As I reflect over my six and a half years as a family child care provider I wondered when we evolved into a community? A daycare family? This feeling of community really hit home this past week for me.
In March, because of Covid-19, all my regular children stayed home with their families. Now, after about two and a half months away, the children have started trickling back. One of the kids brought me an envelope her first week back. I happily opened it and found a picture she had created for me as well as a small toy the resembled a moose she got from a Kinder Surprise egg. Her mom said as soon as she saw it she wanted to give it to me. (You see, I do have a love of Moose and over the past few years I always seem to get tagged in a lot of Moose videos, photos and receive many Moose gifts.) I was so touched that she thought of me, even though we had not been together at daycare for quite some time, and wanted to share her toy with me. This is not the only Moose that I have received over the years from the kids I care for. Each time it happens I am struck that they remember me and my love of Moose even when they are away.
But it’s more than Moose. A few months ago a child brought me a potato. His dad said he was adamant that I had this. I was just as touched about him thinking of me and wanting me to have the potato as I was about all the Moose. It is more than ‘gifts’, it is about the thinking of others who we care for and are important in our lives. I have had parents tell me their child adds me to the nightly lists of who they love.
This certainly goes both ways. When I am on holidays or away from daycare and I see something that makes me think of one of my kids, I know I have to buy it. It could be a book about a topic a child is really interested in right now or it could be a toy/activity/loose part that I know one of them would enjoy.
I also see the relationships the children and parents are building with each other. The kids are quick to offer assistance to on another with anything from getting a toy down, putting on a jacket, pouring water, etc. When a child arrives, they are often greeted with stories, and ideas of play and sometimes hugs whether they want them or not before they even get in the door. The relationships have occasionally lead to getting together outside of daycare. This extension of our daycare community is proof of how important we are to each other.
I think the moments like this are what really emphasizes the importance of these relationships we are building with the children we care for and their families. We can not possibly spend 8 plus hours a day with each other and not get to know what we enjoy, what our interests are and what we love to do. We are able to build relationships with their families and be able to be there to listen and support them in their struggles of navigating parenthood as well.
It is about being a community of caring.