So between then and the meeting (which occurred this past Friday) I had scoured the internet for clues as to my rights, and as to the laws that govern daycares. I felt I knew enough to be dangerous and stand my ground, to at least buy time, retreat to lick my wounds and call for help. I was prepared to speak in polite tones through a cold, emotionless vacuum while pleading an emotional case and falling back to threat of legal action as my nuclear option.
Before I met my wife at home to drive to our meeting, I booked a reservation at a new favorite restaurant of ours, Cioppino, thinking a nice bottle of wine and some good food might do wonders to smooth over our soon-to-be ruffled feathers. It would be a surprise for Leslie; maybe a little good news on top of bad would help even things out a bit.
My folks were watching the kids, so Leslie and I kissed them goodbye and I drove to the daycare. It was almost six. It was dark when we got there, just one more kid left to be picked up. J--- was there with a worker, who, when the last kid was picked up a few minutes later, also left.
We sat at a large round table, our legs tucked uncomfortably under toddler-sized furniture. J--- started the conversation by asking us something. I don't even really remember what it was she asked, I think something to do with the visit to the daycare by our wrap BSC. Apparently there was some misunderstanding between the daycare and our BSC. She'd expected the director, J---, and she was nowhere to be found. So Leslie took that one, essentially saying that the trip, while not a total waste, was to talk to the daycare about any behaviors they might be experiencing and to give them some strategies. She told it politely, but made it plain that the daycare hosed itself out of an opportunity to pick the brain of someone who might have been able to educate them on how to properly treat Lily.
We discussed Lily's behavior for a bit. Mostly we just tried to lay out why we feel Lily acts out: over stimulation, escape, attention seeking, etc. J--- was a polite audience. She asked a few questions about the dropoff and I politely and diplomatically (and I'm not even being sarcastic here) sketched my opinion of how it was being handled currently (mass chaos unaddressed by staff) and she listened.
This has got to be some sort of a trick.
We talked for a little longer about the kindergarten setting, how she doesn't need one-on-one there, just someone to interact with her and redirect as needed. I made the point that data showed Lily was actually more attentive in the typically developing classroom when her aide was not right next to her, but "faded" and only addressed Lily as needed. I felt this was a key to our defense against the possibility of "Lily needs one-on-one and we can't afford it" line of reasoning for booting her. There was more nodding and listening. And questions.
This was going well. . . too well.
J--- acknowledged how busy it is in the morning and discussed the multiple transitions Lily was experiencing. First the main room, then upstairs to the little kids room (because of head count, staff takes some of the big kids out to their bus, leaving too many students behind with just one staff member), then back downstairs to the big kids room again when it's time for her bus to leave. She admitted that staff hasn't been as attentive to the kids (not just Lily's) needs and that sometimes in order to break up the staff conversation, she'll go as far as to put masking tape x's on the floor and tell staff to "stand here" and watch the kids in the area.
And then she said it.
"What if you didn't drop Lily off in the downstairs room anymore before school?"
That was it. My moment. I have never been more ready for this shitfight. It was going to be something like this, "Alright, now you listen to me, bitch. . . "
"What if instead you just brought her upstairs to the main room when you dropped off? She's only downstairs a half hour before they bring her up anyway, and that would eliminate some of the transition issues."
"Wait. . . what now?" (I didn't actually say that, but I'm so glad I hesitated before jumping down her throat. I mean, I was poised on the figurative balls of my livid parental feet ready to pounce on this woman.)
We sat in silence for a couple seconds. My train of thought was completely derailed. Not. . .stop dropping her off. . . stop dropping her off downstairs. Um. Huh! I asked Leslie what she thought and she said something, I can't remember what, and then I jumped in and said it was fine by me.
We talked some more about strategies for changing Lily when she spits, for avoiding being bitten or hit, for when to engage her and how to redirect her. We offered names and numbers of people who had already indicated a willingness to discuss how to handle these things with her staff free of charge. And she wrote notes. She took names. She asked questions.
Then she offered to place two people as "lead" Lily staff members. People who would work, if not one-on-one with Lily, at least make Lily a special focus and responsibility of theirs, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. And we jumped at that as well.
And then we packed everything up and she thanked us for meeting with her. . . and we thanked her for meeting with us, and she apologized and said she probably should have had that meeting a month earlier and that she bore some blame for how the staff had handle Lily and hoped this would improve things throughout.
And Leslie and I got our coats on and walked to the car and got in. J--- got in her car ahead of us and I saw the brake lights flare up, then dim, and then she drove away. Leslie and I sat in the car in silence for a couple seconds before I raised an eyebrow and looked at her from the corner of my eye.
"Well, that went well."
And we laughed, both of us shaking our heads at the war we'd expected that had never come. And we called my folks and she called hers (later) because everyone was worried. And then we went to dinner and had, not a conciliatory bottle of wine, but a celebratory one.
And it was good.
I like ending the blog there. . . you know cause o' the whole Genesis "and he saw that it was good" thing. . . but I wanted to add a footnote.
These kids. . . people do screw them over sometimes. Sometimes. . . maybe even MOST of the time they really really have to fight to get what they deserve, and we as parents really have to fight beside them or for them. But it is nice to know sometimes, to remember, that not everyone is out to get them or us. Some people just don't understand (and want to) and need to be pointed in the right direction.
|Random shot of gratuitous cuteness (hers, not mine)|