I make plans for daycare. We wander over, we check it out. The daughter of a friend, a little sprite of a girl I’ve known since she was days old, sprints toward me and hugs me tightly. She used to be afraid, anxious and quiet. She grins up at me as she’s wrapped around my butt, and the smile pulls at her face. I look to the woman who runs the center and she smiles softly, tells me “she’s one of our favorites around here” and I can tell she really means it.
I’ve always been slightly terrified of child care, worried that children will either shrivel up into small tiny Watchers or become engulfed in the who’s it/what’s it of any social group, tethered by stuff and shoes and the lack of it. I’ve stared at it, wondering when parents got the chance to know their children. Is it possible when you really only see them on the weekend, or for a few hours here and there through the week? Do they carry your rules and morals with them?
Do they carry your voice?
But here we are. We walked through the back field, Vivian marvelling at the diving boards, Rosalyn gasping at the jungle gym, their mother quietly noting the older well kept neighbourhood. We circled the grey-brown building, yanked at the heavy door.
They have bingo on Monday’s. The old caretaker, gentle and joking, immediately reminded us all of my father. Suddenly, daycare felt more like home than we expected.
My children have never known institutional care. They are in school, and at 6 and 7.5, have only ever had family or friends to care for them. For the past few years, my father has filled this role, and frankly, it’s not working.
Grandpas and rules? They don’t mix. Dinner is not Lucky Charms. School clothes are not pajamas. Granted, these aren’t things that are going to scar a child for life, but they aren’t my expectation for their rearing. But how do I demand, whn I am never there? How to I enforce when I cannot be there to do so?
And to be honest, I want my house back. I want a silent building when everyone is away, I want no humming, I want the right to leave my fucking dishes on the counter if I damn well please. I pay the mortgage. I keep the heat on. But finding your balance when the live in help that’s saving you hundreds a month is your father?
Fucking hell it sucks. It’s like high school but with even more confusion, and damn it I’m kinda glad to see him go and know that I’ll have a few hours a day at home, between shifts, where NO ONE will be humming, singing, dropping things, smoking or otherwise just “BE THERE”
My children get outings to museums and water parks. I get the seemingly forbidden knowledge of a quiet house I can clean up in peace while listening to Made out of Babies. Loudly, with no complaints or whining.
So sure, I’ll be broke. Sure, I will rarely see my kids. But I will have at least some of the silence I have been so sorely craving these past few months.
I’ve never done care, and so I ask-what should I be ready for? Tantrums? Crying? Being thought “boring” because I don’t do the fun things they do there? Extra acting out because they don’t see me? We’re getting to the age where Mom isn’t cool, but we aren’t quite there. Vivian teeters on the brink of it, scared and looking back, but ready. Ros would crawl back IN the womb if possible.
So I’m nervous for them. I’ve been so lucky to do this with only friends and family. But I think it’s time.