Letting Go

Today is Jack’s last day in daycare.  He’s been with G for over two years (a miracle when you think back to all the daycare dramas early on in his life) and made some awesome little friends there.  G’s house is basically Jack’s third house – there were many weeks there where he spent just as much time there as he did at my house or his dad’s.  G feeds him and teaches him and celebrates his victories and birthdays.  Jack was potty trained there before he was at home!

In the last 2+ years, G has taken only ONE unscheduled day off – for Jury Duty.  One day, you guys!  She is simply amazing.

I’m having a hard time walking away from this lady.  She is one of the most reliable, dependable, trustworthy, and caring people I have ever known – it has been a BLESSING to be able to put Jack in her care.

I don’t think it’s hit Jack yet.  He knows today is his last day and that he’ll have a goodbye party, but all he could say was that he was hoping for presents.  :P   We tried to tell him this isn’t the kind of thing you get presents for.  In any case, he starts school Monday and I’m guessing somewhere in that week he’ll really start to miss G.  I know I will!

I had a difficult time coming up with a gift that conveyed how much we love G.  What we ended up with was this poem made into an artful poster by Etsy artist MySoulShines and matted/framed:

They Will Remember

by Eileen Koscho

I take care of your children.
I love them.
I teach them.
I clean them, and I feed them.
And when nighttime comes,
my heart worries about them
I take care of your children.
I see their first steps.
I hear their first words.
I share their happiness, and
I feel their hurts.
I take care of your children,
as if they were my own.
And when they are grown, and
no longer need me,
My love will be a part of them
deep within the heart of them.
They will know that I was there for them unconditionally.
And they will remember!

 

This morning it occurred to me that I should have had a coffee mug or something made with Jack’s artwork to give to her.  Dang it!  Maybe I’ll ship that to her…

Here is a picture of G with Jack on his birthday (she is so cool – she got him the alien space ship Legos):

Enhanced by Zemanta

Little mister

Sometimes I look at Jack and can see our future, see him as a teenager.  He is so serious when he says, “Well, mom, when you said that it hurt my feelings,” or “Mom, I didn’t like that.  I’m going away from you.”  He is trying to be grown up and yet so obviously unprepared to deal with what that means.  I know how he feels.

Jack has a close friend at daycare again.  He and Sydney are often chasing each other around when I arrive to pick Jack up.  On the drive home yesterday, Jack told me, “Sydney is my best friend, mom.  She’s a nice girl.”  I’m thankful her parents have kept her in the daycare rather than moving her to preschool.  I worry about the day the two kids will be split up, though.  I wish I could give Jack the kind of childhood where he grows up with the kids down the street.  I’m not sure that kind of life exists in the city.

When we get home for the day, Jack usually runs to the front door and announces “I beat you!”  This time, he forgot to run and I got there first.  He dissolved into tears because he wanted to win.  I tried to explain that sometimes other people have to win: “you can’t win all the time but you should always try your best.”  He didn’t like that, of course.  I took him back outside to redo the “race” and halfway to the door he turned around and hit me to make sure I wouldn’t beat him to the door.  That brought on another explanation about how we don’t sabotage others just because we want to win very badly…yes, these are the conversations I have with my not-quite-4 year old child.  I’m sure I will repeat them over and over as he grows.

Lately Jack has become attached to a stuffed monster he calls Starbucks.  (How’s that for a sign of the times?)  He brings that monster to daycare every day.  Today he forgot and I was running late so I neglected to remind him prior to leaving the house.  We pulled up to G’s house and I unbuckled the carseat.  Jack started looking for Starbucks right away and my heart sank.  I saw his face when he couldn’t find his monster and when he asked me where it was, I told him the bad news.  Cue tears.  I felt like crying, too.  “I’m sorry we forgot Starbucks, honey.  I will bring him to you when I pick you up today.  I know you will miss him today.”  I considered going back home to get his toy before driving to work…  “He’ll recover,” G said.  I know she was right but still…I wish I had gone back home.

Clashing Work Schedules

For those not in the know (because somehow I forgot to write about it before now) Jack’s dad recently took a new job that is an hour south of where he lives, which is about 1.5 hours south of where I live and Jack attends daycare.  The commute to the new job meant that he would no longer be able to participate in daycare pick up or drop off, Jack would be in daycare an extra day, and Joe’s time with Jack would be reduced to only his days off.  Since his days off were Saturday and Sunday, this also meant that Jack and I wouldn’t have weekends together until Joe’s seasonal position ends in June.  Needless to say, I was pretty bummed about that.  I’m pretty burned out after work most days of the week and don’t get a lot of quality time with Jack.

Luckily for all of us, Joe was able to rearrange his new work schedule so that he will be working Sunday through Thursday beginning in March.  We each get a weekend day with our kid to do fun stuff and we can keep Jack out of daycare an extra day (which is great for us moneywise in addition to allowing the munchkin to be with his parents that much more).  Good all around and a huge relief for me!

The only con is I won’t be able to get out of town for a weekend without the kid for a while (since Joe still won’t be able to take Jack to daycare), but that is not unusual for your typical parent anyway.  I can totally handle that.

Drop-off Drama

Jack has suddenly become super clingy during daycare drop-off.  This morning it took me roughly 20 minutes to extract my legs from the tangle of his limbs and get out the door.  I tried every trick I could think of:

Jack, will you do me a favor and close the door for mom?
Jack, I have a job for you.  I need your help!
Jack, your friends need you!  They want to play with you.
Jack, there’s a party today!  Don’t you want to have a party?  (this is true)
Jack, mama’s work is no fun.  There are no kids there.
Jack, G needs a hug.  Can you give her a hug so she isn’t sad?

The kid didn’t budge.  Finally I picked him bodily and stuck him inside the door and quickly closed it behind me.  I just about collapsed on the stairs, though.  Days like this break my heart because I feel like I am abandoning my kid.

I am not sure if this is a phase or what.  The reading I’ve done suggests that is the case.  I’m fine with that…but I’d like to find a way to make Jack feel more secure and get myself to work on time.  If it’s just a matter of waiting it out, then I hope this passes quickly.

Preschool

Jack’s daycare friends keep disappearing.  They aren’t being kidnapped, but they are being transitioned (can you tell I work in corporate America?) to preschool.  He’s lost three friends in six months and he is starting to notice.  He told me last week that he was sad that his friend Arthur had a party and that he will miss him.  I told him it makes me sad when my friends go away, too, and that thought seemed to distract him from his sadness.

I didn’t go to preschool.  I was a daycare kid until my first day of kindergarten, and I was completely prepped and able to read by then.  This may be why I don’t understand the need for preschool.

Personally, I see drawbacks to preschool for our family.  For one, preschool is expensive.  Not only does a parent have to pay for preschool, but also the care for their child after preschool is done for the day.  When I did a bit of research, I found that preschool alone costs as much or more than daycare.  I can’t imagine paying for both!

There is also the fact that preschools have less caregivers per student than daycare.  In the quest for better education for our children, one of our biggest concerns is student:teacher ratios.  Why would I give up the 1:3 ratio Jack experiencing now?  It doesn’t make sense to me.

Jack’s daycare is so awesome!  They go on field trips, make arts and crafts projects, sing songs and read books.  They learn the alphabet and counting.  Jack knows that water starts with w!  He can count past 13!  Additionally, his daycare is right next door to another daycare and they all get together for activities.  He is getting just as much socialization as he would get at preschool.  And you know what?  That all sounds just like my kindergarten experience.

So then, why preschool?  I am not convinced it is needed in our case.  Perhaps it has to do with our family circumstances and the fact that Jack has a park ranger, a children’s librarian, a sports fanatic/technogeek, and whatever it is that I do (workaholic?  internet junkie?) in his life – and those are just the parental figures.  I’d say he’s pretty well-covered and will probably be better off without preschool.

I recognize that this might be a controversial choice, but for now I think we’ll go sans preschool.  What is your family doing and why?

Multiple personalities

A lot of parents worry that their children won’t do XYZ when they go to daycare because of how they do things at home.  I’ve heard (and sometimes shared) concerns about sleeping and eating habits.  But here is the reality: kids are better behaved at daycare.  I don’t know if it’s the herd mentality or the fact that at home he feels the need to assert his independence, but it’s pretty amazing the things Jack will do at daycare without any fuss at all.

  • At home Jack runs from me when it’s diaper changing time, but at daycare he will lay down when the other kids are getting diapers changed and demand that his be changed, as well, wet or not!
  • Jack fights sleep at home (unless he is *really* tired) and has very strict policies about being in his bed with only a sheet covering him.  Also, Mom must lay down with him and we can’t forget to read at least three books.  At daycare, he will ask to take a nap and lay down on the floor with toys clutched to his chest.  He rarely sleeps less than 2 hours and no snuggling or reading is necessary.
  • Many a day Jack has bemoaned going to daycare, claiming that he does not want to see his friends, and then when we get there he lights up and runs off to play without giving me a second thought.
  • Shoes are always a struggle.  You may all remember that I had to buy the same exact style of See Kai Run shoes in the next size up and hide the fact that they were new from Jack.  I have many other pairs of shoes for Jack, as well, which he will not wear at home but will wear at daycare.
  • Jack favors cucumbers and apples and cheese at home.  At daycare he prefers corn and carrots and pasta.
  • When I dance or sing at home he tells me to stop with a glare.  At daycare he is the star of the dancing/singing show!

What can you add?

Another Crazy Daycare Story

The move to San Francisco went really smoothly and for the most part we are settled into our new house and routine.  I think we did a great job of unpacking and making the place ours because Jack didn’t even seem to notice we moved.  :P

The only major adjustment issue was daycare (OF COURSE!).  The new place did not work out nearly as well as I had hoped and the whole situation has left me a little bewildered.  I thought I had completed the due diligence but I guess there is only so much you can tell about a person in an hour…I did not foresee that F, the provider, would want to be paid under the table or that I would pick Jack up after 8 hours and see that he had only had one diaper change all day.  I got really worried during week three when I noticed he was not settling in and still cried when I dropped him off, not to mention a lack of napping during those three weeks (he napped a total of three times, never more than 30 minutes).  I dropped him off shaking one day (I cried on the way to work) and the next day she handed my check back to me and asked for tuition in cash.  Between the shaking that I couldn’t get over and the request for cash, I decided to search for a new daycare.  That is when I saw that despite telling me in the initial interview that Jack would take the last daycare spot, F was advertising on craigslist that she had two more spots open.  SHEESH.

The next day I visited two daycares, both located within five minutes of our new location.  The second daycare, run by G, was one I had nearly visited the first time around but didn’t because I didn’t hear from the provider until after I enrolled Jack at F‘s.  G‘s place was AMAZING and Jack ran around the entire time playing and even interacted with her, trusting her enough to hand her the rocket he built.  Two days later I gave our 2 weeks notice to F and asked for a partial refund on tuition for that month (which I needed because the new place was twice the cost).

Fast foward to five days later…I was running late and called F to ask if it was okay to bring Jack later than usual.  The line was disconnected.  Yikes.  No way was I going to drop Jack off there when I couldn’t get in touch with her, especially after everything else that had happened.  Jack stayed home with David that day and I called G to ask if Jack could start right away.  She said yes and Jack started the next day (last Thursday).  He took a two hour nap that first day and also the next.  He hasn’t been clinging to me in the evenings when I pick him up – instead he hides behind a curtain hoping to stay at daycare but is still content when I drag him out the door.  Huge difference!  Not only that, but because he is happier, I am happier and not filled with anxiety every morning.

As for F, I emailed her and she did call me and said she didn’t know what was going on with her phone but promised to call me that night.  I was not surprised when she didn’t call.  I could ask for my money back again but I doubt I’d get it.  I am sucking it up – the $1700 total cost of daycare for March.  It’s really hard, but I am doing it.  The new place is expensive (about $500 more than what I was paying in Alameda) but worth every freaking penny.  It’s huge, the provider and other kids are wonderful, the provider is extremely organized and in the last four years of running her daycare has never taken a sick day, they take trips to the park nearly every day, and her sister runs a daycare right next door.  Big bonus – it is only 5 minutes away from our house.

I’m hopeful, so very hopeful, that this is the last daycare I ever enroll my child in.  That poor child has been in the care of WAY too many providers in his 2.5 years.  I am glad the stories I have to tell aren’t full of real horror (thankfully Jack has never been in danger), but the bad daycare experiences have been way too many in number.  If the good experiences weren’t so amazing, I would have thought more about being a welfare mom a long time ago!

Moving to the city

We are moving and moving means changing daycares…  Yeah, I know; you don’t have to say it.  I know I’m crazy!  But, really, this is going to be an awesome change for us.  It will mean that I won’t be spending time on commuting an hour to get to the daycare before it closes (at 5!) when I should be working a full 8 hour day.  Also, a shorter commute (half of what it is now) means more time with Jack.  Our rent will be less and we’ll have a washer and dryer in the house.  We will have a backyard where Jack can run around!  We’ll have lots of families for neighbors.  We’ll live about a block from a park.  Best of all, I think, is that the time we spend driving to San Rafael to get Jack to Joe will be 15 minutes each way instead of 45-60!  Woo hoo!

I looked at daycares last week and hit the freaking jackpot.  The first place I visited was decent, but it didn’t feel like THE PLACE.  It was small, a bit pricey, and brand new (meaning Jack would be the first kid enrolled).   The provider was sweet and the place would have worked, but I didn’t like it as much as I like his current daycare.  I went into the second place with low expectations because all I know about the place was that it was extremely affordable and a little further than I thought I’d want to go.  But the drive to the place was a breeze and as soon as I walked in I felt at ease.  The provider is Brazilian, just as his current providers are.  She also has a similar menu and schedule as the current daycare.  Jack will get to continue his Portuguese education!  The number of kids in her care is small and she has a helper doing dishes and cooking meals, so the attention factor is high.  The vibe was perfect, so I took the spot and we went back Saturday to introduce Jack to the provider.  That went well, so the deal was sealed!

So far this move is coming together nicely.  This is the easiest time I’ve ever had finding a place we will love to live and also a daycare that we will be happy with (I am of course hoping that a similar environment and a warm-up period will make for an easier transition).  I think the most amazing part is that we are moving into the CITY and yet our rent and daycare costs will decrease.

I’m excited!

Life is measured by details

One of the things about the separation that I haven’t totally worked out is this: I will become responsible for both daycare pick-up and drop-off.  At first I thought I could just work longer hours on Mondays and Tuesdays (Joe’s current days off, when he has Jack) but as of mid-September, Joe will have a different job and schedule that gives him Sundays and Mondays off.  In order for me to get Jack to daycare and drop him off, that means I would have to cram an extra 2 hours onto Mondays to make up for the time I’m taking off the rest of the week.  Daycare has strict hours and it takes me an hour to get to/from work.  Also, Jack is currently enrolled 3 days a week, so I HOPE that they can take him on Tuesdays.  Fingers crossed.

Somehow, I know it will work out.  Things usually do.  It’s just a bit anxiety-inducing in the mean time.

From the land of cute – last night as we were heading to bed, I told Jack to say goodnight to his grandma.  “Nigh-night, Grandma!”  Then he added,  “I love you, Grandma!”  Awwwww.  Love those unprompted expressions of emotion!

Daycare Transition Revisited

Daycare is going so well now.  Jack is firmly settled in and each morning when we drop him off he dashes out of our arms to play with the other kids.  He no longer even says goodbye!  Two days ago we got an opportunity to observe everyone on their way to the park and Jack’s face was totally lit up.  It was so wonderful to see.

Of course I feel a little twinge when he completely forgets about me the moment the providers open their front door, but mostly I am just thrilled that we have found such wonderful people to care for our son while we’re at work.  He is clearly thriving and this transition has really shown me that my feelings about the previous daycare were spot on.  This experience has taught me that I *do* have instincts.  Thank goodness I listened to them!

And even though he doesn’t say goodbye, he is always ecstatic to see us when we pick him up.  :)