Shared stories on the playground: when your child helps with another child’s daycare transition

A few weekends ago, Chris’s parents and I were at the nearby playground while Kaia was playing. One of Kaia’s old classmates, who was doing temporary backup care a few days a week in her class, showed up with her mom, who I used to have some small talk with during pickups. Her daughter ended up going to another full-time daycare a few blocks away, so we hadn’t seen them since late last year. We chatted while our kids were getting reacquainted with each other and she shared a story that I had no idea about.

Her daughter was transitioning from being at home full-time with their nanny into being at daycare full-time, so her parents wanted to ease her into daycare at three days a week. Her adjustment was really rough: she said that for the first several months, drop-off was constantly torturous, and she and her husband seriously reconsidered whether daycare was a fit for their daughter at this stage in her development. But she did notice that when she’d pick her up and take her home, her daughter kept mentioning Kaia’s name, always while happy and smiling. She didn’t know who Kaia was, but she figured from the live video footage that Kaia must be the classmate that her daughter was always playing with. She shared that Kaia was always leading the way for her daughter, helping and guiding her, and she was the biggest reason that her daughter would be willing to go to school every morning. Every time she’d say Kaia’s name, her daughter’s face would light up and she’d get excited. She’d coax her with, “Remember? Kaia will be at school with you. If you don’t go to school, then you won’t see Kaia.” And this would motivate her to stop crying, get ready, and willingly go out the door each morning to school.

I was so happy to run into them and hear this story. If we hadn’t bumped into each other in the playground, I would never have known this to be true. But it warmed my heart to know that my own sweet baby was making life easier for others to adjust to new environments. I hope my child can be a little leader, one who sets good examples… and hopefully is not the bully.

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