Babbling at the keys
We were lucky with the three daycare centers Da Kid went to. Well, maybe not just lucky because working within the health department, I was located in the same building as the daycare inspectors. The code-speak was simple: if they liked a particular facility they'd say exactly why. If they really liked one they'd rave about it. On the other hand if there were any problems, even the tiniest violation that had been corrected long ago, their response was completely different. They couldn't give any information over the telephone. Since their inspection reports are open to the public, callers were advised that they were more than welcome to review the facility's file.
Da Kid was at small and homey "Miss Ann's" until he reached their four-year-old age limit. Miss Ann and Miss Nancy recommended another daycare (for older children) highly; the daycare inspector raved about it. Two years later we moved out here and wonder of wonders, one of the only two daycare centers the inspector raved about was at the church right next to our house.
It was a good choice but things didn't always go smoothly. Looking at the news, I remember one series of incidents in particular.
The Church has always been a welcoming place. Everyone is welcome and that included the children in its daycare. Da Kid had become friendly with another boy about his age. The boy's older and much larger brother was also enrolled, not that we knew that much about them at first except to exchange waves with their mother in the parking lot.
Da Kid's always been active so Hubby and I didn't think too much about the small bruises on him at first. Kids go bump. But the bruises starting becoming bigger, and then came the bite mark.
Da Kid told us his friend was picking on him when nobody was looking. He'd gone to the Church Ladies but since they hadn't seen anything, it was Da Kid's word against the other kid's.
The next morning I had a talk with the Daycare Director. The bruises were bad enough, but look at the bite at his arm! Everything would be fine I was assured. The Church Ladies would keep an extra eye out.
And everything was fine for a few days. A couple afternoons later, though, Da Kid was again bruised, with a new bite mark. This one on his back and it was worse than the one on his arm.
Back I went into the Director's office, this time with Da Kid although he didn't want to go.
It became one of those moments all parents, I'm sure, are familiar with. When you hear your own words come out of the mouth of your offspring and you realize you've really screwed up.
It wasn't just the younger brother who'd been hurting Da Kid. His older brother, who was close to my size, was involved, too. They'd wait until no one was paying attention and then the bigger one would hold Da Kid while the smaller one took his shots. All the shots he wanted. It was the older brother who'd chomped on Da Kid's back, too, while holding him for his brother to hit.
Da Kid couldn't get away. There was nothing he could do. So stood there and took it.
"Didn't you even try to fight back," I asked is disbelief.
"Mommy. You and Daddy told me not to fight."
Hubby and I had a long talk with Da Kid that night. The next afternoon when I pulled into the church parking lot, the first thing — and the only thing I saw at first — was Da Kid and the older brother slugging it out. By the time I parked and got out of my car, the big one was doubled over and backing off. The younger brother was getting up from the ground and also backing away.
The Church Ladies, the pastor and the Director suddenly appeared seemingly out of thin air, running to break up a fight that was already over.
The Church advised the brothers's screaming mother that afternoon that effective immediately, her sons were no longer welcome. And Da Kid got a one-day blue slip for fighting. In other words, he wouldn't be allowed in daycare the next day. It wasn't just for fighting, though. It was also for . . . I guess now-a-days some might refer to it as disproportionate force.
Hubby pulled in just in time to go with me as I took Da Kid and his blue slip into the Director's office, so that we could tell them together what we'd told Da Kid the night before:
We really didn't mean never fight, we'd told him. What we did mean was don't start one. Walk away if you can. But if there's no way you can and you have to fight, make sure you're the one who finishes it.