We visitied the Crunchier-Than-Thou option this morning and I was favorably impressed. The children were seven or eight notches calmer than at CBDC. No one zoomed in on Iris right away or tried to puncture her eyeballs with their little preschool fingers. There were whole moments (like, four seconds or so) during the morning in which each of the six kids was engaged in some pretty quiet activity and there was actual silence in the room. The kids seemed palpably happier and more at ease than at CBDC. Ingrid was uncharacteristically comfortable, leaving my side unusually early in the visit to try out an assortment of rhythm instruments and dance around with a scarf. The teachers were on the floor with the kids a lot and actively intervening when brattiness broke out.
Then we went for a long walk outside, and Ingrid cried and whined for a good four blocks. Four blocks of two-year-old walking. It was my fault; I hadn't brought boots or snowpants and she was cold. But it was a tantrum of mounting proportions and reasons and was fairly horrible, and I was calm and upbeat and empathetic for 3.95 blocks of it, and then I had a really really awful moment where I growled into her ear You need to stop crying right now. The thought crossed my mind that my picky search for child care is moot because anyone anyone on earth could do a better job at taking care of this child than I can, and that perhaps the nice people at this green little day care would not even want to take care of my snotty, snivelling wreck of a child.
Having recovered, mostly, from that, I think Crunchier-Than-Thou might end up being a good place for Ingrid. The contrast with CBDC, at least, makes me certain we won't go back there.
My reservations have to do with her readiness to be in that sort of situation at all, rather than anything in particular about this place. The walking tantrum pushed my buttons especially hard because it got at the crux of it: she can be so needy. I mean, unlike the other six kids there today, she doesn't seem to be able to just keep her mittens on, enjoy the scenery, accept a pine cone that another kid offers without being weirdly afraid of it, and walk. She has gotten used to a lot of one-on-one, a lot of hand-holding, a lot of narrating every damn thing we do and being prepared beyond reason for every single transition or change in plans, and she is very seldom able to just roll with what comes. Sometimes I think I am babying her too much by considering these things and what she needs most is to get away from me a little, into a place where she can safely learn some of this stuff. Other times I think this is just how she is; she just needs more closeness right now than any day care can offer, and it's kind of rude and violent to think of leaving her someplace where she's one of a herd.
Since so many (both! Both of my readers! Thank you!) vouched for the nanny option, I should touch on that: A nanny—a good nanny—is probably my best-case, most favorite option for this moment. But there are complications. First, finding the perfect person. Not easy, not guaranteed. Second, looking aheadl. I want Ingrid to be in some sort of preschool-esque setting next fall. We cannot afford nanny plus preschool, period. So if we hired a nanny now, it would mean not only another transition for Ingrid (and transitions, as you can tell, are rough) in the fall, but also finding something new for Iris at that point. And the preschool-esque thing would likely not be actual preschool anyway because we need the day care, not just the education/socialization aspect of it, so what would happen in summer? Temporary nannies? Too many transitions. So it would likely need to be a day care with a preschool curriculum of some sort, so why not just start that now and skip the extra transition time.
The other nanny issue is embarrassing: Ingrid is so frustrating right now, I am a little bit afraid to leave her with an unsupervised individual who does not already know and love her. I am seriously afraid that they would beat her. I am humiliated that I can think and say that about my daughter, but there you go. I mentioned it to A the other day and he nodded and said, I think that's reasonable. And you should meet A; he is the most patient person I have ever known.
That is my thinking at the moment, and if you are still reading I thank you heartily and apologize for the bad mothering, long sentences, and scrambled logic.