Friday, June 11, 2010

Gotta have a Fiddler in the Band

Warning: The first few paragraphs are basically me venting about daycare. However, there is a nice little ditty to the tune of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" at the bottom. :0)
My daughter started a new preschool a couple of weeks ago and this was a big deal for us. I have always been a working mother out of necessity. She entered daycare at 6 weeks old. Daycare has been a necessary evil for us since day one. I won't go into everything, but I will briefly mention the time she was about 3 months old and the 80 year old nursery worker decided to use her age old remedy of scrubbing cradle cap off of her head. Apparently this also meant scrubbing her actual hair off of her head. She had about one third of the hair she had when I dropped her off that morning when I picked her up and her scalp was bright read for days. . .and the cradle cap came back. . .and she has an irrational fear of water and baths to this day. I blame the 80 year old daycare worker. I was horrified.

I will also mention the time she was barely 2 years old and she began pitching EXTREME fits which led to 2 hour mornings just to get her in the car and into the daycare center. After a few weeks of this, a daycare employee mentioned that she hadn't eaten again that day. I said, "really? Again? Did she not eat yesterday either?" Her reply? That she hadn't eaten  or engaged with another child while in their care for 2  weeks!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Personally, I felt this was something that should have been addressed a liiittle sooner than 2 weeks of this behavior. 9 hours is a long time to go with out eating or interacting with anyone.  I worked with her pediatrician to make sure nothing was occurring developmentally or physically. There was nothing to note. So, I took her out of traditional daycare and placed her with a highly recommended woman who kept children in her home. It worked out beautifully, although it was a little bit of a drive in the opposite direction of my job. I probably would have driven to China,  though.

This arrangement lasted a little over a year. Drawing on Liliana's ques, as well as her caretaker's, I decided it was time for her to reenter daycare in a structured preschool setting with children her own age. So, I chose one. The first few days went wonderfully. She then started to have some crying spells. Understandably, the newness had worn off. Then the teachers started to point out a few things about Liliana's behavior in a really harsh manner, mainly crying, missing me, wanting to hold her stuffed animal. Then I noticed a few peculiar things such as extremely harsh grading of coloring sheets in her class. One child's had a huge frowny face with the words written in sharpy "DID NOT FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS". I mean, its coloring. What could the instructions be, other than 'Color'. I also witnessed a teacher argue with a 3 year old child for literally 2 minutes of back and forth "Yes you are" "No I'm not" to determine if the child's name was on the timeout list for the day. Is that the best way to handle that situation?

The next day, when I went to pick her up, they were still doing lessons. So, I stood at the door and watched. Liliana was sitting at a table all by herself and not participating at all whatsoever. Come to find out, she was in time out for crying because she missed me. I understand if she was disrupting the class or something, but that doesn't appear to be the case. I'm then told that the only way they got her to stop crying was to tell her that her mommy wasn't going to pick her up as long as she cried. Um, hello????? Are you seriously instilling the fear of abandonment in my child????????
Re-entering daycare has been such a huge challenge for her and I am so proud of the progress she has made. I remind her every morning that I will be back to get her no matter what. The LAST thing I need is her questioning or doubting that.

A couple of days later I get a note sent home. The most condescending note you can imagine informing me that "Pioneer kids are independent" and if Liliana has a pacie at home I need to get rid of it "immediately" and she needs to be able to pull her pants up and down all by herself every time because, again, "the rest of our kids are independent".  Now, I get the basic premise of this note is valid. She needs to work on going potty all by herself and she's too old for a pacie, its hard to console her when she wants it at school if she's still allowed to have it at home. I get all of that. But you don't get to tell me what to do at home and of course we are working on both of these things. And Liliana is 3 and has been in your program for 2 weeks. She will be able to do the things the rest of the class is doing, but jeez! cut her some slack! The majority of the time she does pull her pants up and down by herself, but sometimes they get rolled up and its hard. Help a kid out. And she misses her mom, her pacie is what she is used to having as a comfort item, naturally she is going to cry for it at first. Give her some time.

Finally, the clincher, what really irritated the crap out of me, was this morning. Liliana had to potty when we got there. Since her class was outside, I took her. Since we were there, we went by their rules. I encouraged her to do it all by herself. She started crying and a teacher came in and got her by the hand and led her to the playground without asking any questions or anything. One of the directors pulled me aside and started doing her arms like she was playing a fiddle. Then she proceeds to tell me that Liliana was playing me like a fiddle. That she was the boss and I was letting her win. She said I was no longer allowed to walk her in. I had to leave her at the door. We would nip this crying in the bud. And then she fiddled me on out the door. I was left standing there like "What the heck?!?!" You don't pull me away from my child! And you sure as hell don't fiddle me!

But, maybe they're right. Maybe she needs some tough love. I'm all for giving it a try. If she begins protesting, stops eating, becomes withdrawn, etc again. I'll form a new plan. I just hope I've sent her to a nurturing, developmentally inspiring, fun-filled place. . .and not a rigid boot camp.

I did, however, write a song inspired by the fiddle experience. Its to the tune of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia". I hope you'll enjoy.

My child went down to Pioneer, she was lookin to be babied still
She was in a bind 'cos she was way behind: she didn't wanna make no deal
When she came across this teacher grading papers and grading em hard
And my child jumped upon the table and said: "Lady let me tell you what:

"I bet you didn't know it, but I take a pappy, I do.
I won't do it here, but when I'm home my mommy makes the rules.
Now if you say Pioneer kids are an independent group.
I bet a pappy of gold against your soul, 'cos I think I'm independent too.
Cuz I've seen their frowns, I've seen their fear, But I'm a little different fool."

The teacher walked her to the bathroom and she said: "I'll make the laws."
And fire flew from her fingertips as she pointed to a stall.
And she ordered her to do it all herself, she's a big kid, afterall.
When the teacher hushed, Liliana said: "Well, you're pretty good ol' friend.
But I'm just three so when my pants get stuck, my mommy gives me a hand."

Fire on the playground, run kids, run
Liliana's in the house of the risin' sun.
Pappy in her mouth, Red dog in tow.
"Honey, does your dog bite??"
"No, he's feaux."

The teacher bowed her head because she knew that she'd been beat.
She laid her giant sharpie on the ground at Liliana's feet.
Liliana said: "Teacher just come on back, we'll do it again, we will.
I told you once, you condescending twirp, I suck my pappy still.

And she sang, "Fire on the playground, run, kids, run.
Liliana's in the house of the risin' sun.
Pappy in her mouth, Red dog in tow.
"Honey, does your dog bite??"
"No, he's feaux."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Jesus Loves Me This I Know

I grew up involved in church. Children's choir, Vacation Bible School, Youth group and retreats. . .I was even in a hand bell choir for a short while. Its much more fun then one would imagine! I wonder where I could get in with a good handbell choir today. I have time for that, right? It was in college at Auburn, however, that I really began to grow in my faith and explore myself as a spiritual person. Like many, after I graduated the "fire" wore off and I've been at many different places in regards to my faith and relationship with God since leaving college. While I've attended many churches, I haven't found that church home that I so relied on for support, accountability, fellowship, and consistency during my years in Auburn. So, I officially renewed the search today.  Three year old in tow. Obviously, Liliana has traveled along MY road of faith for the past 3 years, unable to choose the paths of her own. This is a responsibility I may have taken too lightly. You'll see why consistency is hugely important when it comes to children and raising them within a certain faith. Not just a consistent Christian lifestyle, but a consistent form of formal worship and fellowship with others.

Liliana was dedicated as an infant at the church I was attending at the time of her birth.

Such a happy day! I had good intentions, I really did. But then, I got tired. I could tell you about all of the things that have made me tired beginning about 3 months after she was born and continuing over the last 3 years. Some of you would sympathize or even empathize. Some of you would tell me that these are the times I should make sure I surround myself with a faith family because its when you need them the most. And you'd be right. I could then argue with you about my severe Anemia. And my body doesn't absorb iron and you'd shake your head empathically while thinking "Lame-O, get off your lazy butt and go to church".  I could tell you the woes of single parenthood, but you'd continue nodding your head and patting my shoulder with a kind, but questioning look on your face while you thought, "Listen, chick, we've all got a sob story." and I'd know that's what you were thinking and panic and probably burst into tears and yell, "DON'T JUDGE ME!! I'm doing the best I can". So, let's avoid that and pick up right where I left off. Let's recap and allow everyone to get back on track while I grab a Xanax and a glass of water: Liliana was dedicated, we've attended church, read bible stories and sang Jesus Loves me sparatically, but I've basically fallen down in my some of my parental duties of raising her in a the Christian faith, not all of them, but some of them, namely church attendance. Fast forward a few years and Liliana and I choose a church to attend and we set out on our Sunday morning adventure. Oh yeah, and somewhere along the line you began judging me, but now I'm properly medicated and all is right with the world. Everyone caught up?
During the car ride, we talked about how its going to be and I gave her the options of going to the kids room and playing with all the kids which will be so so so fun or if she wants to sit with Mommy the first time that's fine too, but there are certain times we have to be really quiet. We went over all of those. We wouldn't want a repeat of last Sunday's dinner when a sweet couple had us over and said a prayer before we ate. My child, of course, not used to this routine (parenting FAIL) starts freaking out and wanting to know why everyone is just standing there with their eyes closed. If you know my child, you know that things freak her out. Anything that isn't quite right requires immediate explanation. . . and good explanation. None of this "Just because" stuff. And if you don't answer quickly, she panics, and gets loud. So, I tried to explain to her what all would happen and how we needed to act. Some of the terms in there were "talking to Jesus", "singing and thanking God", "learn about God and Jesus".  I'll also insert that she is very well aware that when the people and animals (I know, I know) we love have died, they have gone to heaven to be with Jesus. As far as I could tell she was taking it all in and we were going to have a successful Sunday morning. Wrong. Somehow this baby at church

turned into this baby at church:

First, we were led by a nice young boy, who insisted on taking the eery stairs where they are storing VBS stage props btw, to the children rooms. We walked in and a couple of very nice youth were in her class, which was painted entirely like an ocean (she's a wee bit afraid of the ocean and all of the sea creatures it contains). There were no other kids in there so I inquired and the girl said all of the kids just moved up, so it'd just be Liliana. She wasn't having any part of this. Exorcism number one was performed and we eventually walked back upstairs. By this time the service had began. So, I thought we'd just slip in the back and join in the upbeat singing and have us a glorious time. One of the men I've coined 'the silent ushers' handed me a bulletin and I opened the door. I kid you not, all four of her limbs secured themselves on the door facing like a cat resisting a ride to the vet in a pet carrier. It wasn't happening. The silent ushers stood their posts, waiting for another straggler to hand a bulletin to. So, I peel her off and duck into the closest room I see. Luckily, it was the women's restroom. Exorcism number two is performed and we sit on a comfy little sofa and talk things over again. We read a book we'd brought along. I pull out 'Clifford' and even purple pappy (whole nother blog). And when I think we're ready again, we head back towards the sanctuary. The silent ushers both open a door for us this time (so helpful) and both extend a bulletin. We have one, thanks. As soon as we start to sit. The drummer gets going and everyone stands. Chaos breaks out in our corner and a three year old darts towards the doors faster than you can say 'what the?'. So, I follow. The door is already open (Thanks silent usher #1). I catch up to her in the lobby and we walk outside and sit on a bench to figure this out. I'm ready to call it quits and head back home with my chin to my chest. Feeling like a failure destined to raise an evildoer due to my lack of enthusiasm for church attendance. But, as avid as she is about not going in, she insists we aren't leaving either. Exorcist number three is performed and she gathers her self and states "Let's go in and sit on a bench". I say ok, not questioning at this point, and we do. As we pass a couple in the lobby, the man loudly whispers, "How much you wanna bet they'll be right back out here?, followed by an even louder "shhhhhhhhhhhhhh" by his wife. My patience far, far out the window and having blown up 65, and probably spread along Tennessee somewhere,  I swing my head around and give them the "I so heard you" glare. Ah, church, making me such a better person already. To my shock and awe, we sit this time and DO NOT leave again (Thank you very much doubting Thomases in the lobby). Liliana buries her sweet little head in my arm most of the time as I do the things I usually do when I attend a new church, scope out its wedding potential, scope out the congregation for groom potential, read the bulletin for a better understanding of the church's main focus, and pay attention when I see folks jotting things down rigorously on the sermon outline. During my perusing of the congregation, my eyes fell upon a big black window on the back wall of the room. I thought, huh, guess the sound guys are in there? And didn't give it another thought. During my perusing of the bulletin I read a paragraph that noted, "A nursery and sunday school program is provided for children of all ages. However, if you wish for them to attend the service, a sound proof cry room is available where you may tend to them without missing the sermon, worship, or prayer times." GEE, SILENT USHERS, would have been nice to know about this room 3 exorcisms, disruptions, and near nervous breakdowns ago! But thanks for the many bulletins you offered me.

When the service was over, everyone starts to get up and mingle. My darling child looks up at me with big huge eyes and in all sincerity says, " Now is it time for Jesus to come out?". Bless her sweet little heart. Of course she thought we were going to be seeing Jesus in the flesh this morning. And of course that would scare you when the things you associate with him include dead animals and really old sick people along with piece milled bible stories about whales swallowing people and having to fight lions. This whole time she was anticipating a face to face meeting with Jesus. I might be a little scared too had I a three year old's understanding of it all.

I'm glad today happened, though. I have been content at times in my life without having a church family and been able to sustain a close personal relationship with God. But as I often have to remember, its not about me alone anymore. I learn this in so many different ways every day. The things that a church can provide for a small child, the type of understanding of the Christian faith, of God, Jesus, and Salvation they can convey is something I can't do on my own. I'm not sure if we'll end up at this church permanently, but the search is on. And next Sunday, the first thing I look for is a cry room. . .and usher's with voices.