Childcare, or daycare as it is known in this country, is the human equivalent of dry cleaning. You leave your item, a child or suit pant, sign a bit of paper and get a ticket, then return later in the day to collect them for a fee. Hopefully you get them back in approximately the same condition you left them, but this can't always be guaranteed. It pays to do your research on the good ones and avoid the ones who look like they may also operate another business like a take away joint or electronics repairs.
Childcare is a not all lollipops and fireworks for Mum and Dad either. Put your kid in one for just a few days and you'll experience the spread of sickness and disease only normally seen in refugee camps. It is a necessary evil though for parents that don’t have access to willing Grandparents or can afford a Euro au pair.
The whole ritual of dropping your kid off at daycare is just weird. I don’t care how essential this may be to the structure of our modern developed world, paying a relative stranger to mind my, and another 17 other, children for the day in a small room crammed with diseased toys, dangerous crafts and soft foods is unnatural. The fact these strangers are usually only qualified with a certificate obtained from a educational institution designed to provide career opportunities for those that didn’t pass high school, concerns me more. What sort of Adult is happy to sing nursery rhymes, finger paint and deal with toilet training fails for $21 an hour?
Don’t get me wrong, some daycare centres and their people are outposts for angels. They are the exception to the rule, and are hotly contested and eagerly sort after, with waiting lists that are longer than a supermarket conversation with a lonely pensioner.
I know this from recent experience. We moved to a new town a few months back and have been without a care placement for our kid. We talked to a few parents we ran into at various high-society events. They kept talking of one local place- Play C.
Play C became our obsession. We withheld our child from other centres who were eager to take him and our money. We wanted in at Play C! Everything sounded better there and it took an almost mythical standing with us. By the end we were convinced that they hand made their craft glue and children were taught French by the free-range hens that also provided organic manure for the kitchen garden. Lunches were prepared by an ex-refugee who happened to also be a Michelin starred chef. The playground was designed by architects to enhance numeracy skills and cardiovascular output, whilst the oxygen around the building was purified by an industrial filter to prevent the spread of germs. The place sounded like Daycare Disney but we just couldn’t get in.
Then we were tipped off by about a new place that was opening up just down the road. It was so good that parents from the nice suburbs were following the Head Teacher from her previous establishment over to this place. There is nothing I like more than upper class lifestyle at lower-middle class pricing.
When I first walked through the gates of this penitentiary of parentless purgatory into reception, I was greeted by an Apple Mac. A good sign, but I was wary as it is a known move used by deceptive shonksters eager to prey on vulnerable aesthetically conscious first world wankers like me.
I walked across the bamboo floors into a minimalist, open plan and light filled space, complete with playroom nooks to the side- I was sold. This place was childcare nirvana. I wanted to stay here. It was more day spa than daycare! It possessed a quality which you would expect only in Norway, where the Government pays you to look after your child in spaces they refer to as “Early Human Development Galleries and Expression Centres”. It was clearly sustainability focused with everything in the building made from recycled material, even some of the teachers.
The space could only have been better if they had a steam room! They had a clear approach to learning, and the Teachers seemed like they good put a sentence together and find themselves on a map. I felt relieved, even comfortable enough to leave my child there. So I did.
The kid is still unhappy when we leave him there once a week, which I can understand. At 3 you don't have an appreciation for modernist design, sustainability and an advanced early childhood development curriculum. You just want to be with your Mum and Dad as much as possible. There's nothing weird about that.