R started going to daycare when she was 7 months old. The first time I visited her daycare was when I was 4 months pregnant, I nearly passed out, I think I had an anxiety attack when all the babies looked up at me. I had gone with 2 of my preggy colleagues and while they gushed and cooed over the babies, I had to run out of the building for a breath of fresh air (not just once but a couple of times) :( It literally felt like I was drowning and had to resurface for air :)
Well, fast forward almost a year later, and it was time to drop my precious bundle of joy there. It was an established professional acclaimed daycare, very convenient, sat right on my company campus and promised to be a right fit for my baby. The next two months were painful to both of us. The teachers were two young college going girls who didn’t have the patience nor the maternal warmth of handling babies (and I don’t believe that you need to be older or physically give birth to inculcate the maternal warmth, you either have it or you don’t). R cried her little eyes out everyday I dropped her off, both the heroines wouldn’t attempt to say Good Morning or pick her up and hold her and comfort her while I left. I would have to remind them to do their job. Most of the babies in Stephanie’s (her teacher) care would sit around and cry, runny noses which would never be wiped away and generally miserable. One day I left work early and went to pick her up, R (at seven months old) was strapped in to a small chair and was sitting at a small table, by herself, staring at her hands and cookie pieces which lay scattered around. When I walked up, she looked so tired and refused to look at me as if to convey her frustration and anger. She wouldn’t look in my eyes, she looked away every time I tried to talk to her. It was one of the most heartbreaking moments ever for me! A mere baby shouldn’t be put in such a situation :(
Anyways I held strong to this daycare telling myself that I am too weak, or paranoid or this is what everyone goes through….2 months and many many sick days later came Halloween. R was dressed up a bumble bee and when I went to drop her off, I expected some response from the teachers and there was none. I stood there and literally cried. Some other white kid had just walked in wearing a fire fighter’s costume and Stephanie was busy gushing over him. I think I had done all the right things – tried to forge a bond with the caregivers, tried to sit with R to get her adjusted, tried to adjust my schedule so she could be home for 2 days, told myself that all kids get sick repeatedly and will develop their immunity but this was like the last straw; I stood there with my baby and everything moved in slow motion. It was so clear to me – nobody cares about R here. No wonder its been 2 months and she cries everyday. I should have just listened to my instincts and pulled her out of this place at the first chance.
In 2 days she was out of there, I called a dozen friends, found a highly recommended home daycare for her. She must have cried for 2 minutes on the first day and since has gotten tremendously attached to her teacher there. Somedays I think she almost must love her as much as she loves me. But I am fine with it, no insecurities there. I am just glad R spends her days with people who adore her and it shows. So lesson #1 – pay attention to your kid, no matter what age he/she is, they will tell you if they are happy or not.
That brings to my current dilemma. Due to change of management at the home daycare and her favorite nanny leaving etc, we had to switch her to a commercial daycare. I really like the teachers here a lot, but the kid to teacher ratio being 1:8 means that they don’t really have the time to devote individual attention all the time. They still do a pretty good job of it though. They have many activities and teach kids through structured play. They have a nice playground and as the weather improves, it will be nice for R to run around with kids her age. So it seems like a good place to me. But Ms R cries and cries, she really gets visibly upset at the thought of going to daycare and now that she can talk up a storm – its even more emotionally blackmailing things said to me on the way like “R cries all day, I meech (miss) you Mommy, I no like daycare, Please I be good girl, I no want to go” :( I have again adjusted my work schedule so I can leave at three to pick her up earlier. But I am so tired of this….I don’t know what to do anymore. Is it just a 2 year old whining and complaining and wants to be the center of attraction all the time and is slowly getting to used to a different environment and schedule or is she genuinely unhappy and needs a quieter setting and more one on one attention. Sigh….should I give up and get an in house nanny or suck it up and put on a strong front and keep sending her to the daycare till she adjusts. What is the right thing to do?