Yesterday I received the boys’ 2016-2017 Family Handbook for the new “school” year and I can’t remember the last time I was so nervous. For those of us with kids in child care centers across the country, this is one of those moments we dread. It’s one of the defeating moments that comes with parenting. We go to work every day, bust our asses to provide for our children, we choose the best educational programs with the most caring and careful teachers, our names sit on waiting lists and we rejoice when we (our kids) get accepted. We fall in love with every aspect of our kids’ education and the daily routine they provide, our children shine, they love their classmates and their teachers – they can name each one of them with excitement – but once every year we receive this packet and hold tight to the hopes that we can still “swing” it.

It’s pretty unfortunate. The center goes to all of this hard work to put together this fancy book of policies, programs, schedules, enhancements and goals and the only thing I’m interested in is this year’s tuition and how much more it’s going to cost me.

This morning, finally got the nerve this morning to skim it – aka flip right to page 29 Tuition and Payment Policies – and I couldn’t believe my eyes. For a toddler (18m – 3yrs) to go to school full time (aka Matty) tuition this year will be $1,110. ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND TEN DOLLARS. FOR A TODDLER. That is more (albeit approximately $5 more) than what we paid for him to be a full time infant. For a full time infant, tuition this year will be $1,140. ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY DOLLARS. I’ll let you do the math here but even with our second child discount we’re paying over $2,000 a month in child care costs and that doesn’t even include the annual $75.00 per-child registration fee we pay. If tuition never increased again, we never moved (resulting in the kids going to a different center), we’d be paying right around ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS for the next three years – and that’s not even including what we’ve already paid! In total, we’ll probably end up paying closer to $150,000 dollars for our kids’ education and care before they even enter the public school system.

Let’s let that sink in…150 K. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. OMFG.

A few things: 1) We are in NO WAY enrolled at the most expensive child care center in Omaha 2) BUT we are in the best and 3) it is worth every single penny. 4) BUT it is fucking ridiculous that child care on the average level cost any family this much, especially when it’s a highly-known fact that our teachers get paid shit for a salary.

ARE YOU, LIKE ME, WONDERING WHERE THE FUCK IS MY MONEY GOING? Oh, the handbook tells me that: “Child care rates reflect daily costs. These charges include breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks, sunscreen and all age appropriate specials (i.e., STEM, Music, Move & Groove, Spanish, Cooking, Fine Arts). Child care charges are billed according to the schedule contracted in the Terms of and Letter of Agreement…Each year the Executive Committee reviews the tuition fees. Parents should expect a 3% to 5% increase each year to cover the costs of expenses, inflation and insurance increases.” This is the only other information I look for in the handbook because I know Seth’s first question is always, ‘Why?! For what?! GOD DAMNIT.’

Listen, I’m not telling you about the cost of my child care to brag because we’re hardly “swinging” it, actually as Seth would say, “we’re getting eaten up by the system” and we’re hardly the only ones. But, with that said, every child deserves a safe and sound place to go, every child deserves a top-of-the-line educational experience and it’s not lost on me that we’re lucky to even be able to “swing” it, but those parents who can’t give that to their children, they’re being swallowed up by the same system.

It’s an election year and this is a big fucking issue. When we talk about fostering, providing for and nurturing the next generation – this is what we need to be talking about. Equal opportunity and affordable child care. This is something your candidate, whomever that may be, should be talking about and they should talking about it seriously. Our parents and our youngest citizens alike are drowning in tuition increases and child care costs. And, on that note, the teachers our kids deserve are walking away from our classrooms and doing anything but teaching because they, too, are drowning in politics and an ungrateful system.

We all know our children are the one fraction of this population who depend on us to make safe and smart choices for them, it is our job to do the best by them and every kid should have a fair shot at a great education. Every parent should have a chance at financially building a stable future for their kids without breaking the fucking bank on a decent child care provider.

I mean, it’s not fucking rocket science. It’s planning for our children’s best future. Maybe it’s just me, but I think they deserve that.