Friday, September 28, 2012

Let's talk daycare.

Anyone have children in daycare?  Raise your hand if you do, or if you're considering it.

Ahh, you there.  In the corner.  The one with the red-rimmed eyes.  Yes, you.  This is for you.

Daycare kids.  You know the ones.  You can't miss them.  They're the kids with the constant runny noses.  The ones who cry when their parents turn to leave.  They're the ones who come home with bags under their eyes after taking a 15-minute nap, according to their daily report, which has been filled out by a girl who looks too young to be a mother, much less a caretaker for 7 children under the age of two.

Daycare.  A place to drop the little ones off so mom can "get some shit done."  Might be work, might be school, but we are Out There, Getting Shit Done.

Daycare is really taking a toll over at our house.

I don't know any of the other daycare moms, so I've got no one with which to sit over a steaming hot coffee (there may or may not be liquor involved) and compare notes, so you, dear readers, are being asked for your help/guidance/assistance/advice.

I'm assuming every other mom out there is a great parent who loves their child unconditionally.  A parent who'd rather take a bullet through the chest than imagine ever doing anything that would hurt their child emotionally.  This is why many of us have to become "Denial Mom" when we drop off our children every morning (or twice a week, or three times a week) at the place we lovingly attempt to hype-up as "childcare."

In order for us to successfully leave the building while our child is crying, clinging to our leg, we have to tell ourselves that we're doing this "for their own good."  That they're being "socialized."  That they're "learning new things."  That they get to "interact with other kids their own age."

What we see when we look down at our little cling-on, besides the snot they just wiped on our pants,  is a pleading representation of confusion and betrayal, coupled with the look of unconditional love from our child to us.  If full sentences were their thing, we'd probably hear something like, "Look, Mom, I promise I'll be good.  I promise I'll just sit and play blocks on my floor all day.  Please do not leave me here with these people.  Olivia here cries all day long.  James pinches me when no one is looking.  They expect me to sleep on a freaking mat on the floor.  This kid to my left smells like cheese all the time.  I try to explain to the lady-in-charge that I want that truck over there--the blue one--but she doesn't understand me.  You understand me, Mom.  Please oh please oh please don't make me stay!"

But we moms, we tough tough moms who have almost convinced ourselves that we are doing this for their own good, simply attempt to remove said child from our leg, looking helplessly at the teachers milling around the center while we wait for someone--anyone--to make eye contact with us so they can distract the child just long enough for us to squeeze out the door.

I hate daycare.

Dads don't understand this.  My husband would probably shut himself in his office all day, lock the door, and vomit into his wastebasket for the rest of the morning if he had to be the one to drop the baby at daycare.  It is a horrible, horrible, horrible thing to have to witness.  It burns the retina and scars the soul.  It goes against everything we, as parents, are supposed to feel.

Parental Rules.

Rule number one:  Do not leave your children with strangers.  Okay, we think.  We can get around this because, technically, they're no longer strangers.  I'm paying them, so they actually work for me.  Yeah.  They work for me.  It's like a nanny, really.  I like that.  A nanny.  I'll have to use that next time.

Rule number two:  Do not do anything to purposely make your child scared or sad.  Okay, double whammy here.  She said scared AND sad.  Well, how is my child going to react when they reach kindergarten if I don't start leaving them with strangers--errr, I mean with the nanny--now?  Yes, that's right.  I'm just prepping him for adulthood.  That's what I'm doing.  Just getting him ready for the ol' kindergarten.

Rule number three:  Be sure your baby gets the proper amount of rest for his/her growing body.  Wow, we marvel while reading the daily report.  The baby only took a 15 minute nap today?  Ouch.  Well, I guess he's going to sleep good tonight then, right?  Sure, he's probably tired as all get-out.  Heck yes, he's probably feeling miserable in his drunken stupor.  But they're probably doing me a favor with the whole nap thing.  Surely it can't be too loud or uncomfortable for him to rest, can it?  No, that can't be it.  It's normal.  Kids at daycare do this all the time, the whole "not-sleeping" thing.  Surely it's okay.

Rule number four:  Keep your children away from children that have green snot running down their face.  This one is tricky.  Someone told me that daycare is going to build up his immunity.  Didn't I hear that somewhere?  So again, I'm really doing him a FAVOR by having him sick a lot.  Whew.  Everything is working in my favor.  And if Advil and Tylenol become my son's favorite midnight snack?  Well, at least I'm helping the economy.

Sixteen years from now, I'm going to be sitting in the bleachers listening to the football scouts talking about my son, and I just know one of them will say, "Wow!  Look at the immune system on that one!"  I'll beam, my husband will wipe away a tear while mouthing, "That's my boy," someone will cue the music, and we'll all live happily ever after.

There.  That's daycare.  In a nutshell.

I hate it.  I hate it, and I hate pretending that I like it, I hate the fact that other parents probably hate it but pretend like they like it too so it doesn't rip their heart straight out of their chest each time they drop their child off.  I would like to see Daycare Support Groups pop up, preferably right around the corner from the daycare, where parents can meet up, sob, drink coffee, and share each other's runny noses.

We're on the cusp of switching daycare centers.  We're trying a different place.  New, state-of-the-art playground equipment.  A toddler curriculum.  Best part?  VIDEO CAMERAS IN EVERY ROOM SO THE PARENTS CAN TUNE IN AND WATCH ANYTIME THEY WANT.

Thinking of your wee one?  Just log in and see how much fun they're having!

Pretty clever, Daycare.  Pretty clever.

Til next time,