If you are in my child’s life, then I am in your life

By Tiare Snow

My little boy didn’t want to go to day-care today. I can probably count on one hand how many times this has happened. It’s usually very tame, a cheeky little whimper of “Mum can I just stay with you?”, because apparently while he is in day-care I stay home and watch Netflix all day and live my best life (I guess we both share the same dream).

My son (4yrs) is the kid that just goes where he needs to go and doesn’t really make a fuss. He’s never been one to cry at the day-care doors or hang on to my leg. If anything, he looks at those screaming children in frozen bewilderment, not helping them, just staring at them like WTF? (we are working on his care-factor face). He isn’t fazed about being absent from his parents nine hours a day and I am grateful for this as I know there are plenty of children that don’t find it as easy.

So when he says he doesn’t want to go, I know it’s not just because he thinks that the alternative to day-care is a day at Dreamworld. There has been a couple of recent incidents with another child that seem to be Stuck in the back of his mind and it’s enough for the day-care to feel like they need to give me daily updates (which I am grateful for), but also has my son thinking staying home will fix the problem.

This is only the beginning right? Prep is just around the corner and then big boy school. The days of not wanting to go to school are just over the horizon and I’ve got to start thinking of lies to get him out the door. Or maybe I won’t have to. He might just keep on keeping on.

But my lovely little love isn’t really the concern though is he? Because he is happy to go to school every day. He is happy to roam from group to group depending on its disposition. He knows when he needs his space and he will busy himself during those times.

It’s the other kids. It is every single other kid that I have to worry about. Not because I think they might all be bad (I don’t actually believe any child is inherently bad). But because I don’t actually know any of them. I don’t raise them. I don’t know their limitations. I don’tknow what they go home to every day, what circumstances they come from or whom is role modelling behaviours in their home.

I want to say that I cannot know these things. But the truth is, it is my responsibility to know. It’s becoming my job more and more as my babies grow, to know who they are hanging out with. It is myresponsibility to know if little Jimmy’s dad (it’s always jimmy isn’t it?) is a policeman or a drug addict. It’s my job to find out if Jimmy’s mum is a nurse or a raging alcoholic, or a full functioning nurse with a raging alcohol addiction (no judgement. I’m a functioning wino with a parent addiction).

I have to make friends on behalf of my children. There are going to be times when this is a great blessing. I can only imagine the amazing people I will meet via my children’s schooling. I have already met so many awesome mums and dads just through the day-care system over the past five years, carers and educators included, because I need to know them to.

We don’t all have the opportunity to be overly involved in our children’s school lives: the extracurricular activities, volunteering for excursions and attending all the sports days. Unfortunately these are some of the sacrifices we make to be able to afford the lives we provide our children.

My baby is almost five and his schooling journey is just getting started, but it is as much my journey as it is his, and it’s important for our children to know that we are on it together. That their problems are ours. Their ups are our ups and their downs are our deepest downs.

Resilience is key and we try to teach it in our home (as much as you can teach a four and one year old). But without communication we have nothing. If our kids can’t talk to us, then they are alone.

So now I reflect on my mornings predicament when my child told me he didn’t want to go to school, as I mentioned, because he doesn’t feel happy or safe. I sent him to school anyway, with stern direction that he is to avoid those he doesn’t want to play with. That if he doesn’t like what another child is doing then he should say ‘stop’ and go to the teacher. That he should choose to play with the friends he likes and keep his hands to himself. All sound advice.

When I asked him what he needs to do, he just looked at me and said ‘kick him?’ (fail). I reiterated and then asked him a second time, he replied “I don’t remember” (wow). The kid is four, give him a break. He just wants to burp in my ear and make me bracelets.

He communicated to me his desire to stay home, and I didn’t listen. Because I weighed up the risk, the warrant, the drama behind my little lama. He is probably playing with “that kid” right now, joyfully.

We cannot put the world on pause for our babies. But we can be so entrenched in their world that they think the friends they have, they made themselves. That the places they go, they chose too. That the days off school were their choice. And that the choices they make, are theirs.

That’s my plan. If you are in my children’s life, then I am in yours.

That is both a complement, and a threat.



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