While providing licensed child care in his home, Manuel Kichi Wong kept a journal to reflect upon the sometimes achingly long days spent watching half a dozen infants and toddlers. His entries, which document the final months of his child care business, his enrollment in graduate school and his transition into teaching college courses in early childhood education, make up this insightful but uneven memoir.
Wong’s is not the usual clinically written child care book. He puts himself in the midst of the action and brings readers along as he faces the ups and downs of dealing with children on a daily basis. His musings can be random and uncensored, such as his meditation on bowel movements that begins “Poop. Caca. BMs, or whatever you call it” and continues in excessive, unnecessary detail. But he also offers practical advice on dealing with weepy, cranky or potty-training children (and their parents).
Wong brings a unique perspective as one of the few male child care providers in a women-dominated field (Wong estimates 10 women to every man). During frequent walks with his charges through his urban neighborhood, he received plenty of curious stares and comments from passers-by. He writes of feeling compelled to prove himself capable and trustworthy throughout his career, and of eventually coming to terms with this.
As is the case with most journals, Wong’s memoir is often wandering or redundant: He repeats his advice to caregivers (such as, “If you give children what they need, they will be happy”) and could have ended the narrative sooner. Just when you think he’s wrapping up, he offers more advice that might have been better treated as an addendum.
Still, anyone who works closely with children will be able to relate to Wong’s insights, and will likely find them useful.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.