Trust with our chil­dren not eas­ily earned

The News-Times - - OPINION - Stacy Gra­ham-Hunt is mem­ber­ship di­rec­tor at the Arts Coun­cil of Greater New Haven. She can be reached at sta­cy­gra­[email protected] Stacy Gra­ham-Hunt

This morn­ing, when I dropped my 20-month-old son, Alexan­der, at his lo­cal day care, he cried. He also cried yes­ter­day when I dropped him off, and the day be­fore that, too. For the last two weeks or so, he’s been cry­ing dur­ing his drop-off. The first few times it hap­pened, I thought, “He’s prob­a­bly just sleepy.” If he falls asleep, he’s usu­ally cranky when he wakes up from a car ride, or so I thought.

But now, there have been times when Alexan­der stayed awake on the ride to day care, and he’s still un­happy when we ar­rive. One day last week, as I was walk­ing him in, he yelled as he turned around to walk in the opposite di­rec­tion of the day care’s front door.

I hate that he doesn’t have all the words to tell me what’s wrong. I’ve only been a par­ent for a short time, and I don’t know if there’s some­thing I’m sup­posed to be pro­tect­ing him from. I think I’ve joined the club of many moms.

De­spite his cries, I walked him in any­ways, and snuck out qui­etly, feel­ing guilty that I wasn’t re­spond­ing the right way. I sat in my car for a sec­ond won­der­ing, “Am I a bad par­ent? Should I go back in and get him? Am I over­re­act­ing? Moms are of­ten la­beled as over­re­ac­tors. Or am I un­der­re­act­ing?”

I called Alexan­der’s dad and con­tin­ued my rapid-fire ques­tions aloud. “Some­thing’s not right,” I said. “What do I do? Do I find an­other day care? Does he just not like day care any­more? Do you think some­thing bad hap­pened there?”

Dad just lis­tened, which ac­tu­ally was help­ful in the mo­ment. “Maybe he just doesn’t want to leave you,” he said calmly.

I self­ishly smiled in that mo­ment, but then when Alexan­der cried dur­ing his dropoff the next morn­ing, I felt bad all over again. He’s been go­ing to this day care since Jan­uary. There were tears dur­ing the first few drop-offs, but as ex­pected, there were fewer tears as we both got the hang of our new rou­tine.

Be­fore se­lect­ing his cur­rent day care, my aunt would watch him, and he seemed to never cry when I dropped him off with her. As a mat­ter of fact, when I picked him up from her house, he would be hav­ing such a good time that I could hear him laugh­ing out­side.

He’s not laugh­ing now. I talked to the day care provider about it. She said he stops cry­ing usu­ally when he’s hav­ing his morn­ing snack and as the lessons be­gin. When I pick him up, he’s not cry­ing, but very ready to go. He greets me with a brief smile and then briskly walks me to the door with­out look­ing back.

I talked to my soror­ity sis­ter about it. She also has a tod­dler around the same age at my son. She “com­forted” me with a story about how an­other stu­dent in her daugh­ter’s class has been biting her. When her nanny picked up her daugh­ter, the day care ad­min­is­tra­tor re­quested, “Please don’t tell her mom un­til we have more details.” Thank­fully, the nanny did not oblige and told my soror­ity sis­ter right away. She’s now try­ing to piece to­gether more details of the story from the school be­cause her daugh­ter, like my son, has a lim­ited vo­cab­u­lary.

They know only a few words, mostly things that re­late to their ev­ery­day ex­pe­ri­ences, like “teeth,” “mom,” “dad” and “sleep.” My son knows a few more words in sign lan­guage, but they haven’t learned the words or signs for “Susie bit me,” or “I don’t like day care be­cause …”

I shared my day care con­cerns with an­other mom-friend, who learned from an­other par­ent that her daugh­ter, Amora, was kicked by her teacher at her pub­lic school. There’s a video record­ing, which she and her lawyer have been un­able to get ac­cess to. Be­cause of the school’s un­re­spon­sive­ness, she’s had to file a po­lice re­port and re­port the teacher to the Depart­ment of Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies. A few weeks later, she learned that Amora’s bus driver had kicked her. “The boy kicked me,” she told her mom re­peat­edly. An­other stu­dent con­firmed Amora’s re­port. The bus driver has since been fired.

Thank­fully, Amora was able to ex­press the dis­tress she was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing at school, even though her ver­bal skills were prob­a­bly un­der­es­ti­mated be­cause she has Down syn­drome. But even in Amora’s case, and in the case of my soror­ity sis­ter’s bit­ten daugh­ter, they still aren’t get­ting sat­is­fac­tory an­swers from their school providers.

How do we, as con­cerned par­ents, work with teach­ers and learn to trust them to pro­tect our chil­dren? As a newish par­ent, I’m still try­ing to fig­ure this out.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.