Last week I found myself in a pickle; in the choice making place. This upcoming fall, my son will finally be placed in a daycare, and perhaps, “Frat House Fridays” as I know it, will come to an end. He’ll be turning two, and having not known anything outside our daily home routines, will be making the biggest jump of his young life—I liken it to my first year of college, how my parents drove me to Stevens Point, how they helped me move in and took me out to lunch, how I insisted they leave me at the Taco Bell, how my mother cried as I sat drinking a Coke in the Taco Bell booth, feeling like a damn man.
Except I imagine he’ll clinch tight to my leg as I attempt to walk away, or perhaps he’ll hurricane through the child-center, huffing and puffing, blowing down everything in sight. Last week, we were told to drop him off and just walk away, quickly. Each daycare we visited swore by this. And I wanted to tell them that my kid may not be like the ten thousand you’ve come across. He likes to cry until he chokes, and chokes until he vomits, and vomits until he has your full fucking attention. I digress. So dear audience, I’m writing for direction, for advice. In a few weeks, because I’m teaching an intense summer course, my boy will begin a daycare trial run. We’ve narrowed the place down to two: the “Old Country Freedom” daycare, or the tightly run “Fort Knox” campus daycare (these of course aren’t the real names).
Old Country Freedom, or OCF, is located in a small building and offers three classes for the various age groups (infant, 2 year old, 3 year old/ pre K). The teachers are southern and laidback. They seem to interact with the children just as my Aunt Polly would: direct but good humored, relaxed and carefree—except they weren’t drinking box wine or chewing tobacco. But they were fun and caring, and the kids seemed to be happy, running around freely. We were told the children have the majority of their learning activities in the morning and late afternoon is kind of a free for all. I allowed my son to be a part of this free for all, and to my surprise he didn’t cry, even when I hid. In fact, he had made a few homies rather quickly. And he, Tremaine, and Will started baby talking through garbled words—I imagine my son was being asked what set he claims, where his grandmamma live, if he has any milk on him. I kept thinking, “son, don’t forget to throw the right hook we practice at home if they test you.” The negatives of this place were that the front door was unlocked, the playground area was extremely small, and well, how do I say, the teachers (who also changed diapers) seemed to be the cooks too.
Fort Knox campus daycare, or FKC, is located on what seemed to be a baby college, a campus if you will. The front of the building offers a nice horseshoe driveway (an efficient way of popping the babies in and out). And there was no walking right in because their front door was locked. There was even a parent on the other side who looked at us and then simply looked away to avoid eye contact, to communicate that we were out of luck without the FKC keycard. And once we finally gained access, the first thing I noticed were beautiful fish tanks and Mozart playing (in all honesty I cannot confirm nor deny the Mozart thing, but it helps the mood I’m trying to create—just roll with it). The first thing I thought was, “yep, this is where a professor’s kid should go. How can I say I love my kid and not send him to the Princeton of daycares?” As we toured the center, we saw a large number of rooms (I want to say each age group had two rooms) that were spacious, real efficient, and effectively separated. I peeked in one of the rooms and the kids seemed to be concentrating on an activity. And as I watched them, I couldn’t help but think of those futuristic movies in which kids are bred and taught levitation, spoon bending, and other crazy shit. I saw my son sitting in that room stiff and well behaved as a chair. I saw him uttering the words “yes ma’am, no ma’am.” I liked it. I didn’t like it.
In the back of FKC was a huge playground and, wait for it, a damn pool (wasn’t any pools at the daycares in the hood). I even asked if the kids swim, and of course our perfect tour guide responds, “With their parent’s permission. We have three certified lifeguards to teach them. Some who start as infants are great in the water by the time they leave here.” FKC had it all, even cooks with hazmat suits and wave caps. I wondered if even I would be allowed to pick my kid up at the end of the day. Perhaps I’d need to bring some sort of extreme verification, like a video of my birth.
The negatives of FKC are all the positives. I wonder if my child will get to be a child. And perhaps this is a result of me getting old and reverting to the “back in my day” proverbs. Because all I remember from daycare (which was the home of some chick my mother knew) was naptime, roaches, and playing with toys. Whenever I ask my mother about that lady’s house, I’m told I stopped going because the lady pinched and spanked us. I don’t remember that.
So there it is reader. I invite you to help me decide on where to send my child, OCF or FKC. I have laid out the pluses and minuses, positives and negatives. Feel free to login and post a comment. Let’s maybe start some dialogue, get my boy in daycare, and not look back.