The Good, the Bad and the Ugliness of Daycare

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My Princess has been in daycare since she was 18 months old.  I went back to work on weekend and nights when she was about 10 months old but didn’t go back fulltime until she was 16 months.  I moved from Ottawa to Toronto when I was 7 months pregnant and decided that when I went back to work, I wasn’t getting a transfer.  I knew I needed a job that paid the bills, left a little in the bank and would still cover the cost of daycare.  I searched all over Toronto but most were either inflexible hours, too little pay or ridiculously far away from where we lived.  So I found a job where I worked nights on the weekend.  Despite hating it, it put money in the bank and I didn’t need a sitter.  But eventually it just wasn’t enough, I really didn’t want it to be my career, let alone my job.  So I started looking again for another job.

Finally I found the job where I work now.  I am a food writer for a catering company in Toronto and I’m also the Head Catering Coordinator.  The hours are great, so are my coworkers and it is only a 35 – 45 minute commute each way.  Not bad for Toronto.  I began my search for childcare.  We found one woman who ran her own daycare out of her home who lived near us.  She was relatively priced, had children of her own, so it seemed like a great fit.  We went away the weekend before I was supposed to start and when we came home that Sunday I had a message on my machine.

“I’m really sorry to do this to you so last-minute, but I’ve changed my mind.  I’m closing down my home daycare.”

Are you serious?!  Thank goodness for my in-laws who helped us out extraordinarily with our search for childcare.  They watched her until we found someone else.  While I was searching for the first place, I had come across a Nanny (or so she called herself) that was fresh out of college.  She was currently working at a daycare, but wished to go into business herself.  She was willing to come to our home and watch her.  She was all up to date with her CPR and First Aid.  She graduated from the Early Childhood Education program at a Toronto College.  She had references from daycare, families and other related jobs and all the references came back stellar.  I even had a police background check done and it was clean.  I did my research and was thorough, she was the person.  It wasn’t long until we learned our lesson.

It started off fairly early that she was not showing up to work, or calling in sick.  Once she told me she couldn’t work on Monday because she “thought” her cousin was getting married.  Then we started to hear from our neighbours that there were people waiting outside for her throughout the day.  We had a discussion with her and told her that under NO circumstances was she to have anyone in our home.  She said she understood.  Next thing we noticed, food from our fridge was missing.  Not a little bit at a time, like cans of soup, tube of cookie dough, you name it, it started to go missing.  We started looking for daycare, because it was getting to be too much.  Then this (insert expletive) did something so atrocious that she will rot in a special place for what she did.  Hubby and I keep all our twoonies to put in the Princess’ piggy bank.  It goes towards her college fund and the Wednesday prior to this day, we had counted it and there was $100 in it.  Hubby suggested that we roll it and put it in the bank.  The next Monday, I came home from work and found numerous Tim Horton cups in our trash.  I remember she brought one when she arrived that morning, but there were three in the garbage and Hubby said he didn’t have any.  Then I went to the sink and found three bowls of Alphaghetti in there.  And none were of my daughter’s special children’s bowls.  Hubby said when he got home, there was someone waiting outside.  Hmm.  My spider senses were beginning to tingle.  I was going to call her that night to ask if she had anyone over.  But first, I had twoonies in my purse that I was going to put in her piggy bank.  Now I kept our laundry money, spare change jar and the Princess’ piggy bank in our bedroom with the door closed.  She was aware that our bedroom was off-limits and she was never to go in there.  So that night, when I went to put the change in the piggy bank, I lifted it up and much to my surprise, it was EMPTY!!!!  Oh I have never been so angry in my life!  I began frantically searching around my home for 50 twoonies.  Asked Hubby if he had taken them to the bank and he said ‘no’.  So I called her.  And this is how the conversation went.

“Hi (insert name).  Did you have someone over today?” I asked calmly.

“No.”

“Well Hubby said he saw your friend outside.”

“Yeah, they were waiting for me.”

“Well I found coffee cups in the garbage.”

“Oh, well they came up to use the bathroom.”

“Did they eat my food too?  I found bowls in the sink.” Rule number one for criminals, get rid of the evidence.

“Ummm.”

“Listen, the Princess’ piggy bank is empty.”

“I never went into your bedroom.”  Caught you!

“That’s funny, because I never told you that’s where the money was.”

Dead silence.

“Listen, you are fired and I’m calling the cops.  You stole money from a baby!  You are low.”

I called the cops and they came and took our statement.  I was assigned a detective and they tried numerous times to call her and go to her place of residence, however, because she lived in an apartment building, and she didn’t answer the buzzer, they couldn’t go in the building.  Robbed a baby and got away with it.  But I was offered this little tidbit of information.  Apparently, in Canada, if you have been arrested but never charged formally, these offenses never show up on your record and our dear sweet thief had been arrested TWICE for shoplifting and theft and ONCE for domestic abuse, but all charges were dropped.  So my background check did absolutely nothing to protect my child.  I did however, call her references and informed them of what she did and they were absolutely wrong to give such stellar ones when she was nothing but a thief.  I felt so guilty after that.  I left my child in the care of someone who robbed her.  Stole money that was to be for her education.  I felt like I made the worst decision of my life.

Soon after that, we found the daycare where we are at now.  It was close to home, reasonably priced and was professionally run.  That is not to say we were not without bumps in the road.  Three days after going into daycare, our Princess contracted Norwalk Virus, and had vicious diarrhea for 3 weeks.  She lost so much weight and her poor bum was so blistered that we had to put a steroid cream just to keep them from bleeding.   She was so miserable it was devastating.  The daycare fortunately refunded us 2 weeks of the cost, however, Hubby and I had to alternatively take days off work just to care for her.  I had literally just started a new job and was missing days out of the week.  I thought for sure I was going to be fired.  But I had no one else.  The daycare wouldn’t take her.  After she finally got over that, it was maybe a week before she got an ear infection that spread to her eyes, throat, sinus and lymph nodes and sent her into a fever that was so high I had to put her in bath of cold water.  She screamed bloody murder.  I put her on the couch naked to try to cool her down when she started to have a seizure.  Her eyes rolled back in her head, she started to shake uncontrollably and was gasping for breath.  I was frantic.  I have epilepsy, but to see it happening to your child is frightening.  She had 12 seizures that day.  She was rushed to the local Children’s Hospital where she spent days in and out of it for close to six months.  Any virus or germ or bacteria that was going around her daycare, she got it.  I never believed it when people told me that once you put them in daycare they get sick all the time, but they were right.  Her drastic change in health put a lot of strain on us emotionally, physically and financially.  I was starting to wonder if going back to work was the right thing to do.

She had lost so much weight and became so weak that she had troubling walking.  She would collapse for no reason, continued to have seizures any time she had a fever and we went for countless tests.  Seeing her hooked up to an EEG machine, with wires running off of her head was so heart breaking.  She went to visit a pediatric neurologist who gave us good news.  She wasn’t epileptic, although her chances of developing it later in life are increased.  He gave us pills that were to crush in her cheek if she had another one and to monitor all her fever’s closely.  Thank GOD she hasn’t had another one after that.  It took about a year in daycare before she was able to ward off any viruses.  But despite her not getting them, she brought them home to us.  Hubby never got tonsilitis until we put her in daycare.  But as soon as she went in, he was getting it every 2 months.  He could even tell before it hit that he was getting it.  Finally in January, after going to the doctors, he had his tonsils removed because the doctor said that his tonsils were basically working against him.   The surgeon said they were the size of meatballs they were so infected.

Now despite a tumultuous year and a half, there were great things about the daycare.  My Princess is a social butterfly and has so many friends.  We would have parents come up to us and say how much their children talk about her.  Kids would fight just to sit next to her.  Her daycare also had fashion shows, plays, puppet shows and field trips that has greatly enriched her life.  Just this week she was able to go to the African Lion Safari which is where you drive through a park of African animals and get to see them close up.  She got to see monkey’s and lions and loved how the monkey’s climbed on the car.  They provided her with life experiences and friends that she may not have gotten if I had stayed home.  I am not worried about her going to Kindergarten now because of how well she flourished in daycare.  I also know now that her immune system is stronger, she won’t be missing that much time at school.  I would recommend our daycare to anyone and if we have another child and I go back to work, we will definitely be using that one again.

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2 responses »

  1. This story really touched me. I am so glad that your child is doing well now, and I am truly sorry that you had such a horrible experience previously.
    I once had a babysitter who stole the family camera, and I could not track her down. All of my daughter’s baby pictures were on that camera, and it was a present from my parents for Christmas.
    It is so hard to trust these days when people are so dishonest.

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