August 19, 2019
As I entered the building to hand over the most precious thing in my life to nearly complete strangers, a part of me died.
I know change is hard, but I just don’t know how to describe transitions like these. This one was especially difficult, I think, because it was personal. I mean, I usually have a lot of head knowledge of policies, procedures, and content, and, logically, I knew what was happening. But somehow, the deepest parts of me could not embrace this moment. I just couldn’t let it in. My heart wouldn’t have it.
It’s just different when it’s your own kid.
In his first day at child care, our 21-month-old son Myals did well–waaay better than his daddy. For months, I knew this time was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier, today.
I was a mess on the inside. Yes, I even cried. That’s okay… right?
After we parted ways for the first time, I found myself wandering aimlessly, lost in a few thoughts. I do this sometimes just to make sense of the world, to let go of the things I can’t control, to rationalize when life’s not fair, or to soul-search the courage to be vulnerable in the moments that are still hard for me to let in.
With eyes like a hawk, I scanned every square inch of this space where our son would spend time without a blood relative present. Have I become the helicopter parent? Am I worrying too much? Is it obvious that it’s our first child? Probably all of those are true to some extent. But I don’t care about looking cool, and I don’t care what you think. I care about my kid.
As a parent, now, it’s very apparent how my perspective has changed from what I thought parents really cared about at Meet the Teacher, for example, to what just happened!
What did I really care about right then? My reflections shocked me.
What I Was Immediately Looking For
- Do the adults in the room care about my son’s safety?
- What procedures are in place if something goes wrong?
- Do facilities appear clean, organized, and orderly?
- Does the setting have a calm, happy, flexible, and friendly vibe?
- If we can’t bring our own food, do they know certain tricks to help him eat when he sometimes tries to trade meal time for more play time instead?
- Will they know what to do when he won’t fall asleep for nap time right away?
- Do they know that he needs a specific kind of suntan lotion, has no allergies of which we’re aware, and how to change a diaper?
- Do the adults in the room care about my kid?
- Do they really know him? I mean, do they know how much Myals just loves playing trucks, going for walks, dancing, and reading books in your lap?
- Do they know that he’s not yet been exposed to kids being mean, hitting him, or stealing his stuff–IF that should ever happen in a social setting of two-year-olds?
- Do they know that I’d lay down my life for my son, and that my son’s safety and well-being mean more to me than anything in the world?
What I Was NOT Immediately Looking For
The Latest Technology
- iPads or Tablets–Some were there, not sure what kind or how many
- White Board, Smart Board, Touch Screen TV
- Cell Phones, Handhelds, BYOD policies
- Chromebooks, Laptops, Desktops
The Best Manipulatives
Standards and Curriculum
The Teacher’s Desk
What I GREATLY Appreciated
- They have an app!
- Notifications are sent to me when there’s any activity with my son.
- I get updates, pictures, and even a summary at the end of the day.
- They’re willing to call and accept calls at any time of the day.
- I have personalized codes to enter the building.
- I have personalized codes to sign in or check out my son.
- They let me watch (through hallway windows) for a short time.
- As fellow parents/guardians, they treated my wife and I the same.
- I can get to know and read about my child’s caretakers in the hallway walls and online. They seem professional, kid-friendly, and trustworthy. That matters!
It will be interesting to see how my list of concerns changes over time.
But for right now, Meet the Teacher is in four days.
And I’m wondering what our elementary school parents will be looking for…
Blogger’s Note: This is a follow-up blog to #Teacherlife–Child Care Doubts.
— Kyle Hamstra (@KyleHamstra) August 19, 2019