Friday, February 20, 2009

The Daycare Incident: Ethan's Face vs. A Pack of Hungry Wolverines

Okay, so how do I begin? Let's see... Ethan started to get a bit congested and feeling yucky this week, so I kept him home most of the week and simply called in sick to work to be with him. I did go in to KinderCare on Oakdale Road and start the paperwork so that I could start him in daycare there part-time (a few hours a day) this week. That way, I could get used to being away from him a bit at a time... I'd have him mornings, then take him in for a couple of hours in the afternoons. It was working out alright, except that I started having reservations about the facility right away. First of all, almost every time I went in, there was chaos. Kids crying, screaming, noses dripping down their faces, food crusted on other kids' faces, and so on. Just out of control, usually, although there were times when it was calmer. Then, one day I noticed after I got Ethan home that his shirt had been wet with formula (probably during a feeding) at some point-- from the front collar all the way to the back of his neck-- and they had never changed him, so it had dried like that. Hmm... then, another time I noticed when I changed his diaper that they had obviously not cleaned his bottom completely, because there was still a little bit of dirty area on his back. Hmmmmm.... And then came the kicker, on Friday 2/20.

I dropped Ethan off at around 12:30 or so, and then went out to run errands (return a few purchases, redeem my pedicure gift-card, get his birth certificate, etc.). At around 2:20, the asst. director of KinderCare called me. She said, "Oh, this is a courtesy call from KinderCare-- we just wanted to let you know that Ethan got a little scratch today. It did break the skin a little, you'll notice it when you get here, but don't worry, the head teacher washed it thoroughly and he is okay. They've been giving him a lot of TLC ever since then, and he's doing fine." I asked a few questions, and she said that a toddler had been near him and had accidentally reached over and scratched his face a little bit. Well, needless to say, I was irritated, but she was making it seem so minimal that I just continued on my errands and planned to pick him up at 4:00 as usual. I also planned to tell the director about all of my concerns, and try to find another place for my baby, because it just didn't seem right to me.

I finally finished getting the birth certificate, and went over to pick up Ethan at 3:45. First, I met with another director type person, and told her my concerns. She reassured me that they would talk to the teachers about making sure he gets cleaned thoroughly, and changing his shirt if it gets soiled, and also gave me a lot of talk about the scratch incident. I hadn't seen the baby yet, at this point. She said "Well, we don't like to keep the infants and toddlers separated, because they learn from each other, they are curious and like to explore.. it's just unfortunate that this toddler was able to accidentally scratch Ethan's face. We are going to talk to the child's parents and make sure that they trim her nails in the future." She talked on for a bit, and then I finally went in to get Ethan. Oh, boy.

The teacher in the room went behind the partition to go get him, and told me about the incident all the while. She said that she wasn't even in the room at the time; she had been on break, and it was two other teachers in there when he got hurt. As she's talking, I'm getting closer to the baby, and I can see his face a little bit; it looks like three or four long scratches across his forehead, bright red and somewhat raised. She continues, saying that one teacher was at the changing station, the other teacher was feeding kids, and Ethan was propped up in the boppy pillow, when one of the little girls went over to him and scratched him. They went over and picked him up, of course, right away, and washed his face off very well. At this point, she is holding Ethan in front of me, and getting ready to hand him over. I can see several long scratches, some of which are across his eyelids. He has a small gouge on the bridge of his nose, which looks like it was bleeding. She turns his head and shows me the other gouge, on his cheekbone, and then I took him from her. I started to put him in his carseat, and felt the tears start welling up in my eyes. I just started crying and couldn't stop for the next fifteen minutes. How could they let this happen to my baby????!??!?!

I drove immediately to Joel to show him what happened, and he called them and let 'em have it over the phone. He cancelled our enrollment and told them to gather all of our stuff so that we could pick it up Monday. I tried the doctors' office, but it was closed at 4:00, so I just missed them. So I drove home and we put Neosporin on his cuts (basically, all over his face), then started calling for other daycares who (a) accepted infants, (b) had an opening, and (c) could let me come out there right away to get set up. While I pondered which ones to contact, Julie called me with a recommendation from a friend of hers for Childtime Learning Centers, on Floyd & Oakdale. I called them, told them what happened, and went out immediately. The minute I walked in the door, it was like night and day from the KinderCare center. Clean, welcoming, happy, organized... wow. What a difference! I didn't realize how bad the other place was until I walked into this one. I got to see the infant/toddler room, which has separate sections for the infants so that they can still see/be seen, but can't be interfered with by the toddlers. It was just lovely... I was so relieved that I signed him up right away and plopped down the money for registration. Thank God for the tax return; what would we have done without the money to move our son out of that unsafe childcare?

Anyway... we're just going to be extra-kind and loving towards Ethan this weekend. He not only got his immunizations in the morning (more on that later), but then he had to get mauled in daycare in the afternoon! Pobrecito... I hope he feels better soon.

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