I’m astounded when I am actually stricken with the urge to blog about parenting, because it is a tedious, tedious thing from which one often tries to escape into the bottle… or, I don’t know… reading? What do non-drinkers escape with?
Anyway, Daycare is a topic so important and oft-discussed in our household that I’m comfortable with capitalizing it. The pros and cons and benefits and detriments and admissions of guilt and realizations of joy and on and on have been shared and debated ad nauseum (yet, it’s a topic we never truly tire of).
To make a long story short: we love daycare (and not just for the selfish reasons).
When we first were about to have parenthood thrust upon us , I remember discussing the idea of daycare with her father. He’d share some fact about what percentage of children raised without their mother (he’s specific about it being a mother, not a parent) are likely to maim and murder and skin squirrels alive and whatnot.
And this on top of the fact that we already felt awful for leaving him with strangers and snotty children all day; we didn’t need further reason to feel like we were royally fucking up our son’s development at three months old.
We felt some pretty sincere guilt.
Even though daycare was terribly expensive ($1200 / month at our first experience), it still wasn’t equivalent to either of our annual income. Even for the mathematically challenged, we quickly realized that daycare was a necessity. It HAD to happen. Flash forward to realizing that this particular daycare sucked mega-ass, finding an in-home daycare, and realizing our two-year-old is probably further developed than we ever could have caused him to be.
Daycare fucking rocks.
- Physical Health
I’ll start with the obvious and selfish reason first. Garrett is in daycare from 7 a.m. to 5:30 or 6 p.m. I work until 3:00 p.m. Even with a 30-minute commute, that gives me about two hours to do the dishes or laundry, run errands, or, dare I say it, drink a beer and talk with my wife for an hour before we go back to never seeing each other.
Having young kids is hard.
Staying sane enough to, say, not throw them out of a moving vehicle (no offense, kids), is pretty important for their early childhood development, too.
All we had to do was meet a kid who had never been in daycare and was barely used to interacting with other children. He was mean. He was selfish. He grabbed toys away from our son and hit without remorse or understanding of consequence.
He was a nasty, little mothersucker (get it?!?).
I can’t totally credit daycare with Garrett’s ability to share or be compassionate (we drive that point home plenty), but we can credit them with his ability to functionally interact with other kids, resolve disputes on his own and without resorting to tattling, and understand that he isn’t the only human being on the planet.
While at his first daycare experience, Garrett was exposed to many, many other disgusting children. He got sick a lot. We both missed a lot of work (partly because the daycare operator was a lousy shithead… that’s for another time).
However, at this point in time, Garrett’s immune system is not unlike a young Arnold Schwarzenneger circa 1984. It’s ripped and cocky and smokes a joint while telling your rival it’s about to have a nice, home-cooked meal with their mother.
He also gets more exercise than one parent could allow while also watching an infant. It just wouldn’t happen. And we don’t naturally run around like crazy, little bastards in the way that his peers do. Whenever I pick him up, the back of his neck is hot, he’s out of breath, and he’s smiling like a son of a bitch.
There it is: solid exercise and a boosted immune system.
He loves his friends. He loves his teachers even more (Tippy and Angel). He has genuine relationships with people who love and care about him. When I bring him in late in the morning, and the whole gang is there, and everyone has had enough time to wake up, they swarm around him and yell “GARRETT!” with intense enthusiasm.
He is a happy human being in this place and he is satisfied in a way that no two parents could achieve. Much as I want to be his best friend, I am his father first.
HE LEARNS SHIT! This is no joke. We have come across plenty of examples of knowledge he has gained outside of us. He started referring to Nemo as a clownfish. When he wanted to be that for Halloween, he specifically requested the clownfish costume. A TWO YEAR OLD! He has an intensely extensive vocabulary, speaks relatively fluently, can count beyond 20 (I don’t actually know if that’s impressive), can identify shapes and colors and letters and numbers. There’s too much to mention. I should also mention that one of his recent lessons is potty training, and THAT is something that mommy and daddy haven’t done the best job of executing.
Seriously, I’ll feel bad that I didn’t potty train him myself and that Tippy and Angel had to do the work, but how fucking awesome is a daycare that potty trains your child for you!!
Maybe what I’m trying to say here is that I’m desperately proud of my son, even if he is a result of his parents love and education, his daycare’s experiential learning and socialization, and the entire village of grandparents and strangers and friends and other humans who generally contribute to his development…
… but I’m desperately proud of my son, two-year-old as he may be. He’s goofy and fun and loving and compassionate and smart and perseverant.
Also, daycare is totally fucking worth it. Go have a beer.
Even if you can afford to stay home and raise them yourself, you might be robbing them of precious social interaction.
All I’m saying is, you have permission to quit feeling guilt about sticking them somewhere else, as long as it’s a wholesome and nurturing experience.