Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Daycare and First Grade

I did a happy jig when I made the last payment to Chi's private school in May. It was one more expense of necessity, but not one I relished in creating. Granted, I want what is best for my children. What parent doesn't? Unfortunately, budget issues keep those grandiose dreams of lavish childhoods for them in serious check.

Yesterday we visited Chi's new elementary school. The facility is a mirror to the elementary school I attended, except it has not been renovated or maintained as well. The playground for recess memories is a series of bars resembling a gymnast's double bar practice arena. There is no slide, no swing set, no jungle gym for those inclined to exercise and amuse themselves during the cherished breaks of the school day. The remainder of the grounds featured a few trailers and a soccer field of sorts. I didn't venture inside to see the actual educational environment, but the exterior tour does not bode well for this mom's psyche.

I also made a journey to tour a potential daycare for Yadon. It's scary to think that in a few weeks he'll be here and in a few more I'll have to entrust his care into someone else while I sit at work with other people's kids. The price of daycare for a newborn is astronomical. Averaging $200 plus a week for basic care in this area, available spots are few and choices are based on a "what wont make my heart tremble every time I leave him here" system. To look at the exteriors of many of these facilities gives one of two impressions: a false sense of security and warmth or a foreboding feeling of despair.

I did my call around to a half dozen centers on Monday, most of which had space in December, but not in November when I have to return to work. Daddy-to-be is a bit shocked at the high costs being quoted by these places - some of which don't do anything special for the kids they are entrusted with. Diaper changes and feedings alone do not a caring environment make. So I called a center near Chi's former school: a little nondescript white house in a gently wooded area with a somewhat active street at its back property line.

The door opens with a coded security lock. Inside is a series of cameras switching from classroom to classroom with images of teachers caring for and interacting with children. The director is friendly and hands-on. She greeted us with a smile and a handshake and ushered us into Yadon's potential classroom. There, two other teachers greeted us. About 10 cribs lines the walls, each with a child's name above it. Cubbies of supplies for individual children, car seats lined up, a variety of educational toys, rockers, bouncers and walkers also filled the room. Despite the number of baby accessories, there was space for tummy time and crawling, which the few babies who were awake had full advantage of. The smell of the center was pleasant - not of bleach and not of mold and decay. The atmosphere seemed peaceful and my stomach didn't knot up with fear of leaving my little one alone there. So I reserved his space on the spot and am hoping that I'll be able to leave him their his first day in the same confidence...

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