When Size Really Does Matter — by Jamie
When I was pregnant with Jayda, I was commuting from Long Island to a full-time job in New York City every day. At first, I considered using a day care in the city—blurred by my deluded pre-mommy visions of nursing baby Jayda every day during my lunch break, as well as bonding with her on our commute home. I did a vast amount of research and found that the few reputable day cares within walking distance of my job were insanely expensive—and they all had long waiting lists. However, I put myself on all of them.
Eventually, my friends and family convinced me to start looking closer to home; but there, too, all of the decent centers had long waiting lists, since it’s not easy to find a day care that accepts infants—and I needed a spot for Jayda right after my maternity leave ended, 3-1/2 months after she was born. Fortunately, after several months of looking, I found a center that had room for Jayda, and though it was a smaller day care than I’d envisioned my child in, I put down a deposit and hoped for the best.
From the beginning, I was plagued with “space” issues caused by the director’s poor planning, and her efforts to make as much money as possible; at my orientation, I discovered that Jayda had been assigned a spot not in the infant room where she belonged, but in the room for slightly older babies since there was no room in the infant room. Fortunately, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because there were fewer babies there, and the teacher was phenomenal—doting on Jayda with as much love and attention as she would her own baby. But it was also a sign of things to come.
As time went by, Jayda moved up from room to room, and eventually made it to the nursery school area, where she is now. Jayda’s been loved and well-cared for along the way, but I’ve butted heads with the director many times due to space limitations and the bureaucracy caused by controlling a small day care center. First, Jayda was moved up six months early to a new classroom—and then she was held back many months from another—all because there wasn’t room for her where she needed to be developmentally. And while Jayda’s always been happy at school, I know that she needs more; she needs to be challenged. And I need for her to be at a center where I can count on the director to monitor my child’s development…not just the spots she has filled in her classrooms.
So, next week, after almost three and a half years at her day care center, Jayda will be saying “goodbye”—and starting “big girl” school in September. Her new nursery school is a large facility a few towns away from us that will be bussing Jayda to and from the premises, as well as nurturing her with all kinds of amazing resources like a computer class, a music room, vast playgrounds (including an indoor one), highly-experienced teachers, and lots of other amenities. When I took Jayda to visit, her eyes opened wide with wonder, and after we left, she couldn’t stop talking about the place—as well as the staff, who greeted her warmly and made her feel at home. Now, going to her “little school” is no longer appealing for Jayda, and we’re both counting down the days until she moves on. But I know that the transition is going to be bittersweet. We’ve both made so many friends at her day care center, and know what to expect from the place. “Big girl” school will be an adjustment. As we all know, change is good…but it’s not always easy. So I’ve already assured Jayda that she’ll continue to see her good friends from her “little school” on play dates, but that she’ll soon be making new, wonderful friends, too. Right now, she’s excited…but I know she’ll be experiencing a bit of trepidation when she actually gets on that school bus for the first time.
As I’ve discussed before in my blog, sometimes I forget how young Jayda still is when she “acts” so mature about things…like the way she displays so much excitement when she talks about starting her new school, and refers to all the wonderful things she’ll experience there. But the reality is, she’s just a three-year-old, and she doesn’t really know what lies ahead of her. She doesn’t foresee the classroom of strange faces she’ll encounter on day one, when she’s used to seeing tons of familiar ones. But in my heart, I know she needs this bigger, better place; she deserves it. And so do I. I need to know that my child is going to be exposed to every wonderful resource available. We’re both tired of being stifled by small quarters—and of having to negotiate the space within them. My big girl is going to “big girl” school now…and I’m thrilled about it. But it doesn’t mean that both of us won’t shed a few tears for all the wonderful friends and teachers we’re leaving behind.