I got the email a few days ago. It’s always like that; you get the call, or they pull you aside. You sit down on the couch and look up at them – they’re always standing – and they clear their throats, sigh, and look down at you. There’s always a look of regret. There’s always a flash of pain in the eyes.
“She got into daycare. We’re not going to need you after November 1.”
It’s the nature of the job, and I know that inherently. The minute I take a job with a family, I know I’m going to be leaving. Nothing lasts forever, and I know that. The only unknown is how long I get to spend with the kids I work with, and if I’ll get to see them after our full-time gig has ended.
People assume I must hate formal daycares, because they take my jobs away from me. I don’t, actually. I think they do a lot of good for kids. There are pros and cons to everything, of course, and I don’t like the way that kids don’t get a lot of one-on-one attention or that they get every sickness under the sun, but it’s important for children to know how to work with a variety of personalities, to make friends, to have structured days and activities. Daycare does prepare a child for kindergarten and it also teaches them how to interact with a world outside of their comfort zone. I like daycare a lot. The women and men who work there do an extraordinary job.
After all, you can’t hate people who are just like you. They may not do this one-on-one, but they are still caregivers. They’re still in it because they love kids.
And me? I’ll move on. I always do. There’s always another family around the corner. There’s always another kid who I’ll bond with and love. And though Glo-Worm and I won’t be together for much longer, I still go to work with a light heart every day.
The thing is, you make an impression on these children. The thing is, you can’t ever go away unscathed, and neither can they. I know that I have taught Glo-Worm that she can love someone else besides her parents. That she can blossom and play with other children. That the people in her life love her very, very much. I know I’ve taught her those things. I know it, because every time I come to the door, she lifts her arms up and snuggles in. We have a very special bond. That just doesn’t go away with me leaving.
Every time I do this, it’s bittersweet. Every time I get the email, or the call, or the sit-down, I know that it’s another piece of my heart that I’ve given away. But I keep doing it, because I feel like my calling in life is to be with children, no matter how long the duration of my stay is.
“I go when the wind changes,” said Mary Poppins. “But I won’t forget you.”
I don’t forget any of the children I’ve been with. And I won’t forget Glo-Worm.
Three more weeks to go. Bittersweet, yes.
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