Yesterday was a bad day for Bryce. Maybe terrible is a better word.
It started for him (and us) just after 6am. The time is important. Have I ever mentioned that I’m not a morning person? That I wasn’t when we received Bryce and that I still am not? Well, I dressed him while his mom finished preparing herself. By the time she was booting her feet, I was zipping his jacket and putting him in the stroller. He was clueless as to what was happening. I had explained to him what the day would be like, but he just kept smiling. He had no concept of daycare. He couldn’t tell, even by one of my serious tones, that I was approaching the idea with some very large fears.
He was yipping and singing and when I opened the door, he was glad to leave at that ungodly hour, with his mommy. I closed the door, wondering how it would go. I emailed Dawn after she arrived at work and asked. I was impatient so I called her after fifteen minutes, when she was writing the response.
I had just come from visiting another daycare provider. We’re looking around for a place. Primarily because the boy is getting old enough to interact with more kids on a regular basis. He was in daycare yesterday because his grandmother (that is, my mother; Dawn’s mother is grannie) was away. She’ll be away tomorrow too. Nonetheless, I had just left rooms full of kids, and my kid was never far from my mind. I knew what he would do. I knew because he did it to me last week when I left him for a couple hours at a retreat. He didn’t know those people so he screamed and screamed and screamed. When Dawn told me that he wailed as she left, one of my fears yelled at me. It was only after 9—the day would be torture.
We had planned for me to pick them up at 5pm. I’d go back to my office for our prayer meeting, after taking them home. But before I drove back into downtown, we had talked. I had gotten the run down from Dawn. Bryce had cried for multiple hours that morning. He continued to cry at other points throughout the day. He had commanded the attention of the same caregiver all day long. He hadn’t eaten. At all. He denied their breakfast. He spit out his mashed potatoes and said no to the chicken for lunch. He stayed awake while the other kids slept. He was rocked and blanketed and pacified, but he wouldn’t sleep. Until his little legs could run no longer and he fell into a troublesome nap of twenty minutes.
Remember, he got up at 6am. He was up through the bus ride downtown with so much to see, so many people to greet. He was yelling when Dawn left and he kept yelling. By the late afternoon, he slept for twenty minutes. Normally he’d sleep for two hours.
It wasn’t all bad. He didn’t do any art, but he did wave at a few people. He did show the tag on his blanket to some of the folks, and he did explain that “Daddy work,” I suppose his way of explaining where the old guy who was responsible for him spent his time.
I got there before Dawn. I went in and asked if Dawn had arrived. “You’re Bryce’s father?” the woman asked. I nodded and said, “You probably need her to come, right?” I saw on her face an answer different from the one she gave. She knew I was Bryce’s dad. I was, uh, in a word, black. There may have been one or two other black kids in the daycare, but they knew all their parents. She didn’t know me. I had to belong to Bryce. But why would she give me my son? I wouldn’t want her to. But I could tell they were ready enough to give him over.
It felt like forever, waiting in that hallway. My wife was in there, getting a sheet that captured his day in notes. She was listening as they re-told her how Bryce had done. I wanted to be in there, but I was trying to stay illegally parked. I was in and out of the lobby, making sure I didn’t see the orange-vested enemy.
Dawn came out, Bryce in her arms and seeing me over her shoulder. She put him down and he ran to me. I knelt down and greeted him, holding him for a while, whispering and saying that I heard it was a long day. He was so happy. I mean the kid was pleased that we’d come.
I told Dawn that he probably had a baby flashback to when we went on our vacation a couple months ago. He probably thought we wouldn’t come back. He probably thought he’d never see familiar faces again. He couldn’t help but love us, run to us, and sing and yay all the way to the car. Of course, the melting started in the bath tub, but we had successfully fed him at least two meals for dinner and had him in the bed one hour from having signed him out of that horrible place!