Before sharing a fun little daycare tale my wife and I endured with Eliza, it should be noted that we’ve never experience a real daycare horror story. A cursory Google search will lead you down a rabbit hole of legitimately terrifying tragedies and abuses. Pro tip: if you’re a parent using childcare, do not head to Google and start digging around. Anyway, I shared all we’ve loved about our daycare experiences on Monday HERE and several of the negatives on Tuesday HERE. While we don’t have too many negative experiences using full time childcare, I felt we had one story worth sharing.
As is often the case, the first-born typically brings out the…overprotective nature of the parents, and we were no exception. A “daycare horror story” in Eliza’s first month might be something as trivial as a baby bottle my wife suspected may not have been washed completely. It doesn’t take much with your first child to feel frustrated or concerned or suspicious. My wife would come home upset and have no complaint other than a caregiver’s body language. She’d give Eliza a head-to-toe examination each night just in case, while I giggled with mocking intent (while secretly being relieved she was doing it).
Eventually, we matured as parents; well, this is the explanation I like to give, but the truth is probably more like we were too sleep deprived to continue sweating the small stuff. Life moved quickly through Eliza’s first year with few major daycare incidents, but eventually friction developed as Eliza started learning to walk. For those uninitiated to current daycare mandates, all facilities are required to maintain a certain teacher-to-student ratio. Our provider at that time had been audited a few times and was dangerously close to being over capacity, which may explain their actions with my wife and daughter.
In order for Eliza to move up to the next room, she needed to be able to walk. She was 15 months at this time, so several of her classmates had conquered walking and moved on but Eliza was still taking her sweet time in walking. She could walk behind a push car for hours, stand against the dinner table with ease, and take small steps between the couch and coffee table but she was reluctant to take off over open space. Since her walking skills were still in question, Eliza was shuttled back and forth between different rooms.
The provider had spoken to my wife with concern about Eliza’s walking, stressing that she needed my daughter to move into the next room (presumably to square away the ratios and prevent a citation). My wife and I shrugged it off as Eliza’s development was right on track for all areas; the daycare provider, however, wouldn’t let it drop. She called my wife into her office and said she required a demonstration from my daughter on her walking ability. They pulled Eliza from her room and demanded a little girl—who wasn’t walking yet—to walk on command for the first time. They literally asked my wife to make my not-walking daughter walk in order to stay in her daycare room. The provider then went on to suggest my daughter was developmentally stunted and needed physical therapy and that her daycare was probably not a good fit for Eliza. Good times all around! It’s always a great experience when a stranger implies your daughter is developmentally challenged.
Needless to say, we quickly severed our relationship with that daycare, which is too bad because Eliza had so many amazing teachers in her year there. One of the great challenges of using daycare is finding the right balance of good teachers, trustful administration, and proper logistics (commute, price, etc.). We nailed two out of three there but were pushed out to explore other options. Leading back to the beginning, there are way worse things that could have happened to my daughter in daycare, but it was still quite the uncomfortable experience for my wife and one she’ll probably carry with her to her grave…no one calls out her first born 🙂