Since starting at Chaotic Bilingual Day Care, Inc., Ingrid has learned:

  • to hit
  • to throw things
  • to sing two songs in Spanish
  • to correctly use the phrase Oh. My. God., complete with dramatic pauses between words
  • to hoard a pile of toys and say No! You can't play with these. They are mine!
  • to herd a pile of stuffed animals on and off the potty chair one by one, commanding, Vamanos! Vamanos!

Scenes I have witnessed in the course of a dozen drop-offs and pick-ups at Chaotic Bilingual Day Care, Inc.

  • Two kids taking turns hitting a boy who was cowering against the wall while the teacher was out of the room and the two teachers in the adjoining room who were supposed to be keeping an eye on things were not looking
  • A little girl crying and clutching her teddy bear for several minutes before anyone noticed or tried to comfort her
  • (Upon arriving to pick up Ingrid one day), Ingrid standing in the middle of the room looking bereft and fighting off tears while all adults were busy wiping fingers and cleaning up lunch messes

Reasons I think this isn't the best place for Ingrid

  • See above.
  • Very faint, if any, sense of rapport with the teacher.
  • 24 kids, three teachers.
  • Disturbed sleep and intense separation anxiety in all situations has lasted the whole six weeks she's been going there.

Reasons I question my gut feeling that we should find another place:

  • Maybe this is just what day care centers are like.
  • Maybe the separation anxiety and stressed-out demeanor are just what day care is going to be like for Ingrid anywhere.
  • Maybe my lack of rapport with the teacher is mostly a cultural/language thing that would get better as I got to know her.
  • Yesterday when I told Ingrid we were going to visit a new school, she asked, Will there be C (teacher at CBDC) there?.
  • Many other characteristics of this place that, in paper and on my head, make staying seem like a no-brainer: healthy food, fun programs, neat environment, and most of all the bilingual, super-multicultural nature of the place.

Alternative option 1: Crunchier-Than-Thou Home Day Care

  • Waldorf-y, with lots of open-ended craft stuff, cooking, gardening, and outdoor play.
  • Six to ten kids; two to three teachers.
  • 20% more expensive than (already stretching our budget) CBDC.
  • We are visiting there tomorrow morning.
  • They probably have a spot available on the days I need.

Alternative option 2: Expensive Start-Up Home Day Care

  • Being started in January by two women who each have a son Ingrid's age.
  • Caregivers have lots of child development education and experience with kids.
  • Six to ten kids; two caregivers.
  • Great rapport with caregiver on phone.
  • Not started yet, so impossible to see beforehand what the environment will be like.
  • 30% more expensive than CBDC.
  • Space is probably available.
  • We are meeting with the two caregivers on Friday.

Alternative option 3: Nanny

  • Would cost about the same as having both kids at CBDC, even if we use a referral service and pay the nanny on the books.
  • Super convenient.
  • Ingrid would miss out on the time with other kids, the time away from Iris, and the benefits of a (however minimal) curriculum.

Iris's care is a whole other issue. Neither of the home day care options take infants. Part time infant care is nearly impossible to find around here. Our current plan is to have her at CBDC in the infant room. She is on the waiting list at Bland Hospital-Attached Day Care with Awesome Ratios and at Fancy No Vacancy, Ever University Day Care.



  1. Wouldn't the nanny be able to watch Iris, too? Wouldn't that be even cheaper still? And they could still see plenty of children at children's events, the playground, playdates, etc. I was a nanny and we did all that stuff. We even did stuff with the local SAHM group.

    That said, my personal opinion is that I do not like the big daycare places. Too much turnover and chaos and not enough personal relationships between child and caregiver. That's why we use an in-home place with a very kind, very calm, lady. My baby gets to play with a couple other little girls her age, and although the place is a little dark and smelly, I care more about the fact that my child loves being there and has a good relationship with the caregiver. Also it is crazy cheap.

    But then my kid is only there something like 3 hours tops a week, so I'm no expert on this stuff. If you can't do the nanny, then I'd say Alternative #1.

    Good luck. I know this stuff is stressful to sort out.

  2. My thought is that something is not right at CBDC and that child-teacher ratio is too high and that six weeks with no improvement sounds like a long adjustment period. (but what do I know-- maybe it's normal, esp when combined with a new baby at home.) Could you talk to those teachers about your concerns?

    Having a nanny *is* super convenient, and Gatito actually spends lots of time with other kids and their nannies-- but they have a 1:1 ratio when they do it. Could you combine nanny with a part-time preschool or a few drop-off classes so Ingrid gets time away from Iris and in a structured environment? That is our plan for next year and the preschool is about 10% of the cost of the nanny, so financially it's halfway between current option and Alternative 1, theoretically.

  3. And another thing... When I was little, I cried every time my mom dropped me off at preschool. This was very unusual behavior for me, and my mom knew it and switched me. I was very happy at the new preschool. Not all environments are the same!

    (What I remember about it is that they had this huge gym, but no running was allowed in it. The trikes were at the opposite end from where you walked in, and you had to race walk but not run to get to a trike in time. Something I, apparently, was incapable of mastering. WTF is up with a gym where no running is allowed?)

    As for the bilingual-ness, get a bilingual nanny!

  4. That sounds like an awful center and no, not all centers are like that. We did home care for Jamie until he was 2, and then moved him to a center, where he's been for a year now so we've experienced both scenarios (can't afford a nanny, alas) and both have their pros and cons. I get frustrated sometimes with the center on communication issues - not daily details, we get a sheet for that, but other things that I can't really seem to list at the moment - but I had the same frustration with the home-based care. What's clear is that the teachers at the center adore Jamie, have a great rapport with all the kids, and while it took him close to two months to adjust, it was a rough time all around and a bad time to switch caregivers but with no choice we got through it.

    And this:

    Two kids taking turns hitting a boy who was cowering against the wall while the teacher was out of the room and the two teachers in the adjoining room who were supposed to be keeping an eye on things were not looking

    I'd report. I doubt they're meeting their ratio requirements. No classroom should ever, ever be left alone. That's horrifying.