This afternoon, I took my three children for a visit to the child-care centre we used when they were pre-schoolers.
It’s the winter school holidays here in Melbourne, and it’s cold. There’s not a lot of outdoor fun happening in our house, and it’s only day three. But I knew I needed to get the kidlets off their iPads, if only for a few hours, so I took them with me to uni where I needed to pick up a few library books.
It was a snap decision to visit the child-care centre. My daughter saw some of the changes to the outdoor area as we drove into the university grounds, so I asked them all if they’d like to stop in and say hello. This was met with a resounding ‘yes’ from all of them.
So, after picking up my three library books – Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, Kristeva’s The Feminine and The Sacred, and Smith’s The Conceptual Practices of Power, for anyone who’s interested – we walked down the main uni pathway to where child-care centre is situated. We rang the doorbell, and the door opened to reveal Sally, the director, and her huge welcoming smile. She buzzed open the gate and we walked up the ramp to the door, where she was waiting. She gave a warm hello to the kids, and greeted me with a kiss to the cheek. She was genuinely pleased to see us, as were the other staff, some of whom are still working there since our departure over three years ago.
These women (it’s an industry that almost entirely staffed by females) amaze me. They remembered the names of my boys – twins, but fraternal – whereas some of the mums of their school friends still don’t know who is who – and my daughter. They asked them questions, totally interested in hearing their responses. They are wholly invested in the education of children, and I believe, rightly proud of the part they played in the early learning and development of the children who come into their care.
They were each genuinely interested in hearing about what’s going on in my life, also. I told them I graduated my under-grad degree last year and am back at uni for Honours. They asked questions about my thesis, and expressed real interest in my responses. They seemed very pleased for my progress and learning.
So, here’s a shout-out to those who work in the child-care industry. You are appreciated. You are remembered, well, by the parents and the children. Your work is often overlooked, and definitely under-paid, but I want you to know that I think you’re amazing. As parents, we entrust you with our greatest achievements (a cliche, but it’s true), and you rarely let us down. For all this, and more that’s not noted here, I want to thank you for working so hard for what might seem, to some, like few rewards. But today showed me that your reward comes in other forms. It comes, quietly, with stealth, and unexpectedly when your previous charges return to say hello. Your reward comes in the adoration and in the memories of these little people.
So, I take this moment to praise and thank you for your enduring work, for your respect shown for the little people, all over Australia.