The Texture Of Things

The Age of Mystery

March 12th, 2008

We have hit it. We were never quite far from it, probably, but now we are diving headlong into the deep. Let me explain.

The tot has been going to a home-based day care for the past year and a half. One of my many gripes about the day care center she had been at before that was that none of the workers really knew my child. Every day I’d pick her up and she’d be visibly miserable, yet the green photocopied “My Day Today” sheet in her bag would invariably say “Today’s Mood: Happy.” Happy? On what planet?

Anyway, at the home day care I moved her to, the caregiver keeps a communication journal for every child. This is her idea. I had never heard of it, but I swear it has been the best thing ever for two reasons:
1. I know what goes on during the tot’s day there.
2. In order to write anything, the caregiver must observe my child, which has facilitated her getting to know the tot in a meaningful way.

So every day that the tot goes to day care, I write a little note in the book. Something like: “She’s eating cereal for bfast and drinking juice. She hasn’t pooped in two days, so watch out.” Or: “OMG, the pee accidents are all day long lately! Please tell me she does better when she’s there.” Or: “She hasn’t eaten lately, and she’s been whiny. Not sure if she’s coming down with something or if she’s just off.” Or some combination of all of them.

And every day the caregiver writes back with details about what she ate, what she did, any funny things she said, any discipline that had to be dealt out, and if/when she pooped. She’s offered potty training ideas and food ideas and coupons and goodies through this journal. She’s told me who the tot’s buddies are. She’s told me about the times when the tot is having a rough day but pulls out of it. She’s like my spy when I can’t be there.

The journal has been priceless because, for some reason, my normally chatty, verbal daughter has ALWAYS replied “nothing” when asked what she did during the day. Or, and I can’t tell if this is funny or not, she’ll make up something completely false. Usually it’s not that far off from the truth or it would have been true three days ago, but it’s still not what she did that day. So on day care days, the journal provided me the answer in spite of my child.

Then comes preschool. There is a childcare center at my school, and now that the tot appears to be potty trained (everywhere but home, ladies and gentlemen – good lord what is taking so long?), I have started taking her there one of the two days a week I teach. Soon, I’ll bump her up to both days, but I thought a transition in would be nice, at least for me since it involves getting up even earlier.

Dear readers, can you guess what happens when I pick her up after class?

I ask her how her day was.
“Fine.”
I ask her to show me the project she made.
“Okay.” or “I don’t want to.” (I’m not sure what variables effect the different answers.)
I ask her what she did that day.
“Nothing.”
Didn’t she play with her friends?
“No.”
Did she play alone?
“…..”
Did they sing songs? (Trick question – I know they sing songs during circle time.)
“No.”
Did she have fun?
“Let’s go home.”
(At this point, a worker comes over and tells me she had a good day and I weigh in my mind whether I should believe her or not. Probably I will because when I arrived I saw the tot playing happily in the gross motor area.)

And so it begins. The mystery, I mean. As we walked to the car yesterday, I thought, “I may never again know anything about her day,” and it made me a little sad.* I realize this is a step in the separation that every child must go through, but still. It would be cool to know if she cracked any good jokes that day.

.

*HG – I know this sort of thing bugs you about some parents (*cough*mainlywomen*cough*), so you don’t need to get after me about it.

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