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A crying boyI was prepared. I packed my kid’s favorite soft toy in his little backpack, a change of clothes, a precise description of his routine at home, the likes, the dislikes, how he eats, drinks, sleeps, what he does when he’s frightened and how to calm him down, what games are his favorite and what music helps him relax.

And there we were, Eric and I, standing on a playground with 20 other kids around us, running and playing, all looking very independent. I was supposed to stick around and, once he’s engaged in something very interesting, quietly leave. I was promised a call if he gets hysterical and they can’t calm him down for a while. I just couldn’t believe this was happening – I was leaving my child in a strange place with a whole bunch of people he doesn’t know, walking away and expecting him to be OK. Yea, right.

Of course he got hysterical and an hour later I got a call from the center manager. From my conversations with the staff I’ve noticed that it’s like they’ve developed a special language in order to break things to parents in a gentle way. For example, they would say: “He is a little bit teary” instead of “He’s crying his eyes out”, or “He’s feeling insecure” instead of “He’s been sitting in my lap all day long”, or “He wasn’t interested in food” instead of “He didn’t eat anything today”. So once I’ve heard that he’s been crying and they can’t calm him down, I rushed to pick him up.

I am a pretty laid back mom. I don’t stress too much over stuff. I can’t remember the last time I panicked about anything my boy did. But when I saw Eric slowly walking through the room, dragging his feet, hugging his teddy as if his life depended on not letting him go and weeping, my heart broke. I’ve never seen my boy so unhappy, so depressed. How can it be right that a mother should put her child through something like that? How can it be right that a child should suffer this kind of stress? Something is seriously wrong here.

Am I the only one who thinks so? How was the first day at child care for you and your kids? Does it get better, and how soon?