Picking my daughter up from daycare is often quite the sociological and anthropological adventure. I sometimes feel like the adult at the end of The Lord of the Flies when I walk in the door. I always make sure to give the room a quick once over to make sure poor Piggie isn't lying crushed in the corner... Suddenly, it seems that the big projector operator in the sky has switched reels and I'm in the midst of the Children of the Corn as I'm slowly swarmed by a sea of blank faces, streaked with snot and stained orange around the mouth by some horrendous artificial orange drink.
Despite my ever-growing belly, I masochistically continue to squat in front of my diminutive one to help her zip up her coat while two things consistently happen just about every single day:
1- If I forget to conceal my entire Nightmare Before Christmas lanyard into my pocket, this same girl comes over and loudly announces over and over "It's Jack! It's Jack! It's Jack from Nightmare Before Christmas!" She doesn't stop, even when I acknowledge her. It's more annoying than I can get across to you through a blog. Bearing in mind, I've had a long day (every day) and have already lost most of my patience on other people's kids all day long.
2- "Damien-Boy" quietly approaches us and STARES. He stands barely a few inches away, and his stare never wavers. Nor does he ever speak. Or smile. Or blink. I try to suppress the urge to flinch every time he comes near as I've been on the receiving end of his frighteningly expressionless exploration of "what happens when I hit someone". Right after which, he decided to examine the effect of sinking his teeth into some little girl's arm. I've been tempted to ruffle his hair upon greeting him to get a better look at his scalp (there's a lot of space to conceal 3 digits on a toddler's huge head) but I fear I'd lose a finger or two. He's got years ahead of him, so I figure it's a little early to reserve a space for him at Arkham Asylum, so I've decided to greet him by name and flash him my least nervous smile. In my short time as a special ed. teacher, my "special needs" radar seems to twitch every time I see him. So I'll smile and talk to him some more and hope he gets the same at home. To think of how many of "my kids" may not have ended up with me if only their parents had talked to them more... Made eye contact with them, asked them how their day was and actually listen to them when they speak.
Having said all that, it's a great daycare and my little one has a wonderful time there. And boy, people think my job is tough. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to simply identify which of the kids the smell of poop is eminating from in order to change the right set of diapers... My hat off to daycare people.