Let them be little...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

So...over three months ago we switched daycare providers. It is not something that we wanted to do, but something that had been on our minds for quite some time, and we felt would be a positive thing for our family. If you've been here before, you know we loved loved loved our daycare provider. She was everything we had hoped for for our children and more.

She not only met every expectation, but beat it as well.

Our kids were happy...and we were happy. That daycare provider built a new house further out of town that added to our daily commute - added an extra 41 miles a day actually - but for awhile we were willing to do it. With busy metro traffic and wonky Minnesota weather - there were many many days I was late for work...sometimes not just late - sometimes HOURS late...
If you know me, you know that this City Life isn't necessarily for me...So driving past my exit and being on the road another 20+ minutes one way to get our kids was starting to tax me...and in turn, I felt it was taxing my family...

So when our favorite daycare provider decided to move again to a different house, a little further out yet - adding (just how much depending on if we took a gravel short cut or stayed on concrete) even more time to my already hectic commute...
We decided it was as good a time as any to research our options -
So we did...and we were confident in the new provider(s) that we found. We ARE confident with the new provider(s) that we found...the kids are learning a ton and both recite the pledge of allegience. They know a ton of new songs & are learning so very much...we were impressed with what they had learned before - but now, under the care of an actual school teacher - you can really see their brains sponging up new info!!

Buuuttttt it's been a long adjustment period for some of us. And by long... I mean looooooooooonnnnnnnnnnngggggggggggg. It took about a month for H to settle in and be happy to go - D, oh, maybe an hour? That surprised us...he was our 'difficult' baby - we thought it'd be tougher for him to transition than for her...but we were wrong. Dead wrong.

After about a month, she finally seemed to be enjoying herself...

But then, just as we knew would happen...The 2nd part of the two provider team started doing more of the care - so the kids were having to adjust to a different person again and a different 'style' of care - more old school if you will.
Well, it's now been over three months - and for the past several weeks H has been back to being happy go lucky until we get inside the door - where she starts sobbing under her breathe and trying not to cry...

Now before you say she's playing me...keep in mind it's been OVER three months...and by her crying, she's not getting anything from me but an extra hug (an extra hug that little brother also gets even though he's not crying!)
She's still going to daycare four days a week...She's not 'getting her way' by acting this way.
I feel she is legitimately scared or anxious or something...

I've been pressing her and pressing her for information...remember, this is my baby - she just turned four last month...

One day she was scared to 'ask' to go potty - so she peed her pants and HID it ALL DAY waiting til she got home to tell me! WHAT!?! I told her she can ALWAYS go potty...and showed her where we keep the change of clothes should that happen again...God help me if it does!

The other day, she told me she didn't like a certain kid cuz they have stinky breathe...bwahahahaaa - got a kick out of that one!

Occasionally she mentions that she wants me to pick her up before they go outside because she doesn't like going outside by herself...I've been there when they are getting ready to go outside - they get their shoes,etc on and go out two by two - until everyone, including the littles and the provider are outside...So I was assuming that that was the issue - she wanted to go out with her provider(s).
(This is our little girl who at 14 months old at her first daycare Christmas party refused to have anything to do with either of her parents and instead clung to and hung out with her Daycare provider the entire party! How embarrassing! ;) )

So...after pressing her for more info last night - She tells me that the kids play outside while lunch is being made - and that she is scared to be outside alone without an adult...
So NOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWW we are getting somewhere...
At our house - the rule is - you don't get to be outside without an adult - unless you are making 'recipes' on the deck or near the bottom of the deck stairs playing on the 'pirate ship' -
it's our rule...It's for good reason. She JUST TURNED FOUR not even a month ago...and little brother is still only two. Our yard is not fenced in...nor is daycare's...
(Our house backs up to a very busy road.)

I called our provider to discuss this...She informed me that when it's time to make lunch, the little kids go in with the providers and the bigger kids stay out and play within eye/ear shot of the kitchen window while lunch is being made...

She is more than willing to accommodate our request and bring H in with the littles when it's time to make lunch, but not without first reminding me that my child is very shy and could have trouble starting school, trouble with transitions, etc...

...yeah well, she's four...Can't we just let them be little for once? Do they have to grow up so damn fast? I'm not worried about her starting school for two more years, blah blah blah...

~I could see the relief in H's eyes when I told her that she could come in when the adults come in - she had a smile on her face and her anxiety was gone.

Also...during said discussion with provider...She reminded me that when she was little she was gone all day without anyone knowing where she was, and that our anxieties as parents rub off on our children - that she was just at a workshop about such stuff. I do realize that - I think I was no older than 5 when I was out playing alone, walking two blocks to the city pool and spending all day there.
But that was 30 years ago. Times have changed and we live in a major metropolitan area. Things are different now. Very different.

I realize that I can't protect my kids forever. I do. But she's FOUR. BARELY four. And she's scared. And guess what? I'm GLAD she's scared to be outside alone at barely four years old. I do not want my kids walking up to any old car and saying hello to whomever might be inside...I WANT them to be aware of their surroundings and I want them to be comfortable in the presence of adults. I do not want my children thinking it's ok to 'go outside and play alone' whenever they feel like it...Do you people watch the news? Kids get out and freeze to death not being able to get back in, kids get abducted on their way home from school, etc etc

And as my good friend and neighbor said...I know my kids...one minute they are in my backyard - the next minute they are at her house getting a gumball from her awesome gumball machine! It only takes a second.

I know. I know...I can't protect her forever - but I can help her to feel better about certain things...and it's my JOB to protect her from what I can...
I realize we all have different parenting styles and no one way is the right way...(except I of course think our way is the right way...and it IS...for us! And would people compliment us on our perfect children if our parenting style really sucked so bad?? Ok, don't answer that part!)

If me telling my little girl at 6:30 am that it's ok to be sad and that if she tries really hard I just know she can have a great day instead of running out on her while she's sobbing isn't ok...then I need to figure out a way to make things ok.

Because this...this is not ok.

6 comments:

Buck said...

It seems to me there's a difference between making your kids feel safe and "coddling" them. You have taught your children an important lesson - kids need an adult when they play outside. There are so many reasons this rule is legitimate. The fact that your children listen to you and take you seriously is a good thing. And having a little fear of being outside alone doesn't seem like a bad thing here. When they are older, they can have more freedom.

So to say that there's a problem with H being tentative about being outside alone seems ridiculous. Perhaps she is more than capable of playing outside without supervision. It doesn't matter. She is young and small and without a fenced yard, there is no protection. Forget about strangers, what about a loose dog? I'm just saying you're not wrong to have taught your children this, and it seems to me it's your caregivers responsibility to respect your rules.

That said, yes, H will have to adapt to many changes in life. School, changing teachers, leaving her brother behind at daycare, etc. But you know what? As those changes happen, she'll be getting older and more mature. And the best thing you can teach her is what you've done so far, that you are listening to her fears and that you'll do your best to calm them. She's not trying to get dolls and presents from you, she's looking for security and you're providing it.

Assuming you trust that your children are safe with the new providers, I think leaving them there is a good thing, it shows your kids that you're confident in your choice. That said, I also think it's important that you continue to listen to their fears and continue to show H that you trust her new caregiver and that you will work with that person to make her feel comfortable. You show her that while this might not be her first choice, it's still a good choice and she's going to be great there.

I didn't mean to write a novel. Oops. :)

Miss K said...

Maybe I am the one that coddles my children, but I don't think that kids at a daycare should EVER, EVER be outside alone. EVER. I hope that you can work things out. I think that Buck is right about the kids seeing your confidence in the provider, but what she (the provider) said to you makes me want to defend you. You have a right to demand a safe environment for your child without being told that we have gotten too "soft" with our kids. 30 years ago it was a different planet. You cannot compare then and now. I hope that they continue to work with you and that things start to get better. I'm sorry that you are having to deal with this stress.

AKA "Meesh" said...

You are their one and only mommy. That means it doesn't matter what anyone thinks or what anyone else's rules are. You know what? Every child is different. Workshops and professionals may learn a curve, and that's fine. But this is YOUR child. You do what your heart says to do--you know that sweet little four year old better than anyone else on this earth. Good for you for asking for her to stay in during lunch making. Kids don't need to feel unnecessary fear! <3 you, you're doing an awesome job!!

~kris~ said...

I have thought about this all day wondering what I would do in the same situation.

I do not think under any circumstances children at daycare should be allowed outside in an unsecured facility alone. Ever. I would not care that they were within ear/eye shot - there is no way there is a provider who can make lunch and effectively be supervising children who are outside at the same time.

I'm glad you are getting your daughter to open up to you a bit about the environment and what she is experiencing that is causing her a bit of anxiety - her opening up and trusting you is the only way that you can help her.

I didn't realize we have children almost exactly the same age! My middle son turned 4 at the end of June and my daughter turned 2 beginning of August.

So I'm thinking about my son - being outside alone in an unfenced yard . . . um, no, I don't think so!

Good luck Darcie - I know this has to be so stressful and I don't doubt you're losing sleep!

Be the change you want to see in the world... said...

My comment is going to be short and sweet. Go with your gut, you know whats right. You are their mother, potector, and mama bear. Roar when you need to, redirect when you need to, and simply leave if you need to. No one knows your children better than you.

Jill said...

You cannot be overprotective.

Go with your gut. No two ways about it -- go with your gut.

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