This week I have been thinking about all of the learning our children do, from babies to toddlers, to pre-schoolers and school age. My own children were lucky enough to spend their early days when not with me, at the home of the most amazing caregiver I could imagine. As we say goodbye to Debbie this week, and honour the passing of a wonderful woman, I am reminded of just how much of a gift she was in our lives. She had such a positive impact on my two and taught them many, many important things including; kindness, compassion, collaboration, responsibility, and patience. She valued adventure, fun, curiosity, balance, inclusion, and routine; so in turn did the kids. For seven years, we were blessed to be included in Debbie’s daycare family, we are so grateful she was a part of our village.
Blog repost from: “Are We There Yet?” on June 28, 2011
The End of an Era
My not so little boy heads off to grade one in September, which means our final days at Debbie‘s, our childcare provider for nearly seven years, are counting down. The final drop-off is something I have thought about with a lump in my throat a number of times over the past couple of years. The thought of pulling out of the driveway for the final time, something I have done over two thousand times, is hard to imagine. I am filled with mixed emotions, as is Nate, as our time there draws to an end. Our family has been blessed beyond words to have had our children go to Debbie & Ray’s since Sarah was eleven months old.
Like Sarah did when she left two years ago, Nate is creating a farewell book for Debbie, filled with his thoughts and memories and illustrations on each page. He and I have enjoyed reminiscing about the many years he has spent there and he is bursting and so proud to share his creation with everyone on Thursday.
Debbie is caring, kind, amazing with kids and has a great sense of humour. The kids respect her so much and they know that what Debbie says… goes. Her husband Ray is adored by all. Everyone loves him for his funny, silly ways and the jokes and nicknames he shares with each child. The rapport Ray has with kids is incredible.
This amazing couple has opened their home to a great number of children over the years and they run a daycare like no other. As a family childcare centre it is the home to 12 children each day…a perfect number. Debbie and Ray have transformed their home to service “their kids”. There are playrooms on each level and toys in abundance. Tiny chairs fill their living room and booster seats in the kitchen. They have fire doors and fire escapes installed throughout; along with closed circuit TV’s to monitor the basement and the area where the littlest one’s nap.
Debbie cuts no corners and spares no expense. The kids eat healthy meals filled with fun and adventurous foods. They do crafts, play games and go on long walks along the creek, even in the rain. They visit the bakery for cookies, and Seven Eleven for Slurpees. They play in the sprinkler in the summer and sled in the winter. They collect treasures, create works of art and celebrate every occasion. Birthdays are highly anticipated at Debbie’s, as are special holidays; marked with gifts, fancy meals, games, and tons more fun.
But more important than all of that is the atmosphere or feeling at Debbie’s. The kids are like family. I always marvel watching their closeness and their unique bonds when they are together at birthday parties or playdates. The sense of community they develop being a part of something as special as Debbie’s daycare is amazing to watch and so beneficial to them all. We are so lucky that our kids have grown up there with some of their closest friends, by chance children of many of our dearest friends. The bonds and memories shared will last all of us a lifetime.
Working alongside Debbie is her partner, Joyce. Joyce is sweet and kind and good. Her gentle ways and loving nature make her the perfect childcare provider. She is compassionate, perceptive and often offers sound insight or advice. She always has a funny anecdote or heart-warming story to share involving the kids. She honours children’s individuality and celebrates their successes. Joyce is also an extremely well-rounded and interesting person. I will so miss the great conversations she and I have always shared about education, books, health, and children.
Debbie employs a third staff member to work with the kids on a daily basis. In turn, each of them; Kristin, Nikki and Melissa has added a youthful energy and fun-loving attitude that the kids so appreciate and enjoy. They have all gotten to know our kids so well and have continued to be a part of our lives through evening babysitting, house-sitting and even cat sitting. They are amazing young women!
Debbie’s is legendary in our area. She has a waiting list miles long and is sought out by many. Over the years I have had a number of people ask me, “How did you ever get in?” Luck? Chance? Timing? I am not sure why my family was fortunate enough to have landed spots at Debbie’s daycare but I am eternally thankful that we did.
Working mom guilt is something I have at times struggled with as many moms’ do. It is hard to be away from our little ones particularly when they are sad or sick or not themselves. I am blessed to have rest assured each and every time I drove to work that my children could not have been in better hands. I never once doubted the quality of care my children received. They were always treated with respect and offered unlimited patience, guidance, instruction, affection, and kindness. I can only begin to imagine the depth of what my children have learned and taken away from Debbie’s and what a positive impact their experiences there have had on the wonderful little people they are today.
A couple of weeks back as I shopped around for my final end of the year Debbie thank you gift- I was stumped. Debbie is a practical person but the typical garden ornament or gift card just didn’t feel right. In the end, I bought her a Willow Tree …the Angel of Caring.
Debbie has truly been an angel in our lives.
Debbie, thank you for opening your home and your heart and being our angel of caring for so many years!