"Don't touch the bricks!"
I'm taking pictures of my bracken fern filled front yard. The day-care toddlers are approaching on their rope.
"Stop at the corner! Don't go that way! Don't touch the car! Don't touch the trash cans, they're dirty! Don't touch the fence, you'll get a splinter!"
The grown-ups are shouting only negative things at these two and three-year-olds, out for their morning constitutional. The children all walk like anesthetized drones. I can hardly stand it. "How dare you keep these beautiful new humans from investigating their world!" is what I don't say. I run down the steps, and pick two of the most interesting looking things from my yard: the tops of some bunch grasses gone to seed. The children shuffle forward towards me. I glance at the grown-ups, not asking permission, but rather reaching past my frustration and letting my harmonious core self show.
"Here," I say to the first two children, "touch this." I hold out the seed stalks.
Tentatively, a couple kids reach out. Some need encouragement from their handlers. "Go ahead, Gabe, what does it feel like?" It's the first positive words I've heard spoken. None of the children speak. I give one stalk to the last little girl in line. She still has some fire in her eyes. I give the other stalk to the boy who wouldn't touch it. They walk on. "Don't touch the car. Come on, don't go that way, we're turning the corner now." The commands grow fainter.
Day Care is tough, I know. Our lives are completely over-saturated. We don't even have time for our children. How can we hope to build a sustainable world, to be members of the aeiosphere, if all we ever build are broken parts?
Having a stay-at-home parent is a choice that some couples will reject as impossible. It's not impossible... but the consequences of making that choice might be inconceivable. If you must have someone else care for your child, then watch your small person for changes in behavior. Drive up to the Day Care provider and listen for laughter. See if any kids have gotten into some sort of mess (with safe stuff, but messy nonetheless) and see if the care providers lovingly clean up the child.
Even, spend one of your precious PTO days and shadow the children. Get permission to be on-site for a day. If something doesn't feel right, question it. If you don't like the answer, then get your child out of there! Find a home-school group, a play group, even think about getting involved in some sort of parenting/life cycle co-housing group! The children coming in to the world right now are the people who will be creating the solutions for the problems we are making. Give them every opportunity to experiment, to learn, to discover, to be wide-eyed to the world.
It is messy, and scary sometimes. Sometimes your small person will get hurt. But your job isn't really to protect them from everything. Your job is to teach them how to be fully human, and to be messy and wonderful at the same time.