Listen, I know you’re very busy and have a million things on your mind, but I have a business proposition for you.
I know that you and your spouse have been waiting. And planning. And saving. Finally, the big day has arrived. Your new car is here. And boy is it a beauty! For some, it’s a convertible. For others, a sedan, a crossover, an SUV, a truck, maybe even a hybrid. Look inside. Rich, supple leather seats, premium sound, i-pod port. The latest safety features. Air bags, side air bags, anti-lock brakes. And of course, you purchased option package #7: factory floor mats, map lights, trip odometer, remote trunk and fuel filler door releases, power windows and locks, intermittent wipers, and cruise control. You’re proud – and you should be.
Now for the aforementioned business proposition. After a “grace period” wherein you spend a couple of weeks with your car, bring it to me. Every morning, before you go to work, bring your vehicle to my home and leave it with me. For a low fee of only $130 a week, I’ll “break it in” for you 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. You know how important the “break in” period is on a vehicle. The engine’s pistons and valves settle in to the rhythms of the driver – me! Of course, you can keep the car when you go on vacation, on holidays, and as always, weekends are your special time together.
By now, you’ve probably thought I’ve lost my mind. Have I? Why do you consider this idea crazy? This is a generally accepted practice in this country. Not for our vehicles, but for something much more valuable and precious – our infants and toddlers as they are dropped off en masse at day care facilities on a daily basis.
Parents who no doubt love their children think nothing of leaving them off with someone else to raise a majority of the time. These same parents don’t hesitate to leave their children with those very people they wouldn’t trust with their new car. And why do people leave their children off with virtual strangers every morning? I don’t know for sure, but sadly I think that a lot (not all) do so for selfish reasons. The parents have a lifestyle they aren’t willing to give up: the new cars, latest computers, cell phones, mp3 players, stereos, famous label clothing, designer shoes and handbags, expensive vacations, fine home furnishings, and expensive lunches. Please understand that only those parents can answer the question about whether or not they’re both working for lifestyle. We can’t say, just by the fact that someone leaves their kids at day care, that both parents don’t have valid reasons for needing to work. What we can do is think about the following questions in order to conduct a national conversation about what is best for our children:
Are both parents working out of necessity, or are both parents working to maintain a “lifestyle”? Could these parents readjust their schedules so that they wouldn’t have to leave the kids at day care? Could one of the parents work only part-time? Could one of the parents quit working until the child goes to school?
The first 3 to 5 years are very important in a child’s life. The family bonding, traditions, and rapport that form during that time set the foundation for the rest of a person’s life. The optimum circumstance for a child is to spend time with their parents, the people that love them the most, not some nanny for hire. It doesn’t take a scientific study or a control group to tell us that, just common sense.
Again, my business proposition must be answered: Would you be willing to pay me to keep and drive your brand new car 8 hours a day, 5 days a week? If you said “no way”, then you must face the second question: Why are you willing to pay someone to take care of something much more valuable and precious – your child?
If you have searched your heart and can honestly, without justification, say that both parents have to work just to make ends meet, not in the lifestyle mentioned above but a solid, basic lifestyle, then so be it. It happens, and it’s a shame for both you and your child. But if you can’t say that both parents have to work just to make ends meet, logically you should feel good about paying me to take care of your car.
See you Monday morning. Don’t forget your extra keys. I accept cash or money orders.