We had a letter from the nursery last week asking if we would grant permission for their staff to carefully restrain our youngest when he is in the midst of a huge mega-tantrum.
He is a very wilful, determined little boy, our youngest, and a refusal will always offend. But it’s all part of the learning curve and, if you imagine his behaviour as being on a spectrum, then I’d say he’s smack bang in the middle. I’ve seen better behaved boys and I’ve seen a lot worse.
Of course, any kind of bad behaviour, if left unchecked, will result in delinquency of some kind and nobody wants to see a 4 year old joyriding around town in a stolen BMW and selling crack to the local pool club so the rules have got to be laid down and laid down firm.
Karen and I get that. Totally. Needless to say our little ‘un is far more aware of the boundaries at home than he is at nursery and pushes them less. Which isn’t to say that he doesn’t push them at all because he does. Sometimes with the determination of a bulldozer.
But nursery... that’s a different story. Like any kid, if he senses weakness, he’ll go in for the kill.
So I totally get where the nursery is coming from with this consent form thing.
But I couldn’t help wondering if it was really necessary. Couldn’t help feeling that it’s necessity for the nursery owners belies a little of what is wrong with the world.
Years ago a nursery worker / care worker / teacher wouldn’t have thought twice about carefully restraining a flailing child – especially if he/she was in danger of hurting him/herself or even others.
But the world it so litigious these days that even an arm-grab can be considered GBH. Picking a child up and placing them on the naughty step can be considered an infringement of their human rights.
You gotta get permission to even give a child a stiff talking to lest you find yourself added to some government offenders’ register.
So what were they doing before they asked for our permission to handle our kid with kid gloves? Kettling him with cotton wool? Directing him into a safe corner with brightly coloured paddles like some kind of 1940’s aircraft landing officer? Or leaving a trail of Valium injected Smarties to the safe haven of the Wendy House?
I mean, it’s nice they’ve asked permission and everything. We don’t want him harming himself or others and likewise we don’t want others harming him. But have they asked permission of the other parents too? Or do they wait until one of the other kids goes off the rails with a Duplo brick and a quoit? I mean just what is the trigger for this “ramping” up of tough but gentle love? The kids are only 3 and 4 for Heaven’s sake!
Isn’t being hands-on with the kids part of the job description? I don’t remember them asking permission to change his nappy when he was 2.
I know the alternative is worse – kids beaten with rods and brutalized. But surely there must be some sensible middle ground?
Or do we want a generation of humans who shy away from any kind of physical contact at all?
No wait. We already have that...