There are a few stories I really don’t like to retell. One of them is that time I got Norovirus one hour into a 13 hour flight from China. The other is the time our baby got kicked out of daycare. Lucky for you, I’m still not ready to talk about that nasty stomach bug that almost had me in an isolation room upon landing (the flight attendant that nursed me back to health for 12 hours probably isn’t ready to talk about it either!). But I am ready to talk about daycare and why I wasn’t a fan of it at first, but am now ready to embrace it again, even though our first experience left us weary.
When my first born was a baby he stayed home with my mom. I was a single mom and we lived with my parents, so the logistics just seemed to work out pretty well. I never had to consider daycare or having my son go with someone outside of the family. In fact, he never was with a non-family member until he started preschool around age four. I was lucky and so was he. I always knew this.
When our second child was born, we knew we wanted my mom to watch him as well. Our oldest was in elementary school and we hoped our new little guy could have a similar experience as his big brother did and get to spend lots of time with grandma. However, the logistics of this were a bit more complicated than they were when big brother and I lived with grandma and grandpa. Grandma lived in another town and we didn’t have the means to get him to her everyday.
So, we found a friend to watch him a few days a week and grandma would watch him the other days. Lucky us! Fast forward to my first day back at work and the other caregiver backed out, leaving us to scramble for new options. Lovely-almost-caregiver that backed out did help us find a small in-home baby daycare to fill in her days. This was a scary option, but a split between grandma-time and being-around-other-babies-time seemed like an option we were willing to try. After all, I had just returned to work from maternity leave and our options were slim!
We were happy with the little baby daycare and our son seemed to adapt well. I loved picking him up and hearing about all the things he did that day. We were starting to recognize him as the extrovert of the family, so we loved that he got to socialize with other babies a couple of times a week. There was no better feeling than picking my baby up at the end of the day knowing he was well loved while I was away.
Then, almost out of nowhere, the comments began.
“He just won’t stop crying when we walk away from him.”
“He’s mad when he sees us go to other babies.”
“He always cries when we set him down.”
“It was another bad day for him.”
If you want to crush a working mom’s spirit, tell her these things when she goes to pick up her sweet baby at the end of a long day at work. These conversations were getting harder and harder for me, and I was beginning to worry that one day they’d just tell me he wasn’t welcome anymore. I could tell caring for him was becoming stressful and all the red flags in my mommy gut started going off.
Then, he had a good day.
I was grateful we made it through. Until…
One day I walked in and they said, “It was another hard day…uh…well…there’s a letter in his car seat explaining it all.”
I buckled my giggly little “trouble maker” into his car seat, and with a mix of joy in finally having him in my arms at the end of a long day and fear of what this letter said, I went to the car and began reading it.
It said exactly what I feared. They might has well have written it on a giant red flag. In short, the daycare once had a child that showed similar behaviors as our son and they feared his bad days would continue. They said our son caused otherwise happy children to feel stressed and scared when he was at daycare. They would like him to end his time at their daycare “earlier than planned.”
Our baby got kicked out of daycare.
Hearing that they saw him as the cause of other children’s stress was the hard part. The other hard part was knowing that while I worked long hours missing my baby and wanting to be with him, someone else was asking that they no longer spend time with him. I felt broken.
Their loss, right? We decided he would go to daycare two more times and then we’d have to figure something else out…for the second time that year. We didn’t want to end his time there on a bad note, after all, they did love our boy for quite some time and we know they did the best they could.
His last two days there were Beautiful with a capital B. He was a champ. He was happy. He didn’t cry like before and he didn’t “stress the other kids out.” And most importantly, he caused those daycare providers to question if they made the right choice in asking our sweet boy to leave. What more could we ask for?
Oh! And guess what happened the night before those last two days at daycare? Our baby cut a tooth. In the end, our baby got kicked out of daycare for being a very, very sad teether.
So, we had every reason to not want to send our son to daycare again and my anxiety about doing so went through the roof for quite a while. However, being the extrovert of the family, we knew our son would be happiest with lots of other kids. We also knew we didn’t have too many other options. And while I did think a larger center would be best for him because perhaps there’d be more security in him staying there and not getting kicked out (I’m not sure if this is true at all), we found a lovely in-home daycare around the corner from our house. He now spends his days with a more than lovely couple that loves our boy like family and loves to tell us how great he does each day.
And as we know, you can’t get kicked out of the family!