Today marked the last day of business for Jacob's daycare. Since they announced the closing a couple weeks ago, he's only been there a handful of days. He had three days last week, and potentially only had one more going into this week. Craig and I were both off for the majority of the week (me all week, Craig had to work yesterday) so for weeks I'd been looking forward to a lot of time together as a family. However, the core of our family is Craig and me, and so we sent Jacob to daycare on Tuesday so we could have a date day with just the two of us. Moments like that are extremely rare, so we figured that we'd take advantage while we could. We didn't do that when we were on vacation over the summer, and while it would have been nice to, at that point I was just so focused on making it a good week for Jacob that I didn't seriously consider it. We had too many plans and not enough time as it was! But this time around I was dead set on doing it, and that plan was solidified when we found out about the closing. On one hand I felt bad about keeping him home all week since his remaining time there was so limited, but I know that it's best for him to have that time with us, so I figured that the one day was a happy medium. It would be a good chance to say goodbye...for him and his teachers.
I suppose now would be a good time to rewind to Monday, when we spent the morning touring daycares. We had limited our touring to three, knowing that one in the area was too expensive and another has a waiting list a mile long. One of the three was one we had visited previously, another didn't accept infants so it wasn't an option last time, and the other was one that for some reason we never looked at the first time around. There was also a new one that was supposed to be opening on Monday, the first day post-closing, but we found out prior to taking a tour on Tuesday that their license hadn't been approved yet. While I would have been interested to look at it, just in case, it really wasn't an option based solely on timing. Too bad, since some of his former classmates and teachers may eventually end up there. So....the first one we went to on Monday was the one that didn't take infants. While the director was nice, we just weren't digging it. No major red flags, but it just didn't wow us. The next one was the one we had been to before. I felt about the same about it as I did the first time, though I liked the room Jacob would be moving into much better than the infant rooms. The people were nice and it would have been a little cheaper than option #3. And really, I think things would have been fine had we chosen that place. But option #3, the one we didn't know about last time, was the winner. It's located right around the corner from our house (ironic that we're trying to move--more on that later--but it's still relatively convenient no matter where we go in Greece), adjacent to (but not affiliated with) a Methodist church. The price is about the same as what we're paying now, and Jacob loved the toys in his new room. We didn't get to meet his teacher (a little scary, I know, but this was a tough week to do tours everywhere), but we do know someone whose kids have gone there for years. We haven't talked to them directly about it, but they're actually on the reference list and their longevity alone makes me think that they're probably pretty happy with it. All meals and snacks are provided, and when Jacob's older they'll even take field trips to Strong Museum and other places around town. That's pretty cool.
The transition itself should be interesting. Jacob's at an odd age, because everything is going to change at once. Not only is he going to be at a new center with new teachers and friends, but he's also transitioning into toddler life from infanthood. Toddlers eat meals at a table in regular chairs and sleep on cots, mats or mattresses on the floor, rather than in cribs. I can't imagine how they're ever going to get him down when he's not barred in, since he's not a big nap fan unless he's already sufficiently (but not overly) tired. He always likes to get up and go, so keeping him in one place will be a challenge. They also go out and play in the snow, which will be a new experience for him. I need to make sure he's fully equipped before the weekend is over! It's going to be a whole new world of new foods, new people, new schedules and new experiences, and I'm sure in the long run it will be good. I'm hoping he's too distracted by exploring all of the new stuff to worry about me leaving him there, but I have a feeling that a meltdown will happen one of these days when he gets the idea that I'm going to leave him there everyday and he's not going to be seeing the friends and teachers he's been with for much of his life.
Well, after going in Tuesday and saying our goodbyes, I got a bit emotional on the drive home. It's so hard saying goodbye to people that you know care about your child. Realizing that they won't be there to love and protect him and that they'll no longer have the opportunity (or privilege!) to see him every day was a sobering reality. It was just so incredibly sad. And while Jacob won't know what happened until it's over, and even then won't be able to express his emotions about it (a slightly scary prospect in and of itself), it's sad to think about the special people he's about to lose.
Today we decided to go in and meet with our realtor to discuss putting in an offer on a house. We found one a couple weeks ago that we really liked, and my parents gave it the thumbs up when they had a chance to see it on Sunday. It's a really unique house, about the same age as ours now, about five minutes from where we live now. There are many things that we love (the layout, the size, all of the updates), a couple odd quirks (weird entrance points and an odd kitchen), and a couple things we're a little nervous about (a larger yard and a pool), but when we considered the updates we'd still need to do to our existing house, and how we'd like to have a bigger house in preparation for any family additions, it's a pretty good deal for the money. We put in a low offer (and obviously a contingent one) so it may not get us anywhere, but they've already had their offer accepted on their new house a few weeks ago, so hopefully they're motivated enough to consider it. We shall see.
In any event, we figured that the realtor's office was no place for Jacob so we dropped him off for a few hours, much to the delight of the staff. They were excited for a last chance to hang out with him, and it was nice to know he'd get one last hurrah there. It was pretty quiet considering many parents were off today, but when we returned about an hour before today's early closing time, it provided a unique opportunity for everyone. The two semi-connected infant rooms were wide open, and the kids and teachers moved freely between the two. Shortly after we arrived another parent came in, and we all just hung out, watching the kids play and chatting with the teachers. Over the next hour or so, a few more parents arrived. We had a really nice time meeting parents we had never met and comparing notes on the kids and our respective day care searches. Jacob's usually the last to arrive and the last to leave, so while I'm seeing everyone's kids in the morning when we get there, it's easy to forget that everyone else is seeing Jacob when they come in to pick up. Apparently he plays ball with other parents much like other kids will climb on me or dig in my bag when I get there in the morning. The teachers had near-permanent teary eyes all afternoon, but it was nice to know how much they care. Sure, they're losing their jobs, but they're also saying goodbye to kids that they've had nearly as much a hand in raising as us parents. All in all, we were there a couple hours. There were many goodbye attempts, usually thwarted by distracted kids running off to something else, and many last hugs and kisses and laughs. It was really sad for everyone. We'll still see one teacher at the Amerks games, but my goal is to keep up with the rest either via email or by sending them a link to this blog or my Facebook photo albums. I think they'd appreciate the updates periodically. You always like to see how your projects turn out, and when your "project" happens to be a rapidly developing little person, I can only imagine how curious you'd be to see the changes. Just today we were marveling at a couple old pictures of Jacob and another of his little friends that one of the teachers dug up, amazed at how tiny they were back then. Everything changes so quickly!
And yes, life does move on. I'm sure Jacob will adjust splendidly to his new daycare and will become as comfortable there as he was before. Of course, he had been going there since he was seven weeks old so we've got 16 months of history to overcome, but given some time, he will adjust. It seems everything's changing these days, and I'm sure 2010 will be no exception. It's hard to let go of the past, but it could be a big year for all of us so we just need to look ahead to great things to come. So, as usual, we'll just be holding on for the ride! Happy New Year, everyone!