The daycare where we send Olivia to has two levels: upper and lower. From what we can make of the sorting the upper level is for the babies and kids who can fully walk and talk, while the lower level is for the kids who can walk but not fully talk yet. We've also heard rumors of there being a hidden, third level where the teenage version of Scott Baio runs an illegal speakeasy that a young Jodie Foster performs at nightly. From my understanding they make a mean Shirley Temple.
Up until this past June, when she began to walk on her own, Olivia had been staying in the upper level. Whenever we would come to pick her up at the end of the day one of the caregivers would carry her out to us, or lead her as she attempted to be more mobile. Her responses to seeing we had come to pick her up mostly ranged in the following ways:
- tears mixed with a death grip on the caregiver's shirt or necklace
- death grip on the caregiver (sans tears) and her turning her head to avoid making eye contact with us, as if not seeing us meant we weren't really there and she could go back to playing
- her making eye contact with us, forming a fist with one hand while the other performs a winding motion next to it as her middle finger slowly extends into the upright position
- big smile, outstretched arms and she eagerly awaits us giving her a big hug
Now that Olivia is in the lower level, the pickup scenario has changed. There's less space down there (it's basically a basement), so the entry door leads right into the children's play area. Gone are the days when our child didn't know we had arrived yet and she is brought out to us in a grand fashion. Now we knock on the door and there is a collective cry of "Mommy!" from about 5 or 6 kids, all wanting to be taken home by their respective parents. One of the caregivers opens the inner door and the kids rush to the screened door to see who has come to set them free, like prisoners in a county lockup who've been waiting for their name to be called and that bail has been posted.
I've no doubt that while the lower level isn't as grand as the upper, the kids are still having fun and are safe and secure. It's a great feeling to hear the kids call out like that, and I listen closely each time I'm there to see if I can pick Olivia's voice out in the clamor. I recently had a moment where upon seeing I was there to pick her up, Olivia came walking quickly towards me while garbling something out loud. Right before she got to me she stopped, turned around and made what seemed to be a gibberish proclamation to the other kids, as if she was saying "Ha ha suckers! My daddy is here and your's isn't!"
Obviously I wanted the other kids to be happy and have their parents pick them up too, but I have to say I was somewhat happy seeing how proud my child was that I was there. I'm really looking forward to the days where she's not only excited to see me, but is able to tell me all about her day. I want to hear her voice, listen to her speak excitedly about the things she learned and saw that day and start seeing more of her personality come out. I also want her talking so she can tell me the password to the door of that speakeasy, because I'm dying to try one of those Shirley Temples.