Well yesterday was Hazels first day at day care, to say it was the easiest day would be a lie. I have been back at work for just over a month now and have been leaving her with friends and family. She has been doing great, some minor fusses in the morning when I drop her off but overall has been having a great time. Today was different, today I was dropping my child off at a business. A place where I have been a couple of times on walk throughs to see how it was being set up and to meet the staff. I have no personal connection with these people, in one sense I was dropping my child off with complete strangers, hoping and trusting that they would give her the love and care she receives at home.
As I pulled into the parking lot today I noticed a mom get into her car and immediately throw her head into her hands and start to sob. I felt horrible for her, I wanted to run over and knock on her door and give her a hug and let her know she wasn’t alone and everything was going to be ok. I told myself today that I wouldn’t cry when I dropped her off, I knew she was going to be ok. The center is great, the staff is great, and she’s very independent so I have little worries for her. But I still cried. I didn’t cry about leaving her, I cried because I was so frustrated with how she and I were treated this morning when I went to drop her off. I wish I left crying because I was sad to leave my child in the hands of strangers and not because I was worried my child wouldn’t be a priority.
We arrived at the center just after 8am this morning, a lot later than we normally will be showing up, but as I was just getting over a stomach bug I took the day to rest some more, this also allowed us to not be rushed for our first day of daycare. When we went to sign into our room it was discovered that we were not on the sign in list, no big deal they added our name to the bottom and I signed her in. I thought it was a bit weird that we were missed but not the end of the world, I pointed to the large pile of files asking if we at least had a file but no one seemed to care. At this point I would have liked / hoped to talk to one of the staff about where to put her belongings and quickly go over her schedule. Not what happened, the staff member I was dealing with turned to check in another child that had arrived while the remaining 3 continued to dot on the screaming children, leaving me and Hazel standing aimlessly in the room. They then proceeded to go over the next child’s file with the father and discuss his schedule while I attempted to discuss Hazel’s schedule with another employee. When I tried to address the time at which she would need a bottle the employee looked at the clock and simply rolled her eyes, as if there was no way that was happening and the screaming child in her hand was more of a priority. At this point I was beyond frustrated, I quietly slipped out of the room, leaving my child to wander a room of screaming children and disorganized staff and made my way to the entrance. By now I was in tears, I was both confused and questioning my decision. Why were we not greeted and checked in the same way as the little boy behind us? Did I put my child in the right center? Will they pay attention to her if she’s not screaming or will they only focusing on the unhappy kids all day?
I sat down with the Director and the Office Manager and I explained my concerns. I completely understand that today was day one for everybody, but that doesn’t excuse the way they should be treating everyone. It was purely chaotic in that room and it didn’t seem like one person had any control over it. Thankfully the office manager was willing to go over Hazel’s schedule with me and found her file (in that large stack I had pointed out) and went over the last few forms I needed to fill out. She also took the time to ask me if Hazel had any food allergies, something that no one in her room asked me about. Which makes me think if they hadn’t pulled out her file when I was in the room, do you think they would have checked it before feeding her?
I overheard the director speaking to the staff about my concerns as I was leaving, which I think helped them put focus to their morning. That they needed to take a step back and take a couple of minutes with each parent to go over their child’s routine. That we weren’t just dropping off our dry cleaning and hoping it comes back at the end of the day. But that we are dropping off a part of our selves, something that we took 9 months to grow, loving it more than we could ever imagine, long before we heard its first little heart beat. So to the mom in the car cry this morning, I get it, I’m with you every second of the way, sometimes we just need a moment or two to let it all out.