We started looking into daycare options two months before I had to return to work last fall. I did a lot of research on the Internet of local options. For the most part we were looking for a provider that would give Kaylee a nurturing environment for her to grow up in. That included little to no tv time, opportunities to learn new things, consistent discipline, and some individualized attention when she needed it. We visited a few places and settled on a home daycare near work that seemed to fit everything we were looking for. The woman who runs it was going back to school to get a degree in early childhood education, has three boys of her own, and has been happily married for several years. Kaylee would be one of two infants out of 10 kids, there was an aid to help watch everyone, tv was limited to an hour before school, and we could bring her in the afternoons and pay a reduced rate for part-time care. Peachy-keen!
Once we actually started things went downhill quickly. I’ll start by saying that at no time did we ever feel that Kaylee was in danger. In fact she was often all smiles as soon we walked through the door; excited to see the provider and the other kids every day. Had we ever suspected abuse or negligence we would have pulled her out right away. There were just a series of disappointments over the past five months that led us to the decision to leave before Kaylee felt the growing tension.
It began to realize that the things we not quite right a few weeks into our contract when we were accused of late and missing payments as a ploy to encourage us to use the new online pay system she set up. This was easily remedied by presenting her with copies of our bank statements, but remained a constant issue throughout our time there and made me hyper paranoid that something bad was heading our way. I obsessed over every detail of our time and payment schedules and kept a calendar and photocopies of all our checks along with when they were cashed in case we ended up in a court battle with her down the road.
She also took on several more children as the weeks went on. By the time we left Kaylee was one of four infants and every time I picked her up it seemed like there were new faces. Sometimes the living room was so packed with kids it looked more like a Chuck E Cheese game room than a home. The tv was also on a lot more than we were led to believe and her children were undisciplined to an extent I have never seen before. The oldest, at eight years old, was constantly yelling at her, throwing tantrums, and calling her names, to which she did nothing. The younger two were starting to show signs of similar rebellion as well. Definitely not the example of family life I wanted Kaylee growing up around. The biggest issue I had though was that I never saw any of the kids smiling and having fun. They were always mopey and quiet. I was worried that Kaylee, who had always been a happy baby, might one day be that way too. The final blow came during tax time when we found out that because our daycare isn’t licensed we can’t claim the expense on our taxes.
Then, as if the stars were shining on us, three months ago I got a call that the day care where I initially wanted to take Kaylee finally had an opening. We went for an interview and really liked the provider, Melissa, who has a license, a degree in early child-hood education and social work. She also serves all organic food, has a nice yard, and, only 6 kids that she cares for. Plus she’s still close to work for us. It seemed like fate, although just so that we didn’t feel we were jumping into anything, we also toured the local Goddard school – which was lovely and heartbreakingly over-priced. So, the decision was made, and although I’m going into this slightly apprehensive based on our last experience, I’m hopeful that Melissa really does turn out to be as awesome as she seems. Kaylee will start there in August and I am looking forward to it. I already have plans to stop off at the Wednesday evening farmer’s market which is right down the street from her sitter’s house. We’ll be able to meet up with Scott for his dinner break and have some family time together during a week night!
In the mean-time we hired a friend’s daughter to stay with Kaylee over the summer while she is on break. It works out for everyone in that Kaylee gets some much-needed individualized attention, we don’t have to haul Kaylee around as much, and Libby has something to do in the afternoons that also earns her some cash. After three weeks together, Kaylee just adores Libby. We’re hoping to keep her on as our regular sitter once she goes back to school so we can actually go on dates once in a while again too.
Hooray for happy endings, and hopefully, beginnings as well…