It was a surreal experience obediently following a chatty young woman through rooms draped with crepe and filled with children.
“Do you have any questions?” she perkily asked.
“Yes – what the hell am I doing here?” was what I didn’t say because I was trying very hard to pretend everything was totally normal.
I have a 14 month old child and I need to find him a nursery so that I can cope with the extra work I have slogged my guts out to win from several new clients.
I am not a child myself, however much I feel it. I am responsible for a hell of a lot all of a sudden, including a small person and a business. Therefore I have been diligently researching inspectorate reports, doing my sums, forward planning workloads and now visiting nurseries.
So far we’ve seen three, but the one I’m most excited about is scheduled for tomorrow. It’s the only one I had heard of when I started this sobering journey, so there’s a certain comfort in that. It’s also the closest, sits halfway between affordable and extortionate and the two staff I met when I popped in to make the appointment speak beautifully. I know we’re not really allowed to say things like that. The thought police forbid it. However, I am a journalist and a grammar pedant, it’s important to me that the wee man learns to speak properly.
I’ve been interested to see a baby asleep on a changing mat (that’s pretty bad, right?), toddlers with their hands pressed against the window watching other children playing outside and nursery staff whose breath smells strongly of cigarette smoke.
I’ve spent the first 14 months of the wee man’s life keeping him away from all conceivable dangers. I’m not prepared to hand him over to anyone who isn’t professional. Private nurseries are businesses and pretty lucrative ones at that. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect the one I choose to have the same high standards as any other business I choose to spend my money with. The stakes are never higher than when they involve your children.