For the third time now, we’ve had to sign a form acknowledging that one of our kids was damaged in day care.
First, it was a tumble on the playground. Okay, that happens. It’s a rare day that your kid doesn’t come out of a visit to the playground with a shiner or a scrape.
Then, it was a bite to the cheek. Look, kids bite. Literally and figuratively. Especially little ones. I’ve had more than a few chomps taken out of my own shoulder in my time. My wife’s nipples have been chewed on like a Rottweiler’s rope knot. Little kids are gonna bite each other.
Now, the kids in Sprout the first’s class were doing some activity (and bear in mind, of course, that something as simple as washing your hands or singing “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” qualifies as an activity) and, while getting up from the mat, they got tangled up and my kid got kicked. IN THE FACE. Sure, it was an accident. Sure, he’s only got a tiny little red mark on the thumb of his jaw.
But dude. DUDE. He got kicked in the face.
It’s a different world, putting the kids in day care. Time was when I was the only one getting face-kicked or stomach-bit or junk-stomped by lunatic rugrats hopped up on applesauce and 2% milk from a carton. Now, they’re getting a taste of their own medicine, and rather than them freaking out about it, it’s me.
Because kids are made of rubber. Anything short of a compound fracture or blood-spilling mouth or head wound, and they bounce back within minutes if not seconds. Sprout couldn’t even tell me how he got hurt; his teacher had to tell me. A few hours later, he didn’t even know what I was talking about when I asked him if his face hurt. The hits keep on coming, and they bounce off like golf balls in tile bathrooms.
My wife and I are another story. We’re trying hard not to be the over-protective mama grizzly and papa… what’s the male equivalent? Anyway… we’re trying, but when you have to sign paperwork three times in the space of a week and a half acknowledging the dings and dents your brood have picked up in the care of (conceivably) qualified adults, you really start to wonder just what the hell is going on in these places.
Look, I know. Every three-year-old is a Tasmanian devil on a Starbucks triple espresso coffee bucket, and every newly-learned-to-walk one-year-old is a terrified jackrabbit bouncing full-bolt off the walls and furniture. It’s next to impossible to watch them every minute, even between my wife and me when it’s just our own two kids in our own house. So what can I expect from a couple of people charged with watching a dozen of the rugrats for eight or nine hours every day? Of course they’re going to come away with some scratches, with a bit of paint on the fenders.
We’re trying to focus on the positives. Certainly, there are positives. The kids are learning to get along with (and follow directions from) adults who are not my wife and myself — a necessary life skill. They’re learning to play with other kids, to share, to take turns. These are things it’s hard to learn in your own house when it’s just you and your sibling. They’re learning that mommy and daddy go to work during the day and that this is how life works. And it’s hard to put a price tag on that stuff.
As with all things, there is good and bad in this.
There is suffering, and there is growth.
I just wasn’t expecting quite so much paperwork.