Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A plausible explanation, still sad, though...

A little over a month ago, while I was on leave to recover from Baby Angel's birth, I received a call from the boys' daycare. It was a call to inform me of an incident between M and one of his teachers. M was the victim. The teacher had been observed by another teacher smacking M on the hand. I was informed that the teacher had been removed from the daycare and that a full investigation would be conducted. I wasn't sure how to react at the time and simply thanked her for the call; she had assured me that he was fine and that physical punishment was never permissible in their centers.

I never heard anything about what happened after that....until yesterday.

When I arrived to pick them up, I had a disheartening conversation with one of the boys' teachers about the recent biting incidents and generally more aggressive behavior he's been exhibiting. She and some of the other teachers had been discussing the situation surrounding M, and she shared some of their comments with me.

They all agreed that it was only after that incident with the teacher that M started acting more aggressive at school. You see, the biting is the most recent activity he's been engaged in, but he'd been acting differently at school for a few weeks now. She told me that she couldn't believe that the director wasn't more concerned with what might have caused his change in behavior instead of threatening to send him home. She also confided that the teacher that had been removed had been rehired at another of their centers in a neighboring city and that the incident with M was not the first of its nature to have been reported involving her.

One of the things I read yesterday as I struggled to figure out how to "fix" my baby was that biting can sometimes be a reaction to unhealed trauma. I guess that perhaps that is what this could be, especially since he has been acting differently at daycare, where the threatening behavior was demonstrated, than at home.

The teacher expressed her belief that it is never okay for them to discipline other people's children that way because they aren't close enough to them. She's heard of it being tolerable, with parental consent, in private settings where the child is extremely close to the daycare-provider, but that is simply not the setting they have in this daycare.

I can admit that when I first received that phone call, one of the first things that crossed my mind was what M had done to warrant the smack to his hand. M can focus his mind on doing something and then not listen to any reason he shouldn't; it can be a valuable quality to have as he strives towards independence, but sometimes that determination can place him in harm's way. In those instances, I confess that he has gotten a smack to the hand a few times in the past. I always said I would try any and all options before ever thinking about using physical discipline, and I still believe that's what I've done. I wasn't disciplining him in those instances, I was getting his attention because he had tuned me out and was putting himself at risk. But, since I had done this for what I accept to be a justifiable reason, I did not necessarily assume that it was not something similar that had happened when I was told about the incident at school.

I've also trusted that my boys saw other authoritative adults in their lives in the same way as me, and while it is nice to know I'm special to them in that way (as well as others, I'm sure), the different view M has of someone else in charge of him from me seems to have caused a change in his gentle nature. So, I'm sad about that and angry that I didn't question that incident further.

It crosses my mind more and more how much easier the infant year was. Things seemed more under my control back then...back when I could simply put them in swings or a playpen to take a shower while they were awake and not fear for what disaster I may find when I finished, when they could be coaxed into taking a two-hour nap (even at home on the weekends), when fixing a nutritious dinner was a matter of playing the role of a cow or mixing measured powder with water or opening some jars of baby food, when they couldn't really do anything that could get them into "trouble".

Well, it's only a couple hours shy of a full day with no calls from daycare about biting, so maybe the book did the trick afterall, and this can be put behind us as lessons learned;>


Sarah said...

Was it M who would get upset when you tried to leave him at the Y babycare center? If it was, this certainly explains it. I dont think you are getting the full story and I personally feel that if M has started biting from out of the blue that it could be from trauma. I dont know if he is at an age where you can ask him questions and get answers but if you can I would give it a try.

It broke my heart to read your post.

Mommy off the Record said...

I am so sorry to hear what happened to M. If the biting is as a result of trauma from what the daycare provider did, that is horrible. On a positive note, it is good that there seem to be providers there who are looking out for him and who are genuinely caring. Hopefully, the bond is developing with them will help him get over any trust issues he may now have.

Celebrate Woo-Woo said...

sarah - I came to that same conclusion yesterday, about the YMCA, because, yes, it was M that hated it. He's ability to answer questions is fleeting, sometimes it works and other times it doesn't. I never got any info out of him about that incident, but I do remember asking him about it the day it happened, yet when I asked him who he bit at school on Monday, he promptly provided the name of the little boy.

mommy of the record - I am happy to know that there are others that seem to genuinely care about him and are trying to look out for him; I was so grateful for this teacher being so candid with me even though she wasn't supposed to be.