Handing your baby to a stranger
A Parent24 reader shares his anxiety at leaving his son at daycare for the first time.
By Kurt Echardt
Our baby boy is just 5 months old. My mother looked after him last year. Then, when my wife had to go back to work after her maternity leave, the hunt for a daycare commenced. We had nobody to look after our little one for two days and my wife had to put in leave to look after him. She met with a woman from a daycare and said that she liked the place; the decision was made.
Article originally in Parent24
As long as my wife was comfortable leaving him somewhere, I was okay. As stipulated in the “contract”, we packed all the necessary things and that’s when it hit me for the first time. I sat at the kitchen counter writing his name on all of his things and felt this sudden explosion of emotion. “Why am I feeling so nervous,” I asked myself, “surely, as the strong dad, I shouldn’t be this emotional?” I was a wreck. Bordering on tears, I slowly continued meticulously writing his name. This was possibly the hardest thing I’d ever done: leaving my beautiful son in the care of someone else.
“What if they drop him on his head!”, “What if they leave him to cry for hours? I’d never know and this was the worst. Entrusting the life which you have created and pedantically cared for to someone else feels devastating. Reading things about babies dying at places like these wasn’t helping at all. “Why aren’t you freaking out?!”, I asked my wife. “How can you be so calm?” “I’m trying not to think about it too much because I’m going to burst into tears.” she told me, while calmly sorting out his cereal and formula and bottles and things. It was final.
It’s at this stage that I poured myself a monstrous scotch while being calmed down via texts and tweets from my brother @LanceTheWitten and other Twitter friends. I started feeling a little better. I went to sit next to the cot, rested my chin on the side and just sat there looking at my sleeping boy. “What are you doing?” my wife asked. “Nothing”, I told her, not wanting to let on how truly fragile I was.
The Indemnity Form of Death!
Part of the agreement was an indemnity form. It indemnifies the daycare against any prosecution in the event that something happens to a child in their care. “WHAT IS THIS BULLSHIT?” I screamed in my head- so, basically, they’re saying they’ll try their best to care for our son but if he dies or falls on his head, they’re not to be held liable. I knew that the indemnity form was a necessity, but when reading it I felt pretty hollow and helpless. This was probably the worst part of the daycare process. I simply had to sign. And I did.
In the morning, my wife usually gets up before me and picks our son up from the cot and puts him in bed with me before I get up. We chat (well, me more than him) and he blows spit-bubbles and we entertain each other for a bit. This morning it felt like this was the last time I was going to play with him in the morning, like I was giving him away and not going to get him back EVER.
We pulled up at the daycare and went inside. The daycare lady (who looks like a very strict aunty, which may or may not be a good thing) met us at the door. I scoped the place out- it looked clean enough. The other lady who also works with the kids was very friendly and that made me feel good. I saw a little person with big blue eyes staring at me. I knelt down and asked him how he was. (He wasn’t very talkative). He stared and gave me a big old smile. When my son is older, he’ll have a friend to play with, which is awesome.
The daycare lady took our son from his mom and he was okay. No tears. Not even from mom or dad! Physically leaving him wasn’t as bad as I thought. We left and made our way to work and my wife gave a little smile saying that she’s sad but she’ll be okay.
It was traumatic to say the least but it’s necessary unfortunately. I’m not sure how I’m going to get through the workday but I guess I’ll be okay. Like my dad always says, “It’s alright. It’s all under control.”
How did you feel when you left your little one for the first time?
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