The Reality of Daycare

Henry was three months old when he first started going to daycare.  It was agony, especially in the first couple of weeks.  I was a mess.  A ball of nerves.  I was convinced that they were letting him lay on a cold floor, screaming in pain and hunger, while the teachers were standing outside smoking and laughing and basically encouraging a Thunderdome inside between the kids.  It's what the media lead me to believe.  Daycare is a bad place for kids and only parents who don't really love their kids send them there.

The reality of daycare looks quite different.  Or, at least, the one that Henry goes to.

Each morning we use our special code to get into a locked front door.  We sign in with a thumbprint and then head to his room to hang up his coat and hat.  And then we go back down to the room where everyone gathers in the morning before they all separate out into their own age groups in different rooms.  He sees his friends and after a quick hug and kiss for me, goes running to play.

On one particular day, we go back to daycare after Henry has been out sick for a week.  The minute I open up the door, one of the teachers (who doesn't directly teach Henry yet) says, "Henry! Where have you been?!  I missed you!"  He goes running to her and she scoops him up in a hug and kisses his head.  It's in that moment that my heart bursts because I know that he is truly loved and cared for here.  I smile and quietly back out of the room and text my husband as soon as I get into the car to let him know what just happened.  He's as relieved as I am.

Just last night I got a Facebook Message from one of Henry's direct teachers.  It's the picture above.  She explains to me that they were learning what happens when clouds fill up with rain and she was so impressed by how well he did with the activity.  This message stops me for a second because I am truly impressed, yet again, at what he is learning at daycare.  I thought he might learn to count to ten, learn how to say his ABC's, and have a smattering of songs that he could recite.  Instead he counts to 30, knows the days of the week, is learning to recognize letters and numbers, can talk to me about carnivores and herbivores, knows what happens when rain comes, and so much more than I can remember.  

The point is, he is actually LEARNING at daycare.  He's learning more than I recognized that he was capable of learning.  To me he's "only three", but to daycare he's just "three" and that means he is smarter than I've given him credit for.  And they take advantage of that and really teach him.  I can't help but wonder what he would've learned by now had he been at home with me, the way I wanted him to be.  I can guarantee it wouldn't be this much.

From the beginning of his time at daycare, I've been immensely impressed with the care that they put into their kids.  The genuine warmth from the women who work there, the curriculum's that they learn from, the willingness to go above and beyond to allay my fears.  In the beginning, his teachers would text me daily pictures to calm me at work and let me know that Henry was doing just fine.  And even now, if I'm having a bad day, I can text the daycare manager and ask her to sneak me a picture if she has time.  

I've dropped in from time to time if I've forgotten to bring something, or if I happen to be in the area and just need a hug.  And every single time I wonder what I'll walk into - but it's always the same thing.  Kids playing and laughing and learning.  As a parent, it's such a relief to know that when I drop him off in the morning he is going to have a day filled with fun, learning, and most importantly, be surrounded by people who truly care for him.