Day care, preschool, kindergarten, after hours (and before hours, which we have not yet needed)... it is almost too overwhelming to reflect upon. We've been fortunate to have had very caring providers, some smart, some funny, some artistic, some traditional, and most of all interested in the growth, development, and well being of our kids. Perhaps it is my hypothetical pink contact lenses which make the situation seem so rosy, ultimately along the lines of "it's got to be good" because we didn't have too many other options! Initially no relatives nearby. And our being a Mother and Father in Medicine.
I did two years of drop offs and pick ups when Now Five was our Only, and in a day care center right next door to Mommy's work. It's coming back to me now, indeed I could not contain myself, literally I could not stop bawling when I visited the center, the week prior to the very first drop off (that was over 5 years ago!). But my huge outpouring of emotion (so many tears I could have dehydrated myself) was therapeutic and allowed me to feel good, subsequently, in time. Breastfeeding and providing pumped breast milk helped maintain our special bond.
Two years later along came her brother and a new job for my husband, and a fabulous new daycare ("school") for both kids. NAEYC accreditated and all that jazz, and it was jazzy in a low key sort of way. From that point on my husband became the main dropper offer and picker upper since it was next door to Daddy's work. Though I made sure to pick up at least twice a week so I could see, help, do, share.
I remember fondly those child care providers who were easy to talk with and be with, who gave me unsolicited pictures of my kids caught in the act of having fun, who taught me things (any interest in "stool withholding" for another topic day???), who taught my kids. Early lessons in social interactions. Early lessons in graham crackers and not having peanut butter. Other lessons like sharing is good, but it's not good to share your lunch (again, it may have peanut butter in it!). And, alas, the other less interesting providers do not loom large in my memories.
There were the many opportunities for field trips, some we could attend, some we heartbreakingly (ours and theirs) couldn't. And the performances, school birthdays, and holiday parties. International Day, fire drills, Music, Dance, even Yoga, all at the day care. And the fevers (fortunately few and far between) and the rare snow days. Enjoyed many of the other parents too (good thing, since birthday parties are with parental accompanyment at these early ages).
Never picked up too late, officially speaking, but then again, sometime not quite early enough. Often late for work, but that's the new normal. And did some "work" at daycare, discussing pediatric matters and other practical medical advice when asked.
Was it all rosy? At least the least desirable aspects have become funny with time. And eventually, you rush out of work and in traffic to pick up and find your little ones immersed in an activity, oh so important that you could come back in a few, take 5. Did I wish they weren't at day care? Not once I saw how much enjoyment they got from the interactions with their peers and teachers. Did I sometimes wish they weren't there for so long in the day? To this I'll admit. But then that's where the skipping out early and catching up on things after they go to bed comes in. Late bedtimes for napping daycare attendees and working parents, that's another story. Zzzzzz