If you haven’t already, it’s best to read Part I. But if you don’t like reading my super-long posts (I’m working on it), and just want the net – I’m 7 months pregnant with son #1 and found out from two snarky ladies on their lunch break that daycare is impossible to find and then after a miracle in Starbucks, I find a home daycare, Miss Amalia’s Place, that meets my criteria which is that its near my house and…that it is near my house, but it turns out that she is used to desperate parents. She is going to interview us to see whether we’re the right sort for her daycare.
The flyer from Miss Amalia’s Place didn’t have a ton of information, but it did mention that it was an all organic environment and the kids would be taught yoga and learn to sign when they were babies and no TV (obviously) and I think there was something about earth sounds music too. From what I could tell, this is what all the good moms were doing, so it seemed like a pretty good plan to me, especially when you consider the alternative: me taking care of the baby in an environment that included a lot of Oprah, Dr. Phil, Sex and the City, McDonalds, The Killers, Eminem and some Baby Mozart once in a while.
But the issue was that Miss Amalia was going to interview us, to see if we were the right sort. The first interview wasn’t even going to take place at her daycare, because she wasn’t going to bring just anyone there. That was only if you got to the second round. Failure was not an option. Because we had no other viable options. So I spent the two days we had to prepare for the interview Googling “how to be a good mother” and “acing the daycare interview” and drilling BD on his part in the whole thing. I reminded him that this interview could decide whether our son would be a well-adjusted adult or a circus performer.
Love: “Okay. So whatever she says, nod and smile and agree wholeheartedly with her. Even if you have no idea what she is talking about.”
BD: “I’m not sure we should be pretending –“
Love: (gives husband ‘the hand’) “Listen – I’m not kidding around here. This is our ONLY option. We will do whatever it takes to get in. Repeat after me…We will do whatever it takes to get in.”
BD: “Do we even know how much she costs?”
Love: “No. And we will nod and smile and agree wholeheartedly with whatever she says it costs. We will have time to panic later, and sell our kidneys when she isn’t around.”
BD: “I don’t know. This isn’t our only option.”
Love: “Oh yeah? What are the other options?”
BD: “Well, I’m sure we could find -“
Love: “By ‘we’ I assume you mean ‘me’ and guess what? There isn’t anything else. But if you want to spend hundreds of fruitless hours looking, be my guest. In the meantime, you will nod, smile and agree wholeheartedly with everything that is said. Including by me. I will likely say things you’ve never heard come out of my mouth before. Pretend like it’s totally normal for me to make butternut squash and say ‘namaste’ and stuff.”
BD: “What is ‘namaste’?”
Love: (through gritted teeth) “It’s what I say all. the. time. Get it?”
BD: “Oh my God. This is nuts…”
Miss Amalia turned out to be a Korean woman in her mid-thirties. She was unmarried and her older sister helped her out taking care of the children. She had very definite ideas about how to run her daycare, although she had only started up 6 months earlier and she’d never had a child of her own. She announced that the youngest child she would take would be 6 months, since it would be “very bad” for a mother to leave her child before then. She explained also that it would give the baby some time to adjust from the breast to the bottle, but she had a whole page on how breast milk would be handled. We nodded and smiled and agreed wholeheartedly. The thing was, we needed someone at 10 weeks and there was not going to be any breast milk. We were formula feeding. But neither of us said anything.
She told us about all of the enriching activities she would be providing the children and she told us what our duties as parents were. There was a long list of rules. Schedules were very important. We could drop our child off within a half hour window in the morning and pickup in a certain window. Any exceptions would have to be logged in advance. We nodded and smiled and agreed wholeheartedly. She told us that it would be $350 a week. It was more than I hoped it would be, but it was doable. Perhaps we could keep our kidneys. We asked her about what she liked and disliked about the other families. We asked about what she thought about traits of great parents. We asked her about why she started her business and told her how wonderful and genius she was for doing so. We told her we liked her hair. And her shoes. And could we get her anything else to drink?
I thought we aced the interview. We did everything we planned to do to make sure we got to the second round. At the end of the interview, we thanked Miss Amalia and she said she would call to let us know whether we made it to the second round. She also gave us a 10 page contract to look over to make sure we were “comfortable” with all of the terms. We walked out hand in hand and didn’t speak until we were safely back in our condo. The minute the door was closed, we looked at each other and simultaneously asked, “What. the. fuck?”
Neither of us could believe that we lived in such a world. Sign language, and schedules and yoga and dietary restrictions and minimum age 6 months old?! When we were little we watched TV all day and drank lots of Kool-Aid and got locked out of the house and told to play outside for four hours. Our moms didn’t breastfeed us and we didn’t know what organic meant until 1998. We felt totally unprepared to be parents. Miss Amalia had us scared to death. We needed her to take care of our son because we were going to do it completely wrong if she wasn’t coaching us the whole way.
Now what to do about the fact that we weren’t any of the things she wanted us to be? We couldn’t wait six months. We needed her at 10 weeks. And I wasn’t planning on breastfeeding, because I’m just a bad mom. This was going to get complicated, but I had to make this happen.