Today was picture day at Vampbaby's school -- we dropped him off in his PJ's to prevent morning breakfast from staining his perfect outfit. We set what little hair he currently has in order, and made sure his seven teeth were sparkling clean. Soon we will have a new set of photos to compare with the last picture day, to awe and marvel at the changes that seem to be coming so quickly as he grows -- grows like the cutest little weed on the planet.
Some folks tend to raise an eyebrow when I refer to his daycare as "school". The reality is that, even in the infant room, there is a great deal of learning taking place -- those we entrust with our son for forty hours a week are certainly more than "babysitters", holding him at bay until we return from our adult universe.
Whatever you call it, hoewver, sending your new precious bundle into the arms of others for the majority of the week is never an emotionally easy decision to make, or live with. Granted, in many cases such as ours the decision to put him into school came from basic economics -- where, in today's world, both parents have to work to ensure that a family can live at least slightly above poverty. While we weren't that bad off, we are certainly close enough that having a stay-at-home parent was not in the cards. Although, I for one would love to be a stay-at-home dad, so hopefully that winning scratch ticket will arrive soon!
In talking to friends with kids, those that had put their children in daycare often said that, while it was agonizing to do so, it turned out to be the best thing for the little one, and them as a family. We weren't quire sure about that, and went through our first days and weeks feeling guilty as many parents do -- but in the end we are convinced that it was the best thing we could have done.
The advantage is seen in Vampbaby's incredible ability to socialize and interact with almost anyone. Granted, he'll need to embrace a balanced attitude about strangers, but he has currently no qualms about meeting new people or being in crowds -- particularly when there are other babies around. We have in our midst a little social butterfly, completely at ease with getting to know new faces.
Also, he's been sick pretty much non-stop since June of 2005. While that doesn't sound like an advantage (and trust me, it doesn't feel like one either), we are repeatedly promised by the pediatrician that he will be the healthiest first-grader in the playground. As his "raised at home" classmates fall to the ground crippled with bacteria and viruses they've never experienced, our little Titan will ride the wave of his immune system and forge ahead without so much as a sniffle.
Of course, you get what you pay for -- so, not wanting to scrimp on our son's first years of life, we have of course opted for the most expensive daycare in the area. While it's worth it in the end, this has resulted in the fascinating experience of returning to the "paycheck-to-paycheck" lifestyle we worked so hard to grow out of during the "early years". But we do it happily (at least until it's time to pay bills), knowing that he's in a place that is safe and well run - not to mention he has a place to go and babble about how weird his parents are.