Tony blog post- 10.03.13

Hi my name is Tony Kee and I am an early childhood educator and expectant father. After ten years working in ‘childcare’ (or ‘early childhood education’ depending on which side of the fence you sit on) I am about to with my beautiful wife, Alana, embark on the journey of having my own child to provide love, care and ‘education’. Look out! So this is my blog, my journal, my tribute to my wife, my baby, my family and 10 years of childcare wrapped up into the final ten week countdown. If all goes to plan I aim to write ten posts, one per week, in the countdown to May 17th (our due date) for the benefit of myself and anyone else who appreciates my crazy take on life as we know it.

My early childhood journey began almost 29 years ago when I arrived in spectacular fashion in the spring of 1984. My unplanned invitation to life came from two very passionate and loving people, Trevor Kee and Gayle Jackson who were married a tidy 6 months before I came kicking and screaming to the real world. I come from a family of early childhood educators and when I was born my mother, who had just completed her early childhood teaching degree, like her mother before her, took me straight to work. From the warmth of my capsule I listened to mum plan and express her ideas for children and childcare. When I wasn’t with mum I was with my family daycare mum called Abla who cared for me at her home in Melbourne or at the footy with dad. Dad eventually decided to become a landscape gardener and over the past 15 years with mum has gone on to create the most beautiful early childhood settings I have seen in Australia and arguably the world (if you’re going to exaggerate, you might as well go the whole way!). They are an inspiration to me and many others.

When my first bratty little sister, Kathryn (who has also decided to pursue a career in childcare), arrived my expanding family moved home to Wonthaggi a small coastal town almost as far south as you can go on the east coast of Australia. Any further south and you’re in Tasmania! In Wonthaggi I suddenly had access to aunties, uncles, cousins, grandparents and great grandparents. Having very attentive and considerate parents I had the chance to review my childcare options in town and carefully chose to attend Grandma Jackson’s preschool in North Wonthaggi rather than mum’s preschool. Being spoilt by grandma was the deciding factor and my memories of being four include finger painting, drawing, running around chasing girls, making mud pies and mixing my milk and water at morning tea time.

I have always been lucky enough to be sporty, active and artistic (not autistic mum, I’ve been checked!). When my parents delivered my second bratty little sister Rachael they also decided to put me into a social training and mobility program by moving first to sunny Queensland and then to beautiful Wauchope in New South Wales. During this period I quickly learned how to make new friends and fit in and I attended several different schools in successive years (not from being a brat, I was always probably a little too good at school for my own good, but just from moving around a few times, as many modern families do). We moved to Queensland when mum was offered a job as a founding director at a new long daycare centre on the Sunshine coast and dad became Mr. Mum with baby Rachael. These two things are important and set several factors in motion that affected me and my family. Mum quickly learned what it took to run and organize a successful children’s service and that private long daycare (The Australian government had just announced childcare benefit for families, sparking the growth of new early childhood services around Australia) could provide the funds (through fees) that eliminated the tooth-and-nail fundraising and protest rallies that defined her earlier community-based experience in Victoria. I firmly believe that when run correctly private long daycare providers can offer world-best facilities and practice. I also believe that community-based educators, like my grandmother, are some of the most passionate advocates for children and childcare in the world.

That aside my dad became the first male childcare figure in my life. When we moved to Wauchope to set up our family’s very own preschool and long daycare centre it was dad who suggested that I give childcare a try. He told me to complete my certificate three in children’s services and to treat it “like a trade” like some of my friends were starting. I often helped out at the centre after school anyway and knew my parents philosophies inside out from their dinner table discussions and workplace interactions. Despite initial skepticism I gave it a try and fell in love with the job but it was always hard to bring up in different social circles. When I won NSW Childcare Trainee of the year in 2004 I talked about some of the things I had to deal with when meeting people whilst out with friends. Many people thought I was joking after my friends would discuss their trades (bricklayer, fitter and turner, boiler maker, etc) and I would tell them I worked in childcare. No one had ever met a 6”4’ male childcare worker before!

Over the past ten years I have been lucky enough to work with many passionate educators, beautiful children and families and pursue my study and work in early childhood. Over the next few weeks I would love to share some of the most influential events and attitude changing moments of my life and career leading up to now, ten weeks out from fatherhood!

Included in this I would like to explain why I firmly believe that childcare is not just for girls, how sticks and stones can build strong bones and a few tips on how not to complete your university degree! So stay tuned punters and enjoy the ride. Tony Kee is online and loving it!

I am a third generation early childhood educator and I am passionate about children, families, crossfit and surfboat rowing. Let me know what you think about my posts please share any tips for future fatherhood!