So I have alluded to it enough that I know you are all just on the very edges of your seats wondering how day care could be so worthy of an entire section of the Pesach Saga Extraordinaire! Well, it probably isn't worthy of an entire section, but it irked me enough that it will receive an entire section. It's my journal, so there!
First, some background: I should note that while Julian's reservation didn't cost nearly as much as each of the two adult reservations, it was quite pricey. Presumably (since he really didn't eat much and certainly didn't take up much space) a large chunk of this extraordinary cost was because there is a presumption that he will be using the daycare services. This is a completely reasonable assumption to make, and I happily paid the cost, because daycare is priceless. And everyone raved and raved and raved about how terrific the day care at this place is and how terrific the person who runs the day camp (Tammy) is. And how amazing a time I would have knowing that Julian was getting such incredible care.
Well, on the first day of Pesach, Seth and I were completely and utterly exhausted. Understandable since we were still sleep deprived and the seder had gone long for Seth (though I retired early, I was not feeling very well still). So we were so thrilled when Julian bounced out of bed at 6:30 to know that in a mere 2 1/2 hours we could safely turn Julian over to slightly-less-sleep-deprived people. Seth, being the mentsch that he is, took care of getting Julian dressed and I pulled together a diaper bag for Julian, and Seth took Julian down to breakfast and then to the day care area. Turns out, Tammy wasn't there this year. She went to the larger of the two locations that the company was running, which is great for them, sucky for us. Seth dropped Julian off with a nice Israeli man who appeared to be in charge of things. When Seth handed him the diaper bag, he said, "Oh we don't change diapers, you'll just have to check back later to see if he needs a diaper." Fortunately, Julian's diaper had JUST been changed, and he would probably be fine until lunchtime.
Seth went to shul to daven, I rolled out of bed eventually, thought about going to shul and changed my mind. Instead I davened on my balcony overlooking the ocean. Heaven. My child is happy and well-cared for, my husband is in shul probably sleeping, I had a nice ocean breeze. Life is good. Seth kindly picked Julian up at 11:30 (after shul and in time for the rather large kiddush). When picking Julian up, he discovered two things: first, the day care situation was going to be worse than we thought; and second, kids' lunch was being cancelled because of the big kiddush. I get that there was lots of food at the kiddush, but not really any kid-friendly food. Fortunately, it was yom tov, not shabbos, so they did have an omelet station. Julian LIVED on cheese omelets through most of Pesach. As for the day care, when Seth picked Julian up at 11:30, they said to him, "Julian doesn't listen very well." Seth blinked and said, "well, he's TWO." Seems like enough of an explanation to me, but apparently not to them: "We have two year olds who listen." Nothing good could possibly come out of responding to that, so Seth brushed it off.
We did not send Julian for the afternoon session of day care because he needed a nap and so did Seth, so they napped together while I wandered around the hotel and grounds exploring a bit. In fact, it would turn out that we never sent Julian for the afternoon sessions. They had him for 2 1/2 hours a day, basically.
I could have lived with the slightly bad taste in my mouth from the experience of the first day of day care, but on the second day of day care, I went down to check Julian's diaper and he wasn't there. Apparently they had taken him upstairs looking for me. Eventually I bumped into someone who told me Julian was with Eleanor and that they were looking for me. Only, it's a really big hotel and finding someone in it isn't easy, so I put myself in a central location and waited until I could find them. Eventually they appeared, I changed Julian's diaper and it was close enough to lunchtime that I didn't send Julian back for the rest of the day.
Every day, Julian seemed to be sent off with another person at some point or another. The day care policy is that only a parent or sibling over age 10 can pick up a child, but they had no problem violating their own policy and sending Julian off with anyone he happened to recognize. Truth be told, they didn't send him off with any nefarious characters (unless you count osewalrus), and I was happy that those non-nefarious characters were kind enough to take responsibility for Julian, but it was still aggravating.
More aggravating was how obvious it was that the folks running the day care were not in any way prepared to care for children who couldn't occupy themselves. They had a couple of beach balls, a plastic baseball set, a couple of board games and some decks of cards. That's it. What was a TWO YEAR OLD supposed to do? Julian was enjoying himself though (we always sent him with some cars to play with, which can keep him happy for hours), and kept asking to go to day care, so we kept sending him. But my frustration was mounting.
Finally on the last day of chol hamoed, osewalrus's sister-in-law told the day care folks that they need to make sure that they don't release Julian to anyone other than Seth or myself without explicit permission. They, of course, took the defensive. "Oh we've never done that and how dare you accuse us of that. Julian is a very difficult child and we just can't care for him."
Ahem. Julian is many things. And he's even a large number of frustrating things when he wants to be. But one thing he is not is a "difficult" child. He does listen, if you approach him with respect and don't forget that he's TWO. He's one of the most affectionate children I've ever met. He's smart, he's responsive, and he can entertain himself relatively well, if he's given an appropriate space to do so.
Also, please remember that wasn't said to me, but rather to someone unrelated to me. I was of two minds... on the one hand they didn't say it to me and they didn't know the message had been passed along, so they could suck it up. On the other hand, they had made it abundantly clear that they would spend a lot of time trying to get rid of Julian when they had him. (Every time he said "I want Abba", they would take him upstairs to find Abba... except Abba was in shul davening and they'd end up leaving him with someone else instead of going into the shul to get Abba or finding Eema) Clearly they did not want to care for my child. So we stopped sending him all together for the last days.
We were not the only people having problems with the day care. There was an 11 year old bully in the day care who had no business being there. An 11 year old belongs in shul davening, not with little kids playing cards. Aaron (7 1/2 year old) was even davening (in the day care area, not in shul, but you know what? he wasn't wasting time playing cards, he was davening!). The 11 year old punk brat bully was hitting kids in front of counselors, but NO ONE STOPPED HIM. (I found this all out immediately AFTER I had decided to take Julian out of the day care permanently)
It really couldn't have been much more horrendous short of outright abuse.
The funny part is that there were signs posted all over reminding parents that there was a recommended $5 per day, per child recommended tip for day care. Julian spent only a handful of HALF days in day care and I STILL wouldn't even remotely consider giving them a tip. I'm a very, very good tipper in general. I really am, but this was ridiculous. If I could have given them a negative tip I would have. I wish I'd handed them an envelope with a letter explaining why they weren't receiving a tip, instead of just giving them nothing.
Next year is supposed to be better. Unfortunately THIS is the year we actually went!