Dumped On My Anniversary
Tuesday was the eighth anniversary of my wedding. I celebrated by getting the “It’s just not working out” talk. Thankfully, my wife wasn’t the one delivering it. No, we got broken up with by another daycare provider.
We had to find a new daycare for Alex for the summer. The place that handled his after-school care this past year doesn’t do regular daycare during the summer. They have a high-activity, transition-filled “Summer Camp” program with a bunch of field trips and the sort of schedule that Alex finds overwhelming. They came to us early in the spring with concerns about whether he would be able to continue to progress within this program, and we mutually agreed to find a better option during the school break.
We thought we had. Until the last couple of days. Wednesday would have been the one-week anniversary of Alex starting the program. They specifically told us they would give him at least two weeks to see if this place was a good fit. Guess they changed their minds. Some of the highlights of the reported issues:
“He won’t follow instructions.” Make him.
“He didn’t want to eat snack with the rest of us at 10 a.m. He wanted his lunch instead. So then he didn’t have anything to eat at lunch time.” Don’t let him have his lunch just because he says he wants it.
“He’s fine, as long as we let him do exactly what he wants to do, but he has fits when we try to get him to go where he’s supposed to be and do what we want him to do.” We told you he has trouble with transitions. You have to give him advance notice of an upcoming change in activity, remind him the change is coming via countdowns, and then follow through by making him rotate to the new area.
This isn’t the first time we’ve been through this. My wife could see the warning signs as early as last week. What started as a can-do attitude during the investigation and registration process — “Yes, we’re experienced with those issues. We have four autistic kids in the program currently, and they do fine.” — quickly evaporated under the heat of a few tantrums into a cloud of “Well, we didn’t know it was going to be like this.”
They phrased it very carefully and politely, but I’ve been dumped by daycares before. I know the language. I can read between the lines. They saw a kid acting out instead of looking deeper and seeing a kid trying to work his way through a debilitating social/sensory block. Is it awkward and uncomfortable for you to try and console a howling 6-year-old who is screaming that he doesn’t want to go outside with everyone else? Yes. Is it hard to have to retrieve him from the playground because he wants to run outside and escape during the periods of the day when the indoor common area is crowded and noisy? Absolutely. But try and think for a minute about how much pain and panic he must be experiencing to cause those behaviors. It might help you be a little more patient and try to think your way to a solution for his feelings instead of just grabbing for a quick fix to end the tantrum.
Whatever. It’s their problem, not mine. I’m writing it off as another missed opportunity by others to be a part of something incredible. Because my son WILL succeed. He WILL break through. He WILL achieve great things.
In spite of this shitty turn of events, I did manage to end the day with a really nice anniversary gift from an unexpected source. Late this evening my baby sister told us that she was coming to stay “for as long as we needed her” and she would look after Alex during the day, and not to bother arguing with her because she wasn’t taking no for an answer.
I can’t say enough good things about this girl. She’s 10 years younger than me but her maturity level is off the charts, and she’s selfless to the point that it seems like a superpower. I can’t wait until she gets here. I’m incredibly blessed to have such a great family.
In the future, we’ll celebrate this anniversary as the day we turned a corner in Alex’s growth.