Daycare Memories

Geeky Mom discussed the reality of daycare, including costs, inspiring a flood of comments from her readers. We’ve outlined our own experiences in the discussion, but one aspect I haven’t yet seen brought up much is the experience of being second-generation daycare.

Yes, I went into daycare as a child. Not for all my preschool years, but for a while there, as my mother was working on her master’s degree, I went to a lovely home daycare centre. It was a fine time. I saw my first lava lamp there. That thing fascinated me and I could, if allowed, spend hours staring at its ebb and flow, trying to predict the size and trajectory of the next blob up or down. I also got in trouble for peeking in the backyard during naptime and inadvertently spying our daycare provider hiding the chocolate easter eggs (I didn’t get any!).

All the specific memories aren’t important, though. What does matter is that, as far as I was concerned, daycare was a normal aspect of childhood. I can’t recall ever, even for a minute, contemplating not having my kids in daycare. That they didn’t go in fulltime wasn’t any result of mommy-guilt or loathing of the system. That was due to the cold hard economics of the situation (an very junior assistant professor’s salary is not enough to support fulltime daycare charges). When we had a bit more money, in eldest’s JK year, we were able to swing fulltime care: youngest in a daycare where she was starting to get more specialized attention for her tentative ASD diagnosis; eldest in half-day care at her school to complement her half-day school schedule.

I’ve always looked incredulously on all the wailing and moaning over how horrible it is to have to resort to daycare. I mean, really!, if people don’t like the care their kids are getting someplace, sure, it’s important to move them to a different situation or maybe take them out, all together. But slamming all daycare because they aren’t giving the exact same care as mom would give (why is the standard of judgment never the dad’s care, I ask?)? That makes no sense to me.

Nobody does things exactly the same as I do: that’s an impossible expectation. So to decry daycares because they’re not doing exactly what I would do? That’s idiotic. To slam daycares because they’re imperfect? Well, I have news for you that absolutely every child-raising situation has a fair share of imperfection. People don’t become horrible monsters for being brought up with some daycare time. At least, in my experience, not yet, and at nearly 43, I think I can safely say it’s not going to happen.

So, here’s to daycare, long may it help parents to raise their children!

8 Responses to “Daycare Memories”

  1. Laura Says:

    I, too, was an off and on daycare child. My mom actually hired a nanny with the help of her mother at something like $30/week when I was very young (like 1) and then my dad pretty much took care of me until I was 3. Then I went to preschool, which I remember fondly. And then regular school. My mother was a teacher, but when I was in preschool, she didn’t teach. I’m not sure why. She didn’t go back to teaching until I was in high school. She definitely didn’t like being at home–at least that was my impression. I think in our small town, there might have been a stigma against daycare or there may not have been full time daycare available. At any rate, I’ve never understood why my mom didn’t work full time when she’d put me in daycare anyway. Sounds like a holiday conversation waiting to happen.

  2. meg Says:

    I’ve been encouraging a pal of mine to start her own blog, because she’s always got something trenchant to say on various subjects (often the mommy wars) that none of the other bloggers are saying.

    And at the moment it is that daycare is a good thing unto itself. Not a more-bad-or-less-bad necessarily evil, but something positive that SAHCs (SAHCn?) are deprived of.

  3. Valerie Says:

    Hooray for you! As a second-generation daycare kid myself, I, too, found going to the babysitters/daycare to be completely normal. I know that my mother has mentioned how often she heard from townspeople how adaptable and responsible we were compared to other kids; she and I have always attributed that to having a wider circle of adult care. For my own daughter, even if I didn’t work (???), I’d want her in care for the wider experience that she gets there.

    The question in my mind is not “is daycare good” but “how to ensure all kids have access to the advantages of good daycare.”

  4. ancarett Says:

    Laura, Meg and Valerie, thanks for weighing in! My mother passed away three years back and I never got to have the conversation with her about daycare choices and philosophy — I suspect it would have been very interesting since she always had quite a modern turn of mind.

    Meg, I sure hope your friend starts in on blogging. I’d agree with her that daycare has so many positive aspects: early socialization and stimulation far beyond what one or two parents can provide, for one, as well as a host of special experiences (going bowling, to mini-putt and having a clown visit the daycare, which I would never have thought of, on my own). Share the URL with us when she does!

    Valerie, I think you’re right that the big question is how to ensure everyone has access to good daycare. Sadly, here in Canada, the new federal gov’t is rolling back the daycare subsidies and agreements reached with the province in favour of a $1200 credit to families for each child under six. That certainly won’t go far, especially if there’s no quality daycare spaces to apply for!

  5. Valerie Says:

    Hrump! Have you taken a look at our “family friendly” leaders down south here? ;-)

    BTW, I love your blog. I have a PhD in history but decided to follow an academic staff / IT route instead. You keep me in touch with an alternate route.

  6. A responsible working mother Says:

    I didn’t know that there were reasonable people blogging about childcare until I saw your blog today!

    I got so tired of the assumption that mothers should stay home with their children that I recently started a blog specificially to address the mommy wars from our side.

    And yes, subsidized early childhood education is a dream.

    See the link for more discussion.

  7. Wendy Says:

    finally a discussion that doesn’t make me feel like a big crumb for putting my daughters in daycare! didn’t send the oldest daughter to daycare yet (she’s almost 3 1/2) as did ’swaps’ with another mom instead…husband doing his phD, and thinks could manage one full day/week of childcare, but i will likely be working three days (although possibly only two days), so will need two days daycare…husband mostly working from home this year (doing dissertation and teaching one course), and my mom (an anti-daycare person) thinks he should watch our kids at least two days each week…i go back and forth on the issue, as it would be more affordable for us, yet not sure if it would give him the time he needs to do his work…we did, however, get a spot at what seems to be a more ‘desirable’ (yet very expensive) daycare in our area for two days/week, so husband could only watch one day if we take that spot…opinions out there? i waffle, because of the expensive, and because we have some flexibility with my husbands schedule — reading all those anti-daycare sites would say parental care is so much superior…

  8. Wendy Says:

    oh, didn’t mention the age of youngest daughter — she’ll be 12 months in september; daycare spot available starting august…older daughter will be 4 years in december; she’d also go to daycare (and would be a pre-school dropout)