Daycare Nightmare to New School Padebure

“Mommy whatcha talken bout?” Parker inquired about the phone call I had just ended.  The closer we approach the age of three, the questions have tripled.  No matter how complete and thorough an answer might be it will always be followed with another ‘why’.  My latest tactic has been to return the questions to her and insist she tell me what she thinks.  Sometimes this is effective and sometimes it prompts her to change the subject.

“That was Mommy’s new boss, I’m going to start a new job.”  I began to explain expecting to have to expand a lot more on what this means.  It’s been almost three years since I have been employed at a full-time job, and I have appreciated getting to be home with Parker as much as possible.  It was a deeply personal choice for me to be there in the early years, to feel responsible for her development and to know she was protected before she could talk.  The idea of returning to work carries a lot of excitement for independence, professional building, and real regular adult conversation.  Of course with it comes the anxiety of change, of missing important moments, and of not getting to be present to have fun with her all day.

After a short pause, out came her reply without any question.  “Don’t leave me mom,”  She said with the raw honest emotion we both share.  I wanted to cave, say I agree, and retract my acceptance immediately.  My convincing her it would be fun to go to school, to meet new friends and it’d be okay to be away from Mommy helped to mask my nerves.

We found Parker a nationally accredited child care center in a location close to my parent’s house for the days my mom might need to pick her up.  During our tour of the facility Parker got to join in on watching a puppet show and demonstrated no concern about being with strangers or the classroom.  Still apprehensive about the life adjustments Parker and I were about the embrace, my husband and I felt confident in the choice to start her there the following week.

Prepared with a new Hello Kitty backpack, curly Qs in pony tails and excited about her first day of school we cracked the door to the Bumble Bee classroom.  An overwhelming aroma of left over processed food breakfast hit my nose just after the screaming from the child hanging off the assistant teacher’s leg stung my ears.  Kids were all over the room digging in papers, pulling things from cubbies, and dumping out toy bins.  If anything would have been hung from the ceiling I am sure there would have been kids climbing it.  Disturbed by the vision so starkly contrasted from our tour just days ago and not wanting to feed into my fears, we slipped in and followed the teacher to where Parker’s cubby would be to hang her things.  I knew Parker’s shock must have subsided quickly since she was off to the other side of the room to play before she even said goodbye.

I did, as most parents do when they drop their child off at a center for the first time, left the room and cried.

My husband and I both called to check in on her the first day.  He called the following three days as well.  Each time we were told everything is fine, she was getting along well, and each day seemed better than the previous.  My first day getting to pick up Parker I fully expected a running happy hug, instead the whole first week every time I walked in she stopped what she was doing and began to melt down.  It was as if the stress of the day had built up and she was crying from relief I was back for her.  Parker continued the sour emotional state through the evening too, she was not napping in her new environment so by the end of the day the screaming fits and mood swings were taking a toll on me.  This is temporary, she will adjust, I will adjust and it will be fine, other people do this all the time I kept being told.

After the first week there seemed to be improvements.  Parker did successfully sleep for 45 minutes one day.  She verbalized happiness to Daddy about returning to the center when he was dropping her off one morning.  And the meltdown greetings stopped, I was finally seeing a smiling, excited child at the end of the day.  For me, there never came a feeling of being adjusted or knowing it would be okay.  Because while some things were getting better, her first month in this new arrangement she grew increasingly defiant, wild and aggressive at home.  In addition, my newly potty trained child started having accidents twice a day.  At first I reasoned maybe some of this extra defiance was related to her age and we would just have to increase our structure and consistency at home.  Then when she turned to biting and pulling hair for not getting her way, I knew there had to be more going on.

One afternoon when I went to pick up Parker she happened to be on the playground with half of her class and one part-time teenage staff member who was minimally supervising the three-year olds.  Once she

On a weekend trip to Minnesota, PJ demonstrated the worst behavior in public she has ever had.  Trips are always hard with a lack of sleep, on this trip even a butterfly would make her cry.  A family brunch with 5 timeouts required made me want to cry too.

On a weekend trip to Minnesota, PJ demonstrated the worst behavior in public she has ever had. Trips are always hard with a lack of sleep, on this trip even a butterfly would make her cry. A family brunch with 5 timeouts required made me want to cry too.

finally noticed me standing there, she stood up from her hidden spot and greeted me.  I told her about Parker’s recent aggression at home and asked the employee about aggression taking place in her classroom.  It’s what I dreaded most about putting my daughter in a setting where I am not present, angered at the thought of anyone putting a hand on my daughter even if it is a peer.  The inexperienced employee gave me an honest and dissatisfactory answer, explaining if a child aggresses and leaves a mark on another child both parents will be notified.  The key phrase which said it all was when it leaves a mark, knowing staff at the facility will avoid an incident report if there is no physical evidence.  Just behind our conversation I had to point out the child crying who had just been hit on the head by another child, before taking my daughter’s hand to walk out.

It was incredibly difficult to return the next day with no back up option.  I didn’t know for sure if my daughter had been aggressed on by a peer at the child care center, I knew at minimum she was witnessing it and bringing it home.  My husband and others tried to reassure me by saying it happens everywhere and she will have to get used to it.  This was no reassurance to me, in my mind it is unacceptable to happen anywhere and if aggression does happen it needs to be addressed in a way which will deter the behavior from continuing.  For a child who has never witnessed violence, hadn’t been pushed or hit, the bullying Parker saw was impacting her a lot.  The obvious lack of structure and discipline in the room was also providing for negative learning opportunities.

Through word of mouth I began hearing the new agency I started with also operates a Montessori school offering half price tuition for employees.  With some concern about whether making a transition would be harmful for Parker and not wanting to base the decision entirely on cost, we decided to tour the Montessori School.  In Montessori Schools the learning is at your own pace so children engage in activities at their level and ages in classrooms are all integrated to provide for peer role models.  This school offers extracurricular activities like ballet, soccer and spanish.  The environment of the rooms are quiet and calm, the kids wear slippers and practice family style dining of passing the food and trying everything.  There is life skills learning, books being read and flowers in vases as centerpieces on their tiny tables.  My husband and I left the tour separately as he had to rush off to an appointment.  When he called later to say he wanted Parker to go there I had a secret celebratory dance.

We gave a thirty-day notice at the child care center, she only attended another week.  On her last day she didn’t come home with the Hello Kitty backpack or pillow, and calls to locate them were unsuccessful.  Parker got a one week break from school and childcare getting to play with Nana and even coming to work a few days with Mommy.  Her behavior began improving immediately and my cooperative, sweet child was returning.

Parker and I went to pick out a new backpack and hyped up her new school experience.  The morning of her first day she wavered between not wanting to go and being excited.  She told me she didn’t want to go because she can’t sleep, which is reasonable considering the chaos happening in her previous classroom.  We talked about the fun she will have making new friends and all of the things to learn and grow smarter.  By school time Parker marched in and joined her class without fear, and when I got to peak in the window later that morning she was smiling peacefully in a circle with her peers.

On her first day she even got to participate in the ballet class.  After school, I asked her what she learned in dance class.  Parker quickly reported “Had a good day Mommy.”  I tried to reiterate I was asking for what she did and she again responded “Had a good day.”  Stopping to give her my full attention and look at her directly I asked again.  “Had a good day.”  It sounded like she said…  Then I realized her frustration at my not understanding.  My little ballerina was telling me she learned a padebure.

Parker greets me with a smile everyday, she is taking naps, she is engaged with learning and she has not had an accident or tried to bite or pull hair since starting.  It will continue to be an adjustment for both of us after spending the last three years together, now we are finally on the right track.

merrygoround


Bye Bye Bye Baby

Some weeks I look back and wonder, how did that happen? I had one of those weeks recently where in a mindless one activity to the next, I looked back and distraughtly noticed three major milestones conquered in days for my two-year old.

First, the adventures in potty training, I have written about them before just waiting for the momentum to really pick up and for her to grasp onto the concept. Finally it was me who committed hard-core, she wore big girl panties and a t-shirt at home most of the week. Strongly motivated by candies after successful tolieting and a rigorously timed routine of going to try about every 30 minutes she had very few wet accidents. She even stayed dry during an overnight in Nana’s bed, which after hearing about it made me panic since I had not warned Nana we were not there yet at home and she still wears diapers at night.

In the same week I assembled and painted her new big girl bed. With no plan or intention of making the transition, I just happened to have the time to work on the project. However, some days I end up being like the Mouse and the Cookie, with one step leading right into another. Before I really realized what I was doing her crib was disassembled in the basement and she was jumping up and down on her new big girl bed.

babaThe last major milestone was a completely happy accident. I don’t feel strongly about an age where pacifiers are unnecessary for other people’s children. For my child, I felt she was old enough and still she was hanging on to them. Despite chewing off the tips of the nipples and looking completely unappetizing, she would still cry for her “baba” to go to sleep or to ride in the car. She had been warned these would be the last baba’s she would have and when they were gone, they were gone for good. I frequently asked her if her baba was broken and if she wanted to throw it away, she did throw some away and as she realized she was down to her last one she lingered over the trash can a few times before deciding it wasn’t broken enough.

One evening before bed we searched the house together upstairs and downstairs, in the kitchen, in the bedrooms, in the bathrooms and through every nook and cranny to find her last baba, it went missing. I honestly did search hard, I was nervous about her big changes and adapting to life without her baba AND being in a new bed. At the same time I was silently cheering, the unnecessarily dependent relationship with this wrecked piece of plastic was finally going to be over.

After a good long search we had a talk about the baba being gone. My two-year old melted onto the floor for a few brief seconds and then went back to being excited about her new big girl bed. She asked for a baba a few times since and calmly settled herself when we talked about how it was gone.

A few days after the baba disappeared, it reappeared under the couch where I hadn’t been able to spot it before. I hurried to it before she noticed to keep it gone for good this time.

Miss Independence

trainingpantsandcheeseThe other morning PJ woke up with wild bed head, we put on her training pants and a sweatshirt. She also strapped on her white glossy church shoes which will accessorize any outfit in her two-year-old mind, all to come to the kitchen for breakfast. When I asked her what she wanted to eat she replied “cheese,” despite it not being a meal this is an improvement from her usual response of “juice.” Before I could even get back to her about what breakfast meal to eat she opened the fridge and helped herself to the remains of the parmesan cheese container.

On another note, potty training has been a big success this week with a little sugary reinforcement. Maybe too good since she is now trying to go potty without my help so she can flush and say she went to get a treat then turn around to try to potty again two minutes later for another treat. Nice try smarty pants, not gonna pull one over on me yet

Life is always entertaining with this silly sweetheart, I love being her mommy.

Just Like Winning The Lottery

I’m a little out of the loop on child development research and all of the very specific (I’m sure very useful yet soon to be out of date) information on toddler potty training. It seems there is a treasure trove of data regarding when to start, how to schedule and what reinforcement should look like in regards to toileting. On the one hand, had I taken advantage of what knowledge is out there I could have an underwear wearing two-year-old. On the other hand I could have spent hours carefully plotting my methods and then banging my head against the wall when my independently minded two-year-old sabotages my agenda (speaking from experience.) Needless to say, we bought a seat for her and have crossed our fingers for the last six months she would gain interest and decide when she is ready.

potty

In the last week she has requested “pooh-poddy” (she has a habit of creating her own nicknames for things) and successfully completed #1’s and #2’s in the toilet. YES – Progress! There were plenty more diaper changes than uses of the pooh-poddy, progress nonetheless.

And when she makes the request to remove her diaper and give it a try, I sit on her bathroom stool patiently observing her face grimacing and squeezing pause. When she sees my expression in response to the sound I hear in the toilet she looks as startled and happy as me. Parker receives high fives and praises. We have invited in daddy and any house guests who happen to be there to also give congratulatory high fives. We have called Nana’s and Papa’s on the phone to share the news and hear their encouraging “yay, big girl!” Her pride in a job well done is so enthusiastic.

And after she has properly wiped, flushed and washed; Parker gets a rewarding treat, of the Peez variety. She holds her treat between two fingers with an exploding grin. She dances and displays her prize holding it out long in front of her “Look mommy, look daddy… Look.” Finally, sometimes after some redirection, she finally puts it in her mouth and quickly chews it until it’s gone. She has so much energy and excitement about her new found accomplishment, just like she has won the lottery.

Help, Yessss, Lotion & Love

There are some commonly spoken phrases in our house. A growing mind of a two-year old, rapidly expanding her ideas, vocabulary and opinion are sometimes astonishing to keep up with. The following is a list I have compiled of the top five most common statements from both Parker and her mommy.

PJParker’s Top 5

1.) “How bout… this one.”
She says so thoughtfully and clearly to make decisions. Parker likes to express choices about clothes, food and what to watch on Netflixs. Back in my babysitting days, when Barney was new, I would get so annoyed with the singing purple dinosaur and swear when I had kids they would be banned from this programming. Unfortunately, a decade and a half later, I am eating my words as my tiny tot politely points out the forbidden show requesting “How bout… this one.”

2.) “Yea… yessss.”
My husband is encouraging Parker to enunciate and use proper English. I wholeheartedly agree this is important, even though I am most often the one to slip and be a poor example to her with my lazy communication. In the last few weeks especially he has been retraining her to not say yea, and she is quickly beginning to correct herself. The adorable part of her correction is the long s sound which follows her yes’.

3.) “Hey that’s mine.”
This is spoken with a bit of a toddler lisp, comes with a frown and on the rare occasion a small tantrum. Sharing is tough.

4.) “Parry Rock” or “Da Lacy Sung”
In my effort to break from Yo Gabba Gabba, Sesame Street or Barney, I figured a girl who loves music and dancing might also love music videos. We have the music choice channel where we play videos on demand, she has her favorites and doesn’t like trying out new ones unless the beat immediately catches her attention. Two favorites she requests are LMFAO’s Party Rock and Bruno Mars’ Lazy Song. Not all the lyrics are appropriate for kids, though I figured she wouldn’t remember or know what it was about. I thought there could be no harm… Turns out she really enjoys the dancing and tries to mimic what she sees in the videos. Let’s just say we are all done with the Lazy Song now.

5.) “Halp you peas mommy.”
Parker does love to help me in whatever chore I am trying to conquer. She even got her very own play cleaning set for Christmas so she can follow along with my sweeping and scrubbing. However, this phrase is not about helping mommy. I figured out she learned to say “help you” when she needs help since I would catch her struggling in a task and questions “Can Mommy help you?”

Mommy’s Top 5

PJ&mom 1.) “Is that baba broken?”
Parker is clinging to her last two pacifiers and I am fully prepared for the end of them. They are both gnarley little pieces of plastic with the ends chewed off. She has chosen to throw other ones away once they were in the same condition, so I ask her everyday if they are broken and ready to throw away. One night she was on her way to the trash can and then decided it was not quite broken yet, agh so close!

2.) “Are you doing a stink stink?”
I ask Parker when she has separated herself to a corner or behind furniture with the concentrated pooping look on her face. She shakes her head no, despite my encouragement of trying it on the big girl potty. Then as I am changing her diaper after the fact, she sometimes requests what she calls to sit on the “poo poddy” not understanding it’s a little late for it now. I’m sure there will be more potty training adventure stories to come.

3.) “Lotion is not for eating.”
My day is filled with “no,” “stop,” and “don’t” type statements. I try to fill in the rest with choices or an explanation. For some reason I have to repeat this one too often since PJ has acquired a taste for lotion.

4.) “Give me some sugar.”
Parker is affectionate without announcement sometimes, and there are lots of times when we request it of her. She withholds kisses in a teasing manner sometimes, eventually giving in. The best is when I can trick her telling her I don’t want her sloppy kisses and wiping them away, then the sugar just keeps on coming.

5.) “You are beautiful” and “I love you.”
Browsing through my mom’s Pinterest quotes the other day one caught my eye, I’m not on it yet because I keep hearing about how addictive it is and I’m kind of scared to take on another online hobby. The quote said something about the statements you tell your children will become their internal voices later. This made me smile to know I am constantly telling my little girl she is beautiful and she is loved.