Elvaton Day Nursery

Today, after 41 years, my family business closed its doors.

My grandmother started a day care center in 1966, long before day care centers were on every corner. She left the plastics plant where she'd been working and began to take children into her home, using the living room and dining room as the play area. Over the years, it expanded: an entire wing of the building was added to make extra rooms for more children, until the day care could accommodate 60 kids. My mother, working there from age 14 to the present, went from cooking and cleaning to teaching to directing and finally owning the business. My sister and I both worked there for years; as soon as we were able to dust and scrub toilets, we got pocket money for helping. Both of us eventually completed our Maryland early-childhood certification and at different times were on full-time staff.

However, day care has become increasingly more popular over the years, and the business has become far more competitive. Maryland's public education is available for younger children now, forcing our enrollment lower. Many other factors encouraged the final decision to close the business.

It's a loss in many ways. My mother has never worked a job anywhere else, and at the age of 50-something, is starting over. My sister lost a job where she could bring her fourteen-month old with her every day. Employees who were more like family are also job-hunting, so it's not easy to say goodbye.

But it's also a huge, exciting opportunity. The building and the property have potential for future endeavors, and God willing, it will stay in our family for generations to come. It just won't be a day care center anymore.

Many of my formative memories were on the playground or in the playrooms. I made a lot of friends and at least one enemy--a vindictive (psycho) mother who I literally feared would torch the place during the night. But mostly, I remember the sweet laughter of childhood, and I hope that all the children who passed through our doors from 1966 to 2007 cherish that same memory.
Ariel Rainey