It’s kind of funny, but in Italy there’s a kind of private Daycare called Baby Parking. I couldn’t stop laughing when I first heard it. It’s basically a reduced time daycare, where you can take your child in for no longer than five hours a day, they can dispense food but not cook it (they can heat it) and usually they only take kids up to three years of age, though some go up to six which is when elementary school starts here. It’s where you go park your baby when you’ve got other stuff to do.
I started parking the boy at daycare (sorry, can’t resist a pun) when he was a little over a year cause he had started showing evident signs of being bored with my unimaginative entertainment day in and day out and demonstrated a heightened interest in other humans his own size and development stage.
Despite his demonstrably seeming ready, the initial separation was hard on both of us. I spent several mornings crying on the staircase outside the baby parking and he spent several minutes crying inside the baby parking. After a few torturous months (I’m persistent), and a change in daycare to a smaller, friendlier facility, we both calmed down and leaving him became, if not a gleeful time, at least a time in which I managed to do other things in relative calm. And the boy seemed to positively thrive, he learned new things, some good some I would rather have avoided, but such is the consequence of delegating childcare. He became friendlier and started coming out of his shell, a less timid more adventurous boy. All in all the experience was positive, so much so, that last September when faced with the decision of whether to put him in the “pre” – preschool class (something Italian schools are starting to offer) at a much cheaper rate or keep parking him at the more expensive, but familiar, baby parking we decided to let him stay there an extra year.
So when the girl turned a year old, and the husband seemed to be on a definite mend (boy were we wrong there), which resulted in the second Nanny leaving us (sob, sob, we loved her) it seemed a natural consequence for her to start frequenting the same baby parking as her brother.
The Girl, by the way, was always a more outgoing baby than her brother she seemed more independent. Though slightly more attached to me when I was around she was always fine when I wasn’t, and whatever mommy issues she seemed to have where explained away as a consequence of the husband’s illness, absence, and everyone’s resulting tension.
So off I lead her, one sunny February morning, to daycare with her brother… like a lamb to the slaughter… or maybe that was me?
The first day she was fine, I was there the whole time as was her brother, it probably seemed the best place in the world to her, new toys, new friends, old, familiar faces. The second day I went in the other room for an hour. She cried a bit but all seemed to be ok. The third day is when the storm hit me square in the face.
I went to the other room as usual, with the very firm admonishment not to come out even if she cried for a bit. She screamed her bloody, fucking head off for fifteen minutes at which point the teacher came into the other room, where I was silently yet systematically clawing through the door, to get me because she was freaking out all the other kids. And thus it went for a week. At the end of the week I had decided to just forego the whole experiment cause it was turning all of us, her brother included, into bumbling, weepy, neurotic messes and what the hell did I need to take her to daycare for anyway I still had one nanny after all.
But I’m stubborn, which is apparently where she gets it, so on Monday I call them up and say, I’m bringing her in today and leaving directly, I’ll be outside in the car, try to keep her in there for 45 minutes if she’s still crying come get me.
And armed with all the resolve of a US Marine sergeant I take them to daycare, hand her over and hustle out of there at the speed of light (or sound, whichever’s faster) before the scream-fest started.
It didn’t start. She supposedly watched me leave, made a half-heartened attempt at a cry, then allegedly shrugged in a “eh, she’s gone” way and went to play. To play.
Which is when I realized that I, my friends, am a complete moron, a moron who let herself be played by a one year old like a finely tuned harpsichord.
She’s been happily parked several times a week now for six months nary a tear in sight. Lesson learned.