Originally published June 14, 2022.
Forget snorting that Snoo and huffing that Nugget. This is the real stuff. It’s expensive, it’s addictive, it’s impossible to get your hands on, and the government definitely doesn’t want you to have it: it’s called daycare.
The first time I tried daycare—my kid contentedly tucked into the care of someone who was experienced, trained, and entirely not me—it gave me such a high I made the bed, rinsed out the entire milk carton before tossing it in the recycling, and clicked “Yes” when an email asked me if I supported their efforts to mitigate the risks of climate change.
Another time I was on daycare, I ran an entire virtual workshop for a client without once pausing for any impromptu “breakout sessions,” the sole purpose of which was to run into the other room to press “play” on the next episode of Daniel Tiger. Like Kerouac on bennies, I too have completed an entire scroll of to-do list items while on daycare.
When you try daycare for the first time, the shift to the altered state of mind will be swift. You’ll suddenly feel an amphetamine-like jolt of focus and productivity combined with the blissed-out euphoria of really good weed. Many first-time daycare users also report feeling that slight tingling sensation associated with doing something your conservative parents probably disapprove of.
I mean, I get why our elected leaders don’t want just anyone to get their hands on good daycare. Daycare is the biggest threat to America today. Can you imagine how it would ravage our economy if parents had the brain space to remember they already bought a three-pack of hand soap refills instead of staggering from one Target pickup purchase to the next? Can you fathom how it would shake our country to the core if parents had the power to read an entire article about what’s happening with the midterm elections? Every single one of us would know when the midterm elections are happening!
The government understands that daycare, like most fun drugs, is better off in the hands of only the wealthy and the well-connected—or the wildly entrepreneurial. You know, those super-parent savants who can work the twisted bowels of running a tax-compliant, multi-family nanny-share operation like they are the Walter Whites of childcare.
It took months of online waitlisting and in-person begging, but I finally got my hands on some daycare through my wonderful supplier Rosa (whose first language is English, but I pay her extra to pretend she only speaks Spanish around my kid). It’s pricey, sure—especially the good stuff with the BPA-free playgrounds and the teachers that will give your child a bulk bag of dried beans and call it “sensory play”—but I’m never going back, even if my insatiable daycare habit does irreparably shred the fabric of the self-reliant American nuclear family.
Daycare withdrawals are a bitch, though. These days, anyone with a kid’s birthday party, a nascent viral infection, and a casual disregard for other people’s well-being can shut down your whole daycare supply. Suddenly you’ll start hearing voices, and those voices are pleading for rainbow sprinkles, and you’re eating yogurt out of the bucket of your child’s bib while you’re both at home during lunch, dialing into your one-on-one with your boss. You’ll call your family, your friends, your actual drug dealer, crying and asking if you can bum any daycare off them, and they’ll stop answering your calls on weekdays between the hours of 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.
Someday, when she’s old enough to understand, will I tell my daughter I did daycare? Will I admit that, before she was even old enough to attend school, I frittered away the equivalent of her in-state college tuition on daycare, chasing the forbidden ecstasy of stability, structure, and shared work? Maybe this is the hit of daycare I just did talking, but yes, absolutely I will.
Read an interview with Sarah Suksiri
about writing this piece over on our Patreon page.