First Day of Daycare

This post also appeared on in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.

So MJ and I just dropped Will off at daycare for the first time.

Look, I know this is supposed to be an emotional day. As a parent I’m supposed to get teary-eyed as I walk out the door, weepy at the thought of leaving my son with non-family members for the first time in his life. And then I’m supposed to cry in my car for 10 minutes, try to peek through the windows of the daycare facility without being seen and proceed to call 20 times the first day to make sure he’s OK. I’ve heard all those stories, but that just isn’t the case.

Honestly, aside from the additional expense, I’m fine with him being at daycare.

There were no tears, no long goodbyes and no regrets on my part when I dropped him off today. Granted, my wife might feel a little different as I know she was sad leading up to this morning. But I know my son. He is happy, strong and independent. As long as there are no old people around, he will entertain himself all day long and be perfectly content. When we handed him off to Yvonne and Kelly he was all smiles, flirting away as usual.

Maybe I’d feel different if he was a fussy baby. If he was too attached to either myself or MJ, cried all the time, was a fussy eater, etc. But he’s none of those things. And while that may be a simple case of us lucking out with a good baby, I think it might also have to do with how we’ve raised him in these brief 5 months. Case in point, we took him out of the house on trips and walks at 3 days old, despite rude comments from people telling us we had him out of the house too early. We made a point not to be those parents who lock themselves away in their house and never do anything or go anywhere. And we also were adamant about acclimating Will to household noises like the dishwasher, the washer and dryer, the TV, dogs barking, etc. I’ve seen parents who keep the house deadly quiet when the baby is sleeping. No one is allowed to make any noise. We never wanted to be like that because then the baby will only sleep in silence. That’s why Will can pretty much sleep through anything now and he’s very rarely rattled by loud noises. Hell, he’s even been to a professional baseball game already and aside from crapping right through his onsie, he did great.

So with all due respect to the parents who tie themselves in knots over sending their kids to daycare…I just don’t get it. But I’d be willing to bet the parents who go a little nuts concerning daycare, are also the same parents who are still letting their babies sleep in the same bed with them. That just really irks me. I can picture them, about 18 years from now, desperately clinging to their kids as they leave for college, crying and wailing like a banshee for them to stay.

It’s times like these I’m thankful for how my parents raised me. They always let me sleep over friends’ houses, sent me to overnight camps and gave me a lot of independence. Granted when I went to college it was only 3 hours away from them, but I can honestly say I was never homesick. Not for one minute. Same thing with my brother who chose to go school in Virginia. And that’s the way I want Will to be: independent, confident and well-adjusted.

So far I think we’re off to a good start.

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13 thoughts on “First Day of Daycare

  1. See, I’m with you. Now, when Ben went to preschool for the first time, I was pumped. Far better than having at home where we could murder each other.

  2. Independent may be a bit stong there, don’t you think? He is after all… well… a baby.

  3. I totally agree with the whole “acclimating the child to noise” thing. My husband expressed concern that I would be nagging him to turn down the stereo or his video game. I just said, “Like hell! You play that has loud as you like. I will not have a child that forces our life to shut down.”

    We may, at some point, have to put our son into daycare. The biggest problem I have with this is having some dip shit undo all the behavioral skills we have tried to instill in him. The thought of someone undoing all our hard work just makes me shudder.

  4. Daycare is great for kids. It socializes them if their parents don’t. I knew parents who were deathly afraid to send their child to daycare and when he went to preschool he didn’t know what to do or how to interact with the other children. I felt so bad for him.

  5. I did have a hard time leaving my first child at daycare. He was 2 by the time we needed to bring him. By that time, I was stung at the thought of another person giving my child the care I had given him.

    I got over it.

    Recently my beef with daycare was based on the level of care my youngest was receiving. I don’t feel like his daycare was preparing him for school. They were glorified babysitters and we had a number of problems. The only reason I didn’t pull him out was he was starting school this year and I didn’t want to yank him from one place, put him in another and then pull him from there to start school. I had a few incidents while he was there and I know other kids who were given peanut butter when they have a peanut allergy. This happened not once but several times. The english challenged teachers couldn’t read the notice of who was allergic to what!!

    Having concerns about daycare aren’t always centered around cutting the proverbial cord. I’m glad my son is out of that place and I’m sorry for all the parents who still have children there. Not all daycares are created equal.

  6. He’s so young-he’ll do great. It’s when the parents are actually with the child 24/7 that makes in hard on the parent and in turn hard on the kid.

    David however, never spent a day in daycare-slept in our bed until he was 18 months, breastfed until he was 22 months (which is actually the norm in most countries, just not ours). I thought he’d have a hard time suddenly going to preschool and the same when I had my c-section with my daughter-missing mommy “how will he sleep at night!?” etc.

    Every single transition he has made he has made with stride. He is an extremely confident, friendly child, above average intelligence, helps his peers and is a “model” child for his classroom.

    As much as one would like to think they their hard work and effort to “mold” their child to be, it really has a lot to do with their own personality and individual needs. David is now 3.5 and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

    I hate to sound like an old veteran mom dispensing advice, but the truth is, everyone does the best that they can do and to compare to other parents and children is going to kick you in the butt in the end. Not everything one child does will always make parents proud. Just as you can’t beat yourself up for things he does or doesn’t do that you don’t approve of…We all compare-it’s just how much can you really interprate as real evidence of your influence? All children are different and deal with things diffently.

    You are doing a fantastic job-and I am sure Will will be very well-adjusted:)

  7. JEE, of course it goes without saying that you have to trust your daycare provider. If I didn’t, I would definitely be worried and if the peanut butter incident had occurred I’d be downright petrified.

    Meri, he slept in your bed for 18 months?? Wow. Obviously he’s well adjusted and you’re doing a fine job, but personally I could never see doing that. I know it might come off as judgemental (and hell, maybe it is) but I guess when you’re writing a blog it’s all about opinion and that’s mine. That’s why I’m happy other people chime in with comments and different perspectives, so keep them coming!

    Sus, I hear you on the possibility of taking two steps back on the progress we’ve made. But we know the daycare provider and she takes care of my wife’s coworker’s baby and has gotten rave reviews.

    Cape Cod Gal, I agree. I’m glad Will will be able to interact with other kids.

    TheBear, shut up. He’s independent and brilliant and it’s all because of my superior parenting. Now zip it.

    Aunt Becky, teething just started in full force so there may be thoughts of murder soon too!

  8. It wans’t anything we had planned on doing-but as he was difficult with his reflux and would gag at night, and wake about every 20 minutes at a very early age, he was very difficult. I made a deal with my husband that if he worked, I’d get up to feed him. Now with this in mind, he was never given a bottle until it was too late-he won’t take one, and even now my daughter fights with us until she gets the boobies.(as my husband says you can’t blame her).

    My husband is a deep sleeper and doesn’t wake until I nudge him. With the tremendous guilt of staying home (for the first six months at least) I never woke him and would constanlty pass out with David next to me. Bear in mind, I had no pillows, no blankets and had a guard rail between him and the floor and had a firm mattress. So this was his GIANT crib…we tried EVERYTHING to get him in his own crib-cried it out for 2 weeks, and still never slept alone-it was a struggle for us and we kept giving in because it was a constant stress. Then I started working and had to take him with me (to make ends meet) and it was an hour drive back and forth and so he was sleeping a ton during the day and wouldn’t be tired enough at night to fall asleep on his own…

    It goes on and on-now we have a house, we have better hours, my husband has adjusted to less sleep and is now on David duty and I have the baby and a COSLEEPER, which I am glad to say she sleeps in for the majority of the night, but as a working breastfeeding mother who’s husband is away and working 70 hours a week-I do fall asleep with her next to me-and I wouldn’t change that. She is so soft and snuggly and so happy to see me when she wakes. It makes these tough times all worth it in the end. And if she turns out anything like David-I’d be the luckiest mom out there.

    But to each his own. David is a good boy and there were many times I would have changed our sleeping habits if it were possible. Everything is a learning process. I see both sides here, but I just had to say that not all kids that cosleep turn out to 10 year old breast sucking kiss asses with no spine and running around with a cord still attached. Some of them feel secure and loved and therefore has more self awareness and confidence:)

  9. I totally agree with everything you said. My parents did a great job raising me, but I didn’t go to day care and I didn’t go away to overnight camp. And as a result I freaked out as a child when I was left with someone other than my parents. Also when I went to college, I was extremely homesick. I think if my parents had forced me to be a little more independent and acclimated me to being apart from them, I would have been better off. I look at my nephew now and he has no qualms about being away from his family and is not shy about joining in with whatever group of kids is having the most fun. It’s healthy and the best thing for Will!

  10. I feel you have your opinion on wether or not you should feel bad leaving your child with a stranger. I’m not sure how I’d react because I’ve never been placed in that situation. Even if I were to leave him at a daycare I think I would be proactive about getting to know the caregivers beyond a first name. I am a co-sleeping mama so your last words seem to sting. I am going to push my son to be independent, but maybe I’m trying to give him everything I didn’t. I was raised by strangers and was VERY independent at a VERY young age and I feel that, that stole my childhood. No calling mama when I felt the need because she might be in a meeting. I agree with your general post but I think you push it a little when you feel the need to judge.

  11. Tiffany,

    I understand where you’re coming from. But unfortunately this blog is all about my opinions. And my opinion on the specific topic of co-sleeping is that I’m against it. Please don’t think I’m saying “All babies who sleep with their parents will grow up to be pantywaist mama’s boys who stand no chance at success in life.” That’s not it at all. I’m just saying it’s not for our family.

    And in the name of full disclosure, Will does take his first bottle of the day in our bed while we muster up the energy to wake up. Not sure if that counts as co-sleeping but he is in our bed for a few minutes so take that as you will.

  12. Good for you. Your son will thrive in his new social scene and revel in his independence. I di this fo r both my girls and I can honestly say they can pack up and go and look to new adventures. We made sure they know we are always here for them if needed and love them always security fosters independence.

    Hmm who gave you that advice about life as usual around the homestead???? Any one I know??

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