Beckett is moving up to the Infant II class at his daycare on Monday. This means new teachers, new kids, new toys, new room, new schedule, new everything. When I spoke to the director about Beckett moving up, I was giddy and excited. I called Jim immediately after, and we exclaimed and crowed about our big boy. On Friday, when I walked into the Infant I class to pick him up, his teacher told me that he was next door. "Oh!", I said. "How exciting!" So she walked me over to the new class, opened the door, and there he was, sitting on the floor with the rest of the big kids - some who are walking - and instead of being thrilled, I was a little sad.
The one thing that has made this entire parental transition easier is the incredible quality of care that he receives at daycare. Neither Jim nor I have the option to stay home, so we knew from the beginning that we were going to need to find a full-time daycare center. We started looking when I was just starting my second trimester, following the (great) advice of a friend that we should start looking early, not only to ensure that he got a spot in the best place, but because you're still pretty detached and objective. We looked at four centers, all in Brookline and for the most part, all excellent. But there was something about LCSh that made the decision easy, and we put our deposit on a spot a little more than a month before Beckett was born.
He started daycare when he was just shy of three months, and the lead-up to leaving him was fraught with anxiety. I read the parent handbook three times and spent weeks labeling his clothes, bottles, and pacifiers, getting his supplies (lunchbox, blanket, etc) organized and ready for 'school'. I dropped him off on August 2, the same day I started back at work, and was surprised by how fine I was when I left. I knew in my heart that he would be okay, wonderful in fact, in the care of the two teachers and in the company of six other babies. He would make friends, enjoy the weekly traveling musician and daily walks to the park down the street. In the six months since he started dacyare, I have never had a single moment of irritation, anxiety, or worry.
If anything, putting him in daycare has made me feel ever so slightly insecure about my own parenting instincts. One the first cold-ish day this past fall, I noticed that on the line up of hooks, each of which is assigned to a baby, Beckett's was the only one that didn't have a heavy fleece or down onesie hanging off of it for their daily walks. His thin little sweatshirt stood out pitifully from the group. I give myself credit for noticing before I was told (that afternoon) that I should bring in something warmer for him the next day. But I did spend most of the day feeling guilty, and most of that evening squeezing my way through the aisles of the second-hand clothing store for something appropriate.
This is one example of many tiny missteps, but I appreciate the tactful way that the teachers remind me about things, and the fact that they take the time to work with me to provide the best care for Beckett. I know that Beckett will miss his (now three) teachers, but I will miss them as well. Having the end of the day wrap-up conversation with a new teacher on Friday, I felt a little out of sorts. He didn't drink much of his bottle? He cried a little bit when he came to the new room? Did he eat his snack? Huh? What? Who? Where is Rosa?! I want my Rosa!!!! I left my purse on the floor (as I always do when I pick him up), turned around for three minutes and one of the walkers managed to empty its contents onto the floor. The sharpie marker that fell out of it suddenly looked like a gun, and I realized how woefully unprepared I am for this transition. When I was leaving with Beckett, I swung the door out quickly, nearly knocking out one of the other crawling babies (who I guess was in the process of making a break for it). As we were leaving, I was told (tactfully and sweetly of course) that all babies in Infant II were required to wear shoes. Okay, shoes I can do. But what kind of shoes?
We both have a lot to learn. It won't be pretty, but it will be exciting.