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by Steely Dad on February 20, 2009

OK, the truth is out: I’m not comfortable with other people watching my kids. Go ahead, laugh it up. Enjoy yourself, even at my expense. I have endured high levels of teasing for this apparent flaw in my personality so I’m quite used to it. For whatever reason that defies comprehension, my wife felt compelled to share this fact with, of all people, the Den of Yentas, where on a rare visit to the Den she revealed my dirty little secret and in the process managed to completely sell me out. Nice work, Honey.

It’s not that I think I’m a superior parent; it’s just that no one cares for your kids as well as you. I don’t know, it’s like having some other dude drive my car. I’m sure he’s a great driver but that doesn’t mean I want him steering my sleigh. You know what I mean?

For the record, the grandparents didn’t “baby sit” my son, the firstborn, until he was two, yea, as in years. When they were finally allowed unsupervised visits, grandmas and grandpas were given a document that resembled the recent stimulus bill in size and girth. In it were all the dos and don’ts for the kid. Guess who authored said document? Uh-huh, that’s right. Miss-My-Husband-Is-A-Freak-Because-He-Won’t-Let-Other-People-Watch-The-Kids.

Needless to say, my kids have never been dropped off in any sort of daycare facility. I don’t mention this as a source of pride but as evidence of my apprehension. As I explained in a recent post http://www.steelydad.com/the-den-of-yentas.html we haven’t even enrolled the munchkins in either a full-fledged preschool or daycare center. The drop-in center where I take my kids is definitely a baby step more for me than my kids who could care less if I’m there or not. Call me sentimental but I couldn’t imagine going from caring for the kids all day to suddenly dropping them off with strangers. I know people who have babies and six weeks later leave them in daycare. I don’t know how they do it.

I guess my apprehension also stems from the fact that I am uncomfortable asking people for help and feel that I can do everything myself. This attitude was tested recently and I admit I had to cry mercy. About a month ago, my wife was hospitalized. Although I tried, for several weeks, to balance the care of my wife and kids, I physically was unable to maintain such a frenetic pace. I NEEDED help. For the first time in Steely Dad history, I had a babysitter come and watch the kids for a couple of hours while I went to the hospital to visit my wife. I guess it doesn’t hurt that she’s a neighbor and family friend for 25 years who just happens to be a pediatric nurse. See? I’m loosening up.

(To be fair, I should mention the sincere kindness the yentas displayed while my wife was ill. Many of them offered to deliver groceries, watch the kids, even make me dinner. Although I didn’t take any up on their offers these were kind gestures I won’t soon forget.)

You probably have the impression that I’m some overprotective dad who isn’t with the times but I would say that’s not the case. Just because I don’t want to leave my kids with other people doesn’t mean I’m overprotective; having them sleep in full battle gear makes me overprotective. OK, that was a joke but in all seriousness, I let my kids take their knocks. It’s part of learning and if we always anesthetize our kids from the pain of growing up they will never grow. At least that’s my philosophy.

To be honest, I’ve seriously contemplated home schooling. What? Have I lost it? I plan to elaborate on this topic future postings but when the yentas discovered my interest in home schooling they unleashed an all-out assault of ridicule that continues to this day. You see, unlike parents who can’t wait for school or summer camp, I actually enjoy hanging with my kids. Of course it’s awesome to watch them grow and gain independence but it also stirs in me a sense of melancholy.

With that said, I have decided to give conventional wisdom a try and have enrolled my son in preschool that begins this fall. However, I’m still luke warm on the idea of someone else taking the responsibility for my kids’ safety and wellbeing. What with one of the yentas sharing the story of her kid’s school calling to ask why her son wasn’t at school after she had dropped him off (he was eventually found in the bathroom) and the recent story http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2009/jan/23/local/chi-toddler-death-23jan23 involving the death of a toddler at a daycare facility, I’m pretty freaked out. My heart literally broke when I read this story and I can’t fathom the grief these parents must be experiencing. I realize daycare deaths aren’t commonplace but the fact they happen at all should be of serious concern to all parents. There is NEVER a good reason to harm or hurt a child. In addition, less-tragic incidents are not uncommon and often go unreported.

Look, I don’t want to come across as judgmental or to give parents who utilize daycare a guilt trip. Far be it from me to judge. But I’m just wondering why we’ve become so comfortable, so complacent, with handing over the care of our most precious to what basically amounts to total strangers. Why has the way of daycare become the norm rather than the exception? Is it because we have become a nation of outsourcers? I mean we have people who clean our houses, answer our phones, pick up our dry cleaning. We can even outsource the gestational process of carrying a baby. Is outsourcing the care of our kids just the next logical step? Maybe it’s because more parents are becoming single parents and have no choice but to use daycare? Will stories like the one above cause parents to reconsider their options or will most simply chalk it up as an anomaly and go about their regular routine? What say you, the Steely Dad Nation?

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