Friday, December 19, 2008

The Perils of Matchmaking, Day Care Edition

I've recommended my day care to several people. Pregnant working women (and working moms who aren't too happy with their current situation) will almost always ask you where your kid goes to day care and whether you like it. I always tell people where we go, and say I do like it, and then answer all the follow up questions as honestly as I can.

Two people who asked me about where we send Pumpkin have ended up at the same day care we use. As far as I know, one is as happy as we are with the place. The other told me today that she is moving her baby as soon as she can find a different day care. I don't think I should tell her story about why on my blog- it is not my story. I will say that when I listened to the story as she told it, I could understand why she was so upset and wanted to move. But I also thought "gee, I think I would have seen these events in a completely different way." If the same things had happened to us when Pumpkin was that age, I don't think I would have even thought about making a change. I don't think it would even have occurred to me that anything might be wrong.

This got me thinking about the match between day care and child, and perhaps more importantly (at least at the younger ages) between day care and parents. Every parent has different things that worry him/her, and no day care can address every possible concern. So when you're interviewing day cares, what you should be trying to do is figure out if the your particular parenting neuroses are well-handled at the day care. Except, you're usually interviewing day cares when you're still pregnant, and you really have no idea what your neuroses will be. (Really, I would never have predicted that I would freak out so much about Pumpkin's eating. Given that our day care requires certain eating-related milestones before a baby moves up to the older infants room, this was a definite mismatch between me and my day care, and it did cause some angst.)

I guess it is a sign of my progress as a working mom that my friend's revelation didn't make me doubt my day care decision. Our day care is a good fit for us, but if it is not a good fit for her and her family, she should definitely find one that is. Or, if she can't find a day care that fits, she should get a nanny, which would give her more control over how things are done.

Still, I feel a strange guilt about this. I feel bad that my friend is going to have to go through the hassle of finding a day care again, when she thought this was done. And I feel bad that the center is having to deal with this obvious mismatch. It is probably creating some stress for the teachers that we really liked. It is sort of like the feeling you get when you try to hook two friends up and they totally don't hit it off.

I've sworn to listen supportively and non-judgmentally to my friend's concerns and her reports of the search for a new day care, but to keep my mouth shut and not offer any advice. Well, maybe I'll tell her to ask carefully about the biting policy....


  1. Anonymous8:46 AM

    Good for you, but probably wise words of caution to tread lightly in the future. I always find it hard to not doubt my own decisions when other parents freak out about things that I let slide.

  2. I'm really impressed with how you are handling it! Way to go with not doubting your decision and to listen to her struggles! You are a good mom and a good friend.

    We need to get moving on our daycare search. The nanny has been wonderful, but at age 2, I really want to put the Pumpkin in a daycare/preschool. Plus, I think it'll be good for her with the new baby coming. If you have any tips (other than knowing my neurosis, which I do by now mostly), please let me know!

  3. I have recommended three friends to my daycare and two ended up going there, the third kept looking for something they liked better. I have always felt a little gnawed at by the fact that the third couple couldn't imagine sending their child where I send mine. It played with all the lingering doubts I have about daycare -- I guess I'm still getting used to being a working Mom (my son is 14 months old). So I think it's amazing that you're so serene about this!

  4. Finding daycare is a highly personal choice.

    I wrote about it repeatedly:
    "I heard one commentator say that we don't really meet people by chance any more. We think we do, but we meet people who share our values and interests because of the places we hang out. Mothers who meet at daycare centers bond because we already had something in common by virtue of selecting that daycare center.

    Because we can afford this particular center, we have to have a certain level of income and education. The location of this center implies that we live or work nearby; housing segregation by class and income is commonplace. This center charges about as much as one of LA's cheaper (usually undocumented with little or no English) nannies for the same amount of hours. The fact that we chose the center over one on one care in our homes says something about our values."

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