Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"I've Heard about Her, the One Whose Child isn't in Parent's Day Out"

Ah, Mother's Day Out. The very thought sends happy tingles down my spine.

Among a particular group of my peers, I feel like a folk-legend for not having done it yet. A new group for women my age at church recently sent out an e-mail invitation for lunch which included the line, "11:30 will allow us all to eat before it's time to pick up our kids." Because if you have a toddler, they're in MDO. Of course.

After all, the child who is not exposed to regular meetings with other toddlers or preschoolers without the burdening presence of a family member will most certainly become a socially-stunted shadow of a real child, unable to communicate or effectively navigate kindergarten. Right?

On the other hand, I know that preschool is a relatively new experiment. In the 1970s, only 20% of children attended. As the number of American children attending preschool has multiplied, overall academic performance among American children has not improved. Children in certain groups (low-income, special needs) benefit from early education, but for the typical child in a middle class home-- i.e., Peter-- preschool is a luxury for mom, not a necessity for success.

I have another set of friends, one for whom nursery school is not the norm. I've yet to notice any social or academic weaknesses among their children. Quite the opposite, to be honest.


Susie said...

I wholeheartedly agree that MDO is about mom. But I also think that being a stay-at-home-mom/housewife/whatever-the-wife-is-called has changed over time, and that MDO is a reasonable response. When I was a kid in the 70s, few of my neighbors' moms worked outside the home, and moms would gather -- by means of walking a few yards to a neighbor's house -- and have coffee or tea and play cards or mah jongg while the kids played with Barbies (or G.I. Joes) in the back yard. Now, neighborhoods just don't seem to be like that anymore, and moms more often socialize in places without back yards. And there's the whole thing about the diminishing middle class, too ...

Anyway, after the time change, and when we're well, y'all come over and play some mah jongg with us. Just not on a Monday or Wednesday, 'cause R's in MDO. :-)

Martha said...

I couldn't agree more. I grew up in tight-knit neighborhoods filled w/sahms. I think they would have laughed at the concept of a "playdate." Getting together is just what they did.

I am greatly hoping that things in our new town might be a little more like the old days... It was actually a factor in our decision to leave the big city... And we chose the "lesser" of all the homes we looked at because it was in a cul de sac with low fences (as opposed to tall privacy fences) and signs of little children everywhere... One can hope, anyway.

Anonymous said...

The problem with "MDO" is that the focus is on the mother and so is the curriculum or aka lack of brain building, developmental curriculum. I wish people could see early education as education instead of Mother's Day out and then we would not have as much mommy guilt about sending them there.