I have to pay the mortgage and have no relatives who are crazy enough to deal with my children for free for nine hours a day, so I send my kids to daycare.
For those of you with kids in daycare, you know that it is an awesome place. I love our daycare. The teachers are ridiculously amazing and our kids basically walk in and give me the, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass” look when I go to hug them goodbye.
Daycare teachers deserve awards for putting up with someone else’s germ-encrusted kids all day for little pay. They don’t rake in big bucks, they do it because they love kids. They are saints. But even with all the learning, hugs between tiny friends, awesome teachers and snacks, daycare has its downfalls.
1. The First Day. Whether you are dropping your infant off for their first day ever away from the wicked awesomeness that is Mommy, or dropping your toddler off for their first day at a new daycare, the first day blows. Big time. The first time I dropped The Quite Contemplator off at daycare following maternity leave, I rocked with her in a rocker and bawled like a fat girl whose cake was stolen for about an hour. Thankfully, it was only hard on me. Newborns don’t seem to even notice you are gone. Toddlers, on the other hand, add a little more drama to the situation. Cue dropping your child off for the first day at a new daycare only to have them cling to your leg screaming, “Mommy! Don’t leave me!” Thanks for that, kid. As if leaving you here so I can work on TPS reports all day wasn’t hard enough.
2. The Germy Kid. No, it is not just an urban myth that daycares are cesspools of germs. Hand, foot and mouth, roseola, croup, you name it, daycares are full of sexy-sounding illnesses that will invade your child. No matter how much cleaning and bleach a daycare uses, germs are inevitable. Kids are just gross and love to share (their germs, not their toys for God’s sakes!). Somehow, all of these illnesses seem to be traceable back to one kid: The Germy Kid. What exactly does this kid do on the weekends that he comes back every Monday with a new plague to spread upon his peers? Roll around in the Infectious Diseases lab at the hospital? Eat contaminated meat and dairy? Lick toilet seats? Come on! Spray this kid down with some Lysol and put him in quarantine already. Mommy is out of sick days. (My lovely carrier monkeys just managed to get their entire school sick right before our big Halloween party. Suck. And you’re welcome.)
3. The Thermometer Mambo. Speaking of The Germy Kid, his outbreaks of mucus- and fever-inducing bacteria lead many mamas to do what I call the Thermometer Mambo. 100.1 is the most dreaded number for daycare moms. That is the number that means your kid is being sent home and has to stay there for at least 24 hours. This is fine, of course, if your kid is actually sick. I love me nothing more than rocking a sick baby in my arms while I catch up on my TiVo in my jammies. But most of the time it is just teething/a cold/malaria/your child trying to sap your will to live. Every time The Quiet Contemplator got a tooth, her fever would be EXACTLY 100.1. I am not even kidding. I spent about 50 sicks days with her at home, happy as a clam before I had to be “that mom” and break out my friend Mr. Tylenol to get her below the magic number. But many times, they really are sick, and that is when you get The Call.
4. The Call. The Call is what you get when you have lost the battle with Thermometer Mambo, or worse. Every mommy dreads seeing their daycare’s number come up on their caller ID. It is never them calling to let you know that your kid is a ray of sunshine and puppy dogs and that they just wanted you to know how much they love having them. It is daycare calling to let you know that the projectile vomiting has commenced or that your kid is on the way to get stitches. I usually answer this call in some sort of, “What now?” fashion.
5. The Mean Kid. Every daycare has a mean kid. I am not talking about the everyday toddler behavior all kids exhibit. I am talking about the kid that you just look at and can see that their tiny beady eyes are filled with mirth. This is the kid that is always pushing, hitting, saying “mine!”, stealing toys, etc. Often, this kid is also The Germy Kid.
6. The Incident Report. Sometimes these are the results of The Mean Kid attacking your child, sometimes these are reports of your child finally having enough from The Mean Kid and going all Cujo on them. Either way, they are embarrassing. You end up feeling like either your kid needs to buck up and hit back, or your kid has been watching too much Ultimate Fighting and needs to back off. Awesomeness all around. I just got an incident report stating that The Contemplator had hit the sweetest little girl in her class in the face with a truck. Out of nowhere. For no reason. Can toddlers file lawsuits? I am pretty sure she has a case. There goes The Contemplator’s college fund.
7. The It’s-Almost-Cheaper-to-Stay-Home Sayer. Let me cut this one off right at the knees. No, it is not almost cheaper for me to stay home with my kids than to work and send them to daycare. I am not raking in the McGotbucks working at a non-profit and all, but daycare costs less than I make in a year. Also, staying at home doesn’t pay for insurance, or provide for retirement, or the many other frivolous needs mama has. And, since my husband is in the über high-paying profession of being a 4th grade teacher, mama has to work.
8. The Guilt. Like all mommies, daycare mamas have to deal with The Guilt. Was my kid too sick to go into daycare today? Is The Mean Kid going to make them cry again? Is it really cheaper for me to stay at home with them? Am I a bad mom for working when we could make it on Spam and cheese if I just stayed home? The Guilt sucks. But, like all Domestic Enemies, some days it sucks big time and some days it only sucks a little.