Suburban Snapshots

Transition

Monday, November 01, 2010

Once I started working full-time about a year and a half ago, we decided to put Anna into day care two days a week at a little place less than a mile from home. We needed the free time and knew that being around other kids — biters, screamers, and hitters alike — would help her grow.

The first time I dropped her off I didn't shed a tear. I was nearby, she'd be happy, no big deal. Those first couple weeks were tougher on Anna than me, though. For a really social kid, she had a harder time adjusting than I thought, but every day when I'd arrive to collect my exhausted, sad-faced baby, she'd be snuggled into the same teacher, holding it together just until she'd see me and soak her already sticky, pink cheeks. I was so grateful for that teacher, who comforted my kid every single day, whose lap Anna came to depend on until she finally settled in, and who continues to dote on her even from a room away.

Each morning I'd drop Anna off to a chorus of "Good morning!"s, happy greetings from each of her four teachers and enthusiastic flaps and grunts from her little classmates. I loved watching them get situated around their miniature table and maneuver Cheerios or pineapple gracelessly into their mouths.

After she turned two, Anna moved into an older classroom, many of her friends tagging along. The first thing I noticed was the fact that her new teachers could barely manage to glance at us when we arrived each morning. While they'd take the time to make a note of who was dropped off when, they didn't take the five seconds to say hello. I know Anna didn't notice, it was enough that I did.

I never expected day care to give Anna the attention or love that she gets at home. I know every kid is cute, some are the favorites, they come and go every six months or so. They have names like Bronwyn and Amy and Jaxon, and parents who stay too long at drop-off or complain too often to the director. All I wanted was a safe place, some people about Anna's size, and friendly adult faces.

I guess if I take the average between that first teacher who went beyond what I'd expect from anyone with a classroom full of thirteen one-year-olds, and her current teachers, I'm getting pretty much what I expected from day care. My hope is that Anna's getting more than that.

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