I often joke that my kid was born in her daycare and that it’s her real home. But, there is a grain of truth in every joke, and here are some of my ideas about the nursery, daycare, socialization and immunity.
I’m an avid reader of many blogs which sum up people’s experiences, victories and fears. I’ve read hundreds of posts about „saying goodbye“ to children and the pain of „separation“, about the mothers following with tearful eyes their offspring turning away from them for the first time and entering a new space with some new kids, together with the detailed description of the mother’s state of mind and depressing ruminations about life in general. In the end, common sense usually triumphs and it turns out to be a growing opportunity for both mom and the kid. All this expressed in five hundred words and illustrated with a photo of a two- or three-year old moving away with a backpack on his back, waving goodbye to his mom as if they would be apart for good, and not only for a couple of hours.
The trick question for all parents is whether they should enroll their kids in an institution or hire a sitter. In reality, they rarely think about it before it becomes an urgent matter. Most are confident they would come up with something or that maybe at least one grandparent would volunteer. Some parents also make enough money to hire a sitter on a regular basis.
I started dealing with this issue when my daughter was six months old. My mom is over 70, so I couldn’t ask her to take care of my daughter. We don’t have many relatives, so that wasn’t an option either. I therefore first tried to find a babysitter.
Many parents believe that children should spend most time at home until they are three, or maybe even longer, and then they start considering taking them to the daycare from time to time to „learn to socialize“ before they start going to school“. But, why should children stay at home before they reach three years of age? This is something I always asked the advocates of this theory, but I never got a clear and reasonable answer. They usually looked utterly perplexed (what the heck is she going on about? It’s only natural for small kids to be mostly at home) and offered the arguments such as: kids should at least start to walk, get rid of the diapers, become stronger, have better immunity, etc. before they are enrolled in a kindergarten. However, it seems to me that they just opted for an easier solution. Or maybe they just managed to find a grandma willing to accept the task. And who at the right mind would be prepared to wake a small child so early in the morning and get them ready for the kindergarten or nursery? That would be too stressful and exhausting (agreed) and so the kids would stay at home for the first couple of years of their lives.
Since I had no choice, I simply had to send my daughter to the nursery.
Yes, that’s right, I am the cruel, heartless mother who took her baby to the nursery when she was only eleven months old. She wasn’t even walking properly, she still used a milk bottle and rarely ever took the pacifier out of her mouth.
What was it like? It was fine. I spent the whole first day at the nursery with her. During the next couple of days, I would leave her there, take a walk and return in a few hours. After two weeks, she fully adapted to the daily routine in the collective.
Heartless as I was, I surrendered my 11-months-old to the mercy of complete strangers. In my defense, there were other kids with her, also abandoned by their cold-blooded parents to toddle in all directions, put other kids’ pacifiers in their mouths and occasionally burst into tears for no apparent reason.
Many years have passed since that first day at the nursery.
Every morning is still a battle: she often watches cartoons and refuses to get up or runs to her room to play and won’t come out. We always argue over getting dressed, combed, washed, about her shoes, the cartoons and an endless list of other reasons.
Was the nursery, and then the day care the best option? For the two of us, it most definitely was. In fact, it was the only option. And I don’t regret it.
I’m not saying that others should do the same. We all have our reasons, paths and criteria. All people are different, and so are their kids.
What was acceptable for my child and me may not be for others.