My Kiddo started going to a new daycare two weeks ago. The old daycare kept trying to "bump her up" in levels before I felt she was entirely ready and I didn't particularly like the teacher that was coming up next. So when my (and my daughter's) favorite teacher left to start her own branch of the daycare, I was all over it.
The transition has gone pretty well. Until today. And it's not the Kiddo, it's me. I arrived to pick her up. We said goodbye to the teachers and headed out of the classroom into the main lobby area where the kids' cubbies and winter things are kept. As I came back into the room with Kiddo, I noticed a strange man standing by the front door. I didn't recognize him as another parent, but I busied myself gathering the kid paraphernalia. I looked up again because the bell on the front door rang. The man was gone.
Kiddo and I exited the front door and walked to the car. I see the man on the lawn of the daycare near the curb where the cars park. He bent over and picked up an aluminum can. Examined it for a moment, saw me staring at him, dropped the can and walked quickly away. He walked around the corner and out of sight. I was a little suspicious at this point. I buckled up the Kiddo and we drove off. As soon as my car turned the corner, I could see the man--peaking into the windows of someone's house.
I immediately called the daycare and the police. This absolutely terrifies me. The man had the look of a creeper. I could tell instantly that he didn't belong in the lobby of the daycare. He was way too bundled up for the weather today; it was warm and he had a huge green parka and hood. He didn't like me making eye contact with him. He was muttering to himself outside the daycare and full-on jabbering to himself when he was peering in windows. He was really thin and I just didn't like the vibe I got from him. He reminded me uncomfortably of some of the patients I saw at my state psychiatric hospital rotations last week.
Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but I don't think so. The new daycare does not have a security system on the front door. There is a string of bells hooked to the door, but people enter and leave the main lobby area without necessarily being noticed or acknowledged. Immediately to the right of the front door lies the toddler room. It has a baby gate up, but the little ones like to toddle up to it and peer out. A person could grab one of those little cherubs and hit the door so fast no one would even get a look at him. My daughter is in a larger room with several teachers that is further away from the front door. But still...
As of right now, I'm keeping her out of daycare tomorrow and sending her to my mom until I can clarify with the director what protections are in place for these kids. It really scared the shit out of me. Looking into that man's eyes...I didn't like it any more than he did. It's part of my job to read people, and on the forensic unit at the psych hospital I was frighteningly good at guessing the patients' crimes--pedophile, murderer, etc. My friends were taking bets on how many I could guess correctly. On the locked unit of a psych hospital? Good times. On the front steps of my daughter's daycare? Not so much.
Security wasn't really an issue at the last daycare so I never really placed a whole lot of thought into it. The front door had a keypad system, though it would often malfunction and during those times the door was left unlocked. The layout of the building also forced visitors to walk by several offices with windows and doors looking into the hallway. I can never remember feeling frightened by the security. I was really glad to get out of the old daycare because of the teacher situation (we had been there for three years), but in light of the security scare I'm wondering if I made the right choice. Should I move her again? I really don't want to do that to her, but I need her to be safe.