I defy anyone to watch the after work scene at a day care and not grin and say "awwww" at least once.
If she sees me coming, Pumpkin greets me by running to the gate of the toddler play yard and marching in place while clapping and laughing loudly. Even other parents smile.
When I get inside the yard and pick her up, Pumpkin immediately starts waving bye-bye to her teachers, and telling me that it is time for her after school snack and water. But before we can go, she has to hug her little friends good bye. She always hugs her two best friends, but sometimes, like today, she also hugs the somewhat befuddled other toddlers nearby. And sometimes another toddler comes running up and wants in on the love.
We go inside and have our snack, then walk out past the front desk, through the playground for the bigger kids, out the gates, and to our car. We walk past children of various ages hugging their mommies and daddies. The older ones are talking about their days. The youngest ones are snuggling in close. And the ones in between are chattering in the semi-coherent toddler speak that is so cute and so frustrating. Sometimes someone is throwing a tantrum because they don't really want to stop playing or they don't want to get in their car seat. The other parents smile indulgently. Tantrums are cute when it is not your kid.
The trip to day care to pick up Pumpkin adds at least 30 minutes to my commute. It takes 10 minutes to get to the center, then another 10 minutes to get Pumpkin through our after day care routine and into her car seat. By the time we leave, traffic is heavier than it was when I arrived, and the drive home is through stop-and-go traffic for at least a few exits. But I never want to give up picking her up, even when Hubby offers because some change in the morning routine required me to do drop off. Day care pick up is my favorite part of the day, not because I feel bad about leaving her at day care- she's clearly thriving there- but because the mundane joys I find there remind me what life with kids is all about.