While pregnant with Monkey, Hubby and found several daycares that were in the OMG-that-place-costs-twice-as-much-as-our-mortgage price range. On top of which, many of those prohibitively-expensive centers were kind of chumpy. They did great things, like teach sign language, but they also wanted Hubby or I to come stay with Monkey for the first week he was enrolled. (You want us to pay you how much for the pleasure of yours and a half-dozen other snotty babies’ company for a week????)
We also found several affordable centers, mostly chains, which had a high rate of teacher turnover. There wasn’t anything specifically bad about these places, but we didn’t really like their vibe. And I’m a big believer in following my gut on where I’ll leave my child. A very affordable option was the in-home daycare. I didn’t have a problem with this idea per se, but was nervous about finding someone that I could trust, since we live so far away from where most of our friends and family live.
The option we found most enticing was a church-housed daycare center, so long as they didn’t teach our kid their theology. (Despite the fact that we’re Christians and frequently attend church, we have very little in common with a lot of the churchgoers in our socially-conservative neck of the woods.) We found these options to be the most affordable among centers, since their overhead is covered by the church (the kids classes also serve as Sunday school classes; and most large churches have a nursery). We also liked the idea that Monkey would be in a structured environment with lots of other kids his age.
We found a church-housed center very close to home and got a great vibe during our visit. They met our basic requirements for low teacher turnover, lots of activities, and no theology in the curriculum. Additionally, they had a large gym indoors, which the kids could play in when the weather was awful. They had a spot available for when I wanted to go back to work, so we grabbed it. It hasn’t been the perfect daycare, but I suppose there’s no such thing. And frankly, for the price, it’s been a steal. We love Monkey’s teachers, he’s made friends with some of the other toddlers, and he gets great home-cooked meals. The teachers seem to know him almost as well as Mama and Dada, and his face lights up whenever he sees them.
In spite of our positive experience, Hubby and I are reminded from time to time that Monkey does, in fact, go to a somewhat conservative church for daycare. We’ve experienced nothing that would make us want to remove him, but we have been taken aback a few times:
- On Halloween, we were reminded to keep Monkey’s costume non-scary. Not just an absence of gore, but no ghosts, witches, goblins, etc. Hubby and I talked about what would happen if we broke the rules on this one, but Monkey had already picked out his costume at the store (if you’re interested, he actually went as a monkey.) Also, they didn’t call it Halloween; it was Fall Festival. They offered a “safe and Godly way to celebrate the season” at the church that evening. Alas, Hubby, Monkey, and I opted for the pagan tradition of begging for candy, then eating it.
- I’ve had one teacher in particular inform me that she’s praying for us when we’re sick on numerous occasions. This always catches me a bit, partly because I’m not used to people saying they’ll pray for me outside of family, close friends, and church. I’m also completely bewildered by the idea that someone would pray for me to get over a cold. I myself use prayer for meditation and to remind myself of all the gifts in my life, not as an alternative to healthcare. I haven’t had the heart to tell this very sweet and well-meaning teacher that my immune system has a much better chance than her prayers of decreasing my viral load.*
- This past week, we were asked to bring a gift-wrapped book with our child’s name on it for their Christmas celebration. (With a Santa appearance. I kind of want to point out that this is an equally pagan practice to Halloween, but will keep my mouth shut instead). At first, I thought this was a neat idea for a gift-exchange, but Hubby noticed yesterday that the book we bring will be given to our own child by Santa. This is evidently a change from previous years’ celebrations, and we can only assume is due to somebody’s child receiving a book the parents found offensive.**
Individually, none of these occurrences are all that odd. Combined with other little things though, they start to build a picture of a fairly socially-conservative community. Monkey is too young to pick up on this, and we’re grateful that he’ll be in a new, completely secular daycare by the time we move to TTT. Until then, I’m learning to bite my tongue.
*Is that bitchy? Because it sounded bitchy to me when I re-read it just now.
**This could really go both ways, but based on the bumper stickers when I drop off Monkey in the mornings, I’m betting a non-mainstream book offended a not-so-secular family.