I went to day care on Main Street. It was actually a house, a big, old white one with peeling paint and a big front porch. There was a large front room where much of the playing was done. The floors were hardwood, but dark and gritty smooth with the dirt and slobber of children. They were always a little bit dusty.
I remember very little about the inside of that place, because I spent all my time outside. The home that was renovated into my day care had a large backyard. Almost no grass though, due to constant little feet. There was a swing tied to a high oak tree with thick rope. And there was a basketball goal.
I guess I was eight or so when I started going to the day care. The first day I arrived--my sister and I--I remember discovering the place from behind my mothers' legs, flashes at a time. I was shy and nervous, and we'd just moved to that town. A girl from my grade immediately asked if I wanted to play a game of Horse. If I ever see that girl again I'm going to thank her for that, because it made me feel at ease and accepted, and it gave me something to take the anxiety away. That girl and I stayed friends through high school.
They served the nastiest snacks at this day care. Peanut butter and celery? Gross, I didn't want to eat that. I mean, I don't want to eat that now. There isn't enough milk in the world, and that was the other thing. Each parent had to take turns bringing in milk for all the kids to drink. Don't ask me why that wasn't included in the price of day care, biut whatever. It happened. My mother, not known for exorbitant spending or for being particularly rich at the time, brought in jugs of milk. Other parents did not. They sent their child to day care with powdered milk.
Typing the words "powdered milk" just now made me gag a tiny bit. And again just then. Powdered milk (blar) was always, at best, luke warm and gray in color, and I am going to puke if I go any further. That shit shouldn't be given to anything that breathes. It is beyond cruel.
I wrote plays at that day care. Yes, I did. Well, I basically retold fairy tales, but if James Lapine can do it my eight-year-old self could do it. I wrote a dark and somewhat morbid revision of Cinderella and cast all my day care friends in it. There was a large cast, and I basically had to force some of the children too young to put up a fight to play along. The production was a chaotic affair that disintegrated after about two minutes. I never wrote another play.
I went to a different day care later. One in a little yellow house up on the hill, just a few blocks from the one on Main Street. One of the day care workers played serious favorites with the girls--taking some out for breakfast, bringing them along to listen to the tape player while she ran errands. And sometimes I was included, and sometimes I wasn't. And that fucked me right up. I am totally against day care workers playing favorites like that with nine-year-old girls. Ya know, for the record.
This older girl Christie (who had a trampoline, though I never used it--she just talked about it all the time) and I put on a beauty pageant there once. With us as the only two contestants, obviously. No need to waste time. Christie whipped my ass at that pageant. She had a shiny, sparkly leotard with feathers on it and I just had my old, janky Ashland City Cowboys cheerleader uniform that was a size too small. Christie always got to go along in the car to run errands.
I can't believe some kids have never spent a single day in day care. I'm happy I went. I think it contributes to a bit of that bend I pride myself on. In other words, day care made me a little bit weird, but I'm glad about it.