what i want you to know about growing up in daycare

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by an anonymous reader.


I cried when my mom quit working full-time and took me out of day care.

I love my parents. My mother bore me, raised me, cooked and presided over family dinners every night and influenced my development into a well-adjusted (in my opinion) woman. My father always believed in anything I wanted to do and despite my teenage protests, loved me and never lost his temper. But as a 9-year-old, when my mom quit her full-time job to opt for part-time employment to be home with my brother and I after school, I cried. I love my mother, but I also loved day care.

My affair with day care and other out-of-the-home arrangements started at a young age. Nursery school at 2. Preschool at 4. I was out of the house for part of the day regularly, and it was fun. When I entered first grade and my brother started pre-school, my mom went back to work full time (from being part-time). So we started going to the day care on our elementary school campus.

Day care was like heaven. It had everything my house didn’t—a jungle gym, play kitchen, record player, pets (bunnies and mice), glitter, glue and lots of other kids. It was there I fostered my imagination, playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the boys (I was April, of course) and climbing up tree root “stairs” to my “house.” It was there I learned about friendship and sharing and flirting.

When my parents took me out of day care, I was mad. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to spend time with my mom, it was just that I enjoyed day care so much more than any other social activity I’d been involved in until that point. After the transition, my mom immersed me in a host of other activities—ballet, swim, Girl Scouts—to show me there were lots of other things I could do, but my precious friendships quickly faded away even though we all still had recess together. It was the end of a great era.

A lot of parents are against putting their children in someone else’s care, fearing that someone else will “raise their child.” I understand—the childhood years pass by quickly and many parents want to be there for those moments. But for those parents who don’t have the option of staying at home or those who really love their work, I can attest to the fact that day care isn’t all that bad. In fact, it can be really good.

Day care didn't break my bond with my parents, and it certainly didn't dilute the values my parents instilled in me. Although I was in day care for years, I can’t remember a single childhood caretaker’s face or name. My mother’s voice and lessons, however, ring in my ear every day.

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