Life is starting to settle down and equalize. And that's all I have ever wanted out of this body, my family, and our tiny little place in this overwhelming world. A balance of hard work and giggles, of meetings with clients and close encounters with squirrels, bird surveys for work and bird watching at home, writing technical documents and drawing with chalk. Just sweet, simple balance.
But that has not always been the case.
But that has not always been the case.
Over the last few months, Ryan had been working insane hours just to keep up a new position. So I was doing the brunt of the Acorn-logistics while having to leave early from work to avoid long commutes and then putting in extra time in on the laptop after putting her down in the evenings. Not easy. Plus, I was increasingly getting anxious every time I picked her up from the new day care I put her in back in January. I stupidly assumed that if it's within the same local chain of schools, it would be the same quality, correct? WRONG!
I would notice minor issues that, at first, I just brushed off and made excuses--"oh, she's new there, she needs to adjust," "that's funny, huh," "I'll say something to the teacher, yeah, that's it." But they kept mounting, minor by minor issue. When on their own these disregardances are not a big deal, but collectively, they had built a pattern of neglect so clear that within only a month of Acorn attending I was anxiety-ridden, wondering what carelessness I would discover on Acorn's face next.
Mind you, I am not one who typically confronts people--it has to be pretty major for me to say anything. I probably took way more time than any typical parent to say something, but then again, so many parents keep dropping their kids off there, so am I the psycho soccer mom? All I know is that it was huge for me to gather the courage to send this email. HUGE. I became a mama bear. And I'm okay with curling a little lip to show a canine or two when needed. Too harsh? Maybe. Overreacting? Could be. But damn, it felt good to protect my cub. Rawr.
Dear [School Director]:
I am [Acorn's] mother and I wanted to email you first to gather my thoughts and then follow up with you in person. I have several concerns that I would like to address with you about the staff in the [toddler] room. I am not normally someone that overreacts—I am a laid-back mom who understands that kids are kids. If I have a concern I try to work with the teachers first and know that there is a period of adjustment. But I am increasingly becoming concerned and anxious every time I pick up my child for fear that some basic need is not being met. And so I thought I should finally inform you.
Instead of coming home with art work and being met each day by a teacher with full updates like at the [other location], she’s coming home with the following:
(1) Bites that go unnoticed/undocumented; I understand that toddlers bite, get injured, etc. But when I find a significant bite that I know she reacted to (i.e., screamed) and I was not informed, this indicates that either (A) it was witnessed and not documented, or (B) it was not witnessed. Either one is extremely concerning to me. I did get a notification of the next bite on Nina’s forehead, so reporting appears to have improved, though the biting has not.
(2) Severe diaper rash when my kid does not have sensitive skin and not fully wiped away poop. I addressed this with the teachers and I can see that they are trying to proactively prevent this from happening. However, I feel I have to remind them every day to use ointment and now sensitive wipes because when I don’t mention it, a rash starts to form. This is a basic need that should easily have been met and it indicates to me that (A) they’re wiping too aggressively, or (B) they’re not changing the diaper as frequently as they need to be. Either rationale needs to be addressed with staff.
(3) No visual confirmation from a teacher that a child was picked up by her parent. Yesterday, I watched as my child was not being supervised at 5:30PM. The teacher was holding an infant with her back to the toddlers, talking to another parent, while the door was open. I waited a minute or two to check in with the teacher to get an update and finally left, but with a sinking feeling of dread that anyone could have easily come in behind a parent and taken a child.
(1) Apple sauce matted in her hair and face after school. It’s not that big of a deal to address this and I wouldn’t have even mentioned it but for the repetitive nature of such minor oversight. These continuing instances make me question whether she’s being adequately cared for, because a simple wipe of a wash cloth would have kept her reasonably clean (no need to be pristine, but just not noticeably dirty). I didn’t even think I would be questioning something like this.
(2) Snotty nose streaks that haven’t been wiped. I understand that kids are snotty and you can’t run after every little drop, but when it looks like it’s been layered several times over it appears that my child is not being attended to.
These concerns appear to point to a staffing problem, whether it’s a quality or quantity issue (i.e., high student to teacher ratio), and a quality control problem from management. I respectfully would like to speak with you either this afternoon or tomorrow morning to discuss these issues and your action plan to resolve them.
[A Bristling Mama Bear]
[A Bristling Mama Bear]
I saw improvement after the email, but it was definitely time to go. And things work out for a reason. Like I said, sweet simple balance is all I ever wanted. And we're getting there.
Acorn started her new school in our neighborhood at the beginning of March and I finally feel like my life is starting to get back in order. I feel that she is blossoming there with wonderful care and friendly interactions. Plus, our commute is much shorter, and with that we have more time in the mornings and afternoons to play together and are all-over a much happier clan. I feel I can dedicate the level of effort needed for my job while still having more time at home with her in the afternoons. Ryan is started to get a handle on his new position too, so he's not working as many 16 hour days, which is so so needed--not ideal, but better. Plus, they send me pictures every day! Her first day there, they sent me this one...