The Day Care Era Begins
Paternity leave is almost over. This is my last week! My how time flies. It's bittersweet for me. I love spending time with Bash. I can't describe how important these three months have been. I am ready to get back to work. But it's also good for Bash to start his social life. It's a new adventure for him. A new era!
Of course the day care system here is different. In the US you have labor pains, push the baby out, wipe it off, smile at it, then drop it off at day care. In Sweden it's a process. They know you have parental leave, so you have to integrate the child into day care. Of course you have to get into a line. It wouldn't be Sweden without a line. Swedie was actually concerned that Bash wouldn't be accepted into day care on time. We put him in the line when he was one week old. How is that not enough time? I actually ended up taking an extra two weeks of paternity leave once we got a start date. Weird, I know.
I guess a bunch of children were born around the time Bash was born because he got assigned to a temporary day care. We were told he would move to a closer one in August when some kids went on to first grade. So yes, I do have to walk past a day care center on my way to a day care center. Yes it annoys me every time. Especially when I know Bash is little and wouldn't overcrowd the place.
There is an integration system here. First the parent(s) check the place out without the kid. Then an orientation with the parents and child. Then a parent AND the child go to the day care for the first week, gradually getting the kid used to the environment. Then you test it out on the second week. Bring the kid and try saying goodbye. See if it's okay. Talk about coddling! Bash won't even remember these days. So what if he's a little sad. Adversity builds character and I have to go to work.
I'm the one on parental leave, so I got the week 1 duties. We had been to orientation with Bash. That went well. Bash is a social baby. He likes to get to know other kids. He's so nice and sweet. A mean and selfish child can take a toy from Bash and he'd be alright with it. He understands that there are more toys in the world. If a child is too aggressive, Bash slowly backs away from that crazy child (as he should). It's so interesting to see the different personalities of these little human beings. It's especially rewarding to realize that your child is the best of all of the children.
Bash's first day went very well. They had told us in orientation that I would be sort of the "base" or "safe zone" for Bash. I was to sit there and be available. Bash would play and socialize until he got uncertain. Then he would look for his "safe zone". It really happened like that! Bash played for a while with the kids. I sat there proudly watching. He would look over at me every few minutes. Once he needed some security, he'd walk over to me and get his Daddy fix. Of course I'll hold you, son. I took efforts to coddle as little as possible.
- Go play with the other kids, Bash.
Bash would go back after a minute or two and play some more. There was one kid there that had to be about three years old. He was like the Integration Ambassador. He shook my hand when I walked in. He used his left hand instead of his right hand, but I forgive him. He'll learn. He would rub Bash's head and lead him back into the play room. The cuteness was almost overwhelming. All went well on that day. It was only for an hour. Day 2 would be for three hours. Talk about coddling!
Day 2 (yesterday) didn't go as smoothly. Bash was a bit emotional. Maybe it was the fact that he slept in his room throughout the entire night. His parental time hadn't been fulfilled. We got there and Bash went directly to another new kid. They awkwardly jabbed at each other's faces for a few seconds and then went into the play room. Bash came back to "base" quicker than Day 1 and stayed longer. He wasn't interested in being away from me. I didn't want to slow down the integration process. One of the teachers told me that everything was normal. Just be there for him. Talk about coddling!
Then we sat in a circle for some singing. Bash loves music! This will be fun. They sang a name song while trying to remember all of the kids' names. It didn't go so smoothly. The next song would be the Swedish version of "Itsy, Bitsy Spider". Bash knows that one! They started singing and Bash got very emotional. He cried into my shoulder tears of pure sadness. My heart was melting. Bash hardly ever cries. It was like the song reminded him of Mommy and she wasn't here. All of these strangers were here. I left this circle of sadness and walked him around the day care. I was all about coddling right now. He pointed outside the windows as he cried.
- I miss Mommy too, Bash. It'll be okay.
The oldest girl in the day care suggested that we color at the coloring station. She was a better dad than me! Bash calmed down and played with crayons. Eventually he got comfortable. He played with the toys and the kids for the rest of the time. We had snacks. Bash is good at eating fruit. He can take down a whole banana, so the slices were not a problem at all. He kept reaching for apple slices as well. That's my boy. Get that food!
Day 2 was over at nap time. The regulars would be going to sleep on pads in the dark. I wanted a nap. It wasn't as smooth as Day 1, but I feel progress was made. The integration process is a good thing. We've done one hour and now three. Now it's time for six hours on Day 3. We can do this! Until next time...