And Once Again, It is the “Merde”…

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Mark, November 2014

Mark, November 2014

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:

Dear parents;

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!

It sucks.

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?

And what is wrong with our daycare system?

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!


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Martin Penwald on

    Wow. It’s hard. It is weird that a daycare can close like that in the middle of the year.
    Einstein said that he though that Universe and human stupidity were infinite, but was not sure about the Universe. Comments sections often validate the point. When Philae landed on the asteroid last month, there were very stupid comments too. Try comments section of Le Figaro.

    • I’m not sure I can handle the comment section of Le Figaro… peut-être un jour où je me sentirais d’humeur maso? Ah, les pages saumon du Figaro, elles ont égayé mes voyages en TGV quand j’étais coincée en première classe pour cause de quota de places 12/25 rempli en 2nd!

  2. Terrible communication skills and unprofessional on the part of the daycare. They should have given you advance notice.

    Hang in there!

    An episode of “The Golden Girls” usually makes me laugh.

  3. That is horrible!! I can’t believe a daycare could do that. I’m really sorry. If I were in Ottawa I would totally take care of your little guy for you. :/

  4. Je me demandais bien de quoi tu allais parler mais là c’est vraiment la m….. c’est honteux de la part de la garderie, je suis sûre que michoco serai vraiment devasté s’il devait quitter son école sans préavis… et moi donc ! Je te comprends tellement car le mettre le matin à l’école s’est révélé une libération pour moi, un nouvel équilibre plus heureux. Pleins de courage, le mois de décembre va être long mais on va demander au père noël de fixer ça pour janvier ! Quoi ? Le père noël n’existe pas ? Venez passer le prochain trimestre au sénégal alors, les frais de vie pour toute la famille coûteront moins cher que les frais de garderie du canada, mark aura de la place et toi de la chaleur et une connection wifi pour du travail à distance, en voilà une idée ! Là soit tu sautes sur l’occas, soit ça aura eu le mérite de te faire sourire 😉

    • Si je le pouvais, je sauterais dans l’avion, crois moi! Par contre, de l’aéroport-tout-nul d’Ottawa, on risque plutôt d’atterrir à Churchill, dans le grand Nord, que dans le pays des tout chocos et des michocos!

  5. WHAT! How is it even possible to close a daycare without ANY notice! What about the 2 weeks notice! That’s doesn’t make any sense! I’m so sorry for you guys, and I really hope you’ll find an alternative daycare very soon

  6. WHAT?! That is ridiculous! It seems like they should have to give you some sort of notice. I really hope you find a solution or another spot quickly.

    I don’t even want to think about the daycare problem if/when we have a kid. Finding a spot in a public “creche” around Lille is like… well, harder than finding an apartment in Paris going back to your comparison.

    • Is it? I heard it wasn’t easy in France either, although I think daycares are cheaper than in Canada. And kids start la maternelle earlier too.

      • I’m not sure how much it costs for a private creche, but from people I know, it seems cheaper to find a “nounou” that takes several kids. But a spot in a public one is definitely difficult to find. Too many kids, not enough spots considering a lot of women don’t/can’t stay home.

        • That’s too bad. There are awesome nounous, but I find they are best when the kids are very young, as their place (or the parents’) doesn’t offer as much as centres.

  7. I’d say this is definitely not just “losing a daycare” – what a shocker. I’d be incredibly upset and angry. Hope you find something soon.

  8. Oh ma pauvre 🙁 J’arrive en retard, je suis enr etard dans mes lectures :/ C’est vraiment dégueulasse, et en plus, ils te prennent les sous comme si de rien était! Pfff! As-tu pu finalement parler avec les autres parents et peut-être trouver un “daycare” de rechange?

    Aller bon courage ma Zhu!

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