#280 In which our hero relates the events of The Great Daycare Debacle (part 4)
So it came to pass that I didn’t get to any of the projects I had planned for when I had the house to myself, because I was too busy calling and visiting daycare centers. I stuck to commercial centers (we weren’t going to put our kids into private care again) that were reasonably close to the house, so that narrowed the choices down to four.
Finding daycare this time around was a little trickier, since Lily would be going to Kindergarten in the fall, meaning the center would have to transport her to school in the morning, and pick her up at the last bell. Then she’d be at the center until The Scientist or I could pick her up around 5:30.
One school on the list didn’t transport to her Kindergarten, so it was right out. Another one was at the intersection of two really busy streets, and I thought it would be a nightmare getting in and out of there. A third was fantastic, but just too expensive.
That left one.
This center was housed in an old schoolhouse, so it had plenty of big, spacious classrooms. But “old” is the key word here. It was a little run-down… not dilapidated, but certainly not new. The basement smelled like mildew. The (admittedly large) playground had old, rusted climbing toys. And a swing set without any swings.
I had my reservations, but the people (especially the center director) were really nice. The classroom sizes were small, meaning that our kids would be getting lots of individualized attention. And they had a curriculum plan in place so the girls would be learning something. And we could afford it.
And, honestly, I was running out of time.
I really wanted to put our kids in the awesome center, but since we didn’t have the money, this was probably the next best thing. Or, maybe the only viable option.
So, The Scientist and the girls returned from their trip on Sunday, and we got them ready for the new place on Monday. The beginning of Kindergarten was still a couple months away, which was good in that it gave Lily plenty of time to acclimate to the new place before another disruptive element was added to the routine.
The girls quickly settled in to the new center. And things were fine… not great, but fine.
There were some things that didn’t really raise a red flag, but were a little… off. The woman who monitored the girls first thing in the morning was strange. Quiet, withdrawn, emotionless. Not someone you’d look at and say, “Oh, she just LOVES children!”
After a week or so there, we asked the girls if they were having lessons. They said they weren’t. This confirmed something that we had seen… it appeared that no matter what time of day we picked up, they were just playing. Education is very important to both The Scientist and I, and when asked about the curriculum the center director kept telling us that the teachers were “working on it.”
And then one day some little bastard in the classroom wrote “Kick Me” on the back of Lily’s white shirt, in ink.
We knew this wasn’t the best situation, just an emergency fix. And again, it was what we could afford. We rationalized it by saying that Lily would soon be attending Kindergarten, and would only be spending a few hours at the center. And Macey… well, Macey got the short end of the stick. But there wasn’t much we could do about it.
Lily eventually started going to Kindergarten. We had some bothersome conversations with the center director about transportation. We made it clear that she had to be AT school at a certain time, and had to be picked up FROM school at a certain time. His attitude was very much, “don’t worry, we’ll get her there one way or another!” Which isn’t what we wanted to hear… he may have been lackadaisical about it, but we wanted to know EXACTLY when she would be getting there and EXACTLY who would be driving her to school.
The center had some scheduling issues with Lily. Since she was the only one being dropped off/picked up at this particular school, they had to work around it to get all the other kids where they needed to be. I tried to be understanding and considerate about this… but the director said, “Eh, if she’s a little late, she’s a little late.” To which I relied, “No, she can’t be a little late. She needs to be on time, and it’s YOUR job to make sure she’s on time.”
Things came to a head a couple months later.
At this point Lily was being transported by a teacher in her car instead of the center’s van. This made us a little bit nervous, but we were told that the teacher was "certified" to transport children, whatever that meant. And I guess it didn’t really make a difference if it was a van or a car, right?
One afternoon I showed up to pick up the girls, and Lily’s teacher rushed over to me. She told me that there was an incident, and she wanted to explain what happened before we heard it from Lily.
It seems that this teacher made an illegal right turn on red, and was pulled over for it. She had never gotten a ticket in her life before, and was so upset by the situation, she explained to me, that the center director had to come pick her and Lily up.
Now, I wasn’t that upset by this. I mean, I knew the intersection she was talking about, and even though it’s labeled no right on red, I could see making that mistake. And I’ve been ticketed myself for an illegal turn on red. Lily wasn’t upset or frightened by the experience, and there was no accident or near-miss that might have put her in harm’s way. I was prepared to let it slide.
Then, Lily and I had a conversation on the way home:
ME: Lily, what happened today?
ME: No? You didn’t have a police man stop you on the way home?
LILY: Oh yeah! Miss A--- broke a law!
ME: I heard! And were you frightened when it happened?
ME: Was Miss A--- upset?
LILY: No, not really.
ME: No? She wasn’t crying or anything?
ME: Did the police man say anything to her?
LILY: Yeah! He said she turned wrong.
ME: Yes, she sure did.
LILY: He also said that her license died a year ago.
ME: Wait, what did he say?
LILY: He said her license died a year ago.
ME: Did he maybe say her license expired a year ago?
LILY: Yeah! That’s what he said!
No-one had said anything to me about her license being expired, and I had no reason not to believe my daughter. She sometimes tells tales, but this didn’t seem like something she could make up.
The Scientist was equally concerned about this development. A minor traffic infraction is one thing, but being lied to was something entirely different.
Now, driving on an expired license is a dumb thing, but not necessarily a dangerous thing. It wasn’t like this teacher would drive safer with a valid license. But the real issue was that we were be lied to. Or, at the very least, not told the entire truth.
This incident, in addition to all the other little things that we didn’t like, pretty much decided it for us. We didn’t want the girls there any longer. If the teachers would lie about something like this, then they might lie about other, more important things. And we were not going to leave our kids in a facility that we didn’t trust.
So, we planned to confront the center director the next morning.
To be concluded.