Monday, September 8, 2008

Welcome to the 2-Year-Old Room

As I have alluded in a previous post or two, Finn has just been transitioned to the 2-year-old room at daycare. I have found transitions in general to be stressful. Our daycare center does not provide a "transition plan," and there is no effort made to introduce you to the teachers in the new room or tell you what goes on inside it.

When Finn was moved from the infant room to the toddler room, I knew it was coming, and part of me was looking forward to it. Never great at napping with the lights on and other babies awake around him, I was convinced that the "everyone naps at the same time with the lights out" philosophy of the toddler room would work wonders for Finn's napping abilities at school (it did). However, the transition was still not without stress. Finn was randomly moved over to his soon-to-be new toddler room without advance warning to "test it out." Instead of doing it gradually (an hour here or there), he was basically put there all day, a surprise to me when I picked him up at the end of the day. The director of the daycare assured me that Finn did great and was soooo happy. But the second I saw him, he started to cry. And. did. not. stop. Clearly, his day in this new environment was not without effect on him, and he had been saving up all his discomfort to express to me.

The transition to the toddler room happened pretty quickly. Eventually, I came to know the teachers (the main ones, anyway - there are still a few "floaters" that remain nameless, unfortunately), and I came to know the routine of the room. They came to know my preferences, too. I had only four "rules" at the time. 1) Finn was on reflux meds, which we were trying to give before dinner on an empty stomach, so no snacks after 4 pm. 2) No juice allowed (for some reason, the daycare gives juice at breakfast, but Finn gets milk instead because for god's sake, 1-year olds need their milk, not juice!). 3) The pacifier is for naps only. 4) No hotdogs allowed (come one, can't they find SOMETHING more nutritious to feed these kids? Plus, hello, choking hazard!). After a couple of days of rough naps, Finn settled in to the routine nicely, and quickly grew to love his classroom and friends. Similar to the infant room, the toddler room has a teacher:child ratio of 1:3, so I knew he was always getting lots of attention. The hardest part was giving up my daily lunchtime visits (as now Finn naps during my lunchtime), but we have both survived.

As Fall neared this year, and all the kids that were older than Finn gradually disappeared from the toddler room, moving across the hall to no man's land, I knew our time was coming to move again. Though legally our daycare center is required to keep Finn at a ratio of 1:3 until he turns 2, the center is always playing a "numbers game," and tends to jump the gun if it works well for their space issues. I was adamant that Finn not be moved too early, and I made a point to tell the director to ask me before Finn started "visiting" the 2-year-old room. I wanted to know before the transition was initiated, so I could determine if I felt comfortable with it.

You might be wondering, what's the big deal? But to a 22-month old, entering a room of 12 kids, some of whom are nearing 3 years old and can talk waaaayyyy better than he can, with only 2 teachers to keep an eye on everyone, it could be quite a big deal. I worried about Finn being bitten or hit. I worried about Finn LEARNING to bite and hit, because he can't communicate any other way with these comparative elocutionists. And of course, I worried about my baby growing up way too fast :-(. Which of course he isn't, so I tried not to let that worry influence my decisions.

As requested, the director did tell me ahead of time when they would like to start to transition Finn. She described a plan for me. Finn would "visit" for three days or so in the afternoon, for a couple of hours after nap time, the second to last week of August. He would continue to visit the next week, and then be officially moved on September 2nd. This sounded reasonable to me. Finn would be 6-weeks shy of his second birthday, so not too far off the 2-year-old mark. More comforting was the fact that two of Finn's friends, the twins who are 4 days older and have been with him in daycare since March 2007, were moving over just before Finn. He would have lots of friends, most of whom aren't too much older than him, that he still remembered from their time in the toddler room. And, we had an actual plan! So, I agreed, and made plans to meet with one of Finn's new teachers to find out the ins and outs of the new room.

Plan, schman! The day following my conversation with the director, I picked up Finn only to discover that he had been in the 2-year-old room, all day long. And again, I got the "he had soooo much fun, he loved it" speech. And again, the second Finn saw me, he started crying. And. would. not. stop. Needless to say, I was furious. I could go on and on about how this is no way to run a business, that they should be following my wishes and not what they "perceive" to be my son's wishes, that he shouldn't have been in the room in the first place since we weren't starting the switch until the next week, that any idiot knows that kids save their unhappy expressions for the people they are most comfortable with and just because they aren't crying around YOU doesn't mean they are HAPPY.... but this post is already too long.

To sum up, I spoke to the director (again), and reaffirmed that we would stick to "the plan." Said plan was executed, and Finn is now an official member of the 2-year-old room. I know his new teachers, and I am learning the routine of the room. I have fewer rules this time, as the menu has been changes (no more hotdogs on it) and Finn no longer takes reflux meds. I also apparently don't need to have the "pacifier is for naptime only" rule, since in the 2-year-old room they do not give the kids pacifiers at naptime unless the parents specifically ask for it. I bring one in every day just in case, but knock on wood, they haven't had to use it yet. Thus, "no juice" is our only rule. New things Finn will be working on in his big boy room include potty training (at this point they will not push, just offer, until he nears the transition to the 3-year-old room) and drinking from big boy cups. I'm sure there's a lot more he will learn, and as the year goes on I will find out all about it.

Last week, Finn spent 3 full days in his new room. Each day, he whined and cried in the car on the way home, but each day the whining and crying got less and less. Hopefully, today we will be back to happy car rides home. The morning drop off is still painful, however - the transition is apparently harshest in the morning, when Finn clings to me and cries as I try to leave him in these unfamiliar surroundings (he never used to do this, ever). From what some of the other moms have said, the "not crying in the morning" takes a little longer to achieve, but it does happen.


  1. I won't comment on the 2 year old room, you already know my feelings about it. But what I will say is that children and what they need out of a daycare can be so different. My son definitely cannot handle (at this point in his life) too many other kids in competition. I think watching the clues as to what Finn needs is your best bet and, it seems, you already have that down!

  2. Isn't it sort of nice that someone else will be helping you with potty training? I have my own set of worries about leaving my kids with a nanny. Daycare/nanny - so many pros and cons to each.

  3. Yes, I am glad for the PT'ing help! Also for the "big boy cup" thing - we've already suffered through several spilled cups (he likes to deliberately turn them over), one day three in a row. Luckily the spills have all been in the kitchen so far, but I fear for our wall-to-wall carpeting. So I'm happy to leave off any more attempts until daycare works their magic on that one.

    Yes, lots of pros and cons to daycares and nannies. It's an angst ridden decision either way. I am for the most part very happy with our decision, and don't really have regrets (until we get to situations like these, where Finn's world needs to be unsettled just because he got older - wouldn't happen in a nanny situation!).

  4. Glad he had some friends doing the transition with him to ease the shock a little bit. I know I'd cry if my routine up and changed in an instant, so Finn actually sounds like he's doing pretty well! Good for you for being so proactive about the transition. Hopefully your plan will be implemented fully next time ;)

  5. Transitions of any kind are so hard at this age. Sounds like the gradual approach was just what he needed. Hope he continues to be happy with the 2's!!