red flags at daycare / preschool: claw back our deposit ASAP?
March 6, 2017 11:36 AM   Subscribe

We just submitted our deposit to the "best" preschool in our neighborhood, and upon visiting the classroom our child will be in, discovered a checked-out looking assistant teacher blasting loud Rihanna on shrill bluetooth speakers surrounded by toddlers with dazed expressions. School says they will "speak with the teacher" about the music and that that doesn't usually happen there. I kinda don't trust them now. If it were you, would you pull the kid out and cancel our deposit check?

I am a full time dad and my boy has just turned 1 year old. I'm crazy about him. We think he could use more socialization and stimulation and development in his life, and a slot has opened up for us at what is considered the "best" daycare/preschool in our neighborhood. It costs more than our rent.

We've toured this place in the past, but today we met with the enrollment coordinator to submit our formal application and deposit check. Then, we went to go visit again the classroom our boy would be put in.

When we walked in, we saw five kids aged 12-24 months with dazed expressions. They were being watched by a woman full of piercings, and a bluetooth speaker blasted Rihanna at a very loud volume and a piercingly shrill tone. It hurt my ears. Those poor kids.

After leaving the room, I commented to the coordinator that I would've expected something like children's songs being played. She said that is not normal practice and that she would speak with the teachers about the loud music in the childrens' rooms.

I dunno folks- this sort of thing should never happen at a daycare/preschool. This is absolutely not suitable for little kids. I certainly wouldn't subject my own children to that.

So what do you say? Trust them that they'll stop that practice and change? Or drop this place? I can stay home and raise the boy. There are other preschools nearby; we have options and can wait for slots to open. What say you?

I mean, part of me thinks that no matter how much they promise to improve that situation, what matters is what's done when our backs are turned and they think that no one is watching them. In other words, I think I'll have difficulty trusting them now.

Time sensitive: we kinda need to decide whether to pull out today or tomorrow so we can claw back our deposit or cancel the check through the bank. This may mean burning a bridge with the preschool, and we may not get an opportunity with them again. Many parents scramble to get their kids in there. Even so. Loud, shrill music on infants. WTF y'all. Dealbreaker?
posted by myriad gantry to Education (57 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, yeah. What are you waiting for? Cancel that check, stat.
posted by tel3path at 11:40 AM on March 6, 2017 [14 favorites]

My kids are in their 20s now, but one thing I learned when they were little was to trust my instincts. If this place seems off to you (and it does to me) I'd look somewhere else.
posted by angiep at 11:41 AM on March 6, 2017 [27 favorites]

It costs more than our rent is enough of a reason to pull him out, but the school saying they would talk to the employee and not outright fire them is another good reason.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:41 AM on March 6, 2017 [10 favorites]

The coordinator didn't immediately shut it down and apologize unprompted? Get out.
posted by Etrigan at 11:46 AM on March 6, 2017 [17 favorites]

I'm not even going to give my opinion about what was happening in the classroom because I think what matters here is that you don't feel comfortable. Don't leave your kid somewhere you don't feel comfortable with, even if it's just your gut. At the point where there is literally no one you're comfortable leaving them with, then maybe you ask yourself questions. But in general, a "no way" vibe is enough.
posted by gideonfrog at 11:49 AM on March 6, 2017 [13 favorites]

I have a 9 month old in a daycare that I seriously love. And I knew it was right from the minute I stepped into the classroom and spoke to the owner/head teacher.

Trust your instincts.

(As a side note, I don't know why piercings should matter at all in your criteria of a good caregiver.)
posted by Jaclyn at 11:54 AM on March 6, 2017 [75 favorites]

I don't mean to be hostile or contradictory, but to answer the question, the only issue I see here is the volume of the music.

I suppose I'm strong a free range kid proponent. I wouldn't care if the person had piercings. I wouldn't care if it were Rhianna, and I don't like Rhianna's music. At all. I wouldn't care that they're not providing enrichment to my child every single second they're there. I wouldn't hold myself to that standard. Very little kids often look dazed.

I'm very surprised that music was so loud that it literally hurt your ears, but it didn't bother anyone else in the daycare, didn't interfere with their conversations or interactions, none of the kids were crying, and no one at the day care thought this was abnormal or asked this person to turn the music down? And it was THAT loud?

I am also not in a position to enroll my kid child in a daycare that cost more than my rent, and wouldn't do it if I had an alternative. I understand that this isn't how parenting is commonly done today, and that people may take my opinion as hostile. I don't intend it to be. You asked what other people would do, and I am answering honestly.

What I would do doesn't matter. It seems like you see this as problematic, so I think you should listen to that, pull your son out and do something that you're more comfortable with.
posted by cnc at 11:55 AM on March 6, 2017 [61 favorites]

Jesus. I would do way more than cancel my check. We're on the hunt for preschools now, with all the concerns that search comes with, and just reading your questions upped my stress levels!

I know that you are very likely to not be a parent at that particular school, but if there's a way to communicate what you saw to other unsuspecting parents (Yelp? BBB?), please do so. I'd suggest some sort of city school board, but that may be overkill if the school is otherwise satisfactory.

Jesus. Loud music on infants? Those poor babies.
posted by Everydayville at 11:56 AM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Visiting a daycare/preschool is scary. My kids went/go to great centers, and I've visited other facilities I'm sure are great, and every single one of them gave me moments of panic OMG HOW CAN I LEAVE MY CHILD HERE??!! That was me, not them. The fact that you had some scary feelings doesn't mean it's a terrible school. The fact that the caregivers don't do things exactly your way doesn't make them terrible caregivers. It's just different. You don't have to send your kid there, of course, but try not to translate your personal anxiety into judgment.

I wouldn't care if the person had piercings. I wouldn't care if it were Rhianna, and I don't like Rhianna's music. At all. I wouldn't care that they're not providing enrichment to my child every single second they're there. I wouldn't hold myself to that standard. Very little kids often look dazed. = ditto all of this. The piercings judgment in particular makes you sound like a cranky grandpa.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:09 PM on March 6, 2017 [48 favorites]

I've done drop-in visits at several different daycare facilities as part of my volunteer work. The situation you describe is like nothing I've ever seen, and these are facilities at the other end of the spectrum -- primarily state-subsidized, in not-great neighborhoods. The music was always quiet -- sometimes pop music, sometimes baby stuff; the staff were aware and present and interacting lovingly with the kids; the kids were happy, or unhappy in a reasonable way (didn't want to take their nap, scared of a stranger (me) coming in the classroom); and I would have trusted my own hypothetical child to any of them. From what you describe, I wouldn't leave my kid there no matter how good the reputation. You've seen it with your own eyes. What I would expect of a really good facility would be that it could never get to that point, because management would have already observed the loud music and shut it down proactively rather than you having to bring it to their attention.
posted by katemonster at 12:12 PM on March 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

I was about to write almost exactly what cnc said: the volume is quite concerning, but it's hard to judge the other factors. At our daycare, pop music is often played, especially with the younger kids.

Being comfortable is huge priority. If this is all the information you have to go on, I'd pull out.

But I'd also ask whether there's other information that would inform your decision:

What time was it? At the end of the day, when everyone's worn out? Little kids can look dazed, especially when they are tired.

Did you see other classrooms, and how did they look? Culture is contagious, so if all the other classes looked great, that's a plus. (And a tour should have included at least a glance at all the classrooms.)

Why do you think it is the "best"? Have you talked to other parents? What did they say? If, for example, you've talked to multiple parents you trust who have been visiting unannounced regularly and report good things, I'd put more weight on that than your one bad experience.

Who is the "enrollment coordinator"? Someone who deals mostly with paperwork, or a real administrator? If the former, I'd put less weight on the lack of concern, although it's still worrisome. Call and ask to speak with the director, either to learn more to inform your decision, or if you are dropping out, to explain why you made that choice.

Good luck. I don't mean to diminish your concern, but it's possible that this was not representative of the school.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 12:13 PM on March 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Not for nothing, but Rihanna did the music for the recent animated kids' blockbuster Home. Kids love the songs from that movie and they play on kids stations on FM (like the Disney FM channels), on satellite radio (Kids Place Live on XM), and similar Pandora/online stations.

Are you sure what you came across wasn't Rihanna's kid-friendly tracks from that animated movie and a dance party?

You were there and I wasn't, so I don't mean to dismiss you out of hand. But Rihanna music does not at all equal non-kid friendly. Not necessarily.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:13 PM on March 6, 2017 [13 favorites]

You have other good options?

I'm not sure I'd want to dismiss a place based on one experience. I agree with others about following your instincts, but I also think that I'd want more information. Daycare here is hard to find, maybe not so bad in your area. I spend a LOT of time at my kid's preschool - the quality of life there varies. Some days it's chaotic and all the kids are melting down, most days it's not. Sometimes the music is annoying - the speakers aren't so great and you can hear two different things playing and it's irritating or maybe a little too loud. But I'm also there enough to know that they're doing a good job, and my kid is thriving.

Check in with yourself: is it partly that you're feeling a little insecure about sending your kid to be cared for elsewhere?

I mean, yes, music that's too way loud and a teacher that has checked out from engaging with the kids is not good. But piercings, Rihanna, that doesn't alarm me, and I am in the thick of day to day care for my young toddler.
posted by vunder at 12:14 PM on March 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I dunno folks- this sort of thing should never happen at a daycare/preschool. This is absolutely not suitable for little kids. I certainly wouldn't subject my own children to that.
You sound so sure that it's 101% wrong and you also are clear that you have all the options in the world, so I don't know that polling us will help you. How does your partner feel?

But if you are looking for other viewpoints: I don't have a problem at all with piercings (come on, man!) or Rhianna (to me, children's music is shrill and I don't think 12-14 month kids need to be protected from adult music) or Bluetooth speakers. I don't know how sensitive your ears are but given that your other red flags don't cause even faint alarm to me, I'm not sure you and I would agree on that.

However, if you feel the place is mismanaged, that's a no-brainer. Don't expect improvement there.

It's your dime, and you and your partner's decision. Don't do something that makes you uncomfortable if you don't have to-- but it sounds like you want your child to be more exposed to the world, and Rhianna and jewelry are part of it.
posted by kapers at 12:15 PM on March 6, 2017 [5 favorites]

None of this would bother me besides the volume - commercial music written for children is annoying as hell to me, and if it was late in the day I'd be thrilled to see that the kids had dazed looks on their faces - it would mean they were worn out from activity. But you get to decide what works and doesn't work for you and your family.

As someone who raised two children to adulthood, I can offer you this advice: Don't make decisions for your child based on what is considered good or bad by others. You put "best" in quotes so you know what's "best" is largely subjective. Go with your gut.

But go easy on judging people for piercings and the music they listen to. Teaching your child by example that superficial differences are no big deal will go a long way toward that socialization you're looking for.
posted by headnsouth at 12:16 PM on March 6, 2017 [11 favorites]

If it wasn't working for you, leave. However, I'd also suggest that it is difficult to "read" a daycare environment. Dazed-looking isn't, IMHO, something that someone can really assess. I'm not even really sure what that means. Toddlers and babies don't really focus their eyes in the same way that adults do. I would strongly suggest that you visit more centers to better calibrate your sense of what it normal/typical for such places.

Is your problem with the content of the music? Rhianna was featured in the children's film Home. Is it possible that the school/teacher was playing songs from Home rather than Rhianna's S&M? I don't know about other people, but I could barely handle listening to the Farmer in the Dell when my child was small. I greatly preferred him listening to music that I like and/or children's music from groups like They Might Be Giants. I am 100% sure that my child heard a lot of Rhianna when he was small.

Is your problem with the volume of the music? Was it really that loud? Are you sensitive to volume? Was it possible that the second that you walked by the speakers came on and the teacher then quickly reduced the volume? (This happens to me with the TV all the time.) My child's various preschools and daycares often had the music louder than I have at home.

Is your problem with the teacher's appearance? Lots of people have piercing. How would her piercings have any impact on her ability to work with children? I politely ask that you think about why this matters to you. A visible tattoo with a curse word? Yeah, I can see the issue, but a piercing?

Again, my main point is that you should probably visit more places before even putting a deposit down in one place and get a sense of what having a lot of babies and toddlers in one room is like.
posted by k8t at 12:17 PM on March 6, 2017 [17 favorites]

I dunno folks- this sort of thing should never happen at a daycare/preschool. This is absolutely not suitable for little kids. I certainly wouldn't subject my own children to that.
To me this seems OK, but I'm not you and your kid is not my kid.

People definitely get stuck in the "this is the best way" mindset with kids, particularly their own. I think you have to listen to your guts but also examine what the issue actually is. Why did it feel off? The music volume? The music content? Did it seem like a totally routine situation there?

I get where the anxiety is coming from. We just toured daycares before finding a place that worked for us, and I know they listen to pop music there and the main woman who runs it has some tattoos. We didn't care because the kids seemed to enjoy being there and she seemed great. Besides, we know our kid will get louder music at home and I have piercings and tattoos.

We struggled because we had to find a place and if this one didn't open up, I don't know we'd since I had to go back to work. If this isn't super time sensitive, I would wait to find an option you are comfortable with. It seems like this isn't the right place for you and you're trying to force it based on its reputation.
posted by kendrak at 12:24 PM on March 6, 2017

This hits home for me because today is my daughter's first day of day care. Maybe I'm just on edge because of that, but there's no way I'd tolerate this. I'm probably a little more "get off my lawn" than most MeFites, but your concerns are valid to me. I don't like Rihanna, and I don't really want my kid listening to her, even if it is from a children's movie. And I get that piercings are like, an individual choice, man, and people are free to look how they want to look, but at the same time, appearances matter in certain professions, and this is one. Some jobs, you have to play the game. Her job is not just to take care of kids; part of her job is to reassure parents that their kids are safe and happy. It's not really the place for self-expression. The person who cuts my hair? Express away.

If it were me, I'd go somewhere else. I don't blame you for feeling this way.
posted by kevinbelt at 12:31 PM on March 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

I mean, I played Blink 182, Pink Floyd, the Violent Femmes, Ben Folds Five, and all kinds of "inappropriate" music for my kids from day one. I also played The Wiggles. So, like, the music doesn't bother me one tiny bit, nor do the piercings (I mean, really?). And if you need some bona fides, my kids are 20 and almost 17 and both have been honor students throughout their school lives and who have been given numerous merit and accomplishment awards.

That said, if you don't feel comfortable, you don't feel comfortable. The "checked out" thing would for sure bother me. If you don't get a good feeling about it, you have every right to change your minds.

On preview, some of our best babysitters had tattoos and piercings and purple hair. One shouldn't judge a book by its cover.
posted by cooker girl at 12:36 PM on March 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

I don't care about the piercings. I don't care about the Rihanna*. I would care about the volume. Except ... kids will generally let you know when things hurt their ears; I'm not sure how it was hurting your ears and the kids were OK. The only thing that concerns me is your description of the inaction of the kids. One of the things that I love about my kids' daycare is that it always seems like the kids are doing things. Not highly structured, scheduled things, but there is lots of supported free play going on every time I go in the classroom. Others have pointed out in this thread that young kids get tired and can be zonked out at the end of the day which, you know, fair enough, but my experience is, even when the kids are zonked, they are generally doing more sedate things around the classroom.

However, it boils down to this: if your uncomfortable with it, that's fine and I think getting the deposit back today is a reasonable course. It may just be that, while this place is generally well regarded, it's not right for you.

*Confession: I actually sort of like it when the teachers play "real music" rather than "kids music." I'm reminded of this thread where a lot of Mefites were posting about listening to music with their kids that was not explicitly "kids music" - I think about this comment a lot when the music I listen to has swearing in it.
posted by Betelgeuse at 12:39 PM on March 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

++ to the comment about Rihanna being a character and singer in the very popular kids movie Home. (trying to ignore the musical dog whistle, here)
++ to the comment about why piercings were even mentioned?

Also, what time of day was it? In our daycare at the time, the toddler room would have book on tape/CD just before lunch time. A teacher would hold up the book and turn the pages while the kids were sit slack-faced or not, as all were waiting for the upcoming food and sleep. It kinda gave both the teachers and the kids time to zone out a bit, calm down, and not have to actively wrangle while the food was getting prepared/delivered/set-up.

Having music playing for kids is a GOOD THING. Kids like music. I would say the volume might be the biggest problem here.
posted by jillithd at 12:42 PM on March 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

Personally, I hate a lot of piercings (and tattoos) and I'm not sorry. I couldn't care less what people do with their bodies and appearance but I wouldn't want my child in a daycare with someone like you describe. I would definitely not enroll my kid there. In my experience looking for daycare there were a few places that used way too much video and music to avoid human interaction with the kids. It's a very bad sign that they just don't care. On the other hand, non pierced people can be assholes and hopefully your radar will pick up on that quickly.
posted by waving at 12:50 PM on March 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I suggest you tour a number of facilities, which will give you a better basis to judge whether your gut reaction is “I’m going to leave my baby with *these* people!?!” or if it’s really just “I’m going to leave my baby!?!”

It’s hard to leave your kid with “strangers” especially for the first time. What you describe doesn’t really fall in red flag territory for me, although if I were deciding between this place and another it might be a factor that would tip the balance. We've made all our childcare decisions based on gut feel and cost (spending more than the rent on childcare is just not an option for us).

If I’m reading the question right, you’re not in immediate need of childcare, right? And there are other “good” options available, you’re just worried about losing out on the “best” option? Go ahead and ditch the “best” option. You’ll either find a place you like better, or you’ll realize that the first place was par for the course, but you’ll still be fine with another place.

If you do need immediate child care, just go with it. It doesn’t sound like your child will come to harm there, and you can pull him out later if you decide that your first impression was accurate regarding the staff’s disengagement – but I will bet that won’t be the case.
posted by Kriesa at 12:51 PM on March 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I really don't care about Rihanna or piercings but the volume would be a hard dealbreaker for me. I don't have kids, but that just seems like such a (literally) painfully obvious no-no.

Don't risk your kid's hearing.
posted by delight at 12:52 PM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Nope out of this one. Loud music is obviously not appropriate for a baby/toddler setting and if the employee in charge had such poor judgment on this, then yes, you're correct to assume her instincts are off.

By the way I toured a few of places that were considered "best", VERY expensive, long wait lists etc, where I would absolutely never ever leave my baby! It was a very hard few weeks while I searched. Then, when I came to the place we wound up using, I knew. It was obvious. There was:

- excellent security -- nobody could walk in without being buzzed in or knowing the code
- teachers on the floor with babies in their laps, playing with them and reading to them, not just standing around peering down at them
- facilities that were large enough to not feel cramped or crowded
- 2-3 teachers in each room so that nobody was ever alone with the kids
- no more noise than necessary, ie no music where the kids are playing and talking and having fun anyway, but they did have soft music playing in the nap side of the rooms

That was just on first impressions... there were lots of other great things about it.

You'll know. Good luck. Get your deposit back on this place.
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:01 PM on March 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

Mod note: Couple comments removed. Asker, I'm sympathetic if you were surprised by the response you got but we need folks not to come out swinging when their question's reception is critical; just take what's useful in here, ignore what isn't, and leave it at that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:02 PM on March 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

Agreeing on the volume being the primary concern here, second being language if Rihanna's music wasn't "radio-friendly." That's it for me.

Personally, I really don't like saccharine kid's songs, and my wife and I have played a wide range of music for our two young boys. My son's first favorite musician was Johnny Cash. But we also have had concerns about a daycare, but because he had a mouth full of staples when I picked him up. And no one had any idea where he got a glue-covered bunch of staples in the first place. So we went to another place with better management, and most is good. They watch videos at times, which kind of bums me out, but I also realize it is really, really tiring trying to keep a room full of tots entertained day after day. For a teacher's own sanity, I respect that they will want some "them" time to collect their thoughts, so a moment with quiet kids is a wonderful, restorative thing.

As for the particular music and appearance of the teacher - the world is full of diverse people and unusual sounds, and I think part of my job as a parent is to expose my kids to the varied and wonderful world, but at reasonable volumes, and while omitting bad words for as long as I can.

If you have concerns about the skills or capabilities of someone who chose to decorate their own body, why not ask to talk with her about how she'd deal with her class? And you can ask the director about their dress and appearance policy, because clearly this well-considered facility thinks this person is safe and sound to perform the job with piercings and tattoos.

But really, it's about your personal comfort. If you're worried about your kid all day, even if your kid is safe and healthy, that will be emotional strain that you don't need. So either take back your deposit, or come to terms with the fact that people who choose to be with kids at their best and worst, complete with multiple tantrums and poopy diapers at once, all for a very low salary, may not match your idea of professional appearance.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:03 PM on March 6, 2017 [4 favorites]

You're not comfortable there, and it sounds like you have the finances and time to enjoy some choices, so pull the money. Easily done.

If you want a daycare provider to look a certain way, I'd strongly recommend looking into a home daycare situation where you get to meet the 1-2 people who are working with the kids all the time, long-term, or a nanny with children of their own. In my experience, larger daycares have a lot of staff turnover and movement, and are extremely likely to have carers with tattoos and piercings, because this work is largely done by young women, and a lot of them have a lot of tattoos and piercings and listen to mainstream pop music.
posted by tchemgrrl at 1:05 PM on March 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

The volume --- and management's lackadaisical attitude to it --- are what's concerning, for two reasons: one is the possibility of permanent damage to the kids' hearing. Two is that with the music that loud, there's a good chance the adult in the room wouldn't hear if a kid got into trouble or hurt. Walk away from this place, as fast as you can.
posted by easily confused at 1:09 PM on March 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

Hi, I'm the mom that toured 37 daycares before I found one I loved.

This is what I loved about it: When I walked in, it felt peaceful but purposeful. The children were doing their own things, which is important to me (I hate 'circle time' where kids are all in a blob on the rug watching one or two people interact, for the under-3 set, but that is me.) They were not being frog-marched through something Overly! Dora! And! Diego! Bright!

I actually hate a lot of kids' music which, particularly the older/traditional stuff, is actually extremely violent ('she cut off their tails with a carving knife...') So I was glad to find somewhere that does have a music curriculum, but isn't based on music just for kids.

And it us. That was in fact #36.

If you don't like this one, pull your deposit, unless you are in NYC or similar market where you have to get into the right preschool to get into the right school to get into the right high school, in which case it might be a harder choice.

That said, a big part of daycare is that it does introduce your child to other children and other adults who behave and look differently from you...that is what socialization is. You will come up against your own prejudices so fast! Just like you are.

Here is my story. The secondary teacher in my son's daycare classroom for his first couple of years was a hijab-wearing (not just a headscarf but a long dress, however not the face covering) woman. I admit to having had a big twinge in my stomach that my son would take away "the wrong" message. At the end of the day I came home to find that he was all curled up her long dress and scarf. Because she had the patience to help him feel safe and secure. She has been an amazing caring part of both my kids' lives. And she's given them a very feminist viewpoint, as it turns out.

Be careful what you are judging people on, not just because it's superficial but because someone who 'looks right' may not be acting right and if you are paying attention to the wrong things you may run into issues.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:13 PM on March 6, 2017 [9 favorites]

Response by poster: I'll try again, cortex. once more, with feeling:

This was not one of Rihanna's children songs. it was a very noisy, waily song. anyway, the speaker tone was loud and shrill. like, clipping up in the treble range. turned up to 11. Jack Johnson would have sounded like torture through the speaker.

point taken about the piercings. I guess I'm still new to this. I admit I am anxious. Here, I'll go further: I've even wept about sending him to preschool (I was surprised I would feel that way). I had higher expectations for this school though, considering how much this place charges for tuition.

PS: get off my lawn!
posted by myriad gantry at 1:13 PM on March 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

I had higher expectations for this school though, considering how much this place charges for tuition

One thing you should probably know is that ECE providers are horribly paid, so I might actually choose a school based on how its employees are compensated!
posted by listen, lady at 1:25 PM on March 6, 2017 [9 favorites]

Honestly, it really doesn't matter what we think - it definitely sounds like this is a dealbreaker for you. In my experience, expensive preschools don't tend to bend over backwards for parents because they know they have a long wait list and can keep their classrooms filled. You can definitely ask for your deposit back and go tour some other places. If you don't need to get him in a classroom right away (it doesn't sound like it), then I'd wait until you found a better fit that you felt more comfortable with.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 1:28 PM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

You've already made your mind up, you're just wanting a bunch of internet strangers to tell you you're right. And you are right, that group is right for your kid, because you don't like it. That's it, that's all it takes. Just because other people are fine with it, and heck I'd probably be too, my opinion of how you raise your kid doesn't matter. Cancel your check & go look at some other groups.
posted by wwax at 1:28 PM on March 6, 2017 [7 favorites]

I guess I'm still new to this. I admit I am anxious. Here, I'll go further: I've even wept about sending him to preschool (I was surprised I would feel that way). I had higher expectations for this school though, considering how much this place charges for tuition.

I think you need to figure out what's going on there and work on that. When we started our infant in daycare last month it felt pretty normal. When I went back to work last week, dropping them off in the mornings and picking them up in the evenings felt natural and routine. I think it has as much to do with us finding a great spot for them as much as it is a good spot for us (the parents).

We knew the kid would be in daycare, so that part of the equation - asking if we're doing the right thing - wasn't in it for us. I knew that I would go back to working my professional job as soon as the kid was old enough for day care. (Lip ring and all ;) ) I could totally see if this was more optional, to socialize the kid rather than give you the room to do other things during the day, that it would be more fraught.

So yes, cancel. Get back the deposit if you can. Trust your gut. Find a place that doesn't make you so unhappy. If you have some time to find your tribe so to speak, I think that would be good. Maybe there's a local parents group that could help find other places?
posted by kendrak at 1:35 PM on March 6, 2017

I agree with the folks here saying that little kiddos can seem pretty spacey on occasion, but as an ex-daycare worker (/paid diaper changer) i'm more interested in how engaged this person was with the kids? and you guys visiting? Was she interacting with the kids ..or like if no one was crying or otherwise hella miserable was everyone just chilling out (you might have seen a rare moment then)? Did she/he say hi to you?

Blasting music at top volume at work isn't really necessary, but, in the grand scheme of things, whether or not your kiddo is exposed to Rhianna or Metallica at a daycare won't matter much in the long run. i suppose you can mitigate that by playing oodles of Vivaldi at home. But gotta agree, if your gut says no, just go with that. IMO price/rep don't always mean the best match for your needs/wants/hopes
posted by speakeasy at 1:35 PM on March 6, 2017

I'm a free-range mom. Many of my child's caretakers have had piercings. We listen to Rihanna at home (well not, Rihanna, specifically, because I don't like her - but other music in that arena).

What you describe would bug the heck out of me. I'd call the director (not coordinator) and see what was going on, first and foremost. Whether you cancel is up to you. If I wasn't satisfied by what the director said, I'd probably pull my child out. When you talk to the director, I would avoid mentioning both the piercings and the fact that it was Rihanna. The real problem is the volume, the content (I'm assuming) of the music, and the blasé response of the coordinator.
posted by Toddles at 1:37 PM on March 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

It's a known paradox that childcare workers are paid poorly while the cost of daycare is so high.

Anyway, if you don't feel good about that daycare, don't put your son in, especially if you have other options for childcare.
posted by foxjacket at 1:38 PM on March 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

As others have noted, you've answered your own question.

In case this is your first kid, I just want to chime in and say that the feeling that every preparation must be taken to ensure your new one has an esoteric early childhood education experience may well fade over time. Anecdote: our oldest and youngest got to have the raddest, weirdest preschool environment. Lots of normal talk and normal music and normal scenarios (we're parents who shuddered at the idea of teaching our kids babytalk words instead of "penis," for instance, and "baby music" instead of, you know, music in general). Our middle kid, through a timing fluke, ended up in a very competitive entry, dare I say classy preschool. It was boring as hell, and had baby music and potty words. They're now all in high school or college. All the kids turned out pretty much fine.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 1:46 PM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Here, I'll go further: I've even wept about sending him to preschool (I was surprised I would feel that way).

Just giving you permission to keep your kid at home longer if that's what you truly want. I've been at home with my very extroverted kid. She's three and we're not starting her in a structured, coop preschool program until the fall, when she'll be almost 4. She is exceptionally extroverted, and I've had to work hard to arrange social opportunities (playgroups, play dates, visits to library story time and music class and the local park) but it worked well for us. I'm not really particularly worried about sending her now--she can communicate to me what happens to her on a daily basis, which cuts any anxiety issues in half--and besides, she's specifically verbalized a desire to go to school, too. We're ready, but we would not have been at 1, personally.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:47 PM on March 6, 2017 [2 favorites]

- Sensory issues are real and this volume was not appropriate for little ones who can't advocate for themselves yet.

- Theres a lot of language and subject matter in pop music not appropriate for my 5 year old, OF COURSE THIS WAS NOT OK.

- The piercings can get tugged by toddlers, caught on kids clothes and ripped out, etc.. Technically there is nothing wrong with the piercings, but this is just like any professional environment where you want to minimize risk.

Please cancel your check asap.
posted by jbenben at 1:49 PM on March 6, 2017 [6 favorites]

Mod note: A couple more comments removed. Again, myriad gentry, it's okay if you're feeling toasty about people's responses but the way to go on that is gonna be to step away from the the thread now and check in later or tomorrow where if you need to post any followup comments you can do so without snarking at the folks answering your question.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:59 PM on March 6, 2017

Response by poster: thank you for your responses everyone.
posted by myriad gantry at 2:02 PM on March 6, 2017

Look for a child care center which requires two adults per room. This is standard practice among preschools where I have worked, and in my experience, it was a requirement for accreditation. (Your question reads as if there was only one teacher in the room.) The number of children can double, but the student/teacher ratio stays the same. Two teachers per room has several important benefits. They can support, help and encourage each other. There is an extra set of eyes watching in case one teacher has to turn her back for a couple of minutes to focus on one child, or leave the room to get help if an emergency arises. And not least, the temptation to deviate from standard practices is less because there's another teacher present.
posted by MelissaSimon at 2:56 PM on March 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

Grandma of child of the same age, who now has the world's best nanny but may have to go into daycare if they move....take your child out of that place, cancel the check, and stay home with your child as long as you can. If that is not an option, if you have the money for this place, look into one to one care at home for your baby, it may even cost less. My son and his wife found their wonderful nanny on
posted by mermayd at 3:01 PM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

When we walked in, we saw five kids aged 12-24 months with dazed expressions.

12-24-month-olds often have blank expressions.

I personally would look at other factors in evaluating daycare quality, though, like student-teacher ratio, teacher engagement and empathy, and facility cleanliness and safeness. A good daycare should allow you to drop in whenever you want and stay whenever you want. It sounds like you have the availability to do this, so you should take advantage of it.

The Rihanna doesn't really matter. My two-year-old son listens to the "urban" music, in fact. He is fine and developing at pace.

All that said, if your values dictate that your child cannot listen to Rihanna, then yeah, that is not the daycare for you.
posted by ignignokt at 3:01 PM on March 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

Hey sweetie we're gonna go look at preschools today. Okay.

When I was picking a preschool I took my son with me and watched him react. Then we got to one where the director pushed a door open to show us a class in progress and Boy walked in and took a seat in the circle. He didn't look back at me. It made both the adults happy for different reasons and we completed the tour without him. That was the place. It was cheap too.

Just as important, I established a relationship with the director that made her feel like she could be blunt and honest with me over the next eighteen months and that spread through the ranks. The goodwill was so important.

You are saying he initiated and incited the entire playground to throw balls over the fence and now there are no balls? Ok, pull staff out of that. Boy is going to get the balls. And we filled the car with balls and got cut by thorny plants on a steep slope. It's really hard to carry more than two balls when you are 3.

I just have the one, director has been responsible for thousands over the years and had some good advice that would have been lost on me if I'd been thinking my son was the special snowflake. He is special to me and his mom but the world doesn't care.

Send him to the bestest schools. What's going to matter is you.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:11 PM on March 6, 2017 [3 favorites]

My experience with daycare for my two now-grown kids was also fraught with anxiety. I dithered about a small in-home caregiver who had 3 or 4 kids v. a true childcare center. I decided on a real, licensed daycare because I wanted the care providers to be vetted, and for there to be people overseeing the caregivers. The woman who had a few children at her home was perfectly nice, but I worried about the inevitable time she'd get a phone call, need to use the bathroom, lose her temper - whatever. I wanted there to be back-up and a chain of command. This was before nanny-cams and similar remote cameras, so YMMV.

So I toured quite a few centers, and dismissed a few for reasons that were personal. One had a very limited attitude about the kids going outside (not so urgent for babies, probably). I favor going out in almost all weathers, as long as the kids are properly clothed, but you'd be surprised. My daughter's toddlers are thriving in a private daycare with a small manicured play area outside, but if there's a drop of moisture or the temperature requires a coat, there's no outside recess. But her kids are very happy, the teachers are loving (and have been there in some cases for many years. There is very little turnover among teachers, something that you might ask about as a measure of teacher satisfaction). Caregiver consistency is something that can be important to children.

When they're a bit older and verbal your anxiety will be lower because they will tell you if they are happy, have friends, play outside, or whatever your personal measure is, but right now you have an infant who is vulnerable and unable to tell you if they like their environment. I think you're overwhelmed with the responsibility of finding the perfect situation. I think trusting your instincts is the best advice I can offer, but do keep in mind that daycare pays very poorly, may not offer any benefits to teachers, like vacation or insurance or even sick days (how scary is that?) and you may find that many are young, pierced, and other attributes you're not so comfortable with. I'd suggest you look at more concrete measures of quality that are important to you, perhaps teacher tenure, physical environment (I agree the music might have been a little loud, but that alone might not be enough to doom the center? Go with your gut but know that in some locations it is nearly impossible to secure a daycare spot. Nothing stopping you from continuing to look, is there? This could be a fallback).
posted by citygirl at 3:53 PM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Just to nth Mr. Yuck, we also chose the preschool where our son joined in the class and forgot I was around.
posted by jbenben at 4:45 PM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

The 'kids need daycare for socialisation' is very much an individual thing. My kid never spent a day away from one parent until a month before she started kindergarten at three and a half. She is consistently remarked upon as verbal, intelligent, social (almost to a fault) and able to hold a genuine conversation with adults. Between birth and kindy we did playgroup (organised parent and child group with play, morning tea, and a large age range). We hung out with family (large age ranges), we saw friends*, we went to libraries and art galleries. When she got to kindy she was in a centre that matched my philosophies fairly well - lots of independence, lots of outside time and space, very approachable teacher. The other class in the centre was...not as good, although was hugely popular (teacher was a dude, was very charismatic, but i was not a fan of how volatile he was emotionally, how socially cliquey he let the classroom be, and that he had some really shitty risk analysis skills, and hit a lot of the 'advance academics' notes some parents liked but I loathed). Kiddo got a great foundation in how to be in a classroom type space, how to negotiate with staff and other kids, and on her first day took off with barely a wave.

So if that is the whole reason, it may not apply. There's no way we would have spent that much money on something unnecessary, even without the greebly feels.

What is necessary is you getting whatever you need from this situation too, in terms of being able to find a space for you to be the parent you want to be. I was grateful to go back to work at 11 months, but that was because my husband was the stay at home parent. That specific job was awful, but I need space and time that as a SAHP you struggle to get. It gets easier to use these kinds of care as the child gets older, although I still have moments where I don't want to leave her, or am uncomfortable and cancel the care arrangement for some reason.

*lots of piercings and tattoos, and non-kid music. It's how I got a five year old angry at me for going to a Fallout Boy concert with her aunty and not her.
posted by geek anachronism at 5:42 PM on March 6, 2017

My kids are adults now, but I remember the anxiety I felt when choosing day care for my first. I was an older mother (35) and was beyond nervous about leaving my baby with anyone I felt wasn't sufficiently mature to be dealing with such a monumentally important job (e.g., 20-something day care workers barely registered as adults to me). By the time my second was born 3 years later I had lightened up considerably.

Children have been raised by people far less qualified and equipped for the task than the average day care worker. Who raised you? My mother was 20 when she had me, had never taken care of an infant in her entire life, and most days she was alone with me, i.e., no one to give her a break or help her out when she was feeling overwhelmed. On the other hand, good day care centers are staffed with people who could be working elsewhere, but actually like taking care of kids. And kids are never alone with just a single adult.

I wouldn't rule out this center based on a single visit, especially considering the issues in your post. Once you've found a center you like, do pop-in visits (rule out any center that frowns upon this practice). I knew we had the right place for our kids because at the end of most every day their teachers had a quick story about something that had happened with my kids that very day—I appreciated that their caregivers seemed inordinately focused on my kids—as I soon learned, most of the other parents felt the same way.
posted by she's not there at 8:04 PM on March 6, 2017 [1 favorite]

Finding a daycare is hard and I don't envy you. And it's not always a matter of touring twenty lackluster places and finding a rainbow shining over the twenty-first; it's usually more like you find several that seem probably-okay and a few that seem better but not perfect. It's hard to form a good judgment based on one or two visits, and even great places have slips: there's a daycare in this area that gets rave reviews from several parents I've met, but these same parents got rightfully concerned when the daycare had a several-day run of giving the kids TV and candy.

If your trust in this place is shaken, and you don't feel comfortable with sending your kid there, that's what matters. I'd be very concerned with a teacher not playing attention to the kids, but I'm not sure I'd be concerned about the music. (As for piercings, studs and small hoops would be okay, but super-dangly jewelry could get grabbed by little kids and might be a sign that safety guidelines aren't very well thought-out or closely followed there.) But I'd consider it a snapshot, and I'd pay attention to how management responded. If you're not quite at the point of pulling your kid, drop by a few more times to get a better picture.

If you're a stay-at-home parent and don't need to put your kid in childcare asap, you can take your time finding a place you love (though, again, you might not find a shining-rainbow place). If your primary reason to send him is structure and socialization, a lot of that can be accomplished through regular classes, playgroups, story time at the library, etc.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:29 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can imagine a scenario with dazed kids, loud Rihanna, and a pierced teacher that would be fine, and a scenario that would not be. What matters to me would be harder to put into words. (I doubt it would be those exact details that would bug me, but it might be hard to articulate e.g., "she didn't seem kind") I think the fact that you're uncomfortable is probably the key evidence you need.

We interviewed six possible nannies and just as I was beginning to despair of ever feeling comfortable leaving my baby, he reached for the seventh one, cuddled into her, then resumed the babbling he'd been doing right before her arrival -- clear signs of feeling loved and comfortable unlike anything I'd seen with the other perfectly nice nannies. I'd recommend you tour some other places.
posted by slidell at 8:02 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Mod note: One more deleted; myriad gantry, AskMe isn't a place for back-and-forth or for rebuttals to answers, even if it feels like the answers got off on the wrong foot. Best approach is to focus on the answers that have been useful for you.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:48 AM on March 7, 2017

You sound like a great candidate for co-op preschool. It's a gradual transition, they usually appreciate when it's fathers and not just moms, and it's a wonderful way to make friends for this new stage of your life.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:13 AM on March 8, 2017

Letting go of being 100% in control of your child's environment is the hardest part of parenting. Any daycare/preschool will be problematic in that regard.

If you're not comfortable you'e not comfortable, but I'd honestly be surprised if the music was loud enough to be a problem. Content of the music, unless you heard swearing, is not exactly the worst thing. I encourage my kids to listen to adult music rather than just kids' music to save my sanity. Our daycare certainly plays non-kids music, mostly pop, on the regular. Piercings should be a non-issue, in a just world, but if you're now even more anxious about leaving your kid then you're going to have to address that with yourself.

Good luck, but learning to let go of every detail is definitely a major component of finding childcare.
posted by lydhre at 12:44 PM on March 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Myriad gentry, hang in there. This forum may not be the most welcoming for your particular perspective in this case.

When I was in my early twenties, I worked for a nonprofit school for profoundly disabled children, and I was often the only teacher who didn't prioritize my own convenience over the best interests of the children (who deserved and needed a lot more interaction than they got). The head was an overly nice woman afraid of conflict who brushed my concerns aside about my much-older teaching assistant's lackadaisical attitude and willingness to fabricate progress reports after sitting on her butt the whole morning chatting with the assistant from the next classroom. Appropriate practices were only put on display when it was time to renew the school's accreditation. The rest of the time, it was anything goes. Needless to say, about six months after I moved away, the state shut the school down.

Sounds like you may have stumbled on a similar scenario. Trust your snap judgment, even though you're being berated here for making one. You're probably right. A teacher who puts his or her right to self-expression through body modification over his or her professional responsibilities (which include safety and personal hygiene, both of which multiple piercings, no matter how well-managed, tend to complicate in a preschool environment) and a director who apparently isn't aware of his or her staff's unprofessional appearance and/or behavior, present a couple of huge red flags. Get your deposit back and stop second-guessing yourself. You dodged a bullet.
posted by tully_monster at 11:45 AM on March 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

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