Every morning at 6:45 I take my two kids into daycare. Truman gets dropped off at the central indoor jungle gym; a huge play yard in the middle of the building where he plays with the other early kids until the teachers divide them into their classes to go to breakfast. After I kiss him good-bye, I head to the infant room with Grant, where I unload his bag, put his milk cooler and extra clothes in his cubby. I take him out of his car seat and put the seat in the storage room. I nurse him until he’s full and ask Miss Shelly* where she would like me to put him down. While I’m dropping off my kids I’m able to witness other parents doing the same, and there is a very WIDE range of behaviors amongst daycare-using parents. I’m not saying I’m perfect, in fact I’m probably a pain in Miss Shelly’s ass, using her rocking chair and hanging out for extra time in the morning. Exclusively breastfeeding and working is a tricky and delicate balance though, so I can’t do too much about that. I do try my hardest to make my children’s daycare providers’ job as easy as possible, and over the years I’ve noticed that many parents do not. Here is my list of the worst offenders.
1. My Special Snowflake Syndrome
All of us look at our special little snowflakes through rose colored (and somewhat foggy) lenses. We tend to think that our children are smarter, cuter, and more sensitive than all of the other children… in the world, in history. Because of this belief, parents expect daycare teachers to feel the same way. Parents want to know about each and every spit bubble their perfect cherub blows during the day. The idea that someone may not be staring intently at our baby all day in our absence seems to highly offend some of us Mommas (probably some dads too, but I’ve only witnessed this with Moms.) The bad news parents, is that every smile and giggle is not going to be recorded and reported to you on a daily basis. There just isn’t time. The good news, is that neither will every putrid diaper, voluminous spit up or disgusting booger. (Yes, your kid does it too.) They will also probably fail to mention that your kid was
a total jerk very difficult to manage and threw five tantrums today. (Yes, your kid can be a total jerk difficult.)
2. Individualized Attention Seekers
We think our child needs more attention, special attention and individualized attention from the people who are watching them when we can’t. While that would be great to have, the truth is that a daycare facility is not able to do it. They just can’t. I can barely keep my eyes on my own two kids when we are home together. How could anyone expect one person to give a child uninterrupted, one-on-one time with 6 to 10 other kids bouncing around in the same room? If you truly need this type of specialized care, you need to find a nanny.
3. Here, You Do It!
I’ll admit, there have been two or three times that Truman pooped on the way to daycare and I did not have time to change him before I left for work. At those times, I apologized to Miss Molly* and asked if she minded changing him or if I should. Each time she has said “Oh, don’t worry! I don’t mind!” and I’ve thanked her over and over. Because I truly appreciate it and I also know that it sucks for me to bring a poopy kid into her room and say, “Here! you deal with it!” Other parents don’t seem to feel the same. I routinely hear things like, “She hasn’t eaten in four hours, so you’re going to want to feed her right away.” And “I didn’t change him when he woke up this morning so he’ll need to be changed.” Do not just leave your baby in his car seat in the middle of the floor. Miss Molly should not have to unbuckle, unbundle and awkwardly maneuver your baby out of his car seat while taking care of three or four other babies. Let’s all make an effort to bring our kids in as ready for the day as we possibly can. Fed, clean, and clothed. Let’s also place them in the room where ever it is most convenient for the poor soul being bombarded by babies at 7:00 am. Mm-kay?
4. All The Jobs Are Your Job
Do not walk in the door and drop all of your kid’s crap on the floor, or the counter, or where ever you feel like dropping it. Chances are, there is a designated spot for your kid’s crap. Put their crap in that spot! It is NOT the teacher’s job to unpack the bags, make up the crib, put away the car seat and fold the blankets and spare clothing. They have enough to do. If they had to put away every child’s crap, they wouldn’t have time to do anything else… you know, like watch your child!
5. The Crap
While we are on the subject of belongings, can you also take your kid’s crap home with you when you are supposed to? Replace, buy, wash your kid’s crap when needed. There is a reason they ask you to label your kid’s crap, and that is so there is no question about who the crap belongs to. If you bring in a special pink plate to use for snack time and you didn’t write little Jamie’s name on it, do not be surprised when one day it is gone. Chances are it ended up in little Shirley’s cubby and she took that shit home. She is now enjoying Jamie’s special plate, and Jamie is heart broken – and it is all your fault. Your. Fault. Not Miss Lucy’s fault. If you were put in a room with ten individuals who each had ten personal belongings, then they all started running around, and pooping, and crying, throwing their stuff everywhere, would you be able to correctly identify what belongs to each individual? Understand my point?
6. Perfect Protectors
Kids are rough. They play hard, they have big emotions that they usually act on and they move really fast. Please do not freak the hell out if your kid gets a few scrapes and bruises while at daycare. No matter how diligent and careful, daycare providers cannot protect every child from every single danger or disagreement there is. They try to child proof every thing, they are always in close proximity, but they are not super human. Every once in awhile your kid is going to take a spill and get a scuffed up knee. They may also take a toy or two to the face. I was all ruffled up the first time it happened to Truman, but I realized kids are kids and they aren’t equipped with their own plastic bubble or any knowledge of personal space. If two tots are pulling on a toy, one is going to pull harder and get that toy… they will unfortunately get it right between the eyes and subsequently get a bloody nose. You win some, you lose some.
7. Jealous Mamas
I truly believe this is a Mom-only thing. I have heard from a few daycare ladies that they have trouble with Moms who are jealous of the relationship their child has with the teacher. This is insane to me. I have to believe that this stems from guilt Mom is holding on to for having to work instead of staying home with her kids or something; but for what ever reason, it exists. I for one, want my kids to adore the people that take care of them all day. I want them to run to them, I want them to give kisses and hugs. I actually want those ladies to cry when my son ages out of their room and moves to the next. If the provider loves my kid, she is going to take good care of him. If my kid loves the provider, he isn’t going to feel hurt and sad that he can’t spend all day with me. Who doesn’t want their child happy all day? Would you really wish for a provider that shows no affection all day long? No one can replace you Mommy, gain a little self confidence!
Daycare is a necessary part of my life. I would love to stay home with my boys but financially it just doesn’t work for us. Please take a moment to put yourself in your daycare provider’s shoes and know that these people are doing a really hard job for not enough pay. You may not be getting perfect care for your kids but chances are you’re getting excellent care for a pretty low hourly rate. We pay $310 a week for our two boys. While that is a lot of money for us, it breaks down to only $3.26 per hour, per child. We are paying for a woman (or a few women in our case) to feed them their meals, (breakfast, lunch and two snacks are provided for Truman) change their diapers, play with them inside and outside, teach them songs, numbers, and letters, do craft projects, help with potty training, rock them to sleep, wipe their noses, faces, and hands, calm their fears, give them hugs and kisses, as well as keep them safe for the 48 hours a week that I can’t be the one to do it. Seems like a decent deal to me! Please join me in making life a little easier for these people.
* All names have been changed so I don’t get anyone in trouble.