What am I Paying You For?

You place your children in their care for more than 8 hours a day. You trust them with your most precious possession; those little bodies that you nurtured and grew inside of you for nine months; or else waited patiently for months, maybe years to become their mama. Many of you came out of the workforce, or chose occupations so that you could avoid having to give them your children. I’ve heard plenty of mamas say, “I didn’t want a day care raising my kids.”

But for the rest of us, who by necessity, or by choice (it’s both for me), day care, nursery school, preschool, whatever you want to call it does play a large role in raising our children. We go to great strides to pick out the best ones. When they were younger, I wanted a place were they would be loved all over and safe. Just safe. They were with a wonderful Ghanaian woman who I still keep in contact with who had a family day care. But the drive was 20 minutes both ways, and when I started the law school portion of my program, and my fibromyalgia got bad, I couldn’t do the drive anymore.

So then God sent us “GaGa,” one of my best friend’s mother, who came over every day and was more like a grandmother than a nanny. And Big A (my almost 5 year old) went to a very reputable half-day laboratory preschool twice a week that cost as much as we paid our Ghanaian care provider for full time care. But everyone said how great it was. And it was.

Big A’s vocabulary tripled that year. He became so independent. I loved the way he was growing. Little A (my three year old) was always at home with GaGa, who loved her to pieces, and had known her since she was a baby. I was comfortable with the care my children were receiving – most of the time, they’d been with black women who were like family. If there was a disciplinary issue, they handled it. If there was an eating issue, they handled it. We were just on the same page. (Except when the Ghanaian was feeding Little A Vienna Sausages, canned meat product – I did have an issue with that.) Big A was just starting to venture into the “real” world, and he was doing great in it.

Fast forward to this year. The real world is hitting my kids like a wall of bricks. They have three care providers on a daily basis: one preschool in the morning, a babysitter that gives them lunch, and another preschool in the afternoon. Why? The short answer is GaGa is moving; the afternoon preschool is the “great” one that Big A started in two years ago and it just stuck; but it’s only half day so I needed to put them in something in the morning hence the other preschool; but there’s a 45 minute gap that neither school will allow the children to eat lunch at so hence the mid-day babysitter. *Sigh.*

And while the schedule isn’t so bad, as the children seem well adjusted to it, it’s more the, how do I say…issues that have been popping up that I’m not quite sure how to deal with. And this has been an issue for me in all service oriented things, not just day care. The question is this:

How do I tell someone that I’m paying, but who is performing really an invaluable service for me, that I’m not really appreciative of the way they are treating/talking to/assessing/simply coming at me with craziness and nonsense?

Case in point: A few days ago, we got a report that the Big A was eating too much snack at school. *Pause* *Blink* What? What do you mean he’s eating too much snack? My first thought was this: although we do get a generous scholarship, the Big A’s tuition is $11,000 a year, not including the summer. Yes, you read that correctly: $11K. And we bring snack everyday to share with the other children. Sooooooo….to me, he can eat as much snack as he wants! For $11K a year, y’all should be servin’ a meal!

And what added insult to injury, was not just that he’s eating too much, it was that he was “taking more than his fair share.”

He’s 4. (and three-quarters, to have him tell it. But you get what I’m saying.) Does he even have a concept of his “fair share”? Are are they just saying my boy is greedy?

And I can imagine it – him sitting there, eyes big at the rice cakes and bananas, oranges and string cheese. I know my child; he’s stuffing it all in his mouth like he doesn’t get fed at home….he’s coughing and gagging because he’s eating too fast…and he’s hungry because he didn’t eat his lunch, b/c he’s waiting for the snacks…yeah, all that.

And now I’m just mad. Mad because they are attributing these grown up concepts to my child who is just hungry. And mad because I also feel like this is a waste of my time, time that I’m paying them for. Is this really a parental problem that they should be bringing to me, with my $11K on the line? For $11K, y’all can’t handle that? (And again, let me say, we don’t pay $11K, due to generous donors and the scholarship fund. But that’s neither here nor there. We still pay a lot. And the teachers don’t know how much we pay.)

I just feel like we pay too much to have to deal with all this little stuff at the day care. I know that I am still raising my kids, even though they are at day care, but in all honesty, I’m paying for their help.  If they are coming to me to report every time the Big A eats too much snack – what do they expect me to do? I know some parents would come during snack time and sit with their child and see what’s going on – I’m not doing that.

The Big A and I talked about it, mostly to say that I was going to tell the teachers that he had to eat whatever was left in his lunchbox before he could have any snack. Easy. Case closed.

And you know what? He ate his entire lunch. I didn’t even ask them about snack today I was so annoyed, and figured that they were bold enough to tell us once, they’d be bold enough to say it again. But what are you going to do? I guess the lesson is when you ask for help, you can’t complain about the form in which it comes.

4 thoughts on “What am I Paying You For?

  1. My daughter has ALWAYS been an eater. It’s actually kinda funny in our family. She’s known for it but particularly because she is skinny and I’m mean super skinny not regular child skinny.

    She’s 14 now and still has a very healthy appetite (and is still super skinny). I remember when she started school at parents evening her teacher told me that she “eats very well”. In fact, she eats seconds AND thirds. WTF? It wasn’t because I wasn’t feeding her. She’d have breakfast at home AND breakfast at the school breakfast club. She’d eat lunch at school and then eat at after school club and dinner when we got in in the evening.

    Still skinny.

    I’m glad my child has a health appetite after I see what a lot of parents have to go through. One good thing though is that my child also has a thing for healthy eating. She’s old enough now to know what’s good for her and what’s not but when she was younger she would always ask “is this good for me?” before deciding whether to eat something or not.

    Your son’s school need to get over it. So long as he is not making himself sick………….If you’re paying for it he can eat it.

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  2. Ugh, LaToya, this behavior from the school really bothers me, too. I don’t blame you for being angry. As the mom of a son who has battled some food anxiety due to early malnutrition, this really gets to me. We’ve been lucky to have teachers who are understanding and non-judgmental and let him eat as much as he wants. And so his anxieties have decreased. But basically, children of that age eat because they’re hungry, and if it’s healthy food, well they should be able to eat until they’re done. “More than his fair share”? Give me a break.

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  3. This is not something they should be bothering you with. Ugh. And, honestly, I have to wonder if they would bother your husband with it. Maybe I’m wrong in your case, but my husband and I get very different treatment from our daycare center.

    Our daycare provider suggested we needed to call social services and get some sort of play therapy when my daughter went through a biting phase at age 1.5. I ignored their advice but was totally traumatized by it and worried sick that something might really be wrong with her. Until she grew out of the phase 3 months later. Doh.

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  4. I’m less bothered that they mentioned it, and more concerned about what was motivating them to do so. Do you think they brought this up to you because they made assumptions about his nutrition, or lack thereof, at home? And did they make those assumptions because you’re of color? My first thought was “do they bring us these issues with white parents?” and the thought pisses me off. But maybe I’m just being paranoid.

    Julia is spot on; if children are hungry, they should be able to eat as much as they want. Kids are remarkably effective at regulating their calorie intake; if they’re hungry, they eat. If they’re not, they don’t. It’s not until we start messing them up (just one more ounce, finish all the milk, baby!; you will not get up from the table until you’ve cleaned your entire plate!) that they unlearn what is is like to be hungry and satiated. If the teachers believed he was eating “more than his share” then they should have just asked you to bring a little more snack for sharing time.

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