To Childcare or Not to Childcare; a question that Billy Shakespeare famously overlooked and one which parents are left to ponder. I have just returned from Max’s induction at a childcare centre he was due to start tomorrow. I remember feeling a little bit sick, then a lot sick, the sort of sickness that is experienced after making an almighty error of judgement. I had convinced myself that childcare was in mine and Max’s best interests, Max could have a day off from Dad and Dad could have a day off from Max. The induction concluded with an awkward chat with the manager informing her of my change of heart; “please accept our large deposit as a token of our foolishness and have a lovely life”.
Where did it all go wrong, I went in with such high hopes and an open mind? From start to finish it was like something out of a parent nightmare; we were greeted by a young worker whose furious gum chewing did little to mask the smell of stale cigs and seemed to suffer from an acute child allergy that’s symptoms included a louder than necessary sigh, a dismissive wave of the hand, a cross look but not the pretend cross look us parents are so good at and an out of place mini skirt that she kept grappling with.
Kids were unanimously sporting a thick yellow gloop from their noses, accessorised with an indiscriminate mush, presumably food, in and around their tired looking faces. My optimistic smile was replaced by an attempt to look indifferent but I suspect I looked like I just stood in a giant dog turd that I didn’t want anyone else to know about. It’s the same look you have in the hairdressers when you realise the stylist is not quite sharing your vision. I’m not one for wrapping children up in cotton wool or parading them on pedestals but this felt so devoid of love, comfort and well being.
Having enviously peeked over the fence (not a good look for a young man) of THE centre that sends local parents into a collective cooing frenzy, I know they can also be fantastic places where love is dished up in glutinous portions. I sought a chat with the manager of THE centre; I delivered a suitably desperate tale, donned puppy dog eyes and dressed Max in his cherub costume but she smelt me a mile off and I was dismissed with a knowing grin and a three year waiting list.
I know that for lots of families child care is a choice grounded in practicality and necessity. I also am not averse to the idea that childcare helps to prepare children socially. But parental instinct piped up and said at this stage, in this centre, no. Perhaps my notion of happy children engaged in creative pursuits was a little too lofty but is that really so lofty? Either way I will be taking it upon myself to give Max what I think he needs and I feel vindicated in that.
The entire episode has served as a timely reminder to keep my own level of parenting performance somewhere up there and drummed it into my big, stubborn head that I am in a very fortunate position to even have the option and that I should embrace it in its entirety.
As per usual linking up with Jess at Essentially Jess