Caleb Plamondon can shoot a ball in the air with a hockey stick and he’s almost mastered ice skating without falling.
At three years old, he has learned all these skills at Garderie SPORTPLUS, the $35-per-day daycare in Vaudreuil-Dorion, near Hudson he has been attending since August.
It’s the fifth daycare he has enrolled in, and according to his mother, Laura Montreuil, who moved to Hudson last January from Hamilton, Ontario, it is the best one by far.
But Caleb may have to get used to a new daycare, because he is Garderie SPORTPLUS’s only child. Mark Bartlett, who owns and runs the daycare from his house gave Montreuil notice last week that he’ll close within a month if he doesn’t get more customers.
“If he closes down, I’ll be heartbroken,” said Montreuil, a financial adviser who works in Vaudreuil-Dorion. “I’m going to quit my job and stay home because I know I can’t find another daycare that compares.”
Montreuil said she was very picky when she chose this daycare because Caleb has had negative experiences. At the first daycare he attended in Hamilton, he was neglected and kept in a diaper all day, Montreuil said. He would routinely come home with a diaper rash so bad that it started to bleed.
The most recent daycare he attended was in Pierrefonds, and Montreuil said although the women who ran it were very nice, Caleb would cry every time he was dropped off because he had separation anxiety.
When Montreuil finally found a daycare close to her home that seemed good, she checked out Bartlett’s references thoroughly. When she received glowing reports, she enrolled Caleb.
She said Bartlett, a local hockey and ringette coach, goes above and beyond what’s expected of a daycare. His basement has an enclosed area to play floor hockey, he built a park in his backyard, and an outdoor court to play sports. In the winter, he plans to build an outdoor rink, but in the meantime, he takes Caleb skating indoors twice per week. Bartlett said he invested $15,000 in his home to equip it for daycare.
Montreuil said she has noticed a big difference in Caleb.
“He’s a high-energy kid, but he’s calmed down a lot, and he has learned to direct his energy better,” she said, adding that Caleb’s separation anxiety appears to have subsided, because he loves going to daycare, and asks to stay longer at the end of the day. She said he has even agreed to be watched by Montreuil’s parents for a night, when before he would have tantrums if his parents left.
Bartlett said he advertised his daycare with flyers around the area, and he has registered at magarderie.com, but he has received few calls, but even fewer visits to the daycare. He said he believes his gender may be a reason why people don’t want to enrol their children. The fact he only takes kids starting at 18 months could also be a factor, Bartlett said.
He admits it’s not traditional to see a man running a daycare, but he’d like people to give him a chance.
“I’m a little disappointed,” he said. “I think people should come by to visit and see what I’m all about.”
As the father of one girl and two young boys, he said he doesn’t know how he would have felt sending them to a daycare run by a man.
“I can’t be hypocritical and say I wouldn’t have thought the same thing, but I’m hoping to get more people like Laura with an open mind. I think it’s ingrained in people, and they don’t even think of sending their kids to a man.”
Montreuil has been spreading word about the daycare through Facebook, and among her own contacts. Bartlett said her work has yielded one call for a part-time enrolment.
Bartlett, who started his daycare business after being laid off from the paper company Domtar, said if he has to close, he’ll be disappointed, because he loves working with children.
“This is something I really wanted to do,” he said. “But if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just go back on the job market. I’m sure I’ll have no trouble finding a job.”