Pop Quiz: What Do You Do When Your Kid’s Daycare Moves Next to the Freeway?

The first two years of being a parent were very hard. Did I say hard? I meant challenging. Did I say challenging? I meant rewarding. Did I say rewarding? I meant fun.

Looking back, I realize that I had two primary emotions those first two years: hungry and tired. The hungry was from breastfeeding, and was more ferocious than anyone warned, and the tired was from staying up all night partying just like before I had the baby. Bar-har. (Duh police, it was from having a baby.) Of course, I had the other parenting feelings, too — excitement, sadness, wonderment, etc. — but the hungry and the tired were omnipresent, like a shitty emotional entourage. Oh, and sometimes I was pissed, on account of being so tired and hungry.

But there's good news! Now that our baby is 2 years old, all you would-be parents should know that you do actually start to get more sleep! And you will eventually stop breastfeeding at some point in the near future, really!

And you will wake up plenty of actual mornings full of energy from a restful night with a happy, well-rested baby who jumps into your bed and laughs, and the morning sun will shine down on your entire face (which, miraculously, doesn't look old at all) and out the window in a tree is a little squirrel which your baby points to and says, "Look mommy, a squirrel," but she doesn't say "squirrel," she says "squirreled" like it rhymes with "world," and it's so funny, and as you and your husband (with perfect bedhead) laugh, you realize that you have done everything correctly as a parent and the experience has truly made you the best version of yourself that you have ever been, which is, of course, perfect. Yay, you.

The bad news? You didn't know how good you had it those first two years, when you were worrying your silly little head about all those "tough" issues. Cloth or disposable? (Duh: Cloth for a year, then disposable once the literal shit gets real.) Bottle or breast? (Easy - breast if you can, if not, bottle.) Attachment Parent or Evil Neglectors? (A joke, your Angriness.)

However, starting now, the parenting choices just got infinitely harder. Hear that, off in the distance? It's the Grass is Greener Train chugging softly into the station, ever so slightly tainted by the scent of your sleep-deprived naiveté. And now, your hungry and tired emotional entourage will be replaced with a perplexed interloper who has to deal with the really real stuff. I feel like this is conspiratorially on-the-fuck-purpose, like some kind of trade-off for getting more sleep. You know you could have warned me if I had actually been listening?

And now? Sure, there are tantrums and stuff, which are scientifically impossible to enjoy, like vegan cheese, but at least you can actually communicate with your kid a little easier, which makes everything, well, easier. Unfortunately, that frees you up for the panic-attack inducing Mega Choices That Actually Affect Your Children's Whole Lives. (Maybe they were there all along but TOO TIRED.)

And now, for the Pop Quiz: After searching long and hard for a good daycare within your budget, a daycare which you have enjoyed for the last year, the daycare moves. Next to the freeway. Not just like, near the freeway, but, like, a stone's throw. A hop, skip and a plate of asbestos.

Reports show that freeways are, of course, very bad for your health, and Los Angeles is polluted with freeways, which you already knew, but there is a difference between a freeway rumbling off in the distance and living within 500 feet of one.

You like this daycare! Your child has bonded with these people! And made friends! But this daycare is within 200 feet east of the 405! You tell the daycare provider your concerns, but she thinks that planting some trees will help and asks parents to donate them. The study shows, you annoyingly point out because you're incapable of not, that the trees will not do one tree-like thing to make a diff, nor will triple-paned windows or air filtration systems, because the stuff coming off the freeway is particulate matter from brake dust and other heinous things that cause lifetime lung problems and crippling asthma in some cases, and is way too small to be stopped from burrowing into your lungs by anything. Even George Clooney cannot stop it!

But the daycare provider has already signed the lease and moved to the new place and gotten all the inspections. And now has to do damage control and ride out a year-long lease, and most of the parents are fine with it (do they KNOW about the freeway?!?) and asks that you please stay and help apply for grants to move within the year to a better locale.

Do you:

A.) Move immediately to any other daycare that is not next to the freeway even if it offers subpar care in some other area so as to never drop your child off for so much as 8 hours standing within 200 feet of the freeway.

B.) Move immediately to any other daycare that offers exceptional care, even if it is challengingly more expensive, simply because it is not next to the freeway, and regardless of whether you have time to figure out if it is challengingly bad in some other way, like how much the lesson plans involve whales.

C.) Stay where you are for long enough to figure out the next best move considering cost and care, even though that takes time, which means you're technically playing roulette with your kid's health. Because hey, are we talking a few glasses of wine while pregnant dangerous? Or is it like taking thalidomide in the 1950's for morning sickness?

D.) Stay for a year and help out your community-based local daycare which you like and has been good to you to help find a new location in a year, betting on lady luck that your kid will be just fine because you know, what the hayfever, plenty of people live next to insert horrible toxic thing here. Look at Tan Mom. No, really, don't.

Bonus Question: Do you alert other parents at the daycare about it, thus becoming Those Parents, self-appointed harbingers of daycare-changing doom?

The correct answer is E: You didn't secure your flat-screen TV to the wall correctly, the biggest overlooked baby-proofing hazard in homes, according to a UK study. Fail.


Tracy Moore is a writer living in Los Angeles. She's just kidding about the flat-screen, those are way too expensive now that she'll be paying daycare west of the 405. Follow her on Twitter @iusedtobepoor.