Friday, December 12, 2014

The heart grew three sizes that day

I am not sure where to begin.  First, my last post was in February.  I am sad to say that nearly a year has passed.  But with an almost-three-year old, and a 50 hour/week job, I spend every spare minute with my nugget.

These past 10 months have been busy, to say the least.  There have been ups and downs and bumps and bruises. Mostly my own!  And company and travel and the zoo and play dates and new friends. I'll try to catch up.  But today is about the heart that grew three sizes.

As a parent, it is our instinct to do everything we can to protect our children.  It leads to overreacting and being irrational from time to time.  But it mostly results in what is ultimately best for everyone.

Our little nugget is almost 100% potty trained.  This is not a poop blog, but that's the only part that isn't "trained" yet.  No more wet pants...but wet pants is where this blog begins.

I am a working mom.  I have to rely on others to care for, nurture and stimulate my child for 9 hours a day, 5 days a week.  That is a difficult pill to swallow on a good day.  On a bad day, it's hard to not just quit my job. And in 10 months, there have been plenty of both days.  Recently, Bry's potty training had regressed.  And there seemed to be a lot of inconsistency at school. The director was absent for what seemed like weeks. The teachers were all over the place.  The children in B's room outnumbered the teacher at a ratio of sometimes 15-1.  I know...laws prevent that.  It was a mess.  A huge mess.

But there were two teachers that made me feel as if it were time to either quit my job, or find another school. With foreclosure not being an option, I took a tour of another school.  A new friend of mine, who also happens to be the  mother of Bry's BFF, was along for the ride.  We both realized that people cannot change behavior if they do not know the behavior is problematic for others.  So we spoke up to the assistant director.  The problem got better, but we were still skeptical of the longevity of our relationship with this school.

Fast forward a month:  We were told that "a new student" had joined the school and their mom dropped off at the beginning of nap time.  This mid-day drop-off made for lots of tears and loss of sleep for all the kids.  No naps for a week makes for some meltdown-prone children.  15 of them.  Which adds to the stress for the parents, the teachers AND the children.

On Wednesday, I was picking Bryan up after work and all the children were outside enjoying the last 15 minutes of daylight on the 65-degree day.  I bent down to let B run into my arms when a little girl came and sat on my lap.  I had never seen her before. And it was weird.  Children of this age do not generally like to sit in a strange lap.  Let alone force themselves into it.  I frantically looked for a teacher hoping for a little relief in this very odd situation. The very friendly little girl quite obviously had some special needs.  She is non-verbal and her hands seemed clenched as if she has cerebral palsy but she walks (and runs!) quite well, so that's likely not her condition. Her sweet little face is asymmetrical with a protruding forehead and sunken eyes.

I found the entire 30-second exchange quite odd, but didn't really give it another thought.  Yesterday morning, I was dropping Bry off when i saw TWO girls.  Yes.  It seems that the lap-sitter from the day before has an identical twin sister.  They were quite a handful for the two teachers who were also managing a room of 10 other nap-deprived children that were not loving drop off time.

And now we get to the part I am embarrassed to write.

I immediately thought, that's it.  THIS is the last straw.  Those girls are the problem. They are why Bry isn't napping and they are requiring too much attention from the teachers that should also be spending time with the other children.  This school is not equipped to  handle these two girls and it's affecting my son's well-being.  After the holidays I'll find a new school for him.

Yesterday afternoon, I picked Bry up a little early so that we could go to a birthday party.  I had not had a great day. Work was even more stressful than usual, other things were cluttering my brain, and the icing on the cake was running late to pick B up only to find he had pooped in his underpants as I was walking in the door. Ugh.

I got him cleaned up and we walked back in his classroom to get his jacket.  The two new girls were there.  Bryan saw one of the girls had dropped her favorite classroom toy and was somewhat distraught about it.  My son saw the toy across the room, walked over, picked it up and handed it to the little girl.  And without a second thought he said, "see you tomorrow (name I didn't understand)" and turned to walk out with me.

To paraphrase "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," I puzzled and puzzled till my puzzler was sore. Then I thought of something I hadn't before.  "Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!"

You see.  It is not my son that needs a new school. It was his mother that needed a new perspective. My son cried through his first nap on a cot.  And he cried through the nap the day he got stung by a bee.  And he cried through a nap one day because he missed his mommy.  It is not a "condition" of the child that makes them cry through their nap.  It's their state of mind.  These two precious little girls were dropped off in a new place where all the toys had been put away, the lights turned off and all the kids were sitting on really weird little cot thingies. That's no fun. I'd cry too.  It probably looked like a concentration camp to them.

Their mother is faced with the same dilemma I face every day.  Balancing her fierce love of her children with the fact that bills do not get paid if she does not work.  She doesn't like dropping them off any more than I like dropping Bryan off.  And her daughters want the same thing my son wants.  To play and make friends and have fun and be cared for and feel safe when Mommy can't be there.

And we want the same thing for our children. Health and happiness and for other children to be kind to them.  I want to thank those precious little girls for helping me better understand...well... everything!  My heart grew three sizes that day.

There will be no school changes any time soon.