Dear Grandparenting: Daughter Ginger finally got a break and landed a job way above minimum wage. Maybe she and husband Nick can keep a decent roof over their heads. I am pitching in paying for a day care center for my two grandchildren. I could handle them when I was a little younger but not now, no way. I am 74. My grandchildren are still tykes (two and three) and very active.
I have this one little problem. I really don’t know the first thing about day care. This whole thing is all new to me. We had your mother or grandmother or aunt around to care for kids when I was growing up. Nobody we knew farmed out little children. All these day care people are just like perfect strangers. Who can you trust? Do you have advice about choosing the right day care center? Ginger says it’s my call and she trusts me. Lara, Sidney, Ohio
Dear Lara: We think we understand the thoughts racing through your mind. Some surely concern quality of care. Like anything else, day care operations range from the abysmal to the exalted. The best centers will love and grow grandchildren. The worst deposit them on the floor, maybe with the TV turned to the cartoon channel. Cartoons aren’t what they used to be either, echoing the edgy modern ethic.
For others, it boils down to the inescapable realization that their vulnerable grandchild is now in the hands of “perfect strangers,” as you put it. How do you begin to trust them with such a precious package?
Don’t buy in sight unseen — personal observation answers a host of critical questions. So visit a couple of centers and see for yourself. Are the children happy and engaged? Are emotionally needy children ignored or comforted? Are the providers watching the clock or moving the children along through stimulating activities? Is there a plan in place to deal with sick children?
That’s for starters. Nothing rings so true as word of mouth, so ask parents for their opinions. Is the center licensed and certified? Is it accredited by a professional organization like the National Association for the Education of Young Children? Look for a center with a low employee turnover and enough staff to provide an appropriate level of attention. Centers must comply with staff-to-child ratios set by state authorities.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Mo Martin from Kingsport, Tennessee, was setting the Sunday supper table for three before his wife brought out the meatloaf.
Then grandson Timmy, 5, zoomed into the dining room. “Guess what Grandpa! Grandma just made the biggest hot dog ever!”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.