Friday was Lola’s last day at the crèche she has been in since she was 4.5 months old. The first couple of months at crèche were pretty harsh on our lal lass. The crèche leader said she was shy, and was very choosy about which staff she liked (fair enough, I reckon!). There were days when she would cry a lot and when I picked her up at the end of the day, I’d feel the guilt of 1000 thieves. We had discussions about whether crèche was the right environment for her. And if it wasn’t…then what?
Paid maternity leave in The Netherlands lasts for 16 weeks and if you and your partner aren’t high earners but need to have reliable care in order to work, there’s not a lot of options after kinderopvang. Luckily, before we had to make the decision, Lola suddenly just got into it all. One day, her eyes stopped following me on my way out of the door and, instead, turned immediately to a doll or a playmate or a favourite crèche leader and the group leaders talked of how much much fun they were having with her. And since then, it’s gone brilliantly.
Except…it’s a 30-minute power walk in the opposite direction to our workplaces, so for the past year, we rushed around in the morning, legged it to crèche to drop Lola off and then just made it to work in time. Vice versa that for the PM, just before tea-time and the Witching Hour.
And then, joy of joys, a space became available in our lovely neighbourhood kinderopvang, a mere 5-minute walk from our front door. And if that’s not convenient enough, when Lola’s 2.5, she moves to the pre-school part which is next door and is filled with the kids she will most likely go to basisschool (primary school to the UK-ers) with! With that in mind, I checked it out and it turns out, the staff are as cool as they were in the other crèche and the place felt really cosy too. Jackpot!
So we decided to make the move now to ensure minimum disruption later on. Of course, we thought of how Lola may be with the change (memory similar to that of goldfish, might be a bit weird at first, but give it a week and she’ll be reet) and how we would be with it (woohoo, extra 5 minutes’ snooze alarm!) but we hadn’t paid much thought to those at crèche.
Last Friday we picked Lola up from her old crèche for the last time and took a big box of chocolates and card for the group leaders who have cared for her over the past year. And they gave us a book filled with Lola’s drawings (well, there were signs of an attempt at crayon hitting paper), some photos, and messages from the team.
“Bye Lola, The months that I have experienced with you were really nice. I have seen you grown from a crawling baby to a walking toddler! I will miss you.”
“I find it a real shame that you are leaving. You are such a nice girl. Have a lot of fun in the new creche. We will miss you very much.”
Very rough translation:
These are your artworks which you made in the group.
When you first came to us you had a difficult time but after a while it went so well with you.
You’re a happy girl and I’ll miss you. I hope to see you again sometime.
Have fun at your other daycare and hope that it also goes well for you there.
They’d known Lola almost as long as we had. They’d gone through their own journey with her, building a relationship, working through challenges, gaining trust and not just caring for her because it’s their job, but really enjoying being with her. And we had the luxury of taking that for granted while we went off to work.
We sat on the couch on Friday night and looked through the book, reading the comments, admiring Lola’s replication on paper of Jean Michel Basquiat’s street art, and I questioned, for the 4,980,6770 time since becoming a parent, if we’d done the right thing.
“Who knows?” is normally the right answer, which is followed by “lets wait and see”. No doubt Lola will settle into her new crèche, as she did her old one. She’ll make new friends, build bonds with other caretakers and rock the place. And we’ll carry on watching her development like amazed by-standers, and feel fortunate that we have these great day cares that our lil one can go to, and thrive in, when we’re not around.
So…what do you do for care providers who go that extra mile? The over-sized box of Merci chocs from AH aren’t cutting it this time. Ideas in the comments section are gratefully received!