Daycare Dilemma

I decided to put Fia into daycare. It lasted exactly one hour.  (For those who follow my blog, I did this a few weeks before I wrote the Sitter Chronicles).

I had this idea that she’d get more interaction, have structure, and maybe even learn to nap in a group setting (she currently naps in the stroller in our downstairs bathroom). I pictured her sitting at a table with other tots, drawing, or sitting in circle time, listening. She already plays with other kids her age, but it’s without any sort of routine.  And I keep hearing how good it is for kids to have a routine.

Fia and friends

I found a daycare in our neighborhood that allows part time. The ratio is 4:1. Seems reasonable. I enrolled her for two afternoons a week.

The “transition” started a few days before. First day: 1 hour with me there. 2nd day: 1 hour, but with me for only 15 minutes. 3rd day: I disappear for the hour.

I went the first day and that was it. Here’s why:

It’s in the bottom of a brownstone/townhouse that probably dates back 100 years. It feels dark and dingy. I had toured it a couple months back, but after hearing high praise from my pediatrician and a few neighbors, I must have blocked out the appearance. After all, a lot of places in this city are run down. It doesn’t mean they’re not good, safe or clean.

The age range is 12 months-2.5 years. Some of the older kids are waiting to get into the next level of daycare. But there’s a waiting list so a few are a bit older. Fia would be the youngest and definitely the smallest.

When I walked in, Fia bounded over to some toys and began licking them. At 19 months, she is still like a dog with a chew toy. A caregiver saw me observing all this and assured me they wash the ones the kids put in their mouths. But with 12 kids running around throwing various things, I would think it’s impossible to keep track. But germs are good, right?

While Fia played, I was handed some paperwork to fill out. One was a permission slip to take her on field trips.

I instantly felt my heart palpitate. I probably sound irrational (wouldn’t be the first time). And it’s not like I keep her locked up at home. But going somewhere in a group? Of 12? I asked what kind of field trips.

“Just to the park and the playgrounds with sprinklers.”

These are the same playgrounds I often frequent with Fia. Even when it’s just me I have a hard time keeping up with her. They aren’t enclosed and there is a vast 3.5 mile park just outside the non-existent fences. How would one person watch 4 at a time?

“Wow, you can keep track of all the kids?” I asked.

“Of course. Plus, we put them all in these yellow t-shirts.”

That sounded sensible, but I had to ask, (pretending to joke): ”Have you lost any kids yet?”

“Not yet!” she replied smiling.

These women were really nice and seemed completely professional. But I instantly pictured myself standing behind a tree at Prospect Park, spying on my child, making sure she didn’t take off. In the summer the playgrounds are mayhem with all the camps and kids out of school. It just felt wrong. Especially since it’s not fully enclosed/contained.

As I handed over the paperwork, I saw one of the older boys running in a circle around the room. He didn’t see Fia, banged into her, and she went flying–and crying. After a few minutes she was absolutely fine. But my heart was feeling more unsure by the minute. And my normally dry palms were wet with sweat.

At dinner Phil and I talked about it. He admitted that he, too, had reservations. And he had never even seen the place.

The next morning, she woke up with the 2nd fever she’s ever had. It was probably just coincidence, but I couldn’t shrug off my mom instinct on this one.

I told them I was going to postpone. They were very cordial about it. In this neighborhood there is always a list of kids waiting for daycare. It should go to someone less paranoid and neurotic and perhaps one whose baby is a little bigger.

For now, I’ll forgo routine for peace of mind. She has her whole life to get on a schedule. And I have the rest of my life to try and curb my fears. Or stock up on a lot of anti-anxiety drugs.

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  1. by Leslie

    On July 8, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    I feel this way about my church “nursery” which is a mini-day care while we’re at church. My son surprises me with the dangerous situations he can often put himself in (always bolting off when outside, putting large amounts of food and objects in his mouth and his falls he takes while running around) all normal child behavior, but I cringe thinking that one of the “teachers” will be busy with the other kids and miss what’s happening with my child.

  2. by Clifton Rekus

    On November 11, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Katy Perry is about to set a new record previously held by Michael Jackson. If she manages to secure number one spot in the US singles chart she will become the first artist to have five number one singles from one album. Katy Perry is actually about to set an important new record up until recently held by Michael Jackson.He So long as she manages to get number 1 place in the United states of america singles chart she would certainly develop into the first musician and performer to feature 5 number 1 singles received from one album.