Daycare Dread

by Grace Keller '20

          The room was painted a lovely yellow, so you always woke to a feeling of sunshine. At least that’s what I thought my parents’ intentions were until I overheard them talking about whether or not they should repaint my walls a light blue since they didn’t need to settle for a gender-neutral color anymore. I like my yellow walls, and my yellow binkie, and my yellow duck, Quack. My mom always dresses me in blue anyway. Blue onesies, blue diapers, blue sneakers, but worst of all, blue hats that always create tension as I pull them off my head, and my mom feels the need to put them back on every time. I usually start to cry when that happens, and then I win and she consequently tucks the hat into her purse or my stroller. 

          Speaking of crying, I need to get out of this crib. I’ve been lying here all morning, and while my parents think the dangling toy above my head entertains me, I get bored of it easily, and so, I cry, typically the most effective way to get my parents' attention. I picked it up from my older sister, Lucy, or maybe I didn’t, but she cries about everything even though my mom tells her she’s five and far too old for tears. When I cry, the world stops until I stop. I like it that way. I always start with a little fuss, just to warn my parents of what’s coming before I launch into a full melt down. Sometimes they ignore me. According to my dad, that’s an approach to parenting that makes your child more independent, or so he’s told my neighbor. Today, it didn’t take long before my mom rounded the hallway and came through my doorway. I scream louder as her high heels clap against my bedroom floor. I’ve learned that the sound of her heels means work, and work means daycare. Just like that, the feeling of sunshine subsides. 

          I hate daycare. A bunch of screaming kids in one room with strange adults running around, failing to contain the chaos. I don’t help because I cry too; and yet, at daycare, the world doesn’t stop for me. Most days, I like to turn the crying into a game, a slightly more fun way to pass the time. I like to see how loud or how long I can cry. I can’t tell if the others know it’s a competition, but I definitely get a reaction from them. Nevertheless, I usually consider myself the winner, and my parents can attest that this is a field I excel in.

          My mom picks me up, resting me on her hip as she walks me to my dresser. For a second, I contemplate throwing up on her black suit. I do that sometimes when I’m really mad because I know it makes her even more upset than I am, and I can always count on being late to daycare. But I won’t do that today because, well, I think I’m finally growing up. My parents say it all the time. They comment on how big I’m getting and how much I’ve grown, and honestly, they’re right. 

          “Jim, I need you to get Lucy to the bus, and don’t forget to pack her lunch!” my mom screams to my dad downstairs as she tries to force feed me some apple-strawberry mush that I absolutely do not want. She continues to try and shove the spoon through my lips, even pretending it’s an airplane to make it more appealing, but I’m not falling for it. I feel bad because I don’t even want to cry, but she gives me no choice, and consequently, I let the screams out again. 

          She sighs heavily, rolling her eyes and throwing the spoon on the dresser as the mushy substance splatters across its surface and onto my yellow walls. She’ll clean it up later because now we’re late. 

          This is my favorite part: the car ride. It’s the same every morning, but it’s always different. The same turns, the same stops, and the same playground I can’t wait to play on someday. But it’s different faces, different birds, different passing cars, and different phone conversations blasting on speaker phone. It’s always entertaining until I see the gigantic rainbow painted across the blue wall of the building, and I know that it’s that time yet again. I begin as soon as my mom unclips the buckles across my chest and pulls me out of my car seat, and I will cry all the way until she comes to pick me up, no matter how big I’m getting.