"Hi, Nathaniel's Mom!" Day Care Drama

Originally posted on Inward Facing Girl.

Christmas Pirate

So, yesterday afternoon when I picked Nathaniel up from day care, I had a meltdown.

I should start this story by saying that we LOVE our day care, and except for the experience I had yesterday, we've been happy with it ever since Nathaniel started going at the (too) early age of two months. And he absolutely LOVES it. Sometimes he doesn't want to leave.

As usual, I walked in to pick Nathaniel up and the kids were sitting down for their late afternoon snack. Snack time is very cute, by the way. A handful of little 1+ year-olds sitting around a tiny table in tiny chairs eating pieces of kiwi or crackers or apples, etc., and chatting with each other. So CUTE.

The first thing that sucked is that I saw two people I'd never seen before in charge of the kids. There was one other woman in the room who is in there relatively often, so at least that was somewhat comforting, but neither of Nathaniel's two primary teachers were there. There have been a few times lately that I've picked him up in the afternoon when neither teacher was there, but it wasn't that big of a deal then because at least one of the "regular" floaters who is very familiar with the kids and their needs was there.

I just a got a weird vibe when I sat down with Nathaniel yesterday. Neither of the two floaters really talked to me or told me anything about Nathaniel's day. One of them didn't really seem to know what was going on at all. Granted, he's new, and it was his first time in their room, but a mother doesn't want to hear, "I don't really know how this room works" when she picks up her kid.

Then, there was this young woman who had no effing clue about how to handle children under two. I think I'll show you what happened in screenplay format. In this scenario "Clueless" is the young woman and "Adorable Child" is the victim.

Clueless: "Are you finished with your snack, Adorable Child?"

Adorable Child plays with banana slices silently. Tries to get out of chair, then goes back to banana again.

Clueless: "Are you all done? If you get up from the table, you can't come back." Note: What is this, Mommie Dearest snack time?

Adorable child pokes at banana slices.

Clueless: "I'll take that as a yes." Clueless picks up Adorable Child and takes her to wash her hands. Clueless puts Adorable Child down and Adorable Child attempts to get back into her chair at the table with the rest of her pals.

Clueless: "No, you said you were done. You can't go back to the table." Clueless puts Adorable Child's chair away. Adorable Child begins to scream. Clueless picks her up and tries to "comfort" her.

I was appalled.

Before I left I stopped by the office to try to find out what is going on in their classroom. I let one of the directors know that I was upset to find two people I'd never seen before taking care of my child, with neither of his teachers, or even his regular floater in the room. I told her that kids this age need more stability than what I'd been seeing recently. I held back the tears but couldn't cover the shakiness in my voice or stop myself from using the word "sucks." The director was extremely apologetic, admitted that late afternoon scheduling wasn't going as smoothly as they'd like these days, and assured me that it will be taken care of. She also let me know that today was an especially off day because one of Nathaniel's teachers and his regular floater was out sick.

While that explanation made me feel somewhat better, I didn't tell her what was bothering me most, and what led me into her office that day - that I was disturbed by the way Clueless treated Adorable Child at snack time and that I didn't ever want her taking care of my son. Nathaniel and I were in the parking lot when I was overcome with the feeling that I HAD to go back into that office and tell the director what I saw and exactly how I felt about it. So, I did. And that's when I had my crying meltdown, and felt silly and justified at the same time.

Luckily, the director also happens to be the mother of a baby younger than Nathaniel who also attends our day care. She was thankful that I came back to tell her what happened, assured me that they would be speaking with Clueless and letting her know that what she did is not acceptable, and indicated that going forward Clueless may only be assigned to work with older children who have the mental capabilities of understanding the type of logic she tried to use on Adorable Child. Note: Clueless isn't a full-time employee. She only works there during the summer and on holiday breaks from college.

I was "happy" to see that the director seemed as disturbed by Clueless's snack style as I was. She even went further than I did, by referring to wanting to avoid starting any type of "food issues" with kids. It felt good to get some external validation that I wasn't just being a crazy overprotective mother, and I truly appreciated that she encouraged me to always speak up if something didn't feel right when it comes to my son.

Do any of you moms have similar stories you can share with me? After this experience, I feel like it's my turn to encourage you. When you're paying over $1500 a month for your child to be taken care of while you're working, remember that you have every right to expect more than just acceptable. And I really hope that all of you who find yourself in similar situations go and demand it. xoxo

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