When I picked the girls up from daycare today I found myself on the periphery of a conversation about gifts for teachers. Kate and Sarah go to a NAEYC accredited daycare where the care they receive is outstanding. Low kid to adult ratios, highly qualified staff...it's great. And it's costing us what feels like all of our disposable income. But they seem really happy there and besides, everywhere else has looooong waiting lists. I've checked. I'm on one. Still.
The parents get gifts for teachers for Christmas, teacher appreciation month and end-of-the-year, right before all the kids shift classrooms. In addition we're all expected to sign up for a month during which we single-handedly let the teachers know, with little thoughtful items, how much we appreciate them. And I do. But when the conversation went from "what are we doing for the Tree Top Room teachers for Christmas" to "well, and then there's all of their birthdays..." I wanted to sit down on the floor and cry. Birthdays? It got worse - "...we were just doing cards but now apparently everyone wants to do gifts..." Gifts? My dearest friends only get a phone call from me on their birthdays and now I have to buy gifts for all the daycare teachers?
I do not leave work early to attend the mid-day events at the daycare center. I often miss the quarterly "parent/teacher conferences" (What?!? Sarah's failing Physics?), I already have plans for the day of the big, fund-raising fall festival that do not include attending the fall festival. I will be working during their Fall Fashion Show. I don't go to the "Coffee Talk" chats at 8:00AM. I've missed every single 5PM PTAC meeting for more than 2 years. I am a terrible daycare parent. But I don't get it - who has time to be a good one? I have even less time than money and if I had enough of both to participate in all this stuff I wouldn't need daycare. I expect this kind of pressure once my kids are in school, but they're both still ages many people refer to in months. Am I a terrible person for wanting my daycare to take good care of my kids and expect little more from me than payment in full, random baked goods and frequent "thank-yous"?