Monday, May 22, 2006

Caveat emptor? Mea Culpa?

We have attended our current daycare for just a little over 8 weeks. At this point I feel a small review is necessary; just to test my sanity.

To recap: Miss Fancy goes to a local (as in one block south of our house) family child care centre. The lady there is a sweetheart. But she is not what I am used to and she is not what I consider to be a entirely professional child care provider. Remember, I went begging for a childcare space when I was 16 weeks preggo... I tell myself often to get over it/get on with it. Soon enough I will be home, I'll be able to review the whole setup and the balance of home to centre time will be quite different.

So... who cares? Well, I do. I was really happy to think we had a good nearby fit so E. could attend Lily's daycare 2-3 mornings a week after the nuthatch shows. I think it is a great idea for me, for E., and for the new baby... in theory. Here are my concerns (am I just being silly)?

1. When we started at Lily's the first remark I got about E. was her manners. They are great! Uhm, were great. Please and thank-you for everything - Lily couldn't get over this (and the fact that she speaks so well for her age). I think professional child care providers make a rule of good manners. I L-O-V-E that they do. Count one for how spoiled we were to have ever bagged our spot with N. But it seems it's not a big part over at the new place.

I sometimes worry not only that the kids are not polite to each other but that Lily is dismissive or angry with them. E. has said a number of times since she started 'Go away Lily, no. No grabbing' , or done a rerun(?) of an instruction to another child to 'Shut up' or 'Stop crying, Tyler!' I dunno, she is not really a reliable witness is she? Still, these worry me.

2. I constantly remind myself that I can't get hung up on developmental milestones of kids in co-care but I don't always do so well. The crew at this daycare are 15 mos., 22 mos, E. who is 20 mos and one 3 year old. The kids sorta freaked me out when we came because not only do they -- not so much that they don't say 'please' or 'thank you' but that they don't actually say anything a lot of the time. No mind I figure... but after the 8 weeks E. is doing a lot more non-speech (uggah, ooh, ahhh) communication, and can be physcially demanding. I very often have to remind her to use her words... But, on this score I am pretty sure it is not really a situation that can be improved. While there are things about 'the program' that are not in my view supportive of speaking (see next point) it is really something I have to take responsiblity for managing at home... and besides, at nearly two I understand there are lots of reasons I have to master the instructions to E. to 'use words'.

3. Big killer... there is pretty harsh disconnect between my philosophy and the reality of this daycare. I often will remark to p-man, as he gnashes and fulminates, you know it is ok, it's just that it is a very custodial environment not a instructive one. What do I mean? Well the program, such as it is, goes as follows: Kids arrive, get packed into a stroller or car for an outing, return home after a couple hours for snack and then riot time in the playroom with a lot of things that run on batteries, lunch, naptime, after nap kids play with the wide variety of indoor or outdoor noisy plastic things. Now, normally I am a huge advocate of contracting out the noisy plastic things. I love that I will never, for example, feel even the slightest need for one of these. It is ideal to me she simply get that fix at daycare. Daycare is different and I do not expect to find a carbon copy of my house rules out there for rent, I doubt I would like to; it adds so much to our family to have another take on our kid. Still, I am bothered.

I can't really deal with the "management" of these kids. When there is an argument over a toy, which is often, the rules are really erratic. The idea of a turn for example seems non-existent and it seems that my daughter's turn is perpetual when I arrive, unless I say otherwise. Wha' da?

Further, there is little or no instruction. When a child does not operate one of the noisy things right the Lily takes the toy, tells them they are doing it wrong and does it for them. How does this promote the growth of independent little guys?

Overall, the day is built around strapping the kids into something, or kids running around frantically, or kids asleep. But only the latter one to a degree.

4. The peeve of the week for me has been the constant waking of my child from her nap because of the needs of Lily's own kids. What is my problem??? This is family child care, I should know what I am getting into, right? And, besides her kids are 8 and 15 it is a good scenario that my toddler ain't in competition with her 3 year old all day. Still, it bugs me that more than a couple times a week E. is roused from her nap to get in the car and pickup Lily's kid from school.

5. I am so crotchety about all this lately I can't even stand the state of food service. While I have gotten over hating the fact I have to make lunch at all. (Count 2 for N.'s being the best, lunch was included!) I am making no headway at dismissing my disdain for the daily review of what I provide. 'Oh, she a only ate one carrot today' ... "Well, better than none!" I'll say..."So fucking what?" I am thinking. You might see some again tomorrow...

I guess this stuff also goes to the philosophy thing. I would be hard-pressed to characterize this lady as patient or persistent. If something isn't working on a day she reports it as a failure. You need to bring more juice she willl not drink the water. Well, no, she will. She just would rather drink juice, don't give up! Also, she feeds all these noodle-only kids, this makes me whacko! Miss Fancy eat best when she feeds herself, I know if ain't always so tidy but whatever! Overall, she really babys them and I hate that any day of the week.

So what do you think guys??? Should I be following up on a schedule of part-time after June 30, at all? Should just smile and walk, leave a nice parting gift, and start looking for alternate arrangements? I mean there are -- as you might supect good things about Lily's... She is a craft-freak, E. loves it and we don't do that stuff at home. Lily takes the kids to library program, so she can't be all bad. I think E. likes the other kids there and we get to see at least one of the compatriots on the weekends at the park, it is a good evolving relationship for her. The price is right, location is a dream and she is in a safe and tidy environment. I loved taking her to N.'s but I think it set a false standard for me. It is hard to judge if I really have any valid complaints.

Finally, if anyone wants to tell me to talk my concerns over with Lily bear this in mind... she is not a good communicator. I hesitate to discuss stuff with her because 1.) She takes things really literally (which never works with me right, wink-wink) and 2.) it is a waste of my time. When we first started there I tried to get with Lily's meal set up. I explained, E. never had bottles, and she drinks milk from a cup, thank-you. I said I would bring a jug of her milk on Mondays and that would be enough for the week. 'Oh, ok' Lily said then for two days she packed the bottle in E.'s bag for me to take home... Why didn't she just tell me she wanted me to bring prepared cups? It's weird. And, I don't know what to do.


Blogger Granny said...

I think you've already arrived at your own answer.

Unless I had no choice, I wouldn't stay with something that made me uncomfortable in so many different ways.

It has nothing to do with "right" and "wrong" approaches. We're talking about your child, your comfort zone, and ultimately your decision.

I'll go away now.

10:28 p.m.  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Thanks for the links!

Hmm...lots of responses to this one. I'll probably email you privately at greater length. A few comments:

If the good (crafts, library, other kids) outweigh the bad (custodial care, little instruction, disrupted naps) stay. It doesn't sound to me, though, that for you it does. I don't know that it would for me, either.

The communication thing made me laugh out loud, though. You love oblique, clever, icon-referential communication. That's fine for your own entertainment, it's good in your blog, it's great for conversation with p-man, but it doesn't work with the majority of the population. Clear, direct, and functional is best.

On seeing that bottle back in the bag, I would simply have asked. "I think there must be a misunderstanding. I though you would keep the bottle. Is your understanding different?" Then you'd both know.

E-mail forthcoming later today.

7:36 a.m.  
Blogger L. said...

You are clearly very unhappy, and only you know exactly how unhappy you are.

But if E likes it and nothing dangerous is happening there, can she go 2-3 mornings a week and enjoy her crafts? That is the question you should ask youself, and only you can answer it.

7:44 a.m.  
Blogger Heather said...

In my opinion (which is based on exactly zero experience with day care) it sounds like the cons outweigh the pros. I say look for something better. Wow. It is so much easier to tell you what to do than to figure out my own problems. In fact, I say move to Ontario and talk Mary P. into takine E. Perfect solution, no?

9:14 a.m.  
Blogger mo-wo said...

Yes move back to Ottawa is the solution... 'Cept there is no space, right Mary?

I have a number of other centres, some even nice an local to my home, that I like just as much as my old place.. or Mary's. It is just a waiting game.. so I guess that is what I am leaning towards. Getting on some new waitlists.

Mary is on it with the communications stuff... I would not say I am a reluctant GTWM but I do not live in complete comfort with the choice of being at a desk while my girl is in daycare.. This is made hugely worse when I have ANYTHING that contributes to my double-think -- like people being less than straightforward. This lady is sort of obsequious with her clients and I have my doubts that things are as she says sometimes...they 'sound' good but really? Clients don't need these worries. I usually advise my friends, it doesn't matter much about the program, even the hours or the price of a day care, word one you need to be comfortable with the person you are trusting with your KID, duh? Think I can take my own advice???

9:58 a.m.  
Blogger nonlineargirl said...

It is hard to let go of a situation once it is established, even if it is not quite right. What I'm seeing in your post is "it is convenient and there are some things my child likes about it" versus "the care provider does not share my philosophy, does not provide the quality of care, instruction, etc I want for my child, and I worry the child is being somehow done a disservice." If my recap is correct, I'd say look around for something else. At the very least you'll get a sense of what else is available, and there is a good chance you'll find a better fit. Good luck!

11:06 a.m.  
Blogger L. said...

You know, I dimly remember 10 years ago, one of the things that annoyed me about our part-time daycare in Los Angeles (which we eventually quit to move to another place, even though we were leaving in a few months) was that they would complain about the lunches I packed for then-toddler-sized Big Son. He would often have leftovers from dinner the night before -- it`s what he would have been served on the days I had him at home.
I remember these women saying, "He`s just not eating it! He doesn`t like leftovers!" and me thinking, "Too goddamn bad, I`m not running a %&$#! catering business...."

2:01 p.m.  
Anonymous nathalie said...

I say quite the care, no explanations required.

Why - because your gut says to and that is the only reason you need.

You may discover later that there were very good reasons to remove your child or that everything was fine but it sounds like you have good reason to leave.

I have just gone through a long and difficult process that ended up with pulling my child from a Montessori school. I was keeping him in school because the pros seemed to outweigh the cons. He went happily, loved music, gym etc. We had a 3rd party observe him in class (someone he didn't know) and got a startling report and pulled him from the school that day.

8:09 p.m.  
Anonymous MetroDad said...

I'm having many of the same issues that you are, Mo-Wo. I wasn't pleased with our original day care because I thought my daughter wasn't getting enough attention. But then we switched to a nanny. And while the arrangement is convenient and the nanny is very loving, I don't feel my daughter is getting the stimulation that I would like her to have. I'd like her to be in a more proactive environment. She's also developing some bad eating habits due to the nanny's actions. Unfortunately, despite all the great things about the nanny, she's not a great communicator either so she doesn't take "suggestions" well. Our solution? We're going back to a different daycare center in September. The reality? There's never really any perfect situation when it comes to child care. Each has its pros and cons.

Good luck!

6:30 a.m.  
Blogger kittenpie said...

I personally would prolly get on some waitlists again, and if it takes a while, it's not too bad while you are at home and it is part-time. She can go and have some fun, and get your instruction the rest of the time. And hopefully you can move her into something you are more comfortable with before you have to go back. I have alwasy said that the reason I am so happy with being a WOHMom is that I know she is happy and in good hands. Otherwise, I think it wopuld be really tough, so I can toatlly understand your dilemma. Hope that helps...

1:12 p.m.  
Anonymous Meg said...

Oooh! I used to be a Nanny, and I feel like I focused on a lot of the things you're wishing Lily did -- I liked to talk to the parents about what they wanted for their child during the course of the day, and work out a schedule together. I also used to ask what things they really DIDN'T want to happen, and their developmental priorities, just so I didn't sidetrack what was happening at night.

I also directed a childrens' camp program, so I know about the large-scale side of things, too. And you know what? There's really no excuse for being half-assed about it. More kids is actually EASIER -- because they don't just have you to entertain and involve them, they have one another!

It's bizarre to me that she wouldn't communicate well or that she'd placate them with heaps of toys or that manners wouldn't be a focus.

It's good to have lots of kids around and exposure to different ways of being, sure -- but if you feel like her care is causing steps backwards for your little one, to me, it's not enough reason to stick around.

Longest comment ever. Sorry!!

9:28 a.m.  

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