Kavya was 7 months old when we reluctantly put her into day care. We struggled with
the idea of letting someone else be in charge of our little baby, of decoding
her cries, of making sure her little fingers and toes were warm enough. It
wasn’t a decision we took lightly.
There are about four day cares within walking
distance of our apartment, all of which we visited, including the one that lost
a toddler during a field trip to New York City. “Not a big deal,” I confidently
told my wife, as though these things were perfectly normal. It was also quite
dirty and the teachers seemed pretty uninterested in what they were doing. Most
of the ones we visited were really nice, but way out of our budget. Except for
one just down the street: the Christian day care.
My wife and
I breathed a sigh of relief when we met Ms. Adele, who would be Kavya’s
teacher. She was in her late 20s and had a bubbly personality, and we’d seen her
lay down the law when we observed part of her class. But what made us feel
comfortable with her and the school was something that would probably elicit
the opposite reaction from most parents: her arms were decorated in colorful
tattoos, none of which were biblical. This, to us, was strangely a symbol of
normalcy. Perhaps we’ve taken one too many trips across the river in downtown
The first year or two, things at the day care went pretty smoothly. But in the
past year, Kavya’s started talking about Jesus a fair bit, and belts out the
loves me, this I know. For the Bible tells me so!” at the most random of
occasions. Over breakfast. In grandpa’s car. Out on the street. In the middle
of shopping. It really makes no difference to her. Sometimes it’s awkward, yet
amusing that she belts it out when my father—who wears a turban—has her
hoisted on his shoulders. Once, she got furious when I torpedoed my face into
my food. She insisted we say grace first.
Since the Jesus sing-alongs started, I’ve gone out of my way to take Kavya to the Sikh gurdwara for religious service.
people when they find out that, with all the options available, we chose to
send our daughter to a Christian day care, considering neither of us is outwardly observant of the religions we were raised in. All this Jesus talk has
elicited an odd reaction from me. Since the Jesus sing-alongs started, I’ve gone out of my way to
take Kavya to the Sikh gurdwara for religious service on Sundays, into the city
for the Vaisakhi Parade, and once she and I even attempted to make the staple
of Indian cuisine: the allegedly simple dal and roti. It did not go well. We
ended up ordering Korean tacos from down the street instead.
I’d always assumed the grandparents could be relied on to teach Kavya the
language, culture, and religion we grew up with. Turns out this is only a tiny
bit true. They’ll take her to a religious service occasionally, but most of the
time, they speak to Kavya completely in English. I Guess it’s just something
we’ll have to work harder on.
Still, I love that her day care has exposed her to so many different people of
all backgrounds and that, living near New York City, we can take her to all sorts
of cultural festivals. It’s because we live in Jersey City that she’s just
picked up some Spanish here and there, presumably from her classmates and
teachers. We’ll even sign her up for the dual language track when she
officially starts preschool next year. But for now, the amalgam works just fine.
One of our morning rituals is
to walk down the stairs and practice our numbers. Kavya likes to use a mix of
Punjabi, English and her version of Spanish, which goes from uno to tuatro
(yes, with a t), and includes the number abuela. Don’t try to argue that abuela
is not a number. She’ll fight you—and win every time—if you try to debate
semantics with her.