Thursday, February 16, 2012

Crossing Boundaries

I’ve discovered that it doesn’t take very much to jolt me off track. To so unsettle me that I find even writing – my instinctual outlet since I was 9 years old – impossible.

Problems with my family will pretty much do it every time.

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know from a previous post the trouble we’ve been having with our youngest, Tom, at nursery (or, to put it another way, the trouble our youngest has been having with his nursery) and if you’re not, well, this is probably not a great post to be introduced to me (I suggest you read the one preceding it).

I’m not going to go into detail as (a) it’s not fair to Tom and (b) it’s not fair to the nursery... but suffice to say the last 3 weeks have been hell. Stress overload. Karen and I have not been able to relax for a second as the nursery, once they crossed the boundary of ringing us when Tom was having a “rampage” then more or less rang us every single day. We’ve spent the last two weeks on tenterhooks waiting for the next phone call, not being able to relax, and just generally feeling sick.

Karen had been signed off work, ill, since the beginning of the month anyway so with all this going on any chance she’s had of resting and recuperating has been machine gunned down without mercy. Meanwhile, I’ve had my ability to perform my job impaired as I’ve found myself on call to the nursery. I don’t get paid for time away from my job so I’ve found myself hotfooting it to the nursery without pay to do the job that I pay them to do.


I don’t think Karen and I have slept properly for weeks. It’s been too much. And ridiculous to boot.

In short, a change of management at the nursery has led to a subtle change in ethos and method which has lead to Tom pushing boundaries which bowed and then collapsed leading to a downward spiral in behaviour. Behaviour that is not exhibited at home or elsewhere as Karen and I run a tight ship in the old discipline department. But this has just led to further frustration for us: when we can see how little effort and thought it takes to get control of Tom and yet the “experts” are just not doing it for a whole raft of reasons verging from “staffing levels” to “health & safety”.

Over the last 3 weeks Tom has been gossiped about by staff at the school that the nursery is affiliated to. He’s come home and twice has said something along the lines that “something is wrong / not right with him” – something Karen and I have never even thought let alone said; clearly someone else has said this to him or in front of him which is appalling. It’s been implied that he needs one-to-one help as if he were a special needs child. We were told that a pregnant care worker he hit ended up in hospital – we later found out that she had issues with blood clots; nothing at all to do with Tom but it was nice of the nursery to leave us with that guilt and responsibility for the best part of a week. The manager also pranged her car this week and informed us it was “because she was thinking about Tom”. I wonder how much responsibility a 4 year old can take for the world? The final straw came this Monday when the manager told us that “maybe Tom wasn’t ready for full time nursery care”.

He’s been in full time nursery care at this same nursery since he was 11 months old.

Needless to say Karen and I are not happy and have demanded a meeting with the director next week. For the best part of 3 years Tom’s behaviour has been managed adeptly but since New Year the nursery have allowed Tom’s behaviour to slip and fall and have now exacerbated the problem with H&S rubbish rather than nip it in the bud. The poor kid is confused and wondering what the hell is going on.

I’d like to point out that Karen and I are not excusing his bad behaviour at nursery. It needs bringing into line. But it needs doing calmly and wisely and not with all this hysteria that has been built up – it’s all become about the nursery’s lack of control rather than focusing on teaching Tom the right way to interact. It’s no good Karen and I upholding the rules at home if nursery then go and fumble them during the week. Karen and I are followers of the Super Nanny school of education. But get this – the manager implied that our isolating Tom on a naughty step or a naughty room (where he can’t see us but we can see him) is technically “child abuse” and that “she ought to report it to the authorities”.


Let’s just say the manager did a child abuse course before Christmas and has the zealotry of a new convert.

It has been yet another straw to break our backs.

So Karen and I have, with heavy heart, been checking out other nurseries – we don’t really want to move him as our master plan was for him to move to the school affiliated with the nursery in September with friends that he’s built up over the last 4 years. This plan is now in jeopardy. Unless there is a massive turn around at our meeting with the nursery director on Tuesday there is little point in keeping him where he is now – Karen and I have completely lost our confidence in the place. Part of what we pay for is peace of mind and a calm, consistent approach to socially educating our children. We no longer have any of that. The manager who announced she was “in for the long haul” a mere 3 weeks ago was the one saying Tom couldn’t cope with full time nursery on Monday. Read that as she couldn’t cope with it. Hence her minor car crash.

The director we are seeing on Tuesday is a lovely lady – grandmotherly and old school. Up until Christmas she was working at the nursery (but then went into semi retirement) and often sorted Tom out when he’d misbehaved. Karen and I have lost count of the number of times she’d shrugged his latest escapade off with “He’s fine – these young girls flap so much!” We’re sorry to be bringing her out of retirement but if anyone can sort it, she can. We’re sure she’ll be horrified at the thought that her nursery can’t handle a 4 year old!

Because at the end of the day the other nurseries Karen and I have viewed this week as possible alternatives have all but shrugged when told the reason we are considering moving Tom. Nothing new. Nothing special. Not out of the ordinary. Normal. Most figure it can be sorted out within a month.

It’s been good to hear. Good to see people reacting measuredly and sanely and not calling for the local priest. Good to know we have choices. But we will still be sad if we have to move Tom so close to him starting school at the end of the year. We want him unsettled as little as possible until then.

It’s been a dreadful month. We’ve had our parenting called into question, the nature of our little boy called into question and all of our plans for him thrown up into the air whilst having parenting leaflets and behavioural training leaflets waved into our faces by those that most need to read them.

Whatever happens next week we can’t go on as we have been. This level of constant extremis just cannot be maintained by any of us.

Something has got to give.



Misssy M said...

You absolutely need to get him to a new nursery. Before you even said that i was shouting- SACK THE NURSERY! To say the phrase "child abuse" in response to you using a naughty step is outrageous!

John Going Gently said...

bloody hell
sounds as though you are doing everything right...... but lack of sleep, stress and a feeling that you are being judged must be incredibly difficult to cope with

I am so sorry for you
take care chap

Gappy said...

I'm sorry you're having such a terrible time.

Lots and lots of parents use the 'naughty step' or 'time out.' Since when was the use of these techniques - whether you personally agree with them or not - child abuse?

It's appalling that this woman has attempted to blame her car crash on your boy or you. She is responsible for crashing her car! Was your son driving? Were you? So innapropriate.

She can't go around bandying about phrases like, 'she ought to contact the authorities'. Is she going to make a referral to social services or not? And if she is, why? Because you use the naughty step? I can assure you that social services will have ZERO interest in that little piece of information, and will wonder why she is wasting their time.

Perhaps she needs some more training.

Steve said...

Misssy M: she said it in response saying we have very occasionally put our boys in the garden when they have been especially outrageous - bear in mind we keep an eye on them the whole time, we've made the garden 100% safe and it's only ever for 5 minutes...

John: cheers, bloke!

Gappy: I think the training she's had already has been more than enough.

the fly in the web said...

You two are going through a horrible time thanks to the incompetence of the new regime at the nursery...and threatening you with the social services has to be the last straw.
Goodness only knows what they'd have made of parenting styles when I was a kid!

No, it's not ideal to move your little chap's not good that he loses his cohort of friends...but considerably worse to allow him to go to a school having been demonised by the nursery affiliated to it.

He sounds as though the new regime has thoroughly confused him....a new regime which seems to want to blame a four year old and his parents for the nursery's lack of focus and professionalism.

I do hope your meeting goes well and trust that the director can put a stop to this situation.

Löst Jimmy said...

Very sorry to read about your plight. Seems to me that the nursery have blown things out of all proportion.
I wish you all well for next week's meeting with the Director. Stay strong

Steve said...

The fly in the web: so do we because another inescapable truth in all this is that Tom is actually - despite all this recent trouble - very happy at the nursery and moving him will inevitably feel like a punishment. But Karen and I can't go on for 6 months until he starts school with such a huge loss of faith and confidence in the nurseries abilities to handle the situation. We're hoping for an eleventh hour miracle at the meeting next week... but we're not holding our breaths.

Löst Jimmy: thank you. Despite my rant here we recognize that anger and recrimination won't get us anywhere... but carefully weighted sadness and disappointment might.

KeyReed said...

Threaten them with Ofsted!

Steve said...

Tenon_Saw: just taking our nursery vouchers elsewhere might be more effective...

Gorilla Bananas said...

When people you've hired to do a job start talking shit it means they can't hack it. The grandmother needs to retrain her staff and you need to find a Supernanny nursery.

Vicky said...

Take care guys, and I am sure everything will work out in the positive soon.

Katriina said...

Seething on your behalf. It's nothing short of outrageous for your nursery staff to have said, in your little boy's hearing, that he's not quite right, to have blamed personal incompetence (i.e. crashing a car) on him, and to have accused you of child abuse when using a tried and tested and perfectly legit form of discipline. It seems very clear that Tom is just reacting to the incompetence he can sense around him - small kids always test limits that are not clearly defined or clearly enforced. All the best with your upcoming meeting, and I hope that a solution can be found...

English Rider said...

"Change of Management" was the key phrase you didn't give us before. Old Americanism : "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"
I once wrote a letter to the private French school we were paying for in California pointing out that it was their job to market education in a way that fit the students. (Eleven kids in my daughter's class at the time and the teacher couldn't get her to do the work?). The Headmistress copied it and circulated to all her staff. Not exactly what I intended but we got results.

Steve said...

Gorilla Bananas: you just hit the nail on the head.

Vicky: thank you.

Katriina: we're keeping our fingers crossed but aren't feeling too hopeful, I have to say.

English Rider: I can see the change was unavoidable - the director wanted to retire and had to hand over the running of the nursery to someone...

Being Me said...

Outrageous and abominable. What kind of person even thinks of pinning a car accident on distracted thoughts about a child???? Come off it. That is just completely inappropriate (and entirely inaccurate, I'm betting). I am glad - but sorry - you and Karen are seeking alternative care.

Talk about the straw that broke the camel's back, sheesh. I hope you are cut a very big break (in the positive) soon. Take care and lots of love.

AGuidingLife said...

Many children start school without having attended nursery, or the 'local' nursery. Young children are good at making new friends quickly too. Moving him wont spoil his move to school. That will sort out within a short time once he starts school. But all this hassle will affect him now. It all sounds quite bizarre. He isnt the first child to push boundaries, won't be the last and childcare staff should be able to handle it sensibly. You will know deep down what you want to do. Whether that's stay and resolve or move on. Go with your gut feeling, in parenting it is usually right. Much love to you xxx

Between Me and You said...

So sorry you and Karen are going through the mill at the moment but if you want my tuppence-worth, it sounds to me like Little Tom is reacting to something or someone at that nursery and my course of action would be to get him out of there asap.You owe them nothing. Never mind the logistics of the thing.....the end of the year is a long time to wait in a 4 year-old's life when he's clearly so miserable and as for losing his friends, in general, children of that age are very flexible (and fickle too!)and there's no guarantee that he would keep the same friends once he gets to 'big school' anyway.He will soon make new friends in his new environment and hopefully for all of you, you'll have a much happier child at the end of the day. Sorry if that sounds 'grandmotherly and old school'....that's because I am!Good and Peaceful weekend to you all.

Very Bored in Catalunya said...

Bloody hell Steve! I echo others who say find another nursery, firstly they should be able to manage a 4 year old (especially as they have been doing so for 3 years), and secondly - how dare they lay all that guilt tripping nonsense on you, making out your child is like Damien from The Omen.

If she had a prang it's because her mind wasn't on the road, regardless of whether she was thinking about Tom or what to cook for dinner. It is outrageous that she's blaming others.

Hope it all gets sorted quickly for you.

Steve said...

Being Me: I'm slowiy becoming more sane about the situation now that the initial hysteria and adrenalin is dying down... the whole thing is truly farcical. I almost can't believe it has happened. Thank you so much for your support.

Kelloggsville: thank you. We'll wait until we speak to the director and then see how the land lies after that... but it will take a miracle to restore our confidence in the nursery at the moment.

Nana Go-Go: grandmotherly and old school is fine by me. I wish the nursery were more like that to be honest.

Very Bored in Catalunya: the guilt tripping - although it's not been (I'm sure) conscious, is one of the worst things about all this. We have enough on our plate as it is without assuming responsibility for stuff that is well out of our control.

The Sagittarian said...

You have to do whats best for you all, you can't put a price on peace of mind. We were soooo lucky that the childcare centre our girls went to was fantabulous, and our Scowly knew (still does) how to throw a major tantrum. They only ever rang us if she was sick. Sounds to me that you need a new nursery. Tom will make great new friends, kids are more robust than we give them credit for.

libby said...

Crikey....poor family bloggertropolis.....stay strong and it WILL all work out in the end.

Steve said...

Amanda: it's hit us this week that, actually, peace of mind is one of the things you pay for with a nursery and if they're not giving you that... well, what's the point of paying for it?

Libby: thank you... we're trying to tell ourselves that.

Meg said...

wow! I am in the lose the nursery asap camp. It sounds as though the former director made a serious error when she promoted this other woman; you know the saying that people get promoted until their greatest level of incompetence?
Anyone who says time out is child abuse is utterly off their rocker. First spanking and now time out? Reminds me of my mother's friend who had a troublesome child who would get himself into all kinds of nonsense. One time when my Mom was at her house he literally climbed on top of the dining room table and started eating the cake that was sitting there with both hands, stuffing it in his face and his mother just said No No Jeffy and let him continue. That is a different kind of child abuse that shows up later as self destructive behavior.
Ranting done. Day has begun.

Trish said...

I read your post when you first published it but didn't comment at first - I thought it better to go away and think about it. I've returned today to echo all the above comments about how ridiculous and unfair the 'new regime' is being but am pinning my hopes on your meeting with the director helping you to decide one way or another.
Sending much love to you and Karen x

Steve said...

Meg: the manager has worked as an assistant head teacher at a school prior to running the nursery - a completely different ballgame. And doesn't have kids herself... very telling.

Trish: maybe a miracle can happen?

Nota Bene said...

You have my sympathy...whatever is at the route of the problem, Tom shouldn't be feeling there is something wrong with him. Hope you can sort it out next week...good luck!

Suburbia said...

Gosh Steve, can't believe how incompetent they sound. What's wrong with a naughty step!?

Really sorry this has all hit you at once. Hope that nice ' old school ' lady can sort the mess out.

Steve said...

Nota Bene: thank you - it's going to be make break - either way things can't go on as they have been.

Suburbia: so do we!