Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Daycare drama

Ugh. Where to start. I put Meg and Andy in the same daycare last week. It's one friends have gone to for years so it came recommended. It had the added advantage of being close by and being a place that would accommodate both kids.

When Andy was a baby, he went to a in-home daycare, basically a babysitter that watches several kids out of her home. I found her through an agency that regulates these types of daycares locally and I liked what I saw. It wasn't perfect, but she was nice, kind and good to Andy. The thing I didn't like about it was that it was out of a home, and thus I couldn't pop in at a moment's notice without barging through the door to really to see what was happening. I felt like I didn't really know what he did all day and that worried me, but every day, he came home happy and fed.

The good part was as he got older, we never had an issue of separation anxiety. He was always happy to see her, which made it easier for me (turns out, in many ways this is all about ME). I still went through periods of worrying (I like to worry, it turns out), but generally it was a good experience. After two years, the time came when I was ready for him to have more of a preschool experience with other kids, art projects, etc. so we switched shortly after his second birthday.

When looking for care for Meg, I was really focusing on something that would have both kids. That was mostly for my convenience, but I liked the idea that he could tell me what she couldn't. Turns out in a center, the classes don't mingle at all so they never saw each other. It also turns out in a room full of babies, someone is always crying, often lots of someones. And with so many babies, they had to leave the lights on. It seemed Meg was coming home tired from not napping all day. The final straw was when I went in Monday and she was crying, well, wailing. She had actually gotten past protest crying, past mad crying to that sad exhausted crying. To be fair, she had spit up her entire lunch and seemed to have a tummy ache, but the chaos that was in there made me very uncomfortable. I panicked. I sat with her for about 20 minutes calming her down and I watched the room. I didn't like it any better as I sat. She seemed exhausted so I took her home. And cried. A lot.

I talked to my friends, I talked to Bjorn, I talked to my boss, I talked to my family and after obsessing for two days, I decided to take her out of there. It's probably fine, but at the end of the day, I decided that my gut was telling me it wasn't right for us and I'm going to try to listen to it.

I'm now back to researching in-home providers, that's right, exactly what I said I didn't want. The advantages I'm finding are the one caregiver aspect, the home setting, the idea that someone might love my baby close to as much as I do. The downside, of course, is there's less oversight and it involves trusting one person with my precious baby. I know, obsess much?

After calling around, I found a nice woman in my neighborhood (conveniently located between Andy's school and home) who is licensed, caring, has a nice family and a clean home. It felt more like if I was leaving Meg at my sister's house than an institution. She listened to me when we talked about what I'd like for Meg and she comforted my neuroses and was nice when I teared up a little (I know, I'm a HUGE dork, but that's not really a surprise). We're trying it out tomorrow to see if we like each other.

I swear, this parenting shit is hard. I just want their to be a right answer, you know, rather than a ton of possible answers, all of which are kind of right and you have to figure out the one that's most right. It's like the reason I don't like crossword puzzles -- it's not like a true/false statement, rather the question is, "Name a Kentucky Derby winner" and you have to find the one that's 16 letters rather than just naming the 2008 winner.


  1. Laura9:15 PM

    I am so sorry this all happened. We pulled Owen out of the first place we tried here because of the same issue-lights on=no nap. If you ever go for a center again, try to find one where they have the kids on the same schedule. The lights go out, they all nap at once, and the lights don't come back on until everyone is up. It ROCKS.

  2. Oh Katherine. Mary is in a place only cuz the ratio is 3 to 1 and the lead caregiver is AWESOME. If somebody is tired, the lights go out. they just do. the other kids keep playing, (plenty of light from hall and lightly curtained windows) but definitely subdued. It doesn't faze Mary to play in dimmer light for a bit. If somebody gets fussy, a teacher from another room steps in, takes out a child (fussy one or another) and plays with them with other kids in their room. works like a charm. Marys teacher is a DREAM. Calm, knows just about everything to calm a child and soothe a child. I have never seen her lose it. There are so many places that have rules (no lights out? ever? OUCH) that freak me out. If a child is tired, great. there is also a seperate sleeping room with windows (one always open) to the play room. No wonder you cried. I would have too. BIG time. NOthing is more important than making sure you and Meg are BOTH comfortable where you are at. Oh yea, Mary's is also a co-op, so I get to work in her room once every two weeks. I like it. I learn from it. (still don't have this parenting thing down, darn it!)

    Good luck! I have faith. The preschool where Mary and George are at has undergone a lot of change lately (director of 23 years left for another preschool) and I OBSESSED. At this exact moment, George is enrolled in two preschools for the fall and promised in two more. I will choose when the time comes.... obsess? yes. If you don't obsess for your kids, who will?

    I look forward to hearing how tomorrow goes.

  3. I have no doubt that you did the right thing. It's important to trust your instincts. And it's wonderful that you found a good place for Meg.

  4. Wow Katherine, what a week. I think nearly every working mother has had at least one (or in my case several) of these experiences. I actually had what I now believe to be a certifiably insane woman watching both the boys at home in DC for a few weeks before she finally went off the deep end - - luckily it wasn't when she was in charge of the boys. But who knows what went on for the few weeks she was with us at home? The boys have no permanent scars, although Henry does have a couple of weird tics (just joshin). The worst thing about it is that the mom feelings are compounded a million times by your run 'o the mill guilt over being a working mom. So pretty much you just feel like crap over the whole thing. But, all is well. You found a new place that you will try - - and if that doesn't work out, there are other options and choices. It just means you need to try a few things until it works for you (and it is, to a certain degree, all about you). As you found out with Andy, once you find the solution, life is good. I wish that our nanny from DC (not the nutso-crazy one) was available, but she's not in the business anymore. She has a couple of kids of her own now. But, if it comes to it, I can always call her and see if she can personally recommend anyone.

    Love to all,