Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Frustration, heavy heart...

I just feel so sad today. Sad because some things are so frustratingly wrong but there's nothing I can do about it.

This morning I was at the playground with Claire while the boys had swimming lessons. Playing alongside her were a big group of children from the nearby daycare, and there was this one little girl who just was not happy. I was walking around the play structure (keeping an eye on my climber Claire) when a little girl came up to me with the saddest face to show me her hand, I assumed she was trying to tell me she hurt it. I talked to her about her hand for a minute, but she was just a little toddler and I just wanted to scoop her up and hold her and comfort her, she looked like she just needed a little love. Feeling like it would be inappropriate to do that though as a stranger (and a little busy watching Claire attempt to walk off the side of the playground into midair), I looked around for her 'keeper'. The daycare guy walked near, really quite busy with about 8 toddlers to watch (while one coworker was rightfully engaged with a baby the other two were sitting on a bench in the shade), and I pointed out that she seemed like she must have hurt her hand, to which he said "Oh, everything's wrong today isn't it?" to the little girl and redirects her to go play. I couldn't really blame him, he really didn't have the resources to be coddling any one of the kids, but I felt so sad for the little girl. The poor little girl, who really was still more baby than girl, just walked around with tears in her eyes for the remainder of the half hour, at one point coming over to me and leaning her head against my leg for a cuddle. I wish now I had scooped her up and cuddled her for a moment, maybe it would have made her day more bearable.

And people always look at me curiously when I say I don't want to send the kids off to a daycare. Like it's such a normal thing, why would I question it? I don't know when I've become such a suspicious, judgemental person, but I feel so often lately that the accepted way of doing things just fails. That people can't think of better ways so as a collective we justify crappy methods. And then no one argues for fear of offending someone. No one says "It's not good enough to send our babies off to inadequate group daycare" for fear of offending your friends who do it. No one just says "Babies need their mommies", because they don't have an answer as to how all babies can have their mommies always. 

While I'm watching this little girl I'm thinking of my poor nieces. In the saga of my sister's rotten custody battle with her ex, he has been sending the girls to daycare while he works on his four days with them. That doesn't sound so bad, you might be thinking. The thing is, my sister is available to watch the girls instead of sending them off to daycare, but he would rather spite her and piss her off, not caring about what's best for the girls. And the daycare he chose (to drop them off at from 7:30 am to 6pm) is one he and my sister already pulled the girls out of, back when they were together, because it was such a crappy daycare! It is quite well known for being a dirty dump, with inadequate supervision, too many children, and unqualified employees. When we had just moved back and I was looking for preschool possibilities, this daycare was on the list I received with an asterisk that read "Really not recommended". My older niece now not only panics about going to her father's house, but about going to the daycare, where "they get mad when I argue with them and make me sit in timeout until Daddy gets there." My sister virtually has to send her girls off to him for his four days with a hug and a hope, knowing she'll have no idea where they are, how they are, or who is watching them for the entire time since he refuses to answer her calls and won't let the girls call her.

Who is looking out for these kids?

Certainly not the justice system. Not for my nieces anyway. The process my sister has to go through to get any problems like this one addressed generally ends up taking at least a few months, during which the girls are the ones who have to endure the crap their stupid father continues to dish out to spite my sister! While every ounce of her wants to just pick them up and take them away from that stupid daycare, she's tied into 'following the rules' to a tee for fear of being made out to look like a kidnapper by his lawyer. Right now, even though he's been already informed that their mother has the first right to watch them when he's not available, he just does whatever he wants and she's waiting on a court date to verify that he's in the wrong and tell him what he's supposed to do. After which, if he decides not to cooperate anyway (or his lawyer twists what the judge dictates, which also keeps happening), it'll just be more waiting for another letter, another court date while the girls and my sister live in purgutory. My sister is beginning to question and panic over bruises on my nieces arms and cheeks, feeling suspicious and rightfully anxious, and worse, helpless. Soooo frustrating, and I'm only watching from the sidelines, not even stuck in the middle of it.

Maybe it is okay for a child to have to 'tough it out' sometimes. Maybe it is reasonable to expect them to deal with their little problems on their own. I don't feel it's so though, especially for a preschooler, definitely not for a toddler or a baby. When I have my kids at a babysitter I want to have a caregiver who at least tries to be even more loving and attentive than I might be, to compensate, if possible, for the fact that I'm not there for them. That if they can't have me I want them to still have 'their person'. I feel they need to feel protected and cared for and not like they've been left alone to fend for themselves in a sea of kids. Especially when they're so little. I feel bad enough sending my big boy off to school where the teachers may be strict and the supervision is often scant. At least though with him I can take comfort that the social skills he's learning to navigate among the other kids are important, but more importantly, age appropriate. And then after what is really quite a short school day, he can come home to his mom, his siblings, and his home, his soft place to fall.

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