So, I stumbled across this very articulate article, which pretty much sums up my thoughts on the subject of daycare/preschool (really, any school). This, as I am researching preschool for Maya:
Here is another take on the lessons our day care center child may absorb: Her learning and play, her growth and development, need to be structured and facilitated by professionals. There are no mentors for her, nor are there any young ones that she can in turn help usher through the months and years. She will not get a sense of her intrinsic worth as a member of a community that has a reason for being and a set of daily tasks that have varying degrees of meaningfulness, and that incorporates her at whatever developmental stage she might be, provides a variety of models for her, and invests her with a sense of the rhythms of everyday life. Instead, she gets the rather profound message that her role is to be entertained (educated, enriched, etc.) until someone picks her up and takes her home for some quality time. The lesson is an early one in consumption: She may be missing out on finding meaning in organic relationships but she can always come into the day care to consume some stimulation and entertainment instead.
Furthermore, she learns about class position and hierarchy. Rather than absorb the needs and values and cultural norms of her community, she integrates herself into an institution—learning to please the caregivers, compete with her peers for attention, divvy her day into structured activities, accept the rules and guidance of the authority figures, and mark time by her movement from the infant room to the toddler room and on to the pre-school room. Just as the U.S. educational system produces young adults schooled to take their place among the powerful, or in the office, the factory, the service sector, or the permanent underclass, so early childhood education will help produce the workers we need. Yes, some day cares promote cognitive development, teach positive social skills, and empower young minds, but you can be sure that class position is a key determinant of who learns what.
The author suggests the alternative of home-based care, not exclusively by mom’s: but dad, extended family and friends too. You know, COMMUNITY care. Until now, I’ve been blessed with home based care for Maya between myself, her grandma, and a friend with a four-year old boy. Now, I am called to return to more hands on work at Dandelion and other special projects while my friend heads off on a year-long adventure in November. Grandma is out of town indefinitely.
I can’t do it by myself, and I don’t beat myself up for that. Yet I do worry about outsourcing Maya’s care away from the home while also recognizing that bringing Maya to work with me as a three year old is not the best solution either. At least not in this paradigm where she is the only kid being brought to work (and I am lucky to have a business that is very vibrant and diverse and a great example of the kind of place I would be proud of her to work someday, unlike, say in an office on Wall Street or god forbid a BigAg lobbyist or something twisted like that). If most people brought their kids to work in our community, and children were more integrated into the workplace, that might work better as we would create space for them. While she would have many chances to interact with adults at the cafe, she needs and desires relationships with babies, kids, teens and elders too. You know, the VILLAGE, the one it takes to raise a kid, the one that has been dismantled, right along with families and tribes in this long slide from a creative existence (by that I mean, each person creates/produces food, clothing, household goods, equipment, art, music) to a consumer existence where all those things are “outsourced” to other people, like childcare.
But it’s not about just mom staying at home in isolation from the rest of society either in order to raise my child. Where’s dad? At the office. Where’s grandma? In the nursing home. Where are all the people, for goodness sake? Everybody is busy earning money to afford someone else to take care of each other.
First, men were enticed to leave their homes for war, then jobs “in town.”
Then, women said, “Hey you can’t leave me here, I want in on that too!”
For a time grandparents took over the role of parents, but now everyone has scattered across the country in pursuit of a better opportunity and grandma is no longer next door. Now that mom and dad are at work, and grandma is in a nursing home, children as early as six weeks are forced to leave their homes and families as well.
Okay, it’s past two in the morning and I must end rant which is only half thought through. Sigh.
I am disgusted by the systemic racism in maternal care after reading this shocking report just released by Amnesty International. Not only does this report describe how broken our birthing industry is, it describes a dark side that my look-at-me-birth-so-ecstatically white self is embarrassed by.
“The awful truth behind the shocking numbers is that at least half of these deaths could have been prevented.
Women in the United States are more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than in 40 other countries. More than half of these deaths occur within 42 days of giving the birth because of issues like accessibility, affordability and lack of oversight in maternal health matters. The story only gets worse when you look at the rates of pregnancy-related deaths among minority women. African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women.
But in a country that spends far more on health care than any other country in the world, we should be able to guarantee every woman’s right to a safe childbirth.”
From the amazing artist, Marabou Thomas, who is showing his art for the first time at my cafe this month. Makes an interesting point.
Yes!!!! The article I’ve been waiting for, from my most favoritest magazine – aptly titled, “Yes!” I had no idea there was a name for the movement I yearned for. Radical Homemakers. I like it!
“Long before we could pronounce Betty Friedan’s last name, Americans from my generation felt her impact. Many of us born in the mid-1970s learned from our parents and our teachers that women no longer needed to stay home, that there were professional opportunities awaiting us. In my own school experience, homemaking, like farming, gained a reputation as a vocation for the scholastically impaired. Those of us with academic promise learned that we could do whatever we put our minds to, whether it was conquering the world or saving the world. I was personally interested in saving the world. That path eventually led me to conclude that homemaking would play a major role toward achieving that goal.”
Read the whole article: Meet the Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes — YES! Magazine.
I’ve long admired the work of Brian Feldman & was glad I got to participate in a portion of this latest work of his. It’s probably his most important statement to date. As I was standing there, baby strapped to my chest, contemplating getting married for some reason other than love, joking about whether or not Brian had money or health insurance, watching pregnant women filing for a license, I was strangely unconcerned with the fact that I’m a single mom. I’m actually quiet happy this way. I thank myself every day for having the strength and wisdom to not get caught up in a false relationship or marriage just because I had an unplanned pregnancy. I imagine I could feel ashamed or abandoned or sorry for myself. Instead, I feel empowered, wise and totally fulfilled.
At the event, I also saw an ex-friend (the only ex-friend I have, read on for why) for the first time in about a year. In the course of casual conversation at a public space last year, this person chastised me for deciding to go through with the pregnancy since her biological father was not in the picture very much. He felt I was irresponsible and a bad mother. He was quite loud and angry about this point, much to the terror of onlookers, some of whom tried to intervene. It was quiet disturbing. Interesting how he turned the man’s irresponsibility and lack of interest and blamed me for it, the only person actually taking responsibility for the child growing inside. As he laid eyes on Maya for the first time, an angry bubble surfaced and I wanted to ask him if he still thought she was better off as medical waste. (Sorry, that’s horrible, but that is the point).
I know this man-child’s history though, and I feel compassion for him that his relationship with his father was so messed up he would be so deranged as to yell at a pregnant women and call her selfish for not having an abortion. Hopefully he’s had time to reflect on his actions in the past year. Maybe he’s realized his mother isn’t to blame for his father’s emotional unavailability. Dark episode’s like this replicate the shadow side of his father. And, perhaps, he should stop drinking.