One of the scariest things about being a parent is leaving your child with anyone. Living in a home where both my husband and I work full-time, we knew it was going to be important to find an amazing daycare facility to care for our son. We are beyond blessed that my mother watches our son one day a week, but that still leaves four days, at least ten hours a day, that our son would be in someone else’s care.
When we began the task of trying to find a great facility for our son. We wanted a place that would not just be about play, but would be educational. We also wanted a place that would provide the same loving and nurturing environment that we provide at home. I made some calls, got prices and schedules. I asked pages of questions. I toured the facility, and asked even more questions of the teachers. I heard and saw all the right things, and we signed up.
We made the best choice for our son . . . or so we thought.
I will say, when he first started, things were really great. There was a wonderful lead teacher in the nursery that took Blake under her wings, and showered him with love. She would go out of her way to send extra photos over on days I traveled, and carefully followed our strict guidelines for our son’s food intake.
As he got a little older, we had our first incident. My son was hurt by another child at school and left with a visible bruise. I talked to the teachers, director, and owner and was assured that the issue would be addressed.
That’s when things started to unravel. On a record hot day in the summer, the air conditioner was broken, yet parents were not informed. Our son was beat-red and exhausted when I picked him up. I also noticed that quite frequently, there were new teachers in his room. So much of a revolving door, I couldn’t even keep up on their names.
Then it happened again, my son was hurt again by another child. This time, the school tried to blame my child for harming himself (hard for a child with only two teeth to give themselves a tooth-filled bruise). Frustrated, I met again with the owner and director and was told it was being addressed. I heard the same things over and over “it’s age appropriate but not socially acceptable” or “if you think it’s bad to have your child hurt, think of how it feels to be the parents of the other kid.”
As a true Mama Bear, I wanted to scream, yell, flip something over. But I knew that wouldn’t get me anywhere. I maintained my composure, expressed my concerns, and told them that we wouldn’t stand for this. Then it happened again. And again. And again.
Enough was enough. I rushed out of work to get to my son on the day of the last incident. I walked right into the owner’s office and I let them know how utterly disgusted I was with how they run their business. I told them that we were done, would never be back, and would let our friends know that this is not a safe and nurturing environment. I also let them know I would calling their parent company to inform them of the situation (something I wish I had done sooner).
I remember looking back on my son in the rear view mirror as we left that day. He had a bite on his arm and his nose as well as scratches down his face and what looked to be a forming bruise around his eyes. His eyes were filled with tears, and he was beside himself. And I’ve never cried harder.
How could I have let my son down? How could I have let it get to this point?
We began looking for a new school immediately. This time, things were different. I did a lot more homework. I looked for referrals and checked online reviews on several sites. I talked to the director, owner, and visited with teachers in several rooms. I read through the school handbook and came back with additional questions. We were so lucky to have the support of our mothers and a close family friend to allow us several weeks of care to ensure we found the right school.
I am happy to share that we are now at a school that has far exceeded our expectations. Our son is excelling beyond his age range, and is learning something new daily. He loves going to school so much he sometimes forgets to say goodbye and asks what his teachers are doing on days off.
My biggest piece of advice: Trust your gut and listen to your child’s behavior! If something feels off, say something, ask questions, don’t let it go, and take action!