toddler

First Day of Daycare

I am a very sentimental person.  That may surprise you.  Or it may not.  I think I tend to come across as reserved and chilly, so I suppose I feel like I must tell you I’m not.  The truth is, though, that underneath the reserve, I am a mess of emotion and feeling.  I cry at commercials.  I cry at books.  I cry when I think about animals in pet stores waiting to be adopted and how lonely they must feel. When I was a little girl, I cried on New Year’s Eve because I felt bad for the year that was ending and would never come again.  Jimmy and I celebrate the anniversary of the day we met in addition to our wedding anniversary.  I remember and honor certain dates for the tiniest of reasons if they are meaningful to me. The reserve acts as a stopper, a protective shell, from all those feelings because without it, I’d be a gooey puddle of KeAnne, unable to function.

Today was Daniel’s first full day of daycare, and I’ve sort of wanted to cry all day.  And I sort of feel silly for feeling that way because he’s almost 3 years old.  I didn’t cry the day I returned to work when he was 3 months old, so why do I feel so weepy now?   We did two trial runs last week in which I dropped him off for a couple of hours, planted myself outside at the Starbucks two minutes away, waited for a frantic call from the daycare to come get him and read actual books. And no frantic call came. In fact, he seemed to have a good time. Cue relief.

New lunchbox!

Today was different.  I packed his lunch and breakfast last night, agonizing over what to put in.  I was a little frantic this morning because suddenly our normal routine needed to become a more formal.  Since Daniel had been going to MIL’s during the day, I had gotten into the habit of packing his clothes and taking him to her in his pajamas, and she would give him breakfast.  Now he needed to be dressed.  I’m sure he picked up on the heightened stress.  As soon as I turned left out of our subdivision instead of right, it began.  “Ama,” he said.  “Want to see Ama.”  I grimaced and told him he wasn’t going to see her today and that he was going to school.  “No,” he replied firmly. But he didn’t cry.

At daycare, we walked down the hall to his classroom, and there was one other little boy sitting at the table.  I put Daniel’s bag on the hook in his cubby and handed his lunch box to his teacher. I put his breakfast on the table, and looked at him.  He had hung back, watching me, and I could tell he was processing what was going on: the new routine, the new route, no Ama.  I don’t think he quite understands it yet, but he has realized things are different.  He came to me and asked me to pick him up and clung tightly to my neck. But he didn’t cry.

Nutritious, carefully-packed lunch that he probably won't eat.

I rubbed his back, told him I loved him, that I would be back later and that he was going to have a good time.  The teacher picked him up and carried him to the big window so he could wave to me.  I walked out and blew him a kiss, and he blew me a kiss.  But he didn’t cry.

Daniel’s world is very small: me, Jimmy and his grandparents.  That’s part of the reason why we have put him in daycare, to expand his world, but I also think that is why it hurts so much.  In our little world, tiny changes feel huge. I worry he feels abandoned.  I worry that he’s hurting.  And I know my mother-in-law is hurting.

For almost 3 years she took care of him every day.  He knows her house as well as his own.  He was cuddled and kissed and loved, and knowing that he was in excellent hands gave me the ability and peace of mind to return to work.  Last week she made him a small pillow out of Thomas-themed fabric to take to daycare for nap time, and it has a small pocket in it to hold pictures of the family so they can bring him comfort.  He adores that pillow and takes out the pictures all the time to look at them.  Friday afternoon, she hugged him goodbye at our last routine drop-off, tearing up.  I watched her hugging him, and him hugging her, and knowing that Daniel doesn’t realize the significance of the day but we do, and I wanted to cry too.

Behold the Thomas pillow, taken with him everywhere

I love the daycare we picked.  It has very high standards and thorough procedures and processes.  Daniel’s classroom is bright and cheerful, and the teachers are loving.  The children appear happy too.  I have no qualms about the care he will receive, and I know he’ll adjust and likely come to love it.  Today is just…bittersweet.  In some ways I think it is more painful to transition a toddler to daycare than an infant.  Daniel knows things have changed even if he doesn’t quite understand what and why.

Today was marked on our calendar. I anticipated it with equal part fear and excitement. It signifies the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.  And there has been a lot of change already for my little family this year.

To my mother-in-law, thank you.  We are so grateful and appreciative of the care you gave Daniel.

And now I’m off to pick up my baby from his first day of daycare and smother him with hugs and kisses.

The Eye of the Storm

Daniel and I walked in the door at 6 last night.  Despite the fact that he had not napped that day (quickly becoming our new normal), I didn’t feel the usual stress to rush in under two hours to get him fed, into pajamas and have story time before tucking him in.  Even though the adults in my household had grumbled about the time change and its potential impact on our routine, I liked that it was still bright outside when we came home.  I felt calm, peaceful. 

As I started dinner preparations, my peace evaporated.  I felt tired as I maneuvered around three grouchy felines demanding their dinner, eyed the chaos of the refrigerator, and sighed as Daniel spit out a sweet potato fry after taking a bite of it (hey, at least he’s past the throwing food phase). I snapped at him for something so trivial I can’t even remember what it was, and his little face sort of crumpled, I felt like crying myself.

When Jimmy came home, he commented, “You look frazzled.”  I started to launch into why and then I realized that I didn’t really feel frazzled.  The evening was proceeding smoothly for the most part and we were on schedule.  My day had been quiet and tolerable.  Why did I feel so irritated?  And then it hit me.

“I hate our house right now,” I told him.

I hate our house.  I hate our house.  I hate our house. I hate it.  I hate that we are still living in chaos thanks to the damn carpet beetle infestation.  Most of our clothes are in storage at the dry cleaners and the washable items we kept are in 3 laundry baskets haphazardly placed throughout the living room because we can’t put anything back into our drawers until we get the all-clear.  Each night I move among different baskets to pick out an outfit for Daniel for the next day or pajamas for that night.  Toddler socks jumbled together with towels and big people socks and tshirts and underwear, and I’m always afraid I’ll accidentally send along a pair of MY underwear in his bag to grandma’s.

And I wonder if houses can suffer from the Broken Window theory because as I look around, I see disorder and chaos  everywhere.  The sink overflows with dishes again despite being empty only two days before and there is a slightly off smell coming from the sink even though I can’t identify the source.  The three bulbs in my flower beds that have survived the demonic squirrels that proliferate in my area are fighting for space with lush…weeds.  My dining room table and counters are cluttered with mail, paper, receipts and preschool artwork.

The first thing I do when I come home in the evening is check the window sills for the adult beetles because Daniel likes to play there with his cars and trains.  “Lady bug! ” he exclaims, and I rush over to kill it, feeling a tiny niggle of remorse because bless their hearts, the damn things are trying to get out; they don’t want to be here either (and it is their larvae that destroys our clothes, not the adult beetle).   I’m embarrassed by my house and the chaos in which we’re living (because we aren’t filthy people I promise), yet when I try to figure out where to start, I just feel overwhelmed.

And then I wonder who is mirroring whom because when I think about it, I too feel cluttered and messy, barely put together and in need of maintenance.  And old and unlovely, with gray hairs appearing every day and permanent bags under my eyes. 

I want to be able to wave a magic wand and empty the house of everything , make it all go away and start over as I did with my new work computer last week: when the IT guys asked me what I wanted brought over from my old machine, I said, “nothing,” and it has been freeing to have a blank slate.

At times my house has felt like a sanctuary but now it most often feels like someplace I don’t want to be.  That night, I wanted to scream.

But then.

But then.

A small voice said, “Daddy, make pizza with me.”  Jimmy went over to the kitchen table and helped Daniel with the mise en place of his felt pizza toppings.  I joined them, and we giggled as we put the sauce on the triangles upside down and called peppers “plus signs.”  Jimmy and I watched as Daniel carefully put a slize of pizza on a plate and put it in the oven to bake.

It was only 10 minutes, but it was the best 10 minutes of the day.  The house was silent except for our playing, and everything felt calm and peaceful as we focused on nothing other than helping our little boy make the best darn felt pizza ever.

Can 10 minutes be enough? Last night it was.  I feel calmer today, and I know that our family life (and house) will return to “normal” eventually.  We’re still reeling from the blows we’ve been dealt recently.  One step at a time.  That beautiful 10 minutes gave me grace to take pause and acknowledge the small moments.  I need more of those moments, but it is my job to seek them and for now, that’s enough.

The most beautiful slice of pizza in the world

It’s Not You, It’s Me

First of all, a huge thank you to everyone who commented on the Beyond the PAIL post.  I’m still working through the comments, but it’s clear that many of us do identify as “other.”  More to come on that as I have volunteered to host one of the “Healing Salons” that Mel suggested for helping the ALI community heal and work through some of the questions that were raised.

We removed Daniel from his preschool at the end of February.  It wasn’t a difficult decision; it began to seem like the only thing we could do.  As you might recall, we had some issues with our preschool.

A week after I filled out the forms for Project Enlightenment to evaluate him, his teachers told me that Project Enlightenment couldn’t evaluate him because it is a county-based service, and we live in a neighboring county.  They quickly looked up our county and gave me the name of a similar service although when I went to the website, I discovered the service was located in Kansas and not in NC.  Oops.  More Googling, and I couldn’t find the service for my county.

In retrospect, I’m really glad that his teachers made that mistake because otherwise I might have agreed once again to have Daniel evaluated, and I think the roadblock helped me start to see the situation more clearly.  A few days after Jimmy’s grandmother died, Jimmy and I attended the mid-year parent-teacher conference.  We looked pretty rough: I was sporting third-day hair, little make up and whatever I had thrown on that was clean that day.  Jimmy had on a hat and several days of stubble.  We probably gave off a feral vibe to the teachers and frankly, weren’t in the greatest moods, especially since we had the super-fun task of going shopping for funeral clothes for us and Daniel afterwards.

The teachers didn’t have much to say to us, and it was an awkward meeting.  They kept pushing to have him evaluated, saying “there’s no harm.”  They told us nothing had really changed behavior-wise since December.  They handed us developmental milestones for two-year-olds and three-year-olds, and I pointed out that he was doing all the things on both lists.  I tried to tell them how well Daniel moves and how surprised I was that they thought he had poor motor skills.  We reiterated how the Daniel they see is very different from the Daniel we see every day. Finally, very frustrated, I asked them if there was anything positive they could say about my child because all I had heard for 2 months were his “problems.”

When we left the conference, I knew we were at a stalemate with his teachers.  It’s like they had checked a box labelled “Problem” next to Daniel’s name and moved on.

A few weeks later, I took Daniel to the pediatrician for his 2.5 year well-baby visit (2 months late).  I told the pediatrician everything and after she observed Daniel shyly interacting with her, she agreed that it sounded like his school wasn’t a good fit and we should find something else.   People, when your child will interact with the doctor who has given him shots that make him cry every visit but not with his teachers, you know there’s a problem with the school.

At that point, we were already thinking about taking him out of school at the end of February, and I had started researching other preschools.  I thought that a school a little more lesson-based might be better for my curious little boy.  We had just received the monthly calendar from his teachers and I noticed that there was a little note telling us that one of the little boys had left the class.  I knew this little boy’s mother had been having trouble with the teachers too, so I emailed her, and she confirmed that they had wanted her to get him evaluated as well and that every specialist she took him to agreed that there was no problem with her child except the school. She also told me she had observed one of the teachers restraining Daniel during recess so that he couldn’t leave the playground area (it’s fenced in, so he couldn’t leave the area, but he liked to run in the grass around the playground equipment).  She admitted that she didn’t know the back story and could be misinterpreting what she saw, and I know that a disgruntled parent isn’t the most reliable source, but still.  Her story pretty much sealed it for us, but due to previously-made appointments, we had to keep him there a few more weeks.

On his last day, at pick up, the teacher reported he had opened the door to his class and ran down the hall. She commented, “it was a challenging day” and shook her head.  I emailed the school that afternoon to tell them we were withdrawing him.  I had spent a lot of time since December scrutinizing Daniel and worrying, Googling behaviors incessantly, stressing every Tuesday and Thursday (preschool days), and hearing Daniel say, “Not go to school” and what I realized was this:

There was absolutely nothing wrong with my child.

His only “problem” was that he was miserable at preschool.  What I think happened is that his teachers convicted of him of being 2 and a half: not sitting still, having difficulty transitioning between activities, hitting, running, knocking stuff over.  I think that when he started to hit the other children, a very normal stage for toddlers according to my frantic Internet searches, his teachers overreacted and maybe they scared him and he shut down.  Whatever the cause, he was unhappy there.

His last school artwork is still on our refrigerator, and it makes me sad when I see it.  I hoped he would meet and make friends with other children with whom we could have play dates.  I looked forward to picture day and enjoyed helping at the parties.  Most importantly, I wanted him to have fun and he didn’t.  When we use the word “school” now, he says, “No” very firmly, and that makes me sad.  I loved school and I can’t believe that he has already had a bad experience with school before he is 3.

I’m saddest of all, though, that I didn’t realize his unhappiness sooner and that we left him in a situation for months that made him miserable.  It breaks my heart to think he may have felt disliked by his teachers or at least that it wasn’t a safe, nurturing place for him.

And I’m angry at the school and myself because I was so caught up in the evaluation drama and my worry that I allowed it to color – however briefly – how I saw Daniel.  I felt like I couldn’t take him out in public or out with friends because he would be judged; we would be judged. He would embarrass us. I am angry that I kept trying to put him in some box and diagnose him.  I’m angry at myself for not realizing that when he ran on the playground or out of his classroom, he was literally trying to run away from them. I wish I had just trusted my mommy instincts from the beginning and replied, “I don’t think so” when they brought up having him evaluated.

So maybe it wasn’t me; it was you.

Disclaimer: I’m not trying to discount or belittle the experience of anyone who is dealing with special needs.  If I thought Daniel needed to be evaluated, I would do so in a heartbeat.  These posts reflect my frustration with our former preschool and how they perceived and treated him.

Daniel, Daniel, Quite Contrary

Daniel's mad face

Daniel, Daniel, quite contrary

How does your day go?

Napless, whining, wanting your way

And lots of “No, No, No, No, No!”

Daniel is 32 months.  He was so easy-going and laid-back for the last several months that I thought we had perhaps escaped the Terrible Twos.

Au contraire.  In the last few weeks, it’s like someone flipped a switch, and he has started to demand his way.  And the whining when he doesn’t get his way is a-may-zing.  He’s also become very fond of saying the opposite of what he means, which is quite maddening:

Me: Daniel, do you want to go outside?

Daniel:  No, not go outside.

Me: Ok, we’ll stay inside.

Daniel: (on the verge of tears) Go outside! Go outside!

Thankfully, he’s still pretty cute 🙂

What Not to Buy Me for Valentine’s Day

Brownie

Lovingly-made brownie. I hear it tasted good.

I have a confession:  I don’t like chocolate.  There, I’ve said it.  Feel free to brand me with a scarlet “W” for Weird.

The Crazy Situation that Turned Me Off Chocolate

It wasn’t always this way.  When I was younger, I loved chocolate as much as the next person.  My favorite birthday cake was yellow with chocolate frosting.  I adored Whitman’s Samplers and chocolate chip cookies (especially fond memories of Hardees’ Big Cookies); I saw those giant heart-shaped boxes of candy in the store around Valentine’s Day (or the day after Christmas as it happens now), and I dreamed of having a boyfriend give me one.

It all changed when I was in the 9th grade.  My classmates had been giving rave reviews on the cafeteria’s chocolate chip cookies and one day, I gave in and decided to try one.  Later that night, I was sick.  I wasn’t majorly sick, but it was enough to make me dislike chocolate forever.  Was it the chocolate chip cookie?  Probably not, but it was the only thing outside of my routine that day, so my brain projected my nausea onto the poor cookie.  It probably did not help that my duties for the newspaper staff meant that I worked in a room in which those horrid chocolate bar sale kits were stored.

Presently

I’m 34.  I was 14 in 9th grade.  That means that for the last 20 years, I have not eaten chocolate.  I can’t stand it.  Any desire I had for it was killed.  The only other food I’ve had this reaction to was Doritos when I was 6 years old and licked too many (still can’t eat or smell them to this day).

I do cook with chocolate.  Jimmy loves chocolate, and I will bake cakes and cookies for him.  I made chocolate souflees for a dinner party a few years ago.  However, I violate the main rule of any decent cook: I don’t taste my food.  I can’t.  I can’t taste the chocolate and evaluate it impartially.

That means no Whitman’s Samplers for me for Valentine’s Day.

Poor Me

It’s very hard being a non-chocolate lover in a chocolate-lover’s world.  Consider the desserts on most restaurant menus.  If they have a non-chocolate option, it’s usually cheesecake or something with apples.  That’s nice, but cheesecake gets old after a while. Fun fact: if you’re dieting, not eating chocolate is a great way to avoid dessert.

Petite Chocoholic

Daniel likes chocolate.  He had his first take of chocolate ice cream on Ocracoke Island just after his first birthday in 2010.  He has since explored and enjoyed Oreos and Kit Kats (thank you, Halloween).  We occasionally buy him a piece of cake from our local bakery and give him tiny bits from it over the course of a week.  He devours all chocolate eagerly.

Or so I thought.

After having some disappointing reactions to some homemade non-chocolate sweets, I thought that I couldn’t go wrong with brownies.  We made brownies last weekend, and Daniel helped by adding the water and oil and trying to stir the thick batter.  I had high hopes for this treat.  After lunch, I served him a tiny bit of brownie and he…rejected it.  He acted like I had tried to get him to eat brussel sprouts.  He wouldn’t eat the brownie.

Heartbreak.  My little boy will freely and happily eat store-bought cake but not brownies made at home by his mommy?  Ouch.  Rejection.

He’s 2.5. I know that can be an exceptionally picky age, and we’ll keep trying.  I love baking, though, so I’m suddenly afraid he won’t want what I can make.

Asserting himself already.  I guess I’m sort of proud.

Someone Get Me a Swear Jar

We need a swear jar.  I know I wrote a few months ago about how we might need a swear jar when some of Daniel’s words starting sounding like expletives, but I think we really need one now.

It’s been a stressful time in my house, which you might have gathered.  One night a few weeks ago, I uttered a very loud, expressive “Jesus Christ” when Jimmy and I were recounting our days.  It probably sounded more like “JEEZUS K-RIST!”  About two seconds later, Daniel mimicked me with an utterly adorable and enthusiastic “Jesus Christ.”  We laughed, and I muttered something about being more careful.

A few days later, MIL and I were chatting, and she mentioned Daniel’s new phrase.  And that it sounded more like swearing than a sweet call to our Lord and Savior.  Sheepishly, I admitted that Daniel might have heard the phrase at home and that said phrase might have been used as an expletive.  Ha ha ha.

Cue to the church.

Last Friday was Mum’s funeral mass.  Daniel behaved beautifully despite the mass being during nap time (he’s fascinated with music, so the many songs helped).  After the mass, we proceeded outside for the internment of Mum’s ashes.  It was a tiny space, and Daniel, Jimmy and I were very close to the priest.  The priest began to speak.  I can’t remember what he said except that it contained a lot of “Praise Jesus.”  During that sacred time when I should have been focusing on Mum, I had a horrible thought.  What if my toddler, hearing the many “Praise Jesuses,” decided to add a boisterous “Jesus Christ” of his own which the priest would have heard easily?  I would have been mortified.

I steeled myself for it, but thankfully, that moment never came.  Daniel can exclaim “Jesus Christ” every day if he likes (ok, so no he can’t) because I am SO RELIEVED that he did not do it at his great-grandmother’s funeral mass.

So yeah, I need a swear jar.

And why was everyone so quick to assume he learned it from me?

The Day Before Forever

Tomorrow is Mum’s funeral mass, so I suppose that makes today “Funeral Mass Eve.” I can think of better Eves.  I bought a new dress because my typical “go to funeral” outfit is more of a summer outfit.  Jimmy brought home his new suit, purchased months ago. The day he bought it, when Mum was still sick,  he commented to me, “I hope that my first time wearing it is not at a funeral.”  We went to the mall on Tuesday and bought Daniel a pair of nice black pants and a button-down white shirt with which he’ll wear a black sweater vest.

Jimmy’s brother, sister-in-law and nephew arrived in town late last night.  My mother-in-law picked up Mum’s ashes yesterday.  We placed the obituary and ordered flowers for the church. This is really happening.

My household is a little blue.  We adults feel it acutely and even Daniel seems to feel it.  He has been subdued this week and very close to tears if we thwart his wishes.  Some of that is being a two-year-old but some of it is internalizing the sad, tense atmosphere around him I think.

We have had a few conversations with him about how Mum is in heaven, but I don’t know how much he understands.  He’s 2!  How do you talk to a toddler about death in any meaningful, comprehensive way? He’s very sensitive to sad faces right now, so we are very concerned about how he will do tomorrow at the mass when he sees a lot of sad faces.  I’m going prepared to take him out if needed.  He was so loved by Mum and we want him to be there, but she would be the first to tell us to take care of him and not let him be distressed.

Tomorrow’s funeral mass makes her death official. In some ways it seems like we’ve been hiding out this week, but tomorrow will be extremely real.

Earlier this week when we were tucking in Daniel, he said, “Mum is happy.”

Out of the mouth of babes hopefully.

Au Revoir, Madame

Mum and her great-grandsons on Christmas 2011

Jimmy’s grandmother passed away at 9:15 pm this evening.  We are extremely sad, yet relieved that she is no longer suffering.  Though she was petite, she had a force of will and personality that was much bigger than she was.  Mercedes – Mum – grew up in French Algeria and endured World War II, moving to the United States well after war had ended.

I was intimidated when I met her, this tiny woman.  She was fiercely loved by her family & she had strong opinions.  Until last year, she wore skirts and high heels and was a fashion plate.  We joked that she cleaned house in stilettos. It was high praise that she thought I was a good cook, and I was thrilled that she said I took excellent care of her grandson, Jimmy, and great-grandson, Daniel.

She was devoutly Catholic, yet when we revealed our infertility to the family, she immediately offered money to help us have a child through whatever means we decided.  Though very religious, she had very modern sensibilities and had no qualms with new-fangled scientific methods of achieving children.  She happily attended a baby shower at which our surrogate was present.

Over the last two and a half years, it was so very sweet to see how much she loved Daniel. She came to see him every day and rode with my mother-in-law to drop him off every afternoon.  After our many years of infertility, we had worried about whether Jimmy’s grandparents would have the opportunity to know at the very least that we had a child.  We are thankful for the years that Jimmy’s grandparents have had with Daniel.  Mum called him her “bandito” and thought he was awesome.

We’ve been trying to gently talk to Daniel about Mum being in the hospital and having “sickies.”  He hasn’t seen her since late December, yet how do you prepare a 2.5 year old for this situation?  Or do you?

This post is a lot more scattered than I would like, but maybe that’s ok.

Eighty-nine years ago today, Mum entered this world.  And eighty-nine years later, she left it.

Au revoir, madame.  Nous t’aimons et joyeaux anniversaire.

Memories Captured: Garbage

Listening intently

Yesterday we braved the chilly air and went outside to play.  We heard a truck coming, and you said, “garbage truck!”  I replied, “No, it’s not a garbage truck,” but when I turned around, I saw that it in fact was a garbage truck.  I grabbed your hand, and we walked to the end of the driveway to watch the garbage truck pick up our neighbor’s garbage. You were enraptured and grinned the entire time.

Sweet Boy, you have taught me so much. When I see the world through your eyes, I see things differently.  You have taught me that garbage and garbage trucks are beautiful because you love them. You’ve also taught me that weeds like dandelions are as beautiful as roses because to you, they are just pretty yellow flowers and not a judgment on our lawn maintenance.

An Open Letter to My Son’s Preschool Teachers

Dear preschool teachers,

My son is many things:

  • tall
  • sweet
  • funny
  • shy
  • smart
  • sensitive

One thing he is not:

  • a problem

Yet, I believe you consider him to be a problem.  The problem child in the class.  The one who zigs while everyone else obediently zags. The one who needs help and training on how to transition because he’s never been in a structured environment before.  The one that wants to climb and run and play. The one that doesn’t want to mimic the gestures or routines in music class. The boy who knows his shapes and colors already.

Yesterday you handed me the forms for me to sign to have him evaluated by Project Enlightenment, and I had the chance to read the report you had prepared.  Nine boxes detailing issues of concern, and you had checked almost all of them.  Defiant behavior. Aggression. Motor issues. Attention issues. And then I read the comments.  The only positive one was that my son is good with puzzles.  Thank you for reducing my 2.5 year old little boy’s only strength to being good with puzzles.  And you think he has low muscle tone?  By that point, I was in disbelief.  Of all the items in your report, that one was the  most ludicrous.  This child has been climbing up and down stairs well and fearlessly for months.  This child loves doing somersaults on our bed.

Again, I wondered who was this child you had described. I must have looked shocked because you hastened to reassure me that these weren’t observations made in one day but over the course of the last 3 months.

I left, went to Barnes & Noble and bought Daniel a new book because that’s what I do after one of these increasingly horrific preschool encounters.

When I walked in at pick-up time, he was sitting a little separate from the rest of the class (whether that was by design due to how you want to separate him to manage any hitting or by accident I don’t know).  He looked up at me and smiled.  You commented, “what a nice smile!” as if you hadn’t seen him smile before.  I thought that was so strange. Is my child smiling at school such a rare occurrence?  You told me his behavior during the first half of class had been good like he had been at drop-off but not as good the second part of the day.

It was then I realized that you do not know my child.  You see, what I saw at drop-off was a child who had shut down.  He had no expression on his face and looked overwhelmed.  He looked at the floor as he sat there, and he looked miserable. That’s not my Daniel, and if that’s what you consider to be good, desirable behavior then we have a problem.  No wonder you were so shocked to see him smile.

I have no doubt that based on the Daniel you see at school, the person from Project Enlightenment will say he he has a problem.  And we will pursue further testing and evaluation to get him any help he needs.  I really am glad that you, his teachers, are bringing your concerns to our attention, but what really bothers me is how you seem to have written him off.  It’s like we’re all just biding our time until the evaluation happens and you can kick him out.  And that we never hear anything positive about him.

He’s not an automaton.  He’s a little boy and that you seem to have forgotten that…THAT’s the problem.