July 16, 2010

The Daycare Hunt

(I have to say that my mom cautioned me not to put this up on my blog, in the event that one of the women mentioned might happen upon it and become offended. But, I'm doing it anyway because A) if they DO see it, maybe they will realize the ridiculousness of their choice of profession and B) because I'm a rebel.)

I'm returning to work in T-minus one month and counting. And since my daughter isn't nearly old enough to hold down the fort alone, we decided that some proper childcare was in order. I had the names of, like, two whole daycares - no big deal, right?

Well, first of all, I drastically underestimated my mom paranoia. The mere thought of leaving my children with a stranger sent me into near convulsions. What if they were the kind of creep that ends up on Dateline? What if they yelled at my kids and forced them to sit in a corner all day? What if....what if....they....MADE THEM EAT LUNCHABLES? :shudders: And after my first three encounters with "daycare providers", I realized that this task was a little like swimming across the Atlantic Ocean, except without a compass or nose plugs.

I was psyched about my first daycare interview. She lived no more than five blocks from me and seemed very nice on the phone. Because I was a newbie with the whole process, I opted not to bring the kids with me. Turns out, that was an EXCELLENT idea. Why? Well, for starters, I'm not sure that two more kids would have fit into her house. The entire space was the size of a public restroom, except not as clean. Her carpet could have passed for camoflauge thanks to the grey and green stains all over, and there was a cat on the sofa that was missing quite a large amount of fur above her tail. And twice, in the middle of her sentence, the woman belched without pausing OR excusing herself. Did I mention that I had to leave a breadcrumb trail through her front lawn just to find my way back to the car? I don't think it had seen a lawnmower in over three years. Next...

The following day, I catch wind of a daycare that was very focused on arts and crafts. Being a somewhat artsy person myself, I thought that sounded like a swell concept! So I picked up the phone and dialed. That was my first mistake. Twenty six minutes into the call - TWENTY SIX MINUTES - I had still not found out any information about this particular daycare. I sure heard a lot about homeopathic cancer remedies, and pottery, and Cocker Spaniels, though. I humored her until she got to the part about how in the past ten years, she had taken in a dozen homeless people. I'm definitely no expert, but I have a feeling that's the type of volunteer work that should be left to someone who does not also take in small children. Seems like a bad combo, is all I'm sayin'. So, I pretended like we lost our connection and hung up on her. Tactful? No. Successful? No. She emailed me twice and called me six more times, once leaving a message that consisted of a story about how she was helping a friend of hers move because she was being beaten by her landlord, and how landlord these days are nuts. Pot, meet kettle. I'm sure she would have gone on, but thankfully my voicemail cut her off. Next...

Another day, another interview. This one I had high hopes for. The house was nice, the yard was nice, there were no homeless people camping on their porch - so far, so good. The woman who ran the daycare was extremely nice, and I was able to look past her bleached 80's wave and see that she probably was a very good caregiver. Why did she have to go and ruin it? A conversation cropped up in which she mentioned that she had to drive two children home in the afternoon, which would require taking my kids with. I wouldn't have necessarily discounted her with that, however then she adds in that "there might be the occasional run to the grocery store too". FLAG. No thanks. I don't get to go to the store in the middle of my work shift, neither should you. Next...

At this point, I only had about one good prospect after a list of about 57. Hopelessness was starting to creep in, and I knew with only three more scheduled interviews the quality really had to pick up FAST or I'd be up the creek without a paddle. Thankfully, that's where Miss B comes in. I loved this place the moment I walked in, and not just because the carpet was all one color. I loved it because the kids had their names on their spots at the table. I loved it because there was no TV in sight. I loved it because two adorable kids were squished onto a ridiculously tiny sofa listening to her assistant read them a book. I loved it because it was what I had envisioned all along. Finally!

Despite the fact that I still had two more interviews, I called Miss B back a half hour after our visit and reserved our spots. I wasn't willing to risk losing out on this and having to settle for a cat with mange. And I hope, when the time comes, that my kids will feel comfortable and happy there and thus put my worried heart at ease.

3 comments:

  1. Glad you found such a great daycare provider. And one who does NOT babysit the homeless!

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  2. Omg, you are a trooper! Seriously? Who takes in homeless people and people's children? That crap should be reported.

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  3. What a daunting process isn't it? We recently started at a new center and 9 days into it, my son was bitten for his 8th time. Why didn't I leave after the 2nd or maybe 3rd bite--because the next option was so expensive. After the 9th bite (none serious except the last one broke skin) we enrolled in the expensive daycare. I'm so happy we did! They love it, I love it, they love us. So now, we just don't eat out as often or buy as many name brand groceries (I though have that lady of yours do MY shopping) but it worked out.
    If you feel great about it, your kids will love it! Keep informed, keep your eyes peeled and ask lots of questions about their day and you'll feel like you WERE there with them : )

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