Yesterday I toured a local daycare center.
It's something I never intended to do - before Acorn's birth, we'd talked about a nanny, or maybe having a family member watch him.
After his birth, when we thought he was coming home at 4 pounds with an oxygen cannula, we chose an insanely expensive private Montessori school that took infants through kindergarteners. They took cloth diapers, they didn't mind oxygen, they didn't mind the 3 month delay in skills. They santized obsessively, and had a culture where kids didn't come to school when they were sick. Our only complaint was the cost, but what could we do? It was certainly something we could afford to pay for, although it was going to require some budget adjustments.
And then came the trach. And nursing. And dozens of appointments.
And here we are - we can see an end to the trach, and with that comes and end to nursing.
Acorn is not the kind of kid you can leave with someone he doesn't know. He's had far too many bad experiences in his sort life to be comfortable with that. His primary day nurse has been with us since he came home, 19 months ago. To take away caregivers he's completely comfortable with, and thrust him into a completely unknown environment full of other children (which he has very little experience with) would be a disaster.
Actually, that lack of social experience is a big part of why we're doing this instead of a nanny. We have a Montessori elementary school in mind, which has a preschool program...but right now there's no way he'd be ready to do that next year without some experience between now and then.
So....yesterday I went and toured the best daycare we'd found in over two dozen calls. It's not Montessori based, but it's attachment-parenting friendly, cloth diaper friendly, low kid to teacher ratios, and close to home. It's a place where everyone works together, and teachers and children alike are expected to treat each other with respect no matter how different they are. It's a place that already signs with their toddlers, so signing isn't a problem; it's a place that routinely has children who come in speaking only a foreign language, no English - so the speech delay doesn't phase them. It's a place that has had challenging behaviors before (2 different kids who were eventually diagnosed as Autistic) so Acorn's quirks aren't going to seem like a big deal. It's a place that's very open to parents sticking around, and who wasn't phased by the statement that he comes with a nurse. They happily challenge kids academically, don't mind 3 year olds who aren't potty trained (though I hope we'll get there in the next 6 months), and treat each child as an individual.
It's a place that will work to figure out Acorn, complications and all, and give him some experience with what normal kids do. And they have no problems with him going 2 days a week from January until decannulation, and then switching to full time without a nurse, because by then he'll be comfortable there, know the routine and the kids and the teachers, and removing the nurse shouldn't be an issue.
Or at least, that's the plan...not that he's been all that reliable about doing anything according to plan, but it's the best we've got right now.