I had thought that since having the baby my spreadsheet days would be over but here I was tabbing and colour co-ordinating away over Ofsted ratings and prices. The hunt for a nursery had finally begun.
With Mishty being a few months old I was already late in my search. I berated myself over my lack of efficiency at not doing this from the moment of conception. Now there were no places available for when I went back to work and I was potentially facing a lengthy childcare problem. I doubted whether anyone would notice if I turned up to work three months late but this seemed like a slightly risky solution.
Determined to get into a good nursery, I booked us in for some tours. The first one was an immediate hit with me – it was nearby with parking, security was tight, cleanliness was militant, the staff were nice and knew how to speak grammatically, there was a lot of structure and a behaviour chart which I liked the sound of. Above all, it had a vegetable garden and offered halal sausages for lunch which made me happy. Hubby managed to overlook all this and dismiss it because the toys looked worn.
The next one we saw was set on a cricket ground and we had some difficulty finding the place. We went to the wrong car park, then we drove to the right one but mistook the toilets for the venue and then trekked across the pitch before Hubby’s arms fell off from carrying the car seat. Once inside all I could see was organised chaos. We went to the baby room and to try to avoid tripping over crawling babies. One was sprawled over some cool looking padded blocks and another had snot dripping all over his face. This was quite distracting because all I could think was why is the staff lady not wiping it? The girl who was showing us around was very nice but seemed a little dim. Neither of us were impressed.
Another nursery we looked at had a very modern reception, lots of children’s pictures on the wall and the same thoroughness as the first one we saw so basically it was amazeballs. But then they lost me when I enquired about disciplining and they said there was no such thing as bad behaviour, just maybe a bit of biting. This was probably one of those hippy PC places that bans competitions because they don’t want anyone to be a loser (if you agree with this then it’s probably because you used to be the loser).
As we approached the toddlers room we were warned about a child who was having difficulty settling in. This was an understatement. The warning should have been, “get ready to bawl your eyes out and be forever traumatised about leaving your child at a nursery”. The child wouldn’t budge from the glass panelled door because he thought his mother wouldn’t be able to see him if he did and therefore wouldn’t come to get him. The lady proceeded to explain what went on in the room but I was barely listening. I was desperately trying not to dissolve into pieces as the kid kept crying forlornly for his mummy. He was so distressed I felt heartbroken and he wasn’t even my child! Hubby made some effort at listening to make up for my distractedness and even made a new friend as one of the toddlers gave him a dinosaur. His attempts to interact further resulted in a blank face and the child wandering off in search of something more interesting like picking his nose.
This whole nursery business was harder than I thought. Firstly there’s the dilemma of choosing the right one because not giving them the best start will inevitably ruin your child’s future and set them on course to a life of crime, drugs and herpes. Then comes the guilt at leaving them with strangers while you go back to work and the worry over whether they will be ok or left crying in a corner with snot dripping down their face (although this is more likely to be me). Finally, there’s the stress over how much it’s all costing which will leave you contemplating selling a kidney as a good investment.
Hopefully it’ll all be worth it as they make friends, build their confidence, enjoy fun activities and have a safe environment to play in. At least this is what I’ll be telling myself on the first day when I’ll most likely be crying hysterically like a bereaving woman in a Bollywood film at the gates screaming “MAMA LOVES YOU!” while Hubby tries to drag me away, muttering to me about stiff upper lips and not making a scene. And with that, the transition from Cool Young Woman into Embarrassing Mother Who Cries All The Time will be complete…