Episode 1 can be found here: we check out the daycare down the street and face our own boundaries for things like affluence and (as my husband puts it), “Jankyness.”
On a whim yesterday, my husband suggested swinging by the local daycare to take a look around. (From here on out we’ll call it Local Daycare.) Though I didn’t have my notebook of handy-dandy questions to ask, I agreed. (What? Don’t you feel better with a checklist of questions to ask, all neatly hole-punched and filed in a project folder? I do, though I’m also often too embarrassed to embrace my inner nerdiness in public.)
Local Daycare is housed in what used to be a large two-story residence with an additional building for the youngest kids next door. Their outdoor play space abuts the lower acre of our property and is subdivided into two sections, ostensibly to keep the younger kids and older kids separate.
The director was sitting in a tiny chair at a tiny table doing paperwork when we walked in. She was nice enough and answered my questions well enough. Yes, they have a sick policy; no, they don’t do part-time hours; nope, still can’t confirm an opening in October, please check back in September. Their open door policy quite literally means you can drop by at any time, whether your kid is enrolled or you’re just thinking about it, so off we went to the infant center.
Again, it was nice enough, though very small. The woman working there was very enthusiastic and vocal about how they do whatever the parents want when they want (clearly this is a selling point for daycare, or so they believe). Two kids were napping in cribs while another was in her arms (and so freaking adorable I could barely comprehend the woman’s words because I was so distracted).
We left and I asked my husband if he was good with sending our kid there. “Well, it was a bit janky,” he replied.
Janky: what yuppies say when they don’t want to say something isn’t up to their standards but don’t want to admit to standards or be more specific about why the thing doesn’t meet them (often because they can’t quite put their finger on why).
I pushed for a bit, wanting to make a decision and for that decision to be very convenient for me since I want to be able to take advantage of breaks in my schedule to hang out with my kid, but his suggestion to check out at least one more place made sense, so off we went.
The second place we checked out – SuperKidMart, we’ll call it – is huge, housed in a former grocery store and certified for 396 kids (why not an even 400, I wonder?). The size worried me until my mom remarked that they were likely huge because they were well-run, something we’d only really get a sense for if we visited. We clocked the drive at 10 minutes along two back roads from door-to-door, but still I was throwing my support behind the Local Daycare since I could walk there.
And then we walked in the front door and I sh*t you not, the place smelled like grape Smarties. Not too sugary or overwhelming, but a whiff of sweet, like walking into Willy Wonka’s daycare. I looked over at my husband; he was all goo-goo eyed already.
The director was a peppy lady seated at the front desk who kindly asked us to wait a moment so as not to interrupt an infant drop-off, then came right back to give us a tour.
Wow. It was super-well organized with little pods for each of the different age groups. The floors and walls and other kid-a-phernalia were clean and bright, the kids were all napping (or faking it) on these cool little floor cot things (not unlike the cots animal shelters use for dogs, I couldn’t help but notice… but they looked comfy), and they have a teacher who teaches Spanish and sign language. There went my husband with the goo-goo eyes again.
I was happy to see some kids playing by themselves while others were playing in groups, all well-behaved and closely watched.
People, they have an indoor basketball court for the school-aged kids! I should take a pause here to confess that we didn’t ever intend to keep our kid at a daycare through pre-school age, preferring instead to move him to a college-based pre-school instead (you know, to be a guinea pig for teachers in training). But the older kids have a movie room. And did I mention the indoor basketball court?
But back to the more pertinent details: the infant rooms were super clean and didn’t smell like diapers or disinfectant (again with the grape candy smell), the infant teachers were sweet and matter-of-fact (“That baby fusses a bit when we put her down because she’d prefer to be held all the time, but watch, she’ll get over it in a second…” and she did, in about 4 seconds), and they had a parent packet full of detailed policies on things like SIDS prevention, sick child policies, and outdoor time. Outdoor time: because the state requires an hour of outdoor time for all children, they put the infants in a four-seater buggy (complete with canopy) and wheel them around the playground each day. Awesome.
Oh, and they have two babies in cloth diapers, could care less whether we go with them or disposables.
Off we happily went with our packet of information and promise that if we paid the registration fee they’d hold the spot for us in mid-October. Hilariously, we still talked about which we should choose, the Local Daycare (to which I felt a weird loyalty simply because I’d already declared them to be good enough) or SuperKidMart (the obvious winner here). Just goes to show you that yuppies are weird.
We debated checking out other places until I pointed out that none would incur a nice 10-minute door to door jaunt but rather driving through traffic and on a highway. You would think that the fact that SuperKidMart was less expensive (by ten bucks, but hey) would have been the final kicker, but I didn’t want to be snooty. About my kid. When I’m supposed to be all, “only the best for my kid.” Oops.
In the end we (obviously) chose SuperKidMart and I’m sticking to my story that it was the informational packet and fantastically clean and well-run place and not the grape Smarties smell that did it. Either way, I’m very relieved to have a decision and (as of Friday) a saved spot for my kiddo. In fact, I’m pretty excited for him, a big switch from my earlier worries about sending him to daycare. That place was AWESOME.
Now I just have to figure out how to fill in the application when I don’t know his birth date, whether he has any allergies… or whether he’s really a boy (because there’s always the chance the ultrasound was wrong, ya know?)….