the daycare shuffle

Over the past week, Amy has transitioned from the toddler room to one of the “big kid” rooms at her daycare. It’s a pretty big step. They jump from a four-to-one ratio to an eight-to-one ratio, and when they go outside, they are in the big play area with four other classrooms, instead of in their own enclosure with the infants.

We were able to get her into a new class that they’ve just set up. One with eight kids instead of 16, and the teacher was one of Amy’s original caregivers when she was on the infant side, so she knows her. The daycare had to apply for a licensing variance, and it was accepted.

Friday was her first full day in her new class. It was a bit of an emotional drop-off, both for me and for Amy. She wanted to go into her own class and started crying when I took her into her new class (the doors are unfortunately five feet away from each other). I had gifts for her old teachers, women I truly care about, and I was feeling sad about the fact that they would no longer be part of Amy’s day.

I ended up leaving her with one of her old teachers, and she was going to take Amy to her new class. I left feeling a bit teary, but then got into work mode and mostly forgot about it. Early Friday afternoon (right before I went into a meeting), I got a call from Elliot’s daycare saying they had a space for Amy, as soon as I wanted it. The plan has always been to get Amy into the same daycare as Elliot, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen this fast. The timing really was terrible — if they’d called a couple of weeks ago I could have just left Amy in her old class, given my month’s notice, and then moved Amy on November 1st. I did call Amy’s daycare to see if she could move back for a month, but it would affect too many kids. It was a long shot.

So Greg and I were left with a few choices: don’t take the spot, and cross our fingers that another one would come up in the next six months (which is the timeline I was thinking of), take the spot, and transfer her on November 1, or take the spot and transfer her now.

Since we really want the kids in the same daycare, option 1 wasn’t really an option. Option 2 isn’t really fair to Amy — she’d be going through two transitions in a period of a month, and that would be hard on her. So we’ve decided to go with option 3 — move her now. It means we pay for two spots for her for a month, but in the end it’s just money.

We’ll be able to do a slow transition with her due to Greg’s current hiatus from work, which is good, we’ll be back to doing one drop-off, the kids will be in the same daycare, and the daycare is a few blocks from the school that Elliot will attend next year. So it’s all good…but I’ve been feeling pretty emotional about the whole thing.

I feel sad leaving the old daycare. We moved Elliot because he wasn’t happy, but they are a great group of women, and they truly care about our children. And it all feels very abrupt. I picked Amy up on Friday not really knowing for sure if it was going to be her last day. So I didn’t really say good bye. Nor did she, but in the world of a two-year-old, I think that only matters to her mother. Not to her. And then on the way home she kept telling me how happy she is in her new class. (I actually know she was a bit weepy in the morning, but most of the day was good.) I feel like I’m wrenching her away from a woman she knows, into a brand new place where she knows no one but her brother. And yes, that is what I’m doing, but better to do it now before she re-attaches herself to this teacher.

And I guess another part of it is that, despite the fact Elliot is doing well at his new daycare, I don’t have a warm fuzzy feeling about it. Yet. Greg has been doing most of the drop-offs, so I haven’t interacted with the teachers much, and whenever I do drop-off Elliot is pretty tentative (he’s not when Greg drops him off). But that will come. I just need to spend a bit more time there.

And I can’t forget what I told myself when we moved Elliot. If Amy isn’t happy at this new place, then we’ll do something different. But I’m crossing my fingers that this works out.

an emotional roller coaster

The end of a really good era arrived for Elliot (and us) a couple of weeks ago. For the past two years he’s been going to a good friend’s house for daycare, and he’s been loving it. When I’d tell him it was a daycare day, his response would be “Yay!”. When we’d drop him off he’d say a quick goodbye and then often follow it up with “You go now, Mum”. There were several times when he’d be in tears because we were leaving at the end of the day. Greg and I consider ourselves very lucky to have had this arrangement for so long.

Sadly, she’s closing her doors soon, and I’m going back to work in a couple of weeks. Thankfully we found a space in another daycare, a centre that’s had him on their waitlist for three years. Amy will also soon start there, but probably not until June (in the meantime the aforementioned friend and Gramma are helping out with her).

Elliot and I both went to visit the daycare last Tuesday, and since then he’s been on his own there three times, including this morning. He’s only stayed about three hours each time.

The drop-offs are as expected. Cries of “you stay, Mum”, physically clinging to me, tearfully waving to me out the “goodbye window”. It feels horrible. And while it helps on a theoretical level to know that millions of children and parents have survived this transition, it doesn’t really help on an emotional level. I still feel like a terrible mother.

I think if this were a necessity I’d feel a bit better about it, but this is a choice Greg and I have made. We do not want to make the drastic lifestyle changes required to have me not work, and even if we did want to, I do not want to be a stay-at-home mum.

I’ve referred to an emotional roller coaster in this post’s title, but it’s probably better described as an emotional hole. Because there have been no ups. When I think about daycare I almost get sick to my stomach. When I drop him off, I’m nervous, although I think I’m able to hide that from him. When I pick him up we have a happy reunion, but it doesn’t make me feel any better that he is so happy to see me. I imagine he’s been missing me terribly for the past three hours.

I know I’m not giving him enough credit. Kids are incredibly resilient and adaptable. Elliot can fend for himself when he needs to, and he does it a whole lot better without me than with me. I’m his safety net, which is how it should be, and I shouldn’t assume that his behaviour when he’s around me is the same as when I’m not there.

I’ve been getting positive reports from his teacher, but they are brief. I want to be a fly on the wall and actually see him having fun there. I’ve had a glimpse of it when I pick him up, but then he sees me and it’s all about going home NOW. Plus the picture in my head that’s more permanent is of him tearfully waving at the window.

This really sucks, and I’ll be happy when we are through this transition. I know we will get there. If we don’t, then we’ll find something else for him, but it doesn’t help much now.

you have to be quick, and lucky

I got a voice message today from one of the daycares Amy and Elliot are waitlisted for. The message said there was a spot for Amy and I should call back as soon as possible as she was going to call multiple parents about the spot. Elliot already has a spot elsewhere and Amy will likely get in the same place soon, so I don’t need the spot, but I called her back to take the kids off their list.

Out of curiosity, I asked about their policy of calling multiple parents, and how they determined who got the spot. She said it was whatever parent called back first. I was shocked. Elliot has been on that list for over two years, and Amy for over a year. What is the point of a list if they are going to make it a free-for-all? Sure, it’s a free-for-all for a small subset of people, but it’s still not fair.

I understand they want to fill the spot quickly, but with the daycare shortage I know they aren’t having trouble filling spots. They should at least give people 24 hours to get back to them.