in honor of james' first day in childcare, here's an entry about my daycare scramble, alternately titled why don't you want my caucasian money.
first and foremost, if you are expecting- if you are even thinking of expecting, if you have just met a person who you wouldn't mind having children with- start scouting your daycare options.
i started calling and touring daycares during my third trimester. once, a lifetime ago, i drove past a creme de la creme facility and rolled my eyes so far back i think i glimpsed my parietal lobe. what a stupid name, i thought. what a white ass place that must be.
fast forward several years, and creme is my first choice for daycare.
have to be the best, my mom despaired. james has not even been born into this cruel world yet but already she has elevated his potential to the stratosphere. he is treasure, so small, have to be best safest daycare.
i've been reading up on creme de la creme, i tell her. it's literally more expensive than the last apartment i lived in- $1600 a month.
these are the magic words. my mother prizes expensive things as the hallmark of quality. she throws her support behind creme, urging me to abandon any fiscal reticence. childcare is not where you pinch pennies, after all.
we tour creme before james is born. it is not particularly impressive- the a/c is broken when we visit and there is a backup unit with some sort of exposed pipe cooling the infant room. three ugly babies vibrate placidly in baby swings while a caretaker cradles a fourth. the director of curriculum and i have a hard time communicating. i keep asking her about their vaccination policy because i don't want some fucking anti-science hippie parent who follows david avocado wolfe on facebook to put my baby at risk. but for some reason she thinks that i am an anti-vaxxer lunatic and reassures me that i can enroll my child as long as i sign a document indicating my wishes to abstain from vaccination.
we have parents who choose not to, she reassures me. i want to scream and shake my fists and tell her this is the wrong way for her to pitch her house of disease to us.
but it's supposed to be the very best daycare! even the babies have an education curriculum! there are like 1400 security cameras! look at these adorable uniforms! i am suckered in despite some misgivings. i fill out the form to get him on the waitlist. he's the second one on it, i am reassured by the director of curriculum. it shouldn't be a problem to get him enrolled in january. i ask her if she's sure. she reassures me everything looks good for the projected start date of january 3rd.
i call the center in early september, having heard nothing from them and expecting to fill out a ream of paperwork. they tell me that they have no record of me or james. as it turns out, i was never placed on any sort of waitlist. i guess i just had a frustratingly misunderstood dialogue about vaccinations with this woman for literally nothing. but we are still 4 months away from january, and i am reassured that looks like an achievable start date. i rush to the facility after work, pay their nonrefundable registration blood money of $200, and rest easy knowing that my son will be cocooned in the mayonnaise white privilege of this disneyland-ass daycare.
i don't hear from creme at all, so toward the end of october i call to confirm that we are still on for january 3rd. miss lindsey is on vacation right now, i can have her call you back as soon as she's back on november 1st, the receptionist chirps.
miss lindsey never calls me back. i try to reach her again at the beginning of november. she seems bewildered by my need to confirm a start date with certainty, and i am bewildered by the fact that they cannot offer one. she explains that daycare enrollment is a nebulous, unpredictable game of tetris with children transferring rooms and jumping the waitlist based on an unfathomable algorithm of development and nepotism. part of this makes sense, but i am staggered at the burden of unpredictability placed entirely on the family. so, i guess we just hang out and don't make any career moves until y'all work this equation out?
she reassures me again that the january start date for james looks attainable, but sneaks in i can't guarantee like conversational fine print.
we should know by the end of november, she tells me.
nobody contacts me by the end of november. i have moved beyond surprise to a dogged tenacity. i call again.
i am told that january is now a pipe dream, and we have been shunted to maybe february. but what about the "second one on the waitlist" thing? we give preference to parents of existing creme students, miss lindsey explains. we recommend that you find a backup option.
HOW MANY NEPOTISM BABIES HAVE BEEN BORN DURING THE LAST TWO MONTHS TO HAVE PUSHED MY SON INTO THE DREGS OF THE WAITLIST ROCK BOTTOM?
sounds like they give preference to white people, my sister quipped. should've had ian do all the work on this one.
i laugh this off but secretly wonder if i have been too annoying and thereby deemed an undesirable parent. miss lindsey has been polite and friendly on these calls, but there is an unnerving detachment bordering on flippancy towards a family on the waitlist. like maybe if there is no contact or update for long enough, i will finally disintegrate into dust and stop pestering them. i feel like i am trying to get into an uptown club on saturday night but the bouncer has pocketed my $200 and is hell-bent on not making eye contact with me.
so i frenziedly scout backups. now it is december and things look dire. the daycare centers in our area have waitlists extending out to may. i start thinking that i will need to buy some business casual looks for james and just take him to work with me every day. his first words might be revenue cycle.
stela in my addison clinic suggests kids r kids. this name is only slightly less wretched than creme de la creme, but i know for a fact that her daughter has been enrolled at one of their frisco facilities since she was six weeks old. gisella is now 2.5 years old- confident, charismatic, social, and bright. i seize on this ray of hope.
when i drop in for a tour, a very kind and professional lady named emily guides me through the two infant rooms. they are clean, brightly colored, and immaculately organized. there are live webcams accessible to parents at all times. the infant room teachers have an average tenure of 4 years thus far.
we only have one unvaccinated student, but they're an older child in a different classroom on the other side of the building, emily tells me.
i am sold. she guarantees a january 3rd enrollment.
ian and i dropped james off this morning, lugging a bin of carefully labeled supplies. his teachers are warm and welcoming. they do not betray the slightest impatience while i explain his feeding schedule over and over again. james lies on the playmat and is immediately enthralled by a bucket of toys. he doesn't seem to know or care that his parents are leaving him in a new place, with new adults, and a whole squad of ugly babies.
he does not cry. we do not cry.
and creme still has not contacted me at all.