I Had To Break Up With Daycare

As I mentioned in my last post, we were planning on pulling Jamie out of daycare late next month to begin with but I had to do it much earlier than I’d anticipated and I’m not happy about it. Jamie has been at this center since he was 15 months old and they’ve consistently taken good care of him.  I liked the teachers and he liked going there.

Until he moved into the preschool room.

It’s been a festival of problems since he made the transition to the older room.  It seems like every time I pick him up from school there’s SOMETHING that’s gone wrong.  Over the last 10 weeks we’ve had all of the following happen:

  • They forgot to feed him. Yes, forgot. From 8 am to 4 pm he had nothing but water and they didn’t even know until I called to ream them out.
  • He’s turned up with multiple scrapes and bruises.  I expect a scraped knee here and there but one day he came home with a scraped knee, forehead, and hand while the inside of his mouth was torn to shreds.  There’s never an explanation. “We don’t know how he got hurt.  We were outside and he started crying and was all scraped up.”
  • He came home sunburnt.  Jamie is as fair as they come and I’m very careful about the sunblock situation.  I put it on him before we leave for school (as daycare requests) and they are supposed to reapply before they go outside in the afternoon.  He came home one day with his face flaming red.  They don’t know how it happened. 
  • They then claimed they did not have sunblock for him. I gave them a whole tube when he started back to school in May. That whole tube usually lasts the summer.  Where is that tube?
  • As a result of this, it’s clear they used some other kid’s sunblock on him.  How do I know? He popped with a rash.  Jamie seems to have an issue with the spray sunblock and can’t use them. I give daycare what he CAN use. Instead they used the spray on him because Jamie popped with the reaction rash.
The final straw was this past week.  I was out of town in Michigan dealing with some family things.  My mother-in-law had very graciously agreed to watch the boys while I was gone and to make sure that Jamie got back and forth to daycare.  I warned the teachers that I was going to be gone and why. I told them that my mother-in-law would be doing drop off and pick up and that she would need help with knowing where to put things and where to pick them up.  I asked them to help her out.
The first day I was gone that Jamie was in care, Jamie had an accident.  We’re still working on the potty training so it’s not a huge surprise.  The problem came in when his dirty clothes were nowhere to be found and the teachers had no idea where they were.  We still don’t have them.
On Thursday they finally hit the last straw.  First of all, they were having a water play day.  Jamie has water clothes there and crocs to wear during water play.  Rather than put him in the crocs included in his water play clothing, they left him in sneakers and let those shoes get SOPPING WET.
Then, when my mother-in-law went to pick him up he was sitting in his own poop.  The teachers were not aware of this.  He had been sitting in it long enough that it was pancaked flat to his butt and stuck to his underwear.  THEY LET HIM SIT IN HIS OWN SHIT.
Very. Last. Straw. 
I was already dealing with a fairly stressful situation and I had trusted daycare to care for him while I couldn’t.  Instead, they did nothing of the sort and I wasn’t even in the state to properly deal with it.
I called the director on Friday and told her that Jamie would not be back. I outlined all of the issues and she didn’t really have any defense (who could?).  I have to go pick up his stuff later today and we’ll never set another toenail in there.
It makes me sad because he was there for so long and he had been so happy there. But whatever is going on in the preschool room is a giant mess and Jamie is bearing the brunt of that. The next month will be hard with both kids home full time before school starts but it’s better than the treatment Jamie has been getting lately.
We did find out that we got a place for him at the preschool we wanted and we’ll be starting him there three half-days a week at the start of their school year.  I’m hoping he’ll like it.

UPDATE: When I went to pick up Jamie’s things this morning, the director told me that Jamie’s string of issues stemmed from a lack of “independence skills” and that should I put him in another daycare I should really look for a smaller environment for him. Meaning, they expect a three year old to be able to completely undress himself, put on his own swim suit, and change his shoes to get ready for water play.  They expect a child who still has not completely mastered potty training to be fully independent in the bathroom.  They expect a three year old to be independent in regards to getting his lunch out. I suspect they also think a 3 year old should be able to spread out their nap mat and put themselves to sleep at the appointed hour and to be able to tell time, too.

Are the teachers there merely to direct traffic?

I have so many issues with this I don’t even know where to begin.  First of all, that this same age, Liam did not have any of those skills. I remember my mother teaching him how to dress himself when she was here helping after Jamie was born – when Liam was FOUR YEARS OLD.  Secondly, I was never told that these skills were necessary in their pre-school environment.  Not knowing that this is what was expected, I hadn’t made an effort to teach these things to Jamie ahead of time. In fact, when they neglected to feed Jamie, I specifically said “if I need to be teaching him how to do this lunch stuff on his own, you need to tell me that now” and no one said “yes, he must know this.” Third, as far as the water play goes, it was only his second time having water play in pre-school. I could have told him 100 times before school that day that he needed to change his shoes and the teachers STILL would have needed to remind him. He didn’t know the routine and HE’S. THREE. His attention span resembles that of gnat.  Fourth, and finally, if you are going to put 3 to 5 year olds into the same pre-school room (which is fine, Liam was in that sort of environment, too) you must acknowledge that the respective skill levels of 3 year olds and 5 year old are VASTLY different.  If you are expecting a 3 year old to do all the things a 5 year old can just to survive your daycare, you are doing something very, very wrong.  Not to mention that you are tossing kids who had help with all of these things in the older toddler room over to preschool with no preparation whatsoever.

I feel badly for Jamie that it took me this long to figure it out.  It seems I am ever behind-the-eight-ball when it comes to figuring out what’s best for these guys.  Perhaps that’s just parenthood.

The Promised Good News

Scot has a new job.

As you know, he’s been working a contract position since late April.  His boss there has been happy with his work and the contract had been extended into September which was good news when we got it.  But all through his time at the contract job, Scot was continuing to apply for full time, permanent work.

A couple of weeks ago he had a phone interview for a position.  They liked him so he went in for an interview last Tuesday.  By Friday he had an offer.  Yesterday we did a little bit of horse trading with them and then Scot officially accepted the offer.  He starts the new job August 1, 2012.

The commute is something of a hike but his commute now is also a hike (the new job is just in the other direction).  We’re going to be pulling Jamie out of the daycare setting and putting him into half-day traditional preschool three days a week in September.  This is a huge money saver for us.  We’ll probably do one or two other things to help cut costs and in the end, I think it’s all going to work out.

There is not a sigh of relief large enough for all this.  I’ll let Stephen Colbert express my feelings.

Hodgepodge

It’s been a busy summer in a lot of ways and most of it hasn’t been very fun or been something I can really blog about.  But we have been doing SOME fun stuff and I wanted to share some updates.

  • Pumpkin farming continues apace.  It seems that our first few fruits did not get fertilized (a couple of them didn’t even bloom!) so we lost those pumpkins.  But over the weekend I managed to catch a female flower in full bloom and hand pollinated it myself.  We’ll see if it worked!
  • We eventually reached an impasse with Jamie’s speech therapy.  After an especially frustrating and rude (on their part) call with DART, it became clear they were really not willing to help.  We hired a private therapist to work with Jamie and he’s making progress again.  I’m really excited for him!  I also found out that if Jamie was to qualify for year round services, he would have to lose 20% of his progress during breaks and not be able to make it up during the 2-3 week summer sessions.  TWENTY PERCENT.  And if all he does is tread water, that’s perfectly fine with them.  That is not fine with me so I’m so very glad we have such a great private therapist.
  • Liam is really excelling with swim lessons this summer.  We spent a bunch of time at the pool before lessons started and he seemed to finally make the connection between his brain and the necessary coordination.  He started to actually SWIM.  Now we’re halfway through lessons and he’s doing the big water slide without getting caught at the bottom and he’s >thisclose< to going off the diving board on his own.
  • Over the 4th of July, the kids and I went up to Michigan to visit with my parents.  My Aunt and Uncle were also there from California and they got to meet the boys for the first time.  It was really good to see them. I haven’t seen them since I was very early pregnant with Jamie when I attended one of my cousin’s wedding.  We had a good time visiting with everyone.  We went to the beach one day and the kids had a really great time.  Liam swam like a fish (and saw some too!) and Jamie spent most of his time in the shallows with the sand toys – and had a grand time doing it. 
Swimmer Liam!
Playing in the sand. 
  • Our air conditioning quit on us a couple of weeks ago during the hottest week we’ve had yet this summer (of course). We’re talking heat indexes over 100 degrees.  When we had the repair guy come out we discovered that our a/c unit was THIRTY-ONE years old. Basically, it was about as old as the house itself.  Solution? Replace. The good news is that we got a good reliable unit that’s larger and more efficient that will cut our electric bills down. The bad news is that it cost several thousand dollars.  We’ve lived in this house for five years and in that time we’ve replaced the furnace, the water heater, the washer/dryer, the refrigerator, one of the garage door openers, and now the air conditioning.  All that’s left is one garage door opener, the dishwasher, and the stove.  Then we’ll have a complete new set! /sarcasm
  • I’m looking forward to making a happy announcement soon but the time is not quite right. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, enjoy Maggie.

Pumpkin Farming

Near the end of the school year, Liam came home one day with a pumpkin plant that he had started from a seed in his classroom. It came home in a plastic cup with some dirt and had two vines each with a single leaf on it.  He wanted to try and grow pumpkins.
This is not an easy proposition around here.  We don’t have much full sun and the wildlife like to eat anything and everything they can get their greedy little hooves/paws on.  But, since he wanted to try we decided to give it a whirl.
We have a spot at the end of the sidewalk up to the porch that is about as full sun as it gets around our house.  It usually stands empty all summer or spends a good deal of time collecting weeds.  Once or twice we’ve had flowers but it’s clear that I’m not the world’s best gardner so it gets ignored a lot.  Why not grow a pumpkin plant?
So that’s what we did.  I planted his little two vine plant with some miracle grow and lots of water.  We watched it sprout more leaves and then more vines, then the vines got longer and the leaves got bigger. Finally, it started producing flower buds.  All the time this was happening I was peppering the plant every time I thought of it and especially after a good rain. It kept the deer and rabbits off.
For almost 2 weeks all we had were big male flowers on the plant – gorgeous and bright orange.  I started to think it was never going to produce female flowers (and thus fruit).  But, it didn’t disappoint me and I started to see signs of budding fruit and flowers.
This week, the first female flower bloomed and we got lucky that a male flower bloomed the same day.  I hope the bees did their job, too!

Our first pumpkin after the flower bloomed.

But wait! There’s more coming!
Tiny one a-growin’!

You’ll have to forgive the weeds in this next picture. I figure the animals might munch on THOSE instead of my pumpkin so I left them alone.  When I get a chance I’ve got to go in there and try to weed it out a bit.

It’s gotten a lot bigger since we started!

With fruit beginning to develop I’ve been worried that peppering the plant just won’t cut it because it’ll be too irresistible to hungry deer.  In order to prevent that (we hope!), Liam and I went out this week and got some posts and some fencing to try and keep those greedy guts out.  I really hope it works!

Our attempt at deer deterrent.

When Liam came home with the plant I was less than enthusiastic but now I’m pretty excited about this.  If we can keep up the momentum and keep out the animals, we might just be able to say we grew our own jack o’lanterns this Halloween!