Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Separation Anxiety

It certainly does take a village to raise a child. Every parent is confronted with the decision of whom to welcome into their precious inner circle. Nannies. Grannies. Neighbors. Guests. The population is constantly growing so quickly, the census bureau would have a difficult time keeping track.

There was the time I was watching Penelope during a driving rainstorm and I had to walk the dog. So instead of wheeling her around with me, I dropped her off at the next-door neighbor's apartment, despite her crazy dog. Welcome to the village!

What? It was just for a few minutes!

Then there was the other time where I had a job interview and the nanny was running late, so I called one of my wife's "mom friends" to come over and stay with Penelope so I could leave. Welcome to the village!

But a new cul-de-sac full of residents has increased the number of people in the village exponentially. I don't even know most of them, but there they are, setting up shop in our village. Living, working, loving, in our village. Helping to raise our daughter.

We made the decision to put Penelope in day care. Day Care. Soak up those two words and everything they encompass. The doubt. The worry. The annoyance that things aren't done quite the way they would be if Penelope was still being watched in our home. The frustration that the simplest directions, like warming up her bottle, sometimes aren't followed.

But other than that, day care is great!

Honestly, while there is an obvious adjustment period for the baby, it is more trying for the parents. That is probably why, for the first week, my wife and I were glued to the live video feed on the day care's website. I watched that monitor like an air traffic controller, following the paths of all the children, but always looking out for Air Force One.

And one question kept popping into our minds. Especially after we realized Penelope doesn't nap as well at day care (obviously), and refuses her bottle when she's there, and is sometimes given foods she maybe shouldn't be eating yet.

Are we doing the right thing?

I've interviewed every mom or dad I know who has a child in day care, and they are all unanimous. Definitely yes. There are more positives than negatives. The socialization. The progress she'll make. Walking, talking, playing, learning. Or are those just rationales people with children in day care use to convince themselves? To tell you the truth, I don't have the answer.

And believe it or not, we've adjusted. So has Penelope. She still doesn't nap as much when she's there, but that's not our problem. The day care has to deal with her if she's cranky. And she really appreciates our home now. And she really loves when we're both around. Day care is a necessity, not a choice.

It's a choice we're dealing with, given the alternatives. Our nanny decided to take a job in the business world, so we didn't want to go through the process of finding another one. And when we took her out to dinner on her last day watching Penelope, she revealed to us that she had been out clubbing with her friends until 3 in the morning the night before. Not really what you want to hear from your primary child care provider.

So ignorance is bliss. We've drastically cut back on watching the day care cam, for our own sanity. We realize that as long as Penelope is happy and healthy, that's good enough for us. And she is. So are we. (Maybe).

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