I knew I had to deal with daycare jitters, but I didn’t expect it to be mine.
It was Milo's first pre-visit at his prospective daycare, and I stood quietly on the side, observing how my soon-to-be-two-year-old would adapt to his new climate once he comes in for four hours twice a week.
There were many other kids, each one busy with his or her own toy and activity, while the teacher was attending to at least one other – if there was even a teacher.
As I took Milo outside to play, I noticed 5 other kids around, three of them with snot running down their noses. I didn’t find a teacher anywhere – which was a real surprise to me because I thought there should be a teacher supervising at all times.
After a good 15 minutes of these kids on their own, I finally saw a teacher come outside with another kid. Apparently, this girl was being potty trained, so the teacher had to come with her inside to potty.
But is that the norm – that the kids will be left by themselves as one other kid needs to be brought to another area? What if one of the kids outside busts his or her lip, and there is no one around? Will he or she have to wait until a teacher gets back before his injury is attended to?
When we came back inside, I let Milo go and play. He seemed to do well with me just in the sidelines, but I guess that was because he knew I was there somewhere. When one of the bigger kids scared him, he immediately came crying to me, signing “owie.” This same kid – a bigger, older one -- seemed to have made it his mission in life to prevent Milo from playing with any toy, because whatever toy my son got, he forcibly took away from him. And as I predicted, Milo didn’t cry, but he became visibly upset and frustrated, and started to hit himself as he looked to me for help.
The teacher didn’t see any of these happening because she was handling at least 9 other kids. But is this something I should expect from a place we pay to watch over my son? Am I asking for too much to want my kid supervised most of the time? Am I dreaming that my son will be comforted when he feels scared or upset when another kid tries to take his toys? Or should I just let him deal with it on his own - at only two years old? Besides, shouldn’t that other kid be told not to grab toys? Or am I really expecting too much from a daycare?
While he was playing outdoors and noticed he couldn’t find me anywhere, he started to panic, crying as he tried to go back inside, thinking I was on the other side of the door. I wanted to see what the other teachers would do (any of the three who were there), but I guess because I, the mom, was present, they didn’t think they had to handle the situation. None of them did anything, so I came to his rescue.
Maybe this was because we were on an unpaid pre-visit, so the teachers are not really expected to interact with my son or get him to warm up to his new environment.
But I’m seriously worried, because judging from what happened today, I wouldn’t know how his needs will be met if none of them will be that one person he can trust to care for him. That would have completely defeated our purpose of sending him to daycare part-time: to help him trust that he will be ok in somebody else’s care.
I truly didn't enjoy this experience. Now my gut is making me second-guess our decision. Should I listen to my gut or should I chalk up this uncomfortable feeling to a mother’s over-protectiveness and paranoia? Should I give them the benefit of the doubt and just cross my fingers that everything will be fine?
We’ll be back for a second visit on Thursday. Hopefully that will be a better experience. If not, I don’t know how much longer I can shut up this nagging voice in my head telling me we’re making the wrong decision.