Monday, November 01, 2010

Slack in the Ribbon

I didn't want a toddler. Toddlers scared me.

I wanted a baby. But when I got the baby, it was NO WHERE CLOSE to what I thought it would be like. So I adapted and got used to having a baby. But just when I got used to having a baby...just when I finally felt like I knew what I was doing and I could sit back and relax a little bit...Little G became a toddler.

I didn't want a toddler.

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When I first worked at Disney right out of college, I was placed at the front desk of the Contemporary resort. I totally thought before starting the gig that I was going to just sit at a desk in the middle of the 4th floor concourse with the monorail whizzing past every few minutes and maybe answer a question every once in a while or direct someone to the nearest bathroom. I couldn't have been more wrong.

It turned out that the front desk position was not only the gateway for guests to check in and out of their hotel rooms, but we also acted as a separate function of guest relations. We sold park tickets, ticket and room packages, set up dining plans, food and fun plans, money plans, show tickets, etc., etc., etc. It was a LOT to learn...and I should wasn't even on the 4th floor.

For the first thirty days of our employment, we wore a separate ribbon on our name badges that said, "Earning my Ears". Like good training wheels, it was a way to indicate that we were new and might need some additional support or back-up and to be extra patient with us. Even though I eventually knew what I was doing so well that I became a trainer for new hires, I will admit, I wore that "Earning my Ears" ribbon for at least two weeks longer than I was supposed to just so people would cut me some slack.

In a way, I feel like having a small baby, is like getting to wear an "Earning my Ears" ribbon. People see you out and about with a small baby and they all know you are new and they all know you are probaby overwhelmed and emotional and distracted and they do wonderful things for you. They are nice to you. They help you. They are patient with you. They cut you some slack. Fast forward a year and even though you might be new to toddlerhood, the general public sees you with an older baby and just assumes that everything is alright. I know I used to.

But (for me) the truth is that everything isn't always alright. Sometimes, I am really struggling. There isn't necessarily less of a learning curve with a small toddler than there was with a newborn; it's just different. The challenges of a parenting a young toddler can be overwhelming at times and yet I'm expected, if not by myself, than definitely by society, to know what I'm doing and to be handling everything with grace and ease.

It makes me wish I could wear my "Earning my Ears" ribbon a little bit longer...or at least cut some slack in it.


  1. That's such a good analogy! I've bugged Contemporary cast members before, so I understand ;) I think that every single stage of parenting deserves patience and understanding - every child is different; every age presents new challenges.

    I guess that's why it bugs me when America's Next Top Model contestants start sentences with "I'm a Mom, so..." as if the very act of giving birth makes you an expert on everything in the world! I think most mothers would disagree.

  2. Becca - I must give you mad props for citing ANTM - I always laugh when they say that too!

  3. Couldn't agree more! But at least now we've had some training on how to act like you're together when you're not :P I' convinced that's the only reason why moms of toddlers look composed (given how they're now all ambulatory and capable of doing so much more damage in public places).