Day Care: from hell to heaven

As you have read many times, I have a lot of emotional baggage about nursery school.  When I was two and half, a day care teacher who put masking tape on my mouthbecause I wouldn't stop crying because I missed my mom. (My mother immediately took me out of that place) But maybe the damage was done since  I literally cried every school morning until 4th grade. (According to my parents, when I switched school, my cousin Celeste who was also a classmate told me that it was time I stopped crying and I did.  Cele has alway had a way to get me to snap out of it.)

Needless to say, when it was time to pick a day care for my only child so she could start socializing with other children, I was literally freaking out.  It didn't help that my first choice turned out to be a total disaster where my daughter would come home with cuts on her dress, never had a full time teacher and was constantly getting sick.  Otherwise Amelia was happy at that first place but my gut kept telling me that I had to get her out of there for so many reasons.

WARNING: What follows is more than an endorsement of my daughter's second day care. It's an open letter of gratitude to a staff that helped me get over my nursery hang ups and gave my daughter the most wonderful eight months. I'm not suggesting you sign her up at this place. I am hoping you are as blessed as we were to find such a treasure.

During my original search of day cares, I had visited but never toured Detour 2 Discovery. I liked it, but by the time they called to tell me there was space for Amelia, I had signed her up at another day care.  When I was at my wits end with the first facility, my mother told me to go back to D2D. I resisted because Amelia was going to school in September and I felt skittish about switching schools 3 times in one year.  But Mami said: "if you can change her to D2D you may give yourself 8 months of peace of mind."  My mother, a former educator, is one wise lady.

From the moment we arrived at D2D, peace is what we immediately felt. Amelia loved her classroom and by the end of her first week knew the names of all her classmates. Her teachers, Miss Rose Mary and Miss Joann greeted her every morning with welcoming hugs. When Amelia took to hitting the same poor boy, Miss Rose Mary disciplined her and kept me informed of her progress.  The daycare owner would always say hello at the door and would tell me how Amelia was doing. I felt that I had a team helping me raise my child and I could see that my girl was thriving in that environment. (By the way, except for one cold with a low grade fever, Amelia never got sick at her new day care.)

She spent from January to June with Miss Rose Mary and Miss Joann. She had to switch to the camp program with new teachers because she was leaving for a new school in September.  The change was not easy for Amelia or for me.  One day, during that first week, I went to pick her up at noon and I found her crying, sitting alone at a table. One of the teachers told me that Amelia would cry every day when it was time to pick her up and that she was having trouble socializing.   I was so sad and,  like the "first time Mom" that I am, I called D2D's owner asking her to switch Ame back to her old teacher. I even said I would pull her out of camp.  Miss. Joann, the owner, listened patiently then asked me to give her and the teachers a few days to work with Amelia.  By the end of the week, my girl was happy again.

I can't say enough about Miss Jackie and Miss Stacey.  Camp at D2D meant a lot of field trips.  Those teachers dealt lovingly with my fears about letting Amelia go out into the city without me.  They took those 10 kids to more places in Chicago than their parents probably have taken them.  We didn't have one bad incident all summer.  When we did send Amelia's baby sitter with her or any parent would accompany their child on field trip, Miss Jackie and Miss Stacey didn't mind.  When I would pick my daughter up, they would always fill me in about Amelia's adventures during the day.

So, as you can imagine, it was with a heavy heart that we said good bye to Detour 2 Discovery last Thursday.  Amelia hugged her current and past teachers plus the teachers in nearby classrooms.  It's amazing how the staff seems to know every kid in the building. They all told Amelia that she would do great in her new school and that she had to come back to see them.

I thanked them for helping ME get over my apprehensions about day care and for teaching my daughter that school can be a loving and fun environment.  The owner told me "well, you know,  it takes a village."  You are correct Miss. Joann and I'm so happy that Detour was my village for 8 months. Ay Mama!


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