At the tender age of two, Mark just lost his first job. A victim of capitalism—one more.
On the last Friday of November, we picked up Mark at school as usual, and I gave the director the cheque for the December fees.
An hour later, I received the following email:
We deeply regret that as of 6 pm today, the school will be closed and has declared bankruptcy. You will need to find alternate care for your children on Monday December 1st. Please see attached for additional details.
With deepest regrets,
Board of Directors
“Feng!” I called. “Oh no, no, no…!”
I was floored. We had no idea Mark’s “school” was experiencing financial troubles, and it is—was…—a big daycare centre with 37 kids, licensed by the City of Ottawa.
“Didn’t you just give the cheque for December? Why didn’t they say anything?”
“Fuck! And the deposit? And… what are we going to do?”
Initially, I was rather mad and shocked. It is only when I realized Mark’s stuff were still over there—his little notebook that the teachers filled every week, his boots, winter gear, etc. that I broke into tears. The thought of his belongings locked over there somehow affected me more than the material value of them.
“He didn’t even say goodbye to anyone!” I wept.
And then, the craziness began. I spent most of Friday evening over the phone with my bank to put a stop of the December cheque I had just handed out. We read the long letter that came with the email, trying to make sense of the situation. Apparently, the daycare wasn’t at full capacity, they had tried to merge with another place but the deal had fallen through, and they didn’t want the parents or the staff to know about the situation because families and teachers would have left, making the financial situation even worse.
I was angry. I’m still angry.
I am not one of these “but think of the children!” parents, but closing a daycare with zero notice is disruptive for kids who cannot understand why they will no longer see their friends or their teachers.
And then, there is the practical side of the situation.
Feng and I were (and are) very busy at work this month, and we only had the weekend to make alternative childcare arrangements. Of course, everything was closed on Saturday and Sunday and I didn’t have any contact information for parents and staff—we had only been there for a month and a half, I haven’t had the chance to get social.
On Monday morning, we started calling daycare centres in Ottawa.
Unfortunately, as we had feared, looking for a daycare spot in Ottawa is much like looking for an apartment in Paris—there is more demand than supply, prices are high and admission is never guaranteed. After three daycares, we realized that it was not going to be a smooth and easy transition to another childcare provider. “You have to go back on the centralized waiting list,” we were told. We are on the bloody list!
The past month and a half, after the initial adjustment period, has been one of the best routines we had since Mark was born. I could focus on work and my stuff while he was having fun, and I had complete peace of mind because I know he was safe and happy. I felt alive again. He was learning. We were fine.
The day before the email, I was thinking we were almost there, that we were finally finding our way. I thought things were going to be alright. I was happy.
I’m terrified of being happy again now, because it seems that every time I am, every time I relax for just a second or two, shit happens.
I can’t deal with more shit.
You may think I am overreacting—it is just a stupid daycare, not the end of the world. If the past two years hadn’t been so damn hard, I may have taken it in stride. But right now, I’m at my wits’ end.
On Tuesday night, we received an email saying we could come and pick up our kids’ stuff the following day, in the evening. Feng and I showed up and I finally met all the parents, most of them as stuck as we are. We left thirty minutes later with Mark’s boots, pictures, diapers and several email addresses.
That night, I read the comments on the news article about our daycare closure. I shouldn’t have, they angered me. So much ignorance…
“So what you lost your daycare provider, how hard is it to take care of your own kids yourself?”
“Why don’t these parents take time off work and look after their own children?”
“Why isn’t the mother taking care of her kid herself?”
What is wrong with people?
So, this is where we are at. No daycare, lost our deposit (very little chance of getting it back as we are now “creditors”) and winter has definitely started.
Mmm… anyone knows a funny joke? I could use a laugh right now!