Tag Archives: daycare

We’ve Got a Biter

I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry at Will.

It started this week when he bit my father twice. Once it was hard enough to almost break skin. He was punished severely each time with a combination of time out, loss of his favorite toys and even a spanking when he copped an attitude after the fact and was seemingly unrepentant. It really took us by surprise because usually kids go through biting phases early in toddlerhood. But Will never did. And to bite my dad twice despite punishments had me miffed. But it turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg.

He bit another kid at preschool today.

The teacher told me what happened when I picked him up. They said he was playing with another boy and Will was pretending to be a dinosaur. Then he hauled off and bit another boy on the arm. Pretty much a carbon copy of what happened the times he bit my dad.

The rage that welled up inside me as Will’s teacher was telling me what happened was almost too much to contain. Seriously, I’m thankful there were plenty of people around because I would’ve given him the single biggest bare-assed spanking of all time. After all the talks we had about why biting is bad, how it hurts people, how mom and dad are disappointed whenever he does it. After all that, what does he do? He goes out and bites a kid.

Now before all the pseudo (and actual) child psychologists out there tell me he’s acting out because of all the big changes lately and blah blah blah, I get it. I understand big changes often bring about behavior that screams for attention. But he’s got our full attention. And the attention of my parents. This kid wants for nothing and yet he’s biting kids in class.

And since I’m being honest, it’s horribly demoralizing and humiliating to have the teacher tell you your kid is a biter. To have her point out older kids such as Will are usually well beyond that kind of thing, asking if everything is OK at home, etc. I wanted to hide under the nearest water table and never come out.

Seriously, I feel like I’m raising Hannibal Lecter. When I was helping him clean his room I kept worrying I’d find a human liver, fava beans and a nice bottle of chianti.

Not to mention we’re the new parents at the preschool and now we’re gonna be branded as the parents of the biter. I don’t care how thick you think your skin is, it’s really easy to crumble when it suddenly feels as though you’re the worst parents in the world when everyone finds out you’re raising a cannibal in training.

Ugh. We’re dealing with it as best we know how. I told him how disappointed I am in him. I asked him if he knows why biting is bad and he does, saying “Because it hurts people and that’s mean.” I’ve taken away his favorite toys and made it clear why he’s losing them and how good behavior can get them back. And even though I did get mad at him, I also told him I love him, we all make mistakes and that I know he’s a good boy. Other than that, I’m just not sure what else to do.

People always tell me to look for a silver lining. I guess if he ever becomes a professional soccer player whose plane crashes in the Andes, he’ll have no problem surviving. And, when he becomes an infamous serial killer in a couple of decades, perhaps I’ll stand to make a tidy profit when I sell the rights to his story.

Or this could mean he’s on the brink of becoming a famous sports broadcaster. Only time will tell.

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Preschool Atrocities

We have not had good luck with daycares.

We thought our first provider was a godsend and we viewed her as part of the family. But then we found out she was letting her personal problems affect how she handled Will, and it ended with her calling my son names IN FRONT OF HIM. Our second go-round was another in-home provider who turned out to be a complete bigot. Then, we found out she was letting Will sit around in his own shit all day.

I told you. Not a good track record.

But that all changed last September when we found Will’s current preschool. It’s a facility instead of in-home, which has turned out to be wonderful. It’s an accredited facility with educated, trained teachers. They are fun, dedicated, kind and Will absolutely adores them. In fact, I’m happy to say my son has flourished over the past nine months and continues to progress at an astounding pace. Except for the school’s bizarre “No Apology” rule, it’s flat out perfect.

Or at least it was, until yesterday.

MJ and I got out of work at the same time, so we decided to surprise Will by picking him up together. We walked into the building, said hi to a few teachers and meandered downstairs to the playroom. The kids were all outside cavorting on the playground, so MJ and I decided to watch for a minute and get a glimpse of how Will gets along with all the other kids.

I smiled as he ran around  like a maniac with his friends, his back turned to us the whole time, playing some version of “tag” and having a blast. Then MJ and I made our way through the door and called out to him. And that’s when I saw it.

He was wearing a New York Yankees hat!!!!

As parents we all fear what goes on when we leave our precious cargo in the hands of others. I’m no different. But after nine months of exemplary care, I guess I had let my guard down and grown complacent. However, when I came face-to-face with the atrocities kids can suffer, it was jarring to say the least.

“Get that awful thing off of your head RIGHT NOW!” I shouted, startling Will, his teacher and bringing the flurry of playground activity to a grinding halt.

Will whipped the hat off his head and looked around in confusion, as his bottom lip started to tremble. I rushed over to him, grabbed him by both arms and—with tears in both our eyes—confronted him about what was happening.

“Will. Do you know what was on your head?”

“A hat.”

“Do you know what kind of hat?”

“A blue hat?”

“Will. Son. You were just wearing…a Yankees hat!”

His eyes went wide as saucers as he stared at me incredulously. Then he looked down at the discarded hat in disgust, fell to his knees and began apologizing profusely in between convulsions. I held him close and channeled Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, telling him it wasn’t his fault. It’s not your fault Will. It’s not your fault.

Some of you might be thinking “What’s the big deal?” But as a dedicated Red Sox fan and the father of a Red Sox diehard in training, there is no worse tragedy that could befall an upstanding Red Sox youth than what happened with my son.

I’d rather have Sarah Palin come to my kid’s preschool as a guest lecturer on politics while taking the class on an aerial wolf hunting field trip. I’d rather have Louise Woodward hired as the school’s new nanny. If Mel Gibson came to school to talk on Diversity Day, I’d be less upset than seeing my son wearing an emblem of evil.

For you see, that “NY” insignia is representative of all that is wrong with society. It’s about greed and corruption of power. It’s teaching my son that money solves everything. It sends the message that it’s OK to be named Vinny and grease your hair to the point of absurdity while wearing multiple ostentatious gold chains around your neck. It’s spitting in the face of my father, his father and all my other relatives who have dedicated themselves to hating the Yankees for more than a century.

I have no idea how long that hat was on my son’s head. Just to be on the safe side, we took Will home and put him in the shower immediately where he was given a haz-mat level scrubbing. The extent of the damage might not be known for weeks, and I can only hope the recovery time is minimal. I tried talking to him a little more extensively about what happened but, like anyone who has been through a traumatic experience, he didn’t want to delve into it. That’s probably for the best.

In the meantime, we talked of Big Papi, Youk and Dustin Pedroia’s laser show. And all was right with the world.

Unfortunately, MJ and I both work so we had to send him back to school today. But we made sure he had his Red Sox Kid Nation hat so there would be no more confusion. I also went and altered his emergency medical forms, adding “New York Yankees” and “Pinstripes” to his list of potentially deadly allergies.

I can only hope that by sharing this frightening tale, I can prevent it from happening to other unsuspecting kids and parents.

Stay safe out there. And the Yankees suck!

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No Apologies

from www.parentszone.com

I was picking Will up from preschool yesterday when I turned the corner and saw him and another boy pushing each other.

Normally this would be no big deal, but this has been an issue all week. When we ask him what he did at school, he says “(Name of kid) punched me.” Then he says he punched him back. I talked to the teachers but they haven’t seen anything like that going on. Toddlers have a tendency to lie sometimes, or at the very least stretch the truth. But when I caught him red-handed, I got ready to dole out some fatherly pearls of wisdom.

I walked over to Will and the other boy and I told Will hitting is wrong. I told him he should always try to use his words. And then I told him to apologize.

That’s when the weirdness started. Will’s teacher came over and I filled her in on what went down. But I told her not to worry because I already addressed it and Will had already apologized to the other kid. And that’s when she dropped a bombshell on me.

“Oh. Well we don’t have kids this young say ‘I’m sorry’ to each other.”

The quizzical look on my face prompted her to continue.

“The philosophy at this school is that kids this age don’t have a full understanding of what ‘I’m sorry’ means. So if we made them say it, they wouldn’t understand it and essentially they’d be lying.”

I love our preschool. It’s done wonders for Will and I’m appreciative. But that shit is just ridiculous. My son is 2 years and 10 months old. But dammit he knows the difference between right and wrong. And more important, he knows what it is to be sorry and when he should feel guilty. Like the times I catch him grabbing the cat’s fur. I don’t even have to say a word—I just give him a look—and he immediately stops and says “Sorry Dad.” Because he knows it’s wrong to do that. Just like he knows it’s wrong to hit.

I shouldn’t be surprised. Our preschool also avoids time-outs because they think they’re unproductive. I disagree. I think when used properly, time-outs are very effective. I’m also not opposed to spanking my son under extreme circumstances. Not that I would ever want any school doling out corporal punishment on my son. I’m just saying I think going soft on the kids all the time with no fear of real punishment is counter-productive.

It’s just disheartening that the wussification of our kids starts this young. Instead of a stern talking-to, time-out or a mandated apology, now we have “redirection” and positive reinforcement. I can just imagine these kids sitting around in a “Circle of Feelings” or some other such bullshit. Instead of getting all new-agey and ridiculous, just make them apologize and shake hands. And perhaps a time-out and some loss of play time would deter them from doing it again.

Kids this age know what’s what. If they hurt another kid, of course they should be made to apologize. Hell, we taught Will manners before he could even talk by teaching him sign language for “please” and “thank you.” He had no friggin clue about those concepts, but it’s a good habit to get him into. Just like apologizing when you do something wrong.

I get the distinct feeling the feel-good, everybody’s-a-special-winner mentality of today’s educational philosophy is going to rub me the wrong way for years to come.

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The Journey Downstairs

On Friday I dropped Will off at daycare a toddler. This morning, he walked in a little man.

The upstairs of the building is reserved for newborns and kids under 3. The downstairs is for the “big kids.” Preschool. For a few months now I’ve noticed Will is the oldest and biggest kid upstairs. And, not to brag (OK, specifically to brag), but he’s also so advanced. He’s just so fucking smart. His vocabulary, the way he grasps concepts, the way he interacts with people. I’d watch him with the younger kids and they just seemed like they were on two different planes.

So they decided to move him in with the big kids today. Even though the move was technically downstairs, it felt like he was being called up to the major leagues.

He’s growing up so damn fast. And as old as he looked next to the younger kids upstairs, he looked like such a baby amongst the older kids. He’s now the youngest one in his class, a small fish in a big pond. But thankfully he seems to love it. Will has always gravitated towards older kids, so I have no doubt he’ll weave himself right into the fabric of downstairs life.

I made fun of MJ over the weekend because she got a little emotional about the move. Yet there I was this morning, trying not to look like I was choked up as my preschooler barely gave me a kiss goodbye so he could go off and play with the big kids.

But it wasn’t just Will brushing by me. It’s the inexorable march of time that never ceases to stun parents. It’s blinking an eye and watching your newborn take his first steps. It’s turning your head for just a split second, and when you glance back you see a full-fledged toddler who’s starting preschool. Sometimes I’m afraid to take my eyes off him for fear that when I look back I’ll be watching him head off to college.

I’m learning that being a parent not only means celebrating each milestone, but also lamenting them a tiny bit.

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The Parent-Teacher Conference

Here we go. Judgment Day. It all comes down to this.

On Monday we had our first parent-teacher conference at Will’s preschool. And if you think it’s more than a little odd and disconcerting to have a parent-teacher conference for a 2.5-year-old, you’re not alone. When I first saw the sign-up sheet I did a double take. But being new to the school and not wanting to seem like an inexperienced rube of a first-time parent, I dutifully signed up for a time to sit down with Miss Heather, our son’s teacher, and acted like it was no big deal.

But I was panicked on the inside. And the anxiety bubbling to the surface was nothing short of an impending volcanic eruption.

The rational part of my brain knows Will is only 2.5 years old. I know even though they’re calling it a “parent-teacher conference,” at this age there really can’t be too much to discuss. After all, what’s the worst they could say? Will doesn’t eat all of his lunch? He’s not quiet during story time? He eats too much paste during arts and crafts? He’s just a little kid.

Yet there I was before the meeting, stressing the fuck out.

I pictured Miss Heather telling us he doesn’t get along well with others. That he has no social skills. I worried about hearing that Will spends his days carving the heads off of dolls and chanting methodically in the corner. After all, surely these conferences are documented. Whatever atrocities Will has committed will no doubt be recorded on his permanent record and be forwarded to the advanced recruiters for all the Ivy League schools. Because this is serious shit. Right??

The whole experience also rocketed me straight back to the 6th grade and had me reliving my own parent-teacher night from 20 years ago. I was in Mr. Silvia’s math class and for the first time in my life I was struggling. That is to say, I wasn’t getting an “A” in a subject. And I was distraught. Things had come so easily for me up until that point and my parents were used to seeing a cavalcade of straight As on my report card. But middle school math came out of nowhere and made me its bitch. And the thought of my parents finding out what was happening was making my physically sick.

Fast forward to present day and that vomitous feeling returned, but this time I found myself on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Turns out I’m an idiot and all my fretting was needless.

Miss Heather said Will is ridiculously advanced for his age, acclimating well to his new school and — most important — getting along well with his classmates. Which is something he had big trouble with in the past. Soon he’ll be transitioning to the preschool part of the school and the curriculum will get a little more intense. But it sounds like he’ll be able to handle it just fine.

I always swore I wasn’t going to be one of those overbearing parents who makes a huge deal out of things like parent-teacher conferences. But walking into a situation in which your kid — and by extension you, as parents — will be judged and graded, is nerve-racking as hell. I’m not sure if Miss Heather could tell how tightly wound I was during the meeting, but I’ve realized going forward I need to relax and take it all in stride.

I was so uptight as a kid about my grades I’d have mini nervous breakdowns once every couple of months. My goal as a parent is to find that middle ground where I stress the importance of hard work and good grades, without sending Will careening over the edge of anxiety.

Easier said than done.

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