Straight ‘outa Daycare

Well guys, this month is one for the books. We can always predict major stress is around the corner when we have a water leak in the house, which apparently happens a lot when I look at the past five years! So what did this past week bring?

Stress…

over the past month, managing the day to day uncertainty of your daycare being unaccommodating and disagreeable and continually asking yourself if current choices are really the best thing for your kiddos.

Stress….

the not knowing where your kids will go on short notice and being told “you can find somewhere else that let’s them do whatever they want,” which is obviously not the case and not doable under current conditions with THREE.

Stress…

just knowing the impending tasks to complete at your day job and not knowing how much or how long you’ll be able to juggling everything at once (again!) and still keep everything afloat.

STRESS.

The past month was a roller coaster of emotion for Craig and I as we struggled through and tried to overcome challenges continually thrown in our direction from the girls’ daycare. It was a month of uncertainty and stress and nothing to do with COVID! In general I believe we are both decent at handling difficult situations and keeping our heads up; I mean clearly we are still hanging in there each and every day with triplet toddlers.

For those of you that haven’t put a kid in daycare during our lovely pandemic, some of the everyday rules make the experience very difficult for parents. For example, parents cannot step foot into the facility and must do drop off and pick up at the front door. Kiddos get temperature checks every morning and have to be under 100 to go through the door; anytime someone has a fever they have to go home and stay home until it’s clear for 24 hours or they have a negative COVID test. Teachers in different classes keep their interactions to a minimum or have to extensively wash hands, rooms, and anything they are in contact with. Kids in different classrooms must stay separated and age three and up have to wear masks all day. The world has changed a lot in the last ten months. It is hard to not be able to look into your children’s classroom and see their interactions while they don’t see you watching, or pick them up with a smile to the helper that day (yay masks…). No daily reports unless it’s bad or an an injury means you don’t often hear what fun happened each day. We all know it happens but two-year-olds aren’t great at explaining that yet!

As you may have guessed, the daycare issues I alluded to in my last blog are a reality I’m now ready to share with you all, with the director deciding to give our family the boot long before we actually sat down and spoke with her the other day. Apparently our girls are “so smart but they refuse to take direction or correction” and that this behavior continues to escalate without them able to handle it. Extensive conversations muttered at us the past month about parenting style, how kids are supposed to behave and how having three shouldn’t factor into how we raise them, as if that is even remotely reasonable.

Going into our meeting last Friday, we assumed the worst and easily met that expectation. After more than 90 minutes of discussion on our concerns and suggestions to improve all their complaints about our kids behavior, we finally received an answer that we are not welcome to continue at their school going forward after flat out asking it twice. Why, you ask? Well…that’s where this gets a lot more interesting.

Beginning and end of this blip in our story

I am the first person to admit our kids are not perfect angels; we aren’t under any qualms that they always obey the first time they are told to do something, or that they sit quietly and eat their food every meal or take a nap each day. We understand challenges are a part of raising children, especially young toddlers, and with that comes learning how to overcome those obstacles and nurture and grow. We recognize good days should be celebrated and bad days muddled through with thick skin. According to the daycare, almost every day since Christmas was more bad than good. We started dreading hearing the complaints each afternoon at pickup, setting an unwelcomed mood each day for us. Dreading to the point that the stress builds so much throughout the day until you are so exhausted from it by the evening and you just want to do anything but think about it.

Our second to last day one of the teachers made us stand outside (Covid rules) at the entrance and wait for almost 30 minutes before they brought OUR kids to us, and wouldn’t let us leave until she read the latest behavior report word for word while the girls ran for the car. That should have been the indication how this would all play out the following day.

So what other things do you mean by “bad behavior,” you ask? Our opinion on this is vastly different than daycare leadership, but pretty similar to every parent I’ve spoken to about it the past few weeks. I see a bad day as a no-nap day (usually worse for the adult than the kid haha), or a multiple tantrums afternoon with kids super wound up and requiring constant time-outs and discipline. The daycare? Well the reports we’ve received the past several weeks, which started with Harper, shifted to her and Reagan, and every once in a while Emerie, are on things like throwing their boots in the snow and refusing to put them back on, eating the snow and smiling deviously when told to stop while continuing to do it, standing on their chair at lunch time or irritating a sister while eating, and running around and being disruptive at nap time. All challenges? Sure. Typical toddler behavior?! Yes. Worthy of losing daycare over? Not a chance.

While the average person might think this is pretty normal at their age, the daycare’s set of two-year-old standards appears off the chart, entirely lacking the fact young children are learning to handle their emotion in a tough world environment, with adults required to mask up all day and not being able to interact like normal. Throw in the fact that it is still the dark, dead of winter a wha-la…you have grumpy kids. But God forbid, you know, my kid would throw their shoes off in the snow.

We received five behavior reports on what turned out to be our final day…one of which noted another kid biting Reagan and her running around sticking her finger in other kiddos mouths and encouraging it. She didn’t bite anyone and yet SHE received the behavior, not injury, report. We were told later this was just for our awareness, but the page clearly noted behavior and indicated an issue, not an injury. Red flag right?

The other four write ups stemmed from right after lunch time through nap time, about three hours total. During this time the girls refused to settle for nap, with Harper getting Reagan all riled up and then trying to get Emerie to join in. According to the report, multiple teachers were called to help and loud noises could be heard down the hall; they also refused to stop after direction on multiple occasions. So sure, I agree this event falls into the bad day category, but why wouldn’t you call the parents?! Four incident reports, which are clearly ALL from the same extended time, means this could have easily been avoided if we were called to 1) try to talk to Harper and Reagan about obedience, or 2) pick one or both up for the day and remove them from the bad situation for everyone else’s sake, or 3) have a helper remove said disrupter from the room to calm down and reset the attitude. We were told during the meeting that there is no separate space for a kid to go to settle down because of COVID; another thing I think is BS because many kids need a safe space, even if it’s ten feet away from classmates, to settle down! Some just need space to process and overcome their emotions and that is okay! Of course none of these things occurred; clearly they were trying to add another reason to send us away for good.

I have other examples of these types of things…after other days of (what I call) normal toddler grumpiness, one teacher REFUSED to have any of my girls in her classroom under any circumstances, even after several suggestions that splitting them up would be very beneficial. A couple days here and there is not enough time to see benefits from routine and I believe the refusal to try it longer meant that teacher wouldn’t agree to try it. A lot of this stems from that decision, of a teacher not doing what is literally her job!

While little people are overwhelmed by big emotions, it’s our job to share our calm, not join in their chaos.

L. R. Knost

Many of you know our kids, or see the blogs that I post about silly things, bad behaviors that we will eventually look back on and chuckle at but might not in the moment, those types of things. They aren’t perfect. We aren’t perfect either. Kids get grumpy and act out, they whine and complain, they throw fits. Parents too. We all have good days and bad days, just like all toddlers do. This is part of growing up and part of living!!!

I fully admit during our meeting I had one of my first times preferring wearing a mask while out in public, because it covered my shock, rage and disdain at the ridiculousness we were forced to discuss. We approached the sit down with a planned set of questions and concerns, things intended to improve the issues and talk through them, not finding out until farther into the conversation that the decision was clearly already made and everything discussed a major waste of our time. Our December meeting was completely useless, with no actual plan formed, something they of course brought up as our fault (and untrue). They asked if we even read the disciplinary notes, alluding to the fact we did nothing to improve attitudes and respect for adults, which I personally find quite offending and quite off the mark. Clearly the expectation was to read reports, standing out in the cold and dark, with the kids running around EVERY night. Unbelievable.

Several times over the past few weeks there was disagreement with our parenting methods, suggesting in the evening we should more explicitly discipline them for transgressions throughout the day, something very inappropriate for their age. Instead, we talked to each one about listening to their teachers and obeying when asked, those types of things. The school continued to tell us they are fine with whatever parenting style we have, but then don’t follow through with the claim and it was very frustrating. It is also interesting to see that the girls often play pretend timeout, with their conversations clearly from time spent during the day, and are constantly putting dolls into timeout for not listening or other minute things.

Craig brought up a few of the books we’ve read, such as the Whole-Brain Child by Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Tina Payne Bryson, two child psychologists with great ideas. This was essentially completely dismissed because it is not religion based. The Whole-Brain Child teaches very basic ideas, things that I think are especially useful when you have more than one at an age, with silly slogans to help you remember, such as “connect and reconnect” or “engage, don’t enrage.” Any Montessori methods are clearly too new age to be considered. I will explain more of this on another blog at some point, as it has been very useful guidance for us and worth sharing.

Princess outfits at snack time one day

We voiced concerns about their identical status and individuality is extremely important. This suggestion was clearly met with disagreement that they weren’t perfectly working with each one separately every time an incident occurred. We know for a fact at least one teacher couldn’t tell them apart and that majorly concerns me when they saw them every day. I have a lot more to say on this that I will just leave alone for now.

There are minor silver linings to our daycare experience, if you overlook very recent events, that are worth noting as we transition forward. The girls vocabulary exploded in the past few months; they piece together amazing sentences and continue to wow us each day when they say something new or original. I always enjoy hearing the new songs they sing at random times! I credit so much of the potty training experience to the helpers that spent a lot of time in the bathroom this fall and winter! We have come out of that experience amazing and the girls are doing great. Emerie was patched daily and kept a great attitude throughout; this greatly improves her at-home patch time now and it’s visibly better that prior to going. They learned random new skills like putting on their coats without help, gearing up to play outside, and how to hold a marker or crayon correctly. We met new friends along the way that the girls enjoy talking about and playing with outside the facility.

I also want to note that I do not believe the majority of staff fall into the opinions that leadership has. Several of the teachers were wonderful, especially the one who helped us transition into the new daycare setting from being at home, and many of the helpers are wonderful people that give you a smile each day and tell you something good that happened, instead of just the bad. Throughout it all the girls always speak highly of them and were excited to see everyone each Monday. This next transition may not be a walk in the park, but it’s definitely a step in a better direction for our family.

Running outa daycare like…

There is so much more to say, but the more I write the more agitated I feel at the whole thing and I’ve already reworded half of this more than once. In addition to the anger I feel at some of this, a small part of me also feels relief, even though we don’t yet have a future plan in place. The relief comes from knowing my kids aren’t stuck in a place that clearly disagrees with our parenting style and knowing that I still have the control over their day to day and can encourage them to behave properly and expand their horizons to new things. The majority of complaints don’t occur at home and that helps us tremendously.

At the end of the day, I refuse to accept the unsaid accusation that we are not good parents. I refuse to let my self worth waver or doubt creep in and believe this is happening because of my kids. They are welcome to judge us as much as they’d like; we won’t be around to stress about it. I plan to move forward from this whole ordeal as just a tiny blip on the radar and not look back.

Week one of the rest of our lives? It’s going to be a wild month, so please check in on our sanity. But also know, we are moving forward and will overcome this obstacle, maybe just with a little more wine and a little less sleep than initially planned.

Much love ❤

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