Thursday, August 30, 2012

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

"Where troubles melt like lemon drops high above the chimney tops. That's where you'll find me." -from Somewhere Over the Rainbow


Every day, I picked up Peanut from daycare. Every day, I rushed in and out of that place like a whirling dervish, loath to participate in any small talk or long discussions. Every day for years I had only minimal contact with the people who run this place. Minimal at best. Certainly not as much as they deserve. This is not because they are not worthy of my time. Quite the opposite. They are wonderful, patient, understanding, loving, caring, involved people. It’s because I am perpetually in a rush. I have dinner to prepare and a dog to walk and it’s 5:45 and we have to get home. I can’t help myself. That's just me.

So to make up for all of those times I picked her up and just said hello and goodbye with little eye contact as I was climbing, then shortly thereafter descending, the steps two at a time, I am here to say what I should have stopped to say all of these years:

Thank you.

My daughter is happy. She is well-behaved. She is bright, observant, and clever. She is funny and friendly. A lot of that is nature. A lot of that is parenting. (Thank you very much.) But so much of that is you.

We moved here when she was one and a half years old. Took her from the only home and only daycare she had ever known, and she didn’t miss a beat. And that IS you.

You treated her not as a student, but as a child. Your child. You made her feel at home. You eased every fear or concern we’ve ever had from day one.

Sometimes you knew Peanut better than we did. Once she had been giving My Director a difficult time during the morning routine for a few days in a row. (I’m already at work when this is going on at 7am.) She was saying things like, “I don’t want to go to school.” When My Director asked her why she’d answer, “Because the boys aren’t being nice.”

First, I was surprised. (She’s always been friends with those boys.) Then, I was protective. (I’ll beat those boys to a pulp.) Finally, I was constructive. (I’ll ask her teacher what’s up.)

So on one of the rare occasions where I took the time to have an actual conversation with someone during pickup, I asked the teacher on the playground if Peanut ever seems unhappy, if she ever complains, or if she notices her ever getting a hard time from the boys.

“Are you kidding me?” She answered. “(Peanut) puts them in their place. If they mess with her she says, ‘Oh, no you don’t.’” (That's what I thought.) “She’s fine," she continued. "You’ll never have to worry about her getting pushed around.” THAT’s my girl.

"So what you're saying is, she's playing us?" I countered. 

"You got that right."

Of course she is.

As a newish dad, what it took me a while to realize about daycare is that it’s not just a place you pay to watch your child. It’s much more than that. It’s people you trust to help your child grow. To help her succeed. People who potty trained her. (Because she just would NOT go for us.) People who cared for her when she was sick. (Because it takes a while to get home from the city after you’ve received THAT phone call.) People who showed her love, not anger, when she did something wrong. (Because they knew she was sorry.)

People who became her family, a part of our family. People who we talk about around the dinner table. People she looks up to. People she loves.

This week, Peanut walked out of her daycare for the last time. It was a milestone. A sad one. It's hard to believe that this place that has been so much a part of our every day lives will suddenly fade into the sunset of our memories.

Walking through the door
one last time
All of the good times, the sick days, the friends we all made, all because of this place. Now as we count down to Kindergarten, I realize she is ready and confident to take that step because of them. So there is one thing that I want to say to the people who have meant so much over the past four years. It doesn’t seem like nearly enough, but it is sincere from someone who wishes he had said it a lot more:

Thank you.

This post first appeared on Barista Kids in June, shortly after Peanut's pre-K graduation. I had a little fun with that rite of passage in a previous post. If you want a good laugh, you can read it here.

13 comments:

  1. Our circumstances are so different, yet every post of yours seems relevant to me. So much to come "will fade into the sunset of our memories," and I find that so sad. Kids are so courageous and resourceful and resilient and positive and, well... you know. What happened to us?

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    1. The nice thing is actually HAVING those memories. And being able to cherish and appreciate them. I am so glad you have found a way to connect to my stories and I always appreciate your comments.

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  2. I cried hysterically dropping Carter off at preschool for te last time. What are these emotions we've developed?

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    1. I don't know. I'll get really concerned if I start developing breasts.

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  3. This is beautiful and should be required reading for anyone considering daycare. I think it gets a negative rap a lot, but obviously you picked a wonderful place. Good luck with your transition into kindergarten.

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    1. We know people with day care horror stories. We were fortunate to get a good one. But you're right. It DOES get a bad rap. But for most people who work it's the only choice.

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  4. My wife teaches Grade 1 and says there are a lot of tears in Grade 1 on the first day and it isn't the kids. I'm with John; when did I become so emotional? It's all good.

    It's always good to remember that for every milestone, even though Peanut is growing up, it means that she is moving forward.

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    1. This milestone just seems bigger than most of the other ones. But I am glad we are watching and enjoying every step of the way. She's come a long way and we've been right there with her.

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  5. We haven't started daycare yet. I can only hope to love mine as you have yours. (i found you on the blog hop! I'm a follower.)

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    1. Welcome! If you trust your daycare, then your child will be fine. There are some places we walked into and just knew it wasn't right.

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  6. So important to be thankful. Well said.

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  7. I love this. I taught pre-k for 12 years and before that had a licensed home child care. A thank you from parents is a rare and valuable gem. Thank you for your heartfelt thank you! :)

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