One Decision Down

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.


  1. I am sure you do not need advice and particularly from me, one who is not experienced with day care.

    I will say, that your gut is probably telling you the right choice, though.

    Also, the fear of leaving Ingrid with an unsupervised adult - I am totally with you. I have a babysitter come in once a week for 2 hours. If the baby is out of sorts, I do not leave her because I do not want to put the babysitter in a bad situation. Some days, it takes all of my willpower to not lose my shit. How can I expect the same from a college student in her 20s?

  2. Meant to clarify - I do leave the babysitter with my 2 year old AND the baby. I will make a choice and just leave one if it looks like one of them will is going to be crazy cranky.

  3. Well, just another way to look at the nanny thing, they are fresh. They have not been dealing with the kid(s) all the time like you. I've watched little hellions and not gotten upset since a) it's not my stuff they are breaking and b) I get to go home at the end of the day! But of course not everyone can be even-tempered in the face of unreasonableness and poor behavior.

    But I see what you mean about too many transitions in care. That's a concern. I think that new place you visited sounds great.

    Your oldest is having a tough time right now but it will abate, I'm sure. You may want to look at this post


    reviewing books about how it goes with a firstborn when a secondborn is added in.

    The fact that she wasn't doing like the other children, well, I don't think it means she won't, or can't. She just needs time and acclimation.

    I think you are doing great with your two girls. They are lucky to have you.

  4. I think it's smart to keep an eye on plans down the road, and I'm not arguing for a nanny, but I think my terrible two son is not so terrible around the nanny.

    Maybe it's because she's been through all this before and knows how to deal, but maybe he isn't quite as comfortable engaging in awfulness when mom's not around?

  5. I used to be a nanny. I have nannied for a many, many children of a wide range of temperments. Remember that a child creates a whole new relationship with a new caregiver. It's not a good or bad thing, it just is. Your experience with Ingrid (both positive and frustrating) will not be the same experience another caregiver will have. And someone with a lot of experience with kids is going to be able to handle Ingrid's moods and even have a good time with her. (Kids tend to save their absolute best and worst for their parents. I typically didn't deal with the worst the parents saw nor did I get to see the kids at their absolute best) That's part of the joy of being a nanny rather than working in a daycare - you get to develop a long term relationship with the kids and you can be available when they're really needy. It's your job as a nanny to be available. A nanny isn't trying to pay the bills, return phone calls, buy groceries, clean the house, and make dinner all while caring for a child. They simply are there to care for the child and that's their entire job. So don't worry about that. (Also don't worry that a nanny can do a better job than you. It's not true, never will be. You're a loving mom and nothing beats that).

    And you also have this: Ingrid is in a stable, supportive family. It's millions of times worse to nanny for families that are in shambles, feeding their kids diet coke in bottles and stuffing them full of candy so they'll eat something, damnit. I used to say that the worst part of nannying was dealing with the parents - the kids are easy!

    I don't know if any of this is helpful, but just a few thoughts from the other side. Good luck in your search and decision making. :)

  6. I totally get what you're saying - we are in such a rough spot right now. My son can just be so difficult and I feel like I spend hours growling at him. I would be worried about leaving him with someone new now. In his nursery school, they already know and love him so I hope they remember all of his wonderful traits when he's in the middle of a meltdown!

  7. I'm agonizing over when/if/how to go back to work right now, and the childcare piece is my primary sticking point. Since we're in a new town, we really don't even have babysitters yet. Ten months. Two date nights. Yes, I'm going mad.

    No advice, just a bit of understanding and commiseration. Childcare sucks. :-P

  8. I think we are raising the same child.

    A has had a few different long-term babysitters and without fail, she is MUCH better behaved with them than with us. But I totally understand--the main reason I didn't want to hire a night nurse when we were in the worst of our sleep problems (besides the exorbitant cost) is because I thought she might end up shaking the baby.

    I am reading all these posts with interest because I'm trying to figure out a preschool situation for A next fall and I'm not sure what's going to work for her. The normal loud chaos of most preschools is not going to do it.