Al starts childcare tomorrow. I admit to feeling a level of relief at the flexibility that childcare will bring that having a carer at home doesn’t. We can start and finish when we need to, and if that changes no-one will mind, if the carer is sick we will still have childcare and we will be able to leave the house without being concerned about the environment we are leaving for the child carer to work in.
But at the same time I feel more than a bit nervous. Al has terrible allergies to everyday foods and it takes a lot of attention to remember to wash your hands after wheat and not to have eggs etc. He isn’t speaking much yet and uses a combination of charm and signs to get what he wants and needs. Knowing he was home with someone who cared and was careful has eased my mind a plenty over the last eighteen months.
The centre – which we are calling ‘little school’ - has been so lovely to us and to him. They have come up with excellent plans to manage his allergies and have other children with allergies. It has a lot of green space around it which gives a sense that it is not right in the inner city (although it is).
On his orientation visits Al has seemed to love little school, he is keen to engage with the other kids, dancing and playing blocks. The have a huge sandpit and a cubby house – things he doesn’t get to play with at home. He is thrilled by the mini loos and yesterday sat and ate with his friends. His current carer and his grandmother who have both taken him on visits as well have commented on the friendly staff and Al’s comfort there.
We call it ‘little school’ by-the-way because of Beth Norling’s lovely book Little School I bought this book for Thomas before he started pre-school. It is so gorgeously illustrated and details simply the routine of a day at little school (with lots of different options) and all the action at home before and after. Al loves it , as did his brother.
I am probably a bit marred by the fact that Thomas started childcare just about this age, and despite a lovely environment, just around the corner from our then home (it was the childcare centre in the inner west at the time) – he walked back and forward entreating me to take him to work with us ‘I’ll be good mumma.’ After a few months we gave up and both worked part-time! He was completely fine 18 months later when starting pre-school, but he continues to be more of a homebody.
Al is a completely different sort of boy, highly social happy enough at two to run amuck with 500 primary school students at the Easter Hat Parade and over summer to dance at the camp ground disco in amongst a huge pile of much larger children while we stood by and watched from the sidelines. These are things Thomas never would have done or enjoyed these things at the same age and so hopefully this will also mark the difference in their responses.