Day Care Overload

February 18, 2010

I’ve started going on tours of local day-care centers. It’s been quite an eye opener.

My last experience of any sort with day care was over three decades ago, when I was an attendee rather than a prospective parent. My recollections are positive but fuzzy at best – I remember grapey fruit punch, refusing to nap, regularly scheduled yoga time (it was the mid-’70s), and a fellow toddler named Christopher with a prosthetic leg that he felt comfortable removing and passing around at show-and-tell (which, of course, was just about the coolest thing ever).

The first place I visited featured a closed-circuit TV system that parents, grandparents, and other members of the inner circle could log into from home, so they could watch their child throughout the day. I keep thinking of it as the ChildSpy Network, but it was actually called something far less sinister, like “Watch ‘Em Grow.” The system was stuck on a single room when I was there; unfortunately, it was naptime, so there wasn’t much more to do than “Watch ‘Em Sleep.”

I visited the second place right after lunch. I don’t know what they’re feeding those kids, but they were highly energized. The director and I were nearly mobbed by a pack of 2- and 3-year-olds who waved and swarmed us with samples of their latest art projects. “I always like to say we have a lot of future Wal-Mart greeters here,” she said.

Both places touted their crockpots (for warming breast milk), their notebook systems (for recording naps, tantrums, intakes, and outputs so that parents would be fully debriefed at day’s end), and their lower-than-low staff-to-child ratios.

It was really a little overwhelming. The good news is that both places seemed clean, capable, and staffed by loving, responsible caregivers rather than wannabe Miss Hannigans. No prosthetic leg sightings as of yet.

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