Considering how independent, friendly, happy and full of character Ruby is, I had no doubt that she would do absolutely fine in daycare. She has had no problem being away from me. She doesn’t make strange. She plays well with other kids.
That is until the Daycare Nightmare…
And before I go on I feel the need to first explain how it came to be that Ruby ended up in such a place. I spent a good amount of time this past summer looking for a good daycare for her. I asked around, networked, researched until I came to find “Adventure Time Daycare”. I visited the daycare a couple of times in the summer. It was clean and very organized. The woman was very professional. She had an information booklet for me that explained her credentials, how the daycare worked, costs, requirements, etc. When I visited there were only two other kids there and they played very nice with Ruby (she was just 6 months old and still in a travel carseat). I thought I had found the *perfect* place.
Two weeks before Ruby was slated to start daycare, we visited again – and again one week before she was to start. This time things were a little different. There were 4 other kids there – one of them a 1 year old baby. There was also a big fluffy dog that wasn’t there before that layed in the middle of the room amongst the toys and kids. He was obviously kid friendly but I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I also *thought* I sensed a slight bit of frustration in Melissa’s (daycare lady) voice, directed at one of the kids. Surely I must have been wrong about that though. And for some reason, Ruby seemed slightly hesitant to get too comfortable when we were there. I thought nothing of it.
When discussing Ruby’s schedule with her I mentioned that Ruby still needs two naps a day. Melissa got a bit prickly and told me “Well I will be changing that.” She told me that ALL the kids in her daycare took ONE nap a day at it was at 11:30am and it lasted 2 ½ hours. I was a little annoyed by this but tried my best to get Ruby on that schedule before starting daycare.
The first day I went to pick her up, Melissa brought her to the door in her arms asleep. Melissa gave me a roll of the eyes and said, "We have NOT had a very good day. Ruby cried all day and I am EXHAUSTED!" It shocked me because it just doesn’t fit with Ruby’s personality. I was very upset that she'd had a bad day and Melissa didn't make it any better as she acted very annoyed by Ruby's struggles.
The next day I went to pick her up I got the same attitude from Melissa. She told me there was no improvement and that Ruby refused to nap. She also said to me, "And just so you know??? She pooped THREE TIMES today!!!" Except it wasn't “just so I would know”. She was seriously pissed by that.
Things didn't get any better. Melissa's attitude was bad every time I picked Ruby up. She was really frustrated and angry that Ruby didn't want to nap there (5 seconds after we would leave, Ruby was out).
Then finally on the Friday she said to me, "You know what really makes me mad??? I work a 10 1/2 hour day and I'm not getting any breaks because of Ruby!!" She said that is her time to eat her lunch and relax.
She told me that Ruby cried whenever the other kids went near her and obviously I hadn't socialized her enough (which is bullshit). She said Ruby hadn't been around strangers enough. Should I have been dropping her off at the mall for a couple of hours a day to get her used to strangers??? She’s a baby! She went on to tell me things she said to the other kids about Ruby that would make them not like her!!! Like, "Kids you can't play with the dancing snowman today because Ruby cries too much." She told me that she cried whenever a certain little girl went near her.
I found a bite bruise on Ruby's thigh and when I mentioned it to Melissa she got snarky and said that none of “her kids” bite and she would know if that had happened. She reluctantly admitted at the end of the day that it was definitely a bite mark on Ruby's leg and she was astonished that she'd missed that. Is it possible that the little girl that made Ruby cry was the one who bit her??? I mean, kids bite – that shit happens. But to deny that this could be why Ruby was nervous of a particular girl, and instead to say that Ruby wasn’t socialized properly is just ignorant.
Also when I would pick her up, Ruby would frantically start signing "milk" to me as soon as she saw me. I had to wonder if she wasn't getting fed enough. I mentioned to Melissa that she might be hungry and she went off on me about how she has a university degree and she knows that Ruby's "behavior" isn't from hunger! Still she was famished when I picked her up. And one particular day I found her breakfast bottle still in her diaper bag – untouched. She hadn’t been fed it.
It made me feel so awful to know that Ruby was having a hard time adjusting and it was made worse by Melissa’s attitude that it was somehow my fault or Ruby’s fault or that there was something that *I* could do about it when it was actually HER JOB to make Ruby (and me) feel better and more comfortable.
At the beginning of the second week, Melissa told me that Ruby had until the end of the week to show improvement or I would have to find another daycare.
I didn’t let her go that long. I dropped her off the following morning and cried my eyes out when Ruby clung to my neck and tried all her best karate moves to get away from Melissa. I got to work and explained my situation to my boss who kindly told me to go get Ruby. “You don’t leave your kid in a place like that” she said.
I phoned Melissa on my way to get Ruby to let her know that I was coming and I wouldn’t be bringing her back. In the 20 minutes that it took me to get there, Melissa had Ruby’s bags packed and sitting by the door. She was more than happy to get rid of Ruby and wasn’t afraid to show it. I told her I wanted a refund for the remainder of the month – she was reluctant but she wrote me a cheque.
When I first got to the daycare, Melissa had Ruby on her hip. Ruby didn’t see me at first but I saw her. She had a sad, distant, empty look on her face. That wasn’t my Ruby and it broke my heart.. When she saw me she lit right up.
Melissa told me that Ruby needs extra attention and she doesn't have time to give it to her. That I should go to an unlicensed daycare where they can only take two kids so that Ruby can get the extra attention that she requires.
When we left, Melissa was saying goodbye to Ruby and I swear to god, no word of a lie or exaggeration, Ruby did nothing but glare at her. I have never seen her do that either.
I have since had Ruby at a few different places with different people and have had ZERO problem. No crying, no problem napping. I'm just horrified that I was so wrong about this woman and her daycare. I feel horrible for poor Ruby that she had such a bad time there and am just thankful that she never has to go back there ever again.
I have since found a new daycare. It’s not a fancy place. The house is older and could use an update. But the woman who runs it seems very kind. We discussed some of the issues we had at the last daycare and she was horrified at how Ruby was treated. Ruby starts in January and I will be keeping a very close eye on how things are going. We need a fresh, happy start. I know I won't feel at ease until I see that Ruby is happy, content and cared for in her new daycare.