Childcare Options

14.01.11 Childcare Options
So today I took Alfie to Rainbow Children’s House which had been recommended to me as a great nursery. He absolutely loved it! Marched straight in to one of the rooms and started playing. It had a lovely feel to it and Maggie, the owner, was very warm and welcoming and the rooms were stuffed full of toys and books of all kinds, plus a huge outdoor courtyard with ride-ons and a sandpit and a covered area for playing with blocks (MegaBloks and Duplo rule don’t they?). There were about 14 kids from 1 to 3 or 4 years old and I think 6 or 7 staff of both sexes. In fact one young man took quite a shine to Alfie and chaperoned him about for the hour or so we were there.
But oh! How heartbreaking it is too! There was my angel child, agog at two older boys playing with some wooden railway thing and he dashed over to join in. Whereupon they promptly picked up their toys and ran off together laughing. He just stood there wide-eyed and bewildered for ages. I’m even crying at the memory of it. (It’s still jetlag…)
Not that he didn’t do his fair bit of snatching and shrieking too. I was very impressed with two boys who on separate occasions, when asked to share by Maggie, simply got out of the cars they were playing in and walked away with no fuss, leaving them for a younger child to play with. I am bothered by the concept of sharing. It seems such an adult idea and no matter how I wrestle with it, from a child’s point of view there is no benefit is there? Apart from assuaging adults and stopping them from shouting and getting angry, which I feel uncomfortable with. I do of course tell Alfie that he can’t have other kids toys on demand and I hope I recognise which child had what first so that I’m fair about that. But I think he’s only just getting used to being his own person and finding out the power that lies in ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and the fact that he can exercise choice; the idea of sharing seems to me a step that should come later than we adults allow it to.
But nursery is a lot about sharing. And the thing I like most about it is the chance for him to watch other children and see how they play. He learnt, just this morning, how to peddle the car by watching another boy who was very adept and fast. I’ve no doubt he would have got there eventually and of course mummy and daddy would have demonstrated but it seemed a heart-warming and natural process; observation, attempt and success. And all on his own too!
So a lot of mixed feelings. Not least, what’s in it for me? He and I have spent so much time together, I would miss him dreadfully, not to mention worry. Out here for example, we are each other’s playmate until both he and mummy find other people to interact with and we’ve had quite a few periods when it’s been just the two of us. Which is both magical and tedious. Am I being selfish in keeping him home or am I, as some would say, making a more confident and less aggressive child? I worry that he won’t keep up his phenomenal language skills; will they realise he knows all his animals and their noises and the names of fruits and a lot more besides? Will they understand that he’s not trying to get out of the gate, he’s just fascinated with locks and bolts and handles and things. Can they see that he plays peekaboo games of his own invention at every opportunity? They won’t know that putting his finger into the opposite palm means In the Night Garden and they won’t know the MakkaPakka dance or the difference between ‘daddy’, ‘teddy’ and ‘daisy’ which could sound the same to the untrained ear.
But then I did like the mix of children of all nationalities (French, Malay, Indian, Burmese-American etc – many ambassador’s and businessmen’s children) and the music and movement hour and soft play room and shelves and shelves of book (Alfie’s favourite pastime, closely followed by cars and farm animals). Maggie herself was an exuberant Indian lady with a two year old boy and a patient understanding of nervous mums (he is your first child? He is your only child? she asked, knowing the answer). She also talked about the importance of attachment and trust and is keen to toilet train the kids as soon as possible; her son was toilet trained from six months old! I have read about this and have to admit that I am not so sure about it… But she is very flexible and charges a flat monthly fee of around $140 which compared to England is amazingly cheap. So you can use the facilities as much or as little as you like, from 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday as you wish. Or perhaps for a couple of hours in the morning for, say 3 days a week, like a playgroup, which is what I’m thinking. I’m hoping to find part-time work for 3 days a week and I would be happy knowing that he has Rainbow’s as an activity.
We will of course get a nanny and are in the process of finding one. Which means I had lunch this week with some ladies who lunch and let them know I am looking. This is how things are done out here. In fact it was the rather fabulous J (or the Bling Lady as Pete called her), a leggy blonde with 4year old twin girls, who recommended Rainbow’s in the first place. She seemed confident I could find a Burmese girl who spoke good English, for around $170 a month. Again, I’m after more of a playmate who will take him to Rainbow’s and swim with him and keep him occupied while I go and do things like grocery shopping, which is turning slowly nightmarish with a toddler in tow.
And I would love to have a coffee morning at home here once a week, with mums and kids. After all we will have our climbing frame with swing and lots of toys and the pool as an attraction. Rather fortuitously, we have new neighbours moving in today with a young boy about a year old and we have just heard that the last empty house will be taken by a Japanese-American couple with a 9 month old baby. So we really will be a family compound, hurrah!
I’m sure in three months time it will all have fallen into place and I will be less emotional and Alfie will be happy as a pig in poo. Which incidentally, is two new words he said this week!

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