Here’s a holiday that we–and, I suspect, most Americans–just plain missed this year. It’s National Provider Appreciation Day, when you’re supposed to take the person who takes care of your children out to lunch. That would be you, you say–so phone up the hubster and gin up the reservation at Chez Francois. Not on your life. In the world of Provider Appreciation, “the person who takes care of your children” means the employees at your local day-care center.

National Provider Appreciation Day was established in 1996 (Clinton administration, natch!), and it’s supposed to take place on the Friday before Mother’s Day. It hasn’t quite caught on, however, mostly because, although working moms and dads can get attached to their children’s nannies and church nursery schools, they can’t work up much enthusiasm for the high-turnover drones at the institutional day-care centers that the Provider Appreciation establishment just loves and lobbies endlessly for the federal government to subsidize. But for anyone out there who’d like to treat a Provider to, say, a cute greeting card or a free spa blowout, tomorrow’s the Friday before Father’s Day, and it’s not too late.

I’m sympathetic toward the millions of American mothers who have to work outside the home, often because they don’t have husbands. For those who can’t afford or can’t find a more personal option, such as a relative or a nanny or a neighbor, institutional day-care at least keeps the kids safe (most of the time)–although I cringe when I see those little herds of toddlers on city streets yoked together like dog-sled teams on their nursery-school outings. But I’m completely opposed to the “early childhood profession,” as it calls itself, and its tireless lobbying for “universal preschool,” a euphemism for government-funded nurseries for children as young as 3. I want to see our nation’s education dollars spent on real education–reading, math, and so forth–for kids old enough to benefit from it. And I believe that the best practitioners of the “early childhood profession” are moms.

My alert to Provider Appreciation Day and its surrounding hoo-hah comes from Daycares Don’t Care. The site includes an amusing Daycare Dictionary of provider-speak concerning one’s child, in which “acts out” means “misbehaving,” and learning to interact with “multiple caregivers” means “Daycare has high employee turnover.”