleries. Ah...dilemnas.

So, let me tell you all what I've been able to accomplish. First of all, if you scroll down a bit and look to the left, you'll see the smugmug button in the navigation bar. That's where you should click if you want to visit my photo galleries. Now, I've still got loads of work ahead of me, but what I've managed to do so far is...

Create three new categories:

  • Holidays
  • Weddings
  • Celebrations

Create two new subcategories:

  • Candice's Family
  • Japanese Weather

Create a bunch of new galleries within the Travel category:

  • A Day with the Tad
  • Aso
  • Fukuoka
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Osada Park
  • Osaka
  • Sanko Village

Create new galleries (or modify existing ones in Family, Friends and Weddings categories):

  • California Dreamin'
  • The Fosters
  • The Phillips
  • Mark & Yumi

Update many existing galleries including:

  • Barbeques
  • Garden Bar
  • Western Night
  • The Adventures of Kristen

On a final note...I've written captions for most of the existing pics as well as for many of the new pics, although I'm not quite finished yet. I've also written descriptions for a good number of my galleries...new and old alike. Phew!

I've still got plenty more piccies to upload (including Egypt, of course) so please be patient! In the meantime...in addition to all the above-mentioned new stuff, here are some piccies of my last few days in Nakatsu. I'm trying desperately to do this in chronological order, so that's why I'm focusing on organising and updating the older galleries first. I wanted to share these with you because I'm feeling very natsukashii and sabishii yo!!!!

omedetou gozaimasu
Group Shot at Mark's Birthday Party

aussie legends
Geoff & Pads at Marky's Birthday Party

oishii so
Kazue, Mayumi, Miyuki, Mike & I at Miyuki's family sushi restaurant

Kumi-chan, Mike & Miyuki at my Sayonara Party at Tropicoco

Moyai, Shinobs, Lyndsay & Mike at my Sayonara Party

Mu-Chan and her sister with Mike & I at my Sayonara Party

chotto hen desu ne
Hide & Atsushi in the lobby at Queen's Echo Karaoke

uta ga josu desu
Atsushi, Mark & Geoff at karaoke

Mark & Angie at karaoke

sugoi natsukashii
Pads & I at karaoke...Angie, Geoff & Mark in background

Well, that's all for the preview! Those of you who are waiting for actual prints of any of my photos...shinbou onegaishimasu...I'm currently financially challenged, but I will get it done...eventually...I promise!

In other news...I went to the dentist yesterday and...no cavities! Yay me!

I've just started...finally...reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and I must say...I'm simply riveted! I'm trying to savour it as slowly as possible. I'm also very excited for the upcoming film-version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire being released in North America on November 18th!

I guess that's all for now. It's almost 3:00am, so I best be off to bed...

Mata ne!

02 November 2005

I have issues...

Okay, so I just found this great website called similarminds.com! First, I took a Word Association Test and apparently:

I have issues with...
Take Word Association Test


Since I'm currently looking for employment, I also decided to take a Career Inventory Test. Here are my results:

Career Inventory Test Results

Extroversion |||||||||||||||||||||||| 76%
Emotional Stability |||||||||||||||||| 56%
Orderliness |||||||||||||||||| 53%
Altruism ||||||||||||||||||||| 66%
Inquisitiveness |||||||||||| 33%

You are a Supporter, possible professions include - nurse, social worker, caterer, flight attendant, bookkeeper, medical/dental assistant, exercise physiologist, elementary school teacher, minister/priest/rabbi, retail owner, officer manager, telemarketer, counselor, special education teacher, merchandise planner, credit counselor, athletic coach, insurance agent, sales representative, massage therapist, medical secretary, child care provider, bilingual education teacher, professional volunteer.
Take Free Career Test
personality tests by similarminds.com

Honestly, I love this stuff! Could you see me as a minister/priest/rabbi? I think not...

Catching Up

One of my latest obsessions is...catching up on all the film and television that I've missed out on while I was living abroad. I've discovered a handy little service called zip.ca. What is it, you may ask? It's Canada's Largest Online DVD Service. They offer members access to an always-growing DVD library of over 36,000 titles. The service combines a simple title selection process, no due dates or late fees, and free home-delivery. With the plan I chose, I pay $24.95 per month and have unlimited rentals. I can only have four DVDs out at a time. As soon as I've finished watching one, I send it back, and they send me the next DVD on my list. Currently, I have over 80 titles on my list. The first three DVDs that I've watched are: Closer - brutally honest and well-acted, The Stepford Wives - a sad re-make of the 1975 cult classic, and Old School - not quite as funny as I had hoped. Some titles that I'm looking forward to receiving are Thirteen, Super Size Me, and Audition.