You know when you know it, in your gut? Whatever “it” may be. You just get that feeling.
We go to a home daycare about 10 minutes from my house. She’s an older lady in her early 70’s who shops at the grocery store my husband manages. She filled in during an unexpected daycare crisis, and it became a long term solution. We started 2 years ago.
About 6 months ago, Finn started crying when I told him it was a daycare day. I would ask him why, and he always gave reasons like, “I want to stay home” or “I want to be with mommy and daddy”. At first, it was only a couple of times a month that he would react like that. Then, about 2 months ago, it was daily.
She’s a nice lady. She’s has that funny old lady spunk. She ADORES the kids. When I was laid off, she didn’t try to recruit more kids, just waited patiently until I found another job. She’s flexible. She’s insanely reasonably priced. These were all the reasons I didn’t listen to my gut.
My gut said, “She never really answers your questions completely.” It said “She makes you feel uncomfortable when try to look around the house.” It tried to tell me, “Finn NEVER acts like he wants to stay.” But my brain consoled me. My brain said “What could she have to hide? So the house is a little messy. The kids are LOVED. And he rarely cries when you leave. I’m sure everything is fine. It’s going to be IMPOSSIBLE to find another flexible daycare situation for what you pay.”
6 weeks ago, I picked the boys up, and asked Finn if he had taken a nap that day.
“YES,” he said, with a weird sort of tone in his voice.
Naps were becoming a struggle at my house, hard to keep him in bed even though I could see so badly that he needed the rest. “Why do you always nap at daycare, but you don’t want to nap at home?”
“She gets MAD at me if I don’t nap,” he says in that weird voice again.
ALARMS. Heart in my throat. This feeling of I knew everything wasn’t right. I try to steady my voice and stay normal. “What happens when she gets mad?”
“She slaps me.”
“On my legs. Like this, “he says and slaps his shin, hard. “And like this,” he says, slapping the other leg.
My eyes well up with tears, and I stare straight again, my eyes darting between the road and the rearview mirror. “Anywhere else?”
He slaps various spots on his legs and feet. He slaps himself in the face, and I say with panic “She slaps you in the face?!” and he quickly says, “No, just on my legs.” I try to calm myself down again, hoping that will encourage him to be honest.
“Do you cry when she does it?” I ask.
“No,” he says, very matter-of-fact.
I’m quiet for a moment. “Does she do anything else?”
“She says, ‘Shut up, Finn!’”.
“How does it make you feel when she says that?”
The kids have been at their new daycare for 6 weeks. Finn gets excited in the morning when I tell him it’s a daycare day. I’ll never ignore that feeling again.