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Daycare drop off leaves my heart hurting ! - The Toddler Years

Old January 14th, 2015, 05:47 PM   #1
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Daycare drop off leaves my heart hurting !

I apologize for this super long post ...

My son is our surviving twin born at 28 weeks and spent 3 months in the NICU (and was hospitalized for a week two Christmases ago for RAD .. they think .. where we thought we would lose him) and we have always been very protective of him. I stayed at home with him for the first 9 months of his life, then started going back to work, first working from home, then going into work for four hours while we hired an in home nanny, and that pretty much continued until he was 19 months old, when we found a nanny who watched up to four kids in her house and lived close to us. It was difficult for me to leave him there when he first started going there in February of last year, and he would be there roughly from 9:30 AM - 5 PM. He never cried while being dropped off, and I can't remember if he told me he didn't want to go, but initially, there was one other boy who was six months older than him and they got along great and he seemed to acclimate himself very quickly.

That boy Dexter loved playing with got moved to pre-school (prematurely, maybe, because his mom said he cried for a month straight every day and made himself sick .. and we kind of lost touch after that) and the nanny started taking care of two younger kids (18 months and 6 months). To make a long story short, she told me, on my birthday no less, last December that she wouldn't watch Dexter anymore because apparently he had bitten the 18 month old kid (who he seemed to really not like), and the kid's mother saw the bite mark when she was giving her son a bath, and so without warning I was left with no help.

My work is flexible so I worked from home the best I could while watching him at home, but it was difficult because I was under tough deadlines, yet I chose Dexter over work obviously, so most mornings we'd go to the park, play outside, etc. while I neglected work a bit and flexed my hours (so that when DH came home, I'd work from like 6 pm to midnight or later). I was exhausted, and as much as I adore my child, he can drive me a bit batty. I'm also 36 weeks pregnant so it's getting more difficult.

We debated between getting in home care for him (part time, because we can't afford full time) or putting him in daycare. I played devil's advocate until I drove my husband crazy.

Pros: He'd have other kids to play with (is this a pro ? He's always been very shy but is interested in other kids, it seems), they'd keep him busy with going to the park, art projects, songs, baking, etc., we could put money into our dependent FSA and cut down on some of the costs, and when Logan arrives in three weeks, I could be home alone with the baby while hopefully Dexter happily went to school.

Cons: I'm so used to having him around that I miss him. I worry that I chose daycare because it's convenient for me, not him. I worry that I chose daycare because it's more affordable. He may not be ready at 2.5 years old (2.2 if you count the prematurity) emotionally. He's more likely to get sick (something I'm scared of due to his premature chronic lungs).

I didn't know what would make him happiest. I still don't.

We found a seemingly wonderful daycare kind of close to us with teachers who speak Mandarin (since he primarily speaks Mandarin) and English, serve three organic meals a day, have a schedule where they are outside at least 1.5 hours a day (our previous nanny wouldn't let the kids outside for liability reasons), take them to the park twice a week, have cute art projects I can hang in my house, show and tell, etc. and the first day, I was expecting tears (well, there WERE tears, but they were all my tears) and when I went to pick him up, he didn't show much expression but he wasn't in a hurry to leave and even went back inside the play area before leaving. I thought, wonderful !

The next morning (this past Tuesday), he woke up and asked if we were going to school and I said yes, and asked if he wanted to go, and he said yes, and he didn't want to brush his teeth so at one point I said, if you don't open your mouth, we're not going to school ! Well he opened up after that, and I was thinking, who would have thought that would have been a "threat" I would make, haha. But it was too easy. Halfway to the daycare, he said quietly, Mama, I don't want to go to daycare, and it totally broke my heart. I said, Why Dexter ? Tell me why you don't like it. Nothing. Then again, "Mama, I don't want to go to school." When we got there, he got out of the car by himself and we went in, and there were no tears, but it left me feeling crestfallen.

When I went to pick him up yesterday, again, he wasn't in a hurry to leave, but he didn't look happy either. Apparently, Chris asked him if he liked school and the teachers and he said yes (this was some time last night), and Chris told him that he was very proud of him for being so brave. Dexter hasn't been acting any differently while he's been at home.

This morning, when we got into the car and started driving, he said in his small voice, "Mama, I don't want to go to school." and again I said, "Why Dexter ? Tell me why you don't want to go. Do you not like it ?" and he didn't say anything, but he kept repeating that he didn't want to go to school. At one point I asked, "Do you not like the teachers ?" and he said, "I don't like the teachers" but I felt like I kind of fed that excuse to him (actually, the teachers all told me that it feels like he's been going there for a long time because he talks a lot and helps out and knows what activity is coming next). He just kept saying it and the more he said it, the sadder I felt until I had tears in my eyes. I asked, "Are you scared of going?" and he said, "Yes, I'm scared." I asked, "Do you not want to go to school because you want to stay at home with me or daddy ?" and he said, "Okay." and I said, "But mama and daddy have to go to work" and he said, "I want to go home."

He still got out of the car and walked in by himself, but he stood in the hallway with his head down looking incredibly sad, and when I bent down to give him a kiss and to tell him I'd be back for him shortly (we still keep the 9:30 AM - 5 PM schedule), he kind of clung to my shirt. I walked to the car and cried the whole way to work.

I don't know what to do. I know people say to give it time, but at what point am I being a bad parent by not listening to what my son is telling me (that he is unhappy and doesn't want to go) ? And does he really not want to go, or is it that he would prefer to be at home ? Or is he just saying it to me and then being perfectly happy and fine while he is there ? I text the teachers and they tell me that he's doing fine and is being chatty, but I don't know if I can trust that.

It's been weighing on me all day. It is feasible for me to hire in home care for like five hours a day and adjust my work schedule and have him home with me again, but then I feel like he wouldn't have social interaction and I wouldn't provide him with the activities (indoor and outdoor) and excitement school could (especially while taking care of our newborn when he arrives). Or am I trying to convince myself ? Or I could continue to send him to that school and pick him up before his nap (kind of like my five hours of in home care but send him to the school for five hours a day instead). I'm so torn and I feel like I'm going to start crying again .. I swear I am taking this much harder than him !


Last edited by emme; January 14th, 2015 at 05:50 PM..
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Old January 14th, 2015, 07:03 PM   #2

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Hopping in -

This age is SO tough for separation - because as much as they may like something, they LOVE us too.

My word of advice would be this - I feel like you would notice some major behaviour changes in him if he were truly unhappy there. He'd resist getting ready, he'd resist going, he'd cry, he'd run to you and want to leave when you do pick up and his teachers would be telling you that he is acting out, or unhappy, or not engaged.

It doesn't sound that way at all, to me, at this point. My guess is he knows school means you have to go, and as much as he may like it there, you're not there. I'd especially expect this since you were home with him for a while through December. No matter how fun daycare can be, home with mom is always better.

Keep an eye on it, but remember he has a LOT of change recently and more coming so he's bound to be a bit clingy and out of sorts. He lost his buddy, he had to leave nanny's (and it sounds like he was becoming unhappy there anyways), he was home with you, now he's in a new daycare and baby is on the way very soon. Lots for someone so little to process. All he knows is you are constant and you are safe. Give him extra cuddles. It can help to walk him through the day multiple times. Before bed remind him of the routine "we'll get up, have breakfast, get dressed, brush your teeth, go to school, I'll pick you up after nap and we'll have dinner and play." Repeat again in the morning and at drop of. It will help him remember you will be back and anticipate his day.


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Old January 15th, 2015, 01:12 PM   #3
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All of what Munko said, especially about the not wanting to go simply because it means being away from you and it's all so new still.

He's probably feeding of of your feelings and insecurity about the situation as well. If you are only offering up explanations in the car ride over of why he wouldn't want to go, at this age he's only going to focus on those reasons. Don't forget to remind him of all the things that are great about school that YOU are also excited about Remind him of how he gets to go outside and play at the park, ask him what sorts of activities he thinks he's going to do that day, and then when you pick him up you can have fun talking about them on the way home.

I'll tell you I've never met a toddler who hated daycare for more than a few minutes each day once settled, and the fact that he's hanging around and not climbing you to get out of the door is a pretty good sign that he's likely settling nicely


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Old January 16th, 2015, 09:34 AM   #4

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I know how you feel. Laney has been in daycare since she was 12 weeks old and there are always periods where she tells me she doesn't want to go and cries and clings to me, then other times she's so ready to be there she can't be bothered to give me a kiss and hug before she runs away to play. Both upset me for different reasons.

I agree with the other ladies. It may just be an issue of all the change. If he's feeling unsteady and unstable it may be reflecting in his attitude toward daycare.

Altrix suggested talking with him about all the fun things he gets to do, and that's a great idea. On the mornings Laney is sort of stand-offish about the thought of going to "school," that's exactly what I do. I just act kind of excited and remind her of the toys she gets to play with, the friends she gets to see, the things she gets to do. Even lunch and snack time. Generally it gets her happier about going and it works out fine.


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