Every morning, I drop Jack off at daycare. It’s a small center, with just 5 little ones in his baby class. Calling it a class sounds a little pretentious doesn’t it? I used to internally roll my eyes at moms referring to their childcare as school. What could their kids possibly be learning at the age of one-and-a-half that would qualify the facility as a place of education? Like many pre-mommy armchair quarter backs, I knew it all. Especially when it came to the learning curve for babies. Funny though…now that I’m actually a mom myself, I have a toddler who goes to Harvard.
OK, OK…he’s not Doogie Hauser. But the things Jack and his little friends are learning at daycare astonish me. Every time I walk into his classroom, I see or hear of a new, amazing feat they’ve accomplished. It’s even more mystifying when we get home and those lessons are all but forgotten. Here are 6 things my toddler does at daycare that he does NOT do at home:
- Takes his jacket on and off. The first time Jack did this at daycare, I froze. There he was, unzippering his own outwear and walking it over to the coat rack. Meanwhile, just 15 minutes before, he was lying on my kitchen floor, twisting his body in every possible direction to avoid putting his arms through the sleeves. At pick up, when the teacher held his jacket up, Jack readily put those very same Gumby arms straight in. What kind of spell was my child under?
- Sits politely at a table for meals. Not only that, but I happened to catch the start of snack time one morning. Imagine my surprise as all the little one-year-olds folded their hands neatly in front of them so the teacher could say a “thank you” poem. At home, those same tiny hands are usually man handling the dog’s face, as Jack debates whether or not to give him a bite. This while standing next to, on top of, but hardly ever sitting in his chair.
- Willingly takes naps. Every time I read the daily report, my eyes dart straight to Jack’s nap review. And every single time, I see that he “went right down” for 2 1/2 hours. Sometimes his teacher even writes a smiley face next to the words “had to wake him up!” Had to wake him up? How about how did you get him to even lie down on a little cot (without the bars of a crib to keep him in) for more than 20 seconds? Why is it at home, the fight against sleep starts immediately following the lunch he did not sit down for? The other day, I straight up asked Miss Tess her secrets. Do you say something in particular (I believe I actually used the word command)? Is there a specific lull-a-bye I should have on surround sound throughout the house? She laughed and thought I was joking…
- Colors with crayons on an actual piece of paper. The guy is a regular ol’ Picasso at daycare. His colorful scribbles look steady and meaningful, centered on the sheet of paper. Beautiful! I love it! WOW! I shower Jack with compliments as I hold up each drawing up. At the same time, I can’t help but wonder why at our house, the paper is ignored and the table is his medium of choice. And those nice new pointy crayon tops? The ones my OCD mind gravitates towards as he colors? Oh the horror, as they are smashed to smithereens! I once turned away for a moment, only to look back at a smile dotted with bits of blue. Turns out those crayons are also tasty.
- Sits down for story time. Jack just loves story time, says his teacher. He is the first one to pick out a book and bring it over to the circle. Then, he and the other toddlers sit attentively, listening as Miss Tess reads each page. What an incredible attention span they have, while sitting on what I assume is a MAGIC daycare carpet. Because at my house, it’s not as easy to pick out a book. In 7 seconds flat, a dozen are on the floor. And forget us making it through the entire story. A new book is needed by page three.
- Uses an extensive vocabulary. On the playground, Jack calls for his dog Cash. When he’s thirsty, he asks for water. When it’s time for a snack, he says please. He also signs the word please. And the word more. However my husband and I didn’t realize that’s what he was doing until the seemingly strange hand motions were noticed by a family friend weeks after they started. “I think he’s using sign language,” she told us. Can you imagine? All that time, the poor little guy was politely asking for refills, while we thought he was just being weird. And when it comes to the spoken word, at home Jack seems to favor just one: NO.
Still, at the end of the day I consider myself lucky Jack is doing any of this, even if most of its under the care of his teacher. He is such a good helper, she tells us. He loves to cleanup and follow the rules. Is it too early to envision him growing into a child who is respectful in the classroom? If that’s the case, I’ll take it! Even if it means he sometimes comes home a little wild man to me. 🙂