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.