Well, I have been away from blogging a bit; for two big reasons: #1 – my site got hacked. So it took about two and a half weeks (and some $$$) to rectify that. And #2 – my home life has been topsy-turvy since my son got kicked out of his daycare back in August.
So I had mentioned in this post that the toxic, hateful administrator of the daycare had gone. And that was true – effective in late June. But up until the very end, she kept pressing that my oldest son would need intervention/support, or he would not be able to stay at the daycare. So even though there was a gap of several weeks before a new daycare administrator started, I had already started the process of having my oldest evaluated and approved for IBHS services (which sadly, here in Pennsylvania, only seem to be available if you are on public health assistance). By the time they were actually put in place, the new daycare administrator had started – and I had really thought that we had turned over a new leaf.
I had sent a welcome email to the new daycare administrator and did a background on the issue with my son. We talked – and it was a very positive rapport. Both she and the behavioral support staff were starting around the same time and she seemed to be totally onboard. Although, I admit, there were no sit down, in-depth discussions. Just conversations during drop-off and pick-up.
Then everything turned on a dime on Friday, August 6th. I dropped all the boys off. And before I even got to work (which is a 10 minute drive away), the daycare administrator called me and said I had to come pick up my son. I could hear him screaming in the background. So I turned around, and headed back to pick him up. I had only had to pick him up one other time from daycare before and that was when the old administrator said they were short-staffed and he was screaming and there was no one who would sit with him.
So I pulled up to the building and the administrator and my son were sitting on the bench. He was sobbing, but seemed to be under control. The daycare administrator said that he had thrown his water bottle at the teacher. When it was determined that he needed to go to the administrators office, he started to kick and scream. He also said that he was going to get a gun and shoot her (which would be the nail in the coffin come to find out). At that point though, it was just that he needed to go home. So I informed my boss and opted to work from home.
When I went to pick up the twins at 5:30, the daycare administrator approached me again, and said that my oldest could not return to daycare until he could get a new behavioral support technician and if they could be with him all day long. Previously, they were just there for 3 hours. And apparently, he wasn’t very effective. But none of these issues were communicated with me. I felt like I was slapped in the face. But I didn’t argue or press the issue. I just simply said that I would call the counseling agency. It was Friday and it was after hours. It would take until at least Monday to get any answers either way. In the meantime, I had to suffer through that entire weekend, completely stressed because I had no where to take my 4 year old for childcare that upcoming Monday — and I had to work.
That next week was a whirlwind. I went to Sittercity and paid $35 (but I did save $15 off that amount by using Rakuten – yey, I love that site!) to get access to babysitters. I did find one – but she rubbed me wrong early on from her texts. But I really didn’t have time to be picky. Well I dropped him off on Monday at 8am. She sent me a text at like 9:30 am, asking if my son could play Call of Duty with her brother (I said ‘absolutely not’). At 11:30 am, she called me and said I had to pick him up. She said my son kicked at her baby daughter and she couldn’t put her baby in danger. So during lunch I picked him up and, I regret to say, let my frustration out on him — asking him over and over why he would try to hurt a baby? I know that my son gets angry — but he is not the problem child type that just does mean and spiteful things just to do them. I was really nearing the end of my rope.
It cost a couple of bucks, but I posted an ad on good old Craigslist. There I just gave a flat daily rate (as opposed to the hourly rates you see on Sittercity) and prayed. I got a few responses but one was golden. She was a bit far out in Middletown – but she was a young stay-at-home mom, and seemed very down to earth.
I held my breath. When I picked my oldest up, she said he was very well behaved – better than her own kids. She said the same that entire week, and it seemed like things were going good.
And in theory – they were. But paying a babysitter $60/day vs. having all three of my kids in daycare for $90/week just wasn’t sustainable for me financially. Plus my son fully understood at this point, that he was kicked out of school because he ‘was bad’. We would pick his brothers up and he would wave to his old teachers and friends. He would ask me when he could go back.
It was heartbreaking. Not to mention the fact that while he was not in daycare, he wasn’t getting any help from the IBHS services that I worked so hard in getting him approved for.
Of course through all of this, I’m just reading like crazy. I found out that even though Black boys only make up 18% of the preschool population, they account for 41% of all preschool expulsions. Also, I fully understand that being a daycare worker or preschool teacher is difficult. You aren’t paid very well and it takes special skills to deal with young children with behavior issues successfully. As this video demonstrates:
In the meantime though, I’m trying to do the best I can to get my son back into daycare. He was re-evaluated and approved for 30 hours of intervention a week. In the meantime, the new daycare administrator was fired. So some hope sprung up again. Even though there was not a replacement administrator, the interim leadership may have some mercy on me, and take my son back while I work on getting additional/replacement behavioral support in place. Well, they just held the status quo ultimately. It took 6 weeks to get the replacement behavioral staffing in place for my son. I found this out late on Friday. So I figured I would give a heads up to the daycare on Monday – and my son could be back on Tuesday.
So I should probably back up a little bit here. I was probably a bit naive regarding a lot of things. But I never wanted to lose my focus. But signs were there that they really wanted to wash their hands of my son. For example, the week after he was suspended, they have me a bag with the entire contents of his cubby — including the name tag for it. So I emailed the administrator and told her this (before she was fired) and she massaged it out by saying that she figured that I would want those things home for him to use.
Getting back to preparing for my son’s return, the daycare (still under interim leadership) put the brakes on my son’s return – stating that they wanted to review expectations and issues with the counseling agency. I felt (and my son’s counselor did too) that this was a bizarre request. They wanted to have a Zoom meeting with everyone before my son could start (which the counseling agency was reluctant to engage in – my son is their client, not the daycare). The daycare/school doesn’t get to dictate the job expectations of the behavioral health staff — they do not work for them. 3 more days go by and it culminated with my oldest son’s teacher typing up an entire list of issues that my son has and asking if the counseling staff will address ALL of them (including other parents being bothered by the influence of my son’s behavior on their children and the safety of their children).
I remember reading this email – on a Thursday night. I was so exhausted…but somehow I did not feel defeated. Instead, I felt clarity. Not clarity in regards to having a plan (because I did NOT) have that yet. But clarity of the situation. My son was not the problem here. The daycare was the problem; and maybe even more specifically, his teacher. At that time, I knew that she was the one that had the issue with the old behavioral support staff and she had given the exact schedule of coverage that my son would need — but now the daycare was saying that was insufficient. Later I found out from another parent that this same teacher was good friends with the long-time, toxic daycare administrator. So that was telling.
I responded to the daycare, and the counseling agency that I would be unenrolling my son. Effective immediately.
My son’s counselor pointed out to me (outside of that ridiculous email thread from the daycare) that my son’s class was already at its limit ratio – 10 kids to every staff member. Since they lost a pre-k teacher, my son would have put them over their compliance limit. So all of this was probably just a sneaky way to get them back into compliance. But to me the reason ultimately did not matter. And I have no real ill-will towards the daycare. My twins are still there, thriving and doing well. My older son is different though and deserves to be around adults who care about him even when he has ‘big feelings’.
So where are we at today? Well I found a home-based daycare for my son. And just like his previous babysitter, she always has good reports. She is a one-woman operation, so we do have challenges when she is out of town or the one day she was sick and closed. But I will put up with that. She takes the daycare subsidy and it’s a low-stress environment for my son. Then 2 days a week, he participates in the Silver Academy’s Ganeinu program. It is a class environment but it is small (7 children all together). So his behavioral counselor is back with him on those days. It has not always been smooth sailing. I am still trying to get through the logistics of getting him to and from a mid-day pre-k program, but I have slivers of hope again. Especially since his teacher had this to say in her report to the counseling agency:
I think we can manage with help only one day a week, but it does take more time and effort, and he is certainly worth it! he is really smart, and an amazing kid. I see him fighting between his better nature and the signals his brain sends. With some help and support he is going to be very successful!
So I just want to end this with a message – especially to single mothers raising boys. Don’t ever, ever buy into the idea that your child is bad. You have to advocate for your child. It is impossible for him to do so. Children get frustrated and stressed and they’ve only been in their bodies for a few years. They need help and guidance and forgiveness and love. They also need to be taught that their actions effect the world around them. But most of all – not every child is the same. They don’t all have the same needs. As a mother, I am learning (the hard way) that even though I have 3 boys very close in age, they are very different from each other. And they are different that how I was at their age and I’m sure from how their dad was at that age. I can also see both the good and bad personality traits that they have from both me and their dad. It is scary and it is humbling and it gives you perspective. But first and foremost, listen to your child. Both their verbal and their non-verbal communication. On the day that my son got suspended, he was very tired. He did not sleep much the night before because I was not very diligent in getting him in bed and down to sleep at a decent time. That is on me. I can recognize that — but he can’t. It really takes a village to raise a child. Make sure you build that village for your child to the best of your ability.