Tuesday, January 09, 2007

To Complain, Or Not To Complain

Recently, I've been fretting over a little dilemma, and I thought to myself, why not let the internet weigh in on it? They're always so helpful, right?

I joined the YMCA a few weeks back so that I could get in shape before I got pregnant again (HA!). A huge selling point for me was the child care facilities and staff, who all seemed friendly and energetic. However, since we've been home from Pittsburgh, we've encountered a problem. There are two women who work there who are older than the rest of the bunch by at least twenty years. As a former YMCA employee, I know that the pay isn't great, and since a degree isn't required to work in the child care center, it's probably even lower. I have only ever seen these two women work with babies, and honestly I think it's because they don't really like their jobs. The babies are the easiest group to deal with. They don't do much and since there are usually fewer babies than the groups with older children, it's usually one on one or less for these women. There are two baby groups, the infants and the crawlers. If there are infants there, they are always in that room. Unfortunately, there are not always infants and so they end up with the crawlers, which is Sam's group.

Now I've had jobs in the past that I kept solely to pay the bills, and I remember the attitude I carried with me about the job. I can understand where these ladies are coming from. The trouble is, their apathy is having a major effect on my kid. As soon as I leave the room, they park his ass in a swing (a swing he appears to be six inches too tall for, I might add) and leave him there for the hour that I'm working out. He is surrounded by piles of fabulous shiny toys and he isn't allowed to play with a thing. And if there are other babies, they get strapped in a swing as well. Once when I came to get him there were four kids in a row swinging in unison. It was creepy. As you might imagine, this seems to be very frustrating for Sammy. After a few visits with these two, he started to get wise, and now he wails and clings to me every time he sees them. Yesterday I took him in and a different girl was there. He was happy as a clam. But by the time I was finished the bad ladies were back, he was in the swing, and he burst into tears the instant he saw me walk in the room.

I've been thinking about filing a complaint with the management, but I hesitate for several reasons. First of all, I am a big old chicken. There aren't many kids in Sam's group that I've seen, and I'm scared that the ladies will figure out that I was the squealer and be mean to me. They can't be too mean to Sam because they are on camera at all times. (I was so relieved when I figured that out, because I was worried they were pinching him or something.) But they are in control of my workout, because if Sam starts crying, they can either try and comfort him or come and get me. If I nix the swinging, I have a feeling my workouts are going to be cut short a lot more often. Also, Sam is thisclose to walking, and once that happens, he'll be moved to a different group away from the bad ladies. I'm just worried that if he spends the next month or two hating on the Y, that even when he is moved up, he'll have such an aversion that the freak outs will continue.

For the time being, we're going to start going at a different time of day and hope that the bad ladies only work in the morning. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas, please do tell because I'm going insane over this!

In other unfortunate gym-related situations, during my workout yesterday I was being followed by an old man with bowel incontinence. (Side note: I probably should post this over at The People Under the Stairmasters!) I'm all for the elderly getting some exercise. Hell, I encouraged my grammy to join Silver Sneakers. But if you have to wear Depends because you shit your pants a little every time you lift a weight, perhaps you should do your workouts at home and not at the Y. Or at least come at an off time of day instead of lunch hour when the place is packed. Heightened sense of smell due to pregnancy plus an old dude with a load in his pants are not the makings of a pleasant workout, let me tell you.

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super des said...

If the different-time thing doesn't work, write the management a little note - not a formal complaint - that you are concerned. Or let Sam bring his own toy (a disposable one) and see if he gets to play with that.

Lora said...

I say write an anonymous letter. That is my answer for everything.

And we have an incontinent man working in my office. Someone said something to him (it was unbearable) so now he comes to work drenched in Old English and armed with Glade airfreshner. Puke.

janet said...

i would say something- i go to the Y and am lucky enough to deal with great people. you should write a letter anonymous or not- it sounds horrible, but who cares if they loose their job- its tough enough as a mom to give your child to someone else, let alone knowing that they hate it! The Y is ceneterd arond community and support- i'm sure other mothers feel the same, maybe its just going to take someone (ie- you) with a good set to tell them. When you go to the Y it should be a mental break for you- not a time to worry about your little man! sorry- i'm a little heated up over this- it ticks me off! i'll stop now

susan said...

Yikes, wow. That's a tough one. I can't decide if we should start sending you walking vibes to help solve this problem or if that's mean because walking = a whole new set of problems, believe you me. Hmmm. I do think that a carefully worded note of concern could be the right first step. You may not be paying a lot, but you are paying. Retail or food-service type jobs are available to the same, er, undermotivated types. People working with children shouldn't be given the option to not care. The future of shoes and burgers can't be shaped by one apathetic "caregiver". And while I don't think that Sam is likely to be scarred for life or that he'll develop any long lasting gym/Y phobias, why risk it. Management can either "help" the bad ladies clean up their act or give them the opportunity to find a more fulfilling line of work. Of course, as Alice says, "I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it." Hopefully the problem will be solved by your new work-out time solution.

And maybe the new time will solve the old man issues, too. Eww!

Maris said...

Nobody puts my baby in a swing for an hour!!!! Im coming to visist and take care of this matter!

Fidget said...

I was going to suggest picking a new time of day, one where you can avoid the bitties. I enjoyed my membership at the Y but the monthly cost was squeezing us tooo tight and they werent offering enough of a scholarship. You pay too much money to put up with those ladies. AFTER you try a new time I would still put in a complaint. The local Y here is VERY adement about making sure the children are all engaged in activity and not left passive unless at the parents orders or if they are super duper fussy

Melissa R. Garrett said...

I have three kids, ages 7, 5, and 18 months. While I am usually a nonconfrontational sort of person, the "mommy lion" in me comes out whenever I suspect someone is not treating my children well. Why do you hesitate to lodge a formal complaint? Your Sammy is so much more important than a workout. I would even go so far as to say to the women, "Do NOT put my child in a swing. He likes to be mobile and play with toys." Our grocery store has a nice playroom that my older kids go to, and I always tell the teenagers working there to "please play with my kids and not park them in front of the TV." Please don't think I am judging you, because I am not trying to, really!! I just know I wouldn't want my little one restrained, and the fact that you, yourself, are questioning your son's quality of treatment should be the first indication you need to say something. Say anything!

Amy Jo said...

After reading all of your comments, I did call the Y and make a complaint. I called and spoke with the director, and she was very helpful. Hopfully in the future, this will no longer be an issue!