Thursday, September 16, 2010

What Would YOU Do?

So I am having a really rough time trying to figure out what to do about this whole daycare situation for my daughter. I need some Internet assvice. Let me try and explain to you guys what has been going on. You know that she was bit by another kid at daycare quite a while ago. And then as a result of that ongoing issue, SHE started biting. I worked really hard at home and nipped that in the bud, so she is no longer biting. But then she came home at the beginning of this week with a NASTY bite on her arm and no one even bothered to tell me about it (my mom picked her up that day and I noticed it as soon as she walked in the door, but apparently no one else saw it). In addition to the biting thing there have been other issues regarding the number of kids and the care they are receiving that have made me take notice. In order to try and make it really clear I am going to do a basic "pro versus con" list.

First and foremost, my daughter loves it there. She has been going to this daycare since she was three months old. When I drop her off in the morning she literally leaps out of my arms into the caregivers arms and starts to wave bye bye. And when I come to pick her up she is dancing around with all the other kids, smiling from ear to ear, clearly having a blast. A lot of times she will cry when I force her to leave. She loves it there. And lately, she has been walking around to each and every kid saying "Bye Bye ________ (their name)" before she leave. And there are like 12 kids so this takes a while. But she clearly loves her friends. She is SO happy there. I can't stress that enough. Even though she has been bitten there is never any unhappiness or crankiness about being there. She loves it. Also one thing to keep in mind is that hopefully when she is two (7 months from now), if I can get her potty trained, she will be going where her brother is now, which I LOVE. And because of that, I think it is helpful that there are lots of kids where she is now. It will make the transition to a huge school like her brother's less scary. Another "pro" is that the two caregivers that take primary care of her love her dearly. I have no doubt about that. I talk with them directly about the issues I have hit upon and they are always responsive and lovely. And they talk about how special my daughter is to them and by the way they care for her, I know they love her dearly. She doesn't go to daycare on Fridays and both of them constantly tell me how much they miss her on Fridays because she is like their little ray of sunshine during the days. They also both get one on one time with her everyday (her nap schedule is different than the other kids) and they talk about what they do during this time and how much they treasure it. I know for a fact that if I pull her from this daycare they will be heart broken. And for that matter, so will my daughter.

There are just too many kids. The two women who watch the kids during the day (there is also a director who comes and spends a good portion of the late morning and early afternoon with them) are over worked. They have their hands full. And because of all sorts of "regulations" they are not allowed to deal with situations like they would like. Take the biting issue for example. The director wanted them to simply put their fingers over their mouth while shaking their head no to try and convey that biting is bad. They weren't allowed to raise their voices (not necessarily yell, but just use a different tone to their voice to show disapproval) to the kids, or separate them at all after they had bitten. In my opinion, this is no way to teach toddlers not to do something. So while they would like to deal with the problem in one way, they are limited. The other "con" is that since the director has taken on more children she has started feeding them cheaper, and therefore not as healthy, food. I am not okay with this. I understand that since she has more kids and they provide the food that they need to cut costs. But I personally bring my daughter breakfast everyday (they give the kids Lo.ops!! Can you even imagine?!?!?!), and also the afternoon snack of yogurt because sometimes their afternoon snacks are bagels and cream cheese, or even worse one time they served glazed donuts! And on someone's birthday they got waffles with ice cream. She also coats everything with butter and salt so the kids eat it better, and I am not a fan of that concept and certainly don't do that at home. So I am not thrilled with the food. And finally...this issue has gotten better lately, but since there are so many kids, my daughter's diaper isn't getting changed as often and usually her bum is a little red when I pick her up. I slather her with Aquaphor as soon as she gets home and this usually keeps things cool. And since I have her Friday through Sunday by the end of the weekend her bum is fine, but by Thursday afternoon, it is usually on the red side again. They tell me it's partially because I use those "earthy" diapers that don't "work as well" as the other ones, but I have no problem with her having any issues when she is home with me over the weekend. So it isn't the diapers. It is the amount they are changed.

In defense of the director, I have talked extensively to her about my issues. And she IS dealing with them. Not so much the food or the diaper stuff but she IS dealing with the biting. Of the two other kids that have been biting, one of them has already been "put on suspension" and wasn't allowed to come to daycare for 7 days and was only allowed to return on the agreement that she would no longer be biting and so far she hasn't. The other little boy was told the same thing the day my daughter got the bite that no one noticed. His mom was told the next day that the next time they see him bite he goes on suspension for 7 days and can only return when the issue is resolved. So she IS dealing with it. And I understand that this stuff happens. I really do. And I am NOT that mom that thinks that her daughter is perfect and that she never does anything wrong and all these other kids are horrible. But I am also aware that for the past several months I have not been feeling great about the care she is getting. Be it the food she has been fed, or the biting, or the diaper issue. And I can't ignore that either.

I got a great referral from a friend I really trust about another daycare center close to me and I called them and it sounds great. The woman was really nice on the phone and it is small. Two other kids full time; one is 14 months old (perfect for The Girl) and then a baby. Then there are other kids who come two afternoon a week (two each on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons), so it is much smaller than what we have now, which I like. And it is cheaper. But I picture my daughter's face dropping her off at a place that she has never been before and I cry. I think of telling the two caregivers who have taken care of her since she was 3 months old and love her dearly that she is leaving and I cry again. I really don't know what to do. Please help. All your advice is welcome. Do I leave her where she is for the next 7 months and hope to transition her to her brother's school, or is what I have been dealing with just too much? Should I move her to the new place and hope for the best? I am at a loss. I mean, seriously...look at that face!


Guinevere said...

So, on the biting thing: I fully agree that it's ideal if the biting situation is handled consistently EVERY SINGLE TIME it comes up in a child's life, but I think that's just not possible when you have daycare and a few caregivers caring for many children, each of whom have parents with different discipline scenarios.

In our house we have a kid who has always been very keen on biting. We do a "OW, no biting!" said very sternly, and then swiftly deposit our kid on the floor and ignore him for a few moments, sort of like a micro-time out. But I could see how doing something like this could easily feel wrong/abusive to another parent, particularly if it's another person who is not you doing it to your kid. So, I get why the daycare is erring on the side of being less heavy on the discipline one on one with the kids, but it does seem like the problem and consequences are being conveyed to the parents of the biters.

Learning the ins and outs of social behavior (including stuff like sharing along with not being physically hurtful, all of which ultimately involves empathy) is just such a major work in progress during this developmental stage. But that is outweighed by the positives that kids get from interacting with other kids.

The butt rash - there is a lot of variation in how much you need to change different diapers. Cloth prefolds really need to be changed right away, some gel disposables can go for an insane amount of time. Is your daughter actually in pain or discomfort, or is her butt just red? If the situation has been improving, I wouldn't make that a dealbreaker.

Anyway, your daycare does not sound like Lord of the Flies to me. :) Your daughter loving it to me is a pretty good testimonial of the fact that it's overall a positive experience. In your place, I would continue to pack food either in replacement of snacks you don't at all want your daughter to have (e.g. super sugary cereal, donuts) or in supplementation of what could be a part of a healthy snack (e.g. the bagel and cream cheese, which in our house makes a fine snack when paired with fruit and veggies and maybe a protein).

Also, I'd buy the daycare a copy of "Teeth Are Not For Biting" with the strong recommendation that it be included in the storytime rotation on a regular basis.

HOWEVER, I think you should also not discount your emotional feelings. I think listening to your gut feeling is important - more so than what my gut feeling is. And if you are not feeling positive about the care your daughter is experiencing, you should listen to that feeling... and not feel bad about the feelings of your daughter's caregivers in the matter.

Guinevere said...

I should emphasize that our kid's biting came with the fact that likes has always liked to bite down EVERYTHING since he was very very wee - blankets, toys, food, utensils, table edges, etc. We've been pretty successful in trying to get him to understand that people and pets are NOT okay to bite. It can still flare up when he's teething and he gets really excited about cuddling... but we've never seen it done maliciously. It's more like "cuddle, cuddle, kiss, put mouth on arm... danger zone!"

To date he has not bitten anyone other than his parents or the cat... but if someone else caught him doing so I would want them to be very clear in establishing that is NOT okay. Because I DO NOT WANT MY KID TO BITE OTHERS.

But "Teeth Are Not For Biting" is good! We read it aaaall the time.

AuntFancy said...

Here's my two cents. I think move her. I know you want nothing more than to make your little girl happy, but sometimes being a mom means making a tough decision as to what you know to be best for her, rather than keeping her happy. (That didn't sound quite right, but I think you know what I mean.) I know she'd miss her friends and her care providers, and they would miss her. But what's really best for her? A daycare where she gets loving care, the kind of food you want her to eat, a clean diaper when she needs it and NO biting! Bonus if those things save you a little money too.

Just from what you posted, it sounds to me like she'd be better off in a new daycare. As you know, I'm not a parent, so take it for what it's worth. ;)

oneofhismoms said...

I think she will adjust quickly to a new place. The present place is bothering you more than the bites seem to borrow the baby. I would discuss your issues with your friend who suggested the new place, and try to find out about the food they serve and everything you can before making the switch. I haven't love love LOVED my sons' daycare all of the time. But I never had a cheaper, closer alternative, or I may have tried it. (I also don't hate it.)

oneofhismoms said...

I think she will adjust quickly to a new place. The present place is bothering you more than the bites seem to borrow the baby. I would discuss your issues with your friend who suggested the new place, and try to find out about the food they serve and everything you can before making the switch. I haven't love love LOVED my sons' daycare all of the time. But I never had a cheaper, closer alternative, or I may have tried it. (I also don't hate it.)

Laraf123 said...

I was in a similar situation. My son loved his in home daycare. It was super close to work. But there were too many kids. The food was cheap and full of preservatives and sugar. But the woman was kind hearted and knew kids. Henry loved it there. Still I kept seeing (and ignoring) red flags. The first day I dropped off H's baby brother, something happened that could not be ignored and I quit going then and there. It was awful. She had had a hand in raising my older son for his first two years on this planet. She spent more time with him than anyone else but me. Yet I had to leave. I just couldn't be nice anymore--the stakes were too high.
I actually wasn't going to comment on this post because it is such a personal decision for your family. But I did want you to know that I know how difficult this decision is.