Thoughts on daycare – the good, the bad and the ugly

Experiences can range from rat poison to Jurassic Park

Daycare is a timely topic these days, what with the NDP making it effectively free for low income families and then those bizarre and archaic comments last week from Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness suggesting that we wouldn’t need daycare if parents didn’t go to work.

(Throness on road safety: There would be fewer car accidents if no one drove.)

It’s all a pleasant reminder that no matter how much a Mom misses those years of snuggling infants and racing with toddlers, Easter egg hunts and Robert Munsch, there are benefits to teenagers and adults.

No more worries about daycare.

There was a time when daycare caused more stress in the DeMeer castle than all the bills and the in-laws and the unloaded dishwashers combined.

First a family has to decide if a child is going to be dropped off at a pricey, organized and sanitized daycare centre where she will be programmed from the time she can roll over.

Or is it going to go with a home daycare provider who maybe doesn’t have her ECE but heck – how many parents have a diploma in taking care of kids?

We plumped, for the most part, for home daycare.

And that was a fantastic choice, except for when it wasn’t.

We had great sitters who became like family, where there was never a moment’s doubt the kids were as well looked after and possibly even better minded than in our own house.

And we were temporarily fooled by people who maybe shouldn’t have been entrusted with their own children, never mind anyone else’s.

The great sitters you treat royally and go to bed every night with the niggling fear they are going to throw it in and go back to working at an office.

The bad sitters, twenty years after the fact and when you have exhausted all the things you could possibly feel guilty about that happened today, you can close your eyes and chastise yourself for those decisions.

It’s important to understand when you have four children you are going to go through a lot of different sitters no matter what. Few home day care providers make it a lifelong career, and you are just not going to get an “Alice” who will help you raise all of your reproductions.

We had a sitter who loved the boys, but didn’t take a shine to the girl. Of course that sitter had two girls of her own and always wanted a son.

One afternoon the phone rang at work and it was the sitter’s neighbour. She strongly suggested I come pick up the kids because she could hear the woman yelling at my first born through the walls of the townhouse. Something about a pudding cup.

When confronted with this information about 45 seconds later the sitter claimed our daughter was snotty.

She was shown snotty.

We had a sitter who did crafts with the kids everyday, but let them watch CNN on 9/11 and also all the episodes of Jurassic Park.

She was shown snotty.

The weirdest baby sitter we ever had was a woman who just didn’t see safety like the rest of the world. She was pleasant, down to earth, and kept a potbellied pig in the garage that the kids were allowed to play with.

But she also kept a can of rat poison next to the spice rack in the kitchen and thought it was funny when we objected.

(Don’t judge me too harshly. The kids were old enough by that time to know not to eat rat poison.).

There are some people – perhaps people who voted for Laurie Throness – who would take these scenarios as evidence that parents shouldn’t work outside the home.

But really the stories just show that raising a family is hard, and juggling small children and work responsibilities and mortgages and aging parents and hockey and a marriage is exhausting.

And that’s why we need really good daycare.

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