Who knew daycare was so complicated, right? Who knew it would turn me into this frantic and relentless calling/emailing/mustsecuredaycareformyunbornchild fool? Not me, I tell ya.
So OK – our hopes of having Vegas across the street in the too-convenient-to-be-true child care place are officially squashed. Gone are the hopes of popping over on my lunch break to breastfeed or take him on a stroll around the pond next door to gander at the ducks. So long for dropping him off literally on the way to work, a mere half a mile from my parking spot. When you’ve done drying your eyes, continue on.
Instead, we’re “confirmed” for an infant spot opening up in September at a child care center 10 minutes north of where we work. Now 10 minutes seems like nothing compared to what my commute used to be in my former two hour a day commuter life, but when you’ve spent the last almost two years driving a mere five minutes to work, adding another 20 minutes completely out of the way seems devastating. The good news is that it passes one of the two Starbucks in town on the way back to work. That will surely help me get back into the double tall soy latte habit I’ve been missing so much.
I was calling places last week in a panicked tizzy, and once the lady at one place told me they had an opening in September, I turned on my fastest pregnant waddle and sped over to meet with her at 11am. The meeting/tour lasted forever (well, until 12:30pm), and I was actually immediately sold somewhere after seeing the infant room (fully stocked with four infants), with not one of them being strung up by their feet or duct taped to their crib. But seriously – one was sleeping in a crib, one was sleeping in a swing, one was having tummy time in an enclosure, and one was being fed baby food in a highchair by “Dolores,” who is in charge of keeping an eye on them all. No one was bleeding or covered in poo. It smelled clean, and not like ketchup.
After waddling through the rest of the tour, the lady referred to my “husband” at some point, in which I stopped her and said, “Yeah, about that. I actually don’t have a husband. I have a partner, and we’re both women,” which unexpectedly and over-excitedly-for-a-straight-lady launched her into a gay rights activism speech of sorts, concluding with the fact that she frequents the only gay bar in town – oh no, she’s not gay, but it’s open until 5am. I entertained her curiosity about how I got pregnant, since we tend to attract the straight ladies who are considering having a child without involving a man. All the single ladies? All the single ladies. I gave her a check to hold our spot, took her brochures/applications, and was finally on my way.
The center, despite my positive duct tape-less description of it, is not at the top of anyone’s list of preferred child care locations. It’s handouts have been xeroxed so many times that the lines are all blurred and askew, and the application is from 2009 and has a variety of unclear and confusing provisions, as well as some humorous typos (i.e. “Parents are responsible for keeping track of ‘soon cram’ and medications.” Please tell me that “soon cram” is a typo, and not something we’ve left off the registry?) In fact, the center had been written-off completely by some other pregnant friends of ours who chose a different facility after extensively researching the few places in town who will take infants as young as 6 weeks. They said it was “too small.” I prefer “homey and cozy!” But let’s just go ahead and say it out loud – our town doesn’t have very many “bad” parts of town. But it does. And guess where the daycare is. Bingo!
Before you call social services or the spelling police, first let me say that it’s amazing how different parents rate their child care priorities and preferences. We, obviously, were looking first and foremost at convenience – location to home and work. Duct tape optional. Kidding. Our first place had that, and at, what we thought was, a reasonable weekly rate. Other folks might choose to pay more or drive 20 minutes out of their way for a bigger, more industrial facility, or one with language immersion, or no TV’s, or a webcam, or whatever else they feel is essential to the well-being of their child. For the long term, we’re eying our number on the wait list of the place that’s associated with our work, where I put my name on the wait list the Monday after the weekend we found out we were pregnant back in October. And there are still eight people ahead of us as of today. Two of them are due in September. But for the short term, this is as good as we’re going to get given Vegas’ age when he’ll need day care, as well as our child care budget each month (which immediately eliminated all but four centers in the area). No, it’s not convenient – our first priority – but apparently when faced with no daycare at all, we’ll sacrifice convenience for being able to keep my job and benefits.
So aside from trolling the Craigslist for some SAHM working out of their home, or ponying up serious nanny cash, this is the plan, y’all. As much as we’re oddly comfortable with the place (soon cram optional), despite its proximity to a trailer park, it’s crazy how we’re a little reluctant to tell folks what daycare we’re using, which is about as common of a question as “When are you due?” and “Is it a boy or a girl?” especially now that everyone knows our previous daycare is closing down. We’re private people, as you might know, so the judgment involved in telling people we’re shipping Vegas off to Rikers for 40 hours a week when he hits eight weeks old is daunting.
Before we bought a house, we actually used to live a few blocks from the center, and spent the entire year trying to explain to people where we lived. No, not that townhouse complex where the shooting was. More behind the closed-down Chinese buffet. No, the other Chinese buffet. We never felt unsafe in our old neighborhood, actually, so calling it a “bad” part of town is really relative. Deep down I know that it will be OK, but it doesn’t make me any less reluctant to come clean and fess up about our choice. Some drive-by-advice-giving parents are judgmental as it is without giving them so much ammunition to work with up front.