The total failure of the daycare system is this country outside of the elite circles and certain costal enclaves is a clear sign of the failings (if not outright failure) of the marketplace. It is an interesting analog to the health care crisis. As any parent will tell you, it is almost impossible to find affordable and acceptable daycare (and good daycare is a whole other order more difficult) despite the fact that it is essential to have if one has a "job".

This is as strange as it sounds. Somehow the market has utterly failed in supplying the demand. It isn't as if people have stopped churning out babies (exhibit: Palin family). Every daycare facility that is not either a Christianist front or a death trap with kids wallowing in their soiled diapers has a waiting list of a year or more. All of them are expensive. All of them have inconvenient hours. And, all of the daycares serve garbage as food and refuse to let you bring in your own. They all revert to a mantra of 'FDA' standards as if the ketuchp-as-vegetable standard is a benchmark of quality. The government insists that children be fed a meat at every meal. This meat item is generally something of the faux-meat variety, like chicken mcnuggets

Up until a couple of months ago, we did have a daycare that was relatively inexpensive, very friendly, clean, and competent, did not especially hassle us about food, and was open until 8:30 pm, which was helpful given the impossibility of getting anywhere by 5:30. It closed.

The daycare we are using at the moment is purely a stopgap measure for a few more weeks. It is not an especially bad place, but definitely not one that I think is providing nearly enough of a challenge or learning opportunity for the Lil Buddha.

I will give but one example. It is actually the reason I thought to sit down here. When I went to pick up Lark at daycare yesterday afternoon I was astonished and a bit horrified to see a group of older kids sitting in a semi-circle while a woman with an utterly expressionless face held up a book and turned the pages. She wasn't reading the book. Instead, there was a boombox playing a recording of the book being read. The daycare worker simply turned the page. This was difficult for me to comprehend. It is certainly pre-literate, and seemed perhaps even a bit psychotic. What kind of lesson could the students have been learning to have the book read to them by the machine?


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