And above all else, our job as parents is to protect our little ones from negative influences and other people who do not have their best interests at heart or otherwise just suck.
I've been told that I can, at times, be aggressive and intimidating and I suppose it is true. But keep in mind that in raising a child with special needs, I have spent twelve plus years of fighting and lobbying the system, countless hours in IEP meetings, and being (for more than half of my daughter's life) her sole provider and biggest advocate... so I am now wired that way. It's what I know, it's what I do, and it's who I am.
This past week, something happened at my son's daycare which provoked my inner proverbial "mother lion"... Those who know me, know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when it comes to someone I love, namely my children, I am not one to turn the other cheek...
Wednesday morning, when we arrived at Liam's daycare, he insisted upon taking his Chick-Fil-A kids' meal book to class to share with his friends... I began by trying to explain that it wasn't "Show and Tell" day but then realizing that this was a teaching moment in sharing and giving (not to mention, an opportunity to unload one more insignificant item cluttering up my car), I quickly changed my tune and suggested that perhaps we could donate the little book to his class and all his friends could read it anytime they wanted to while at school. Liam was happy with this idea and was very pleased and proud about this generous gift. Yay!
Upon entering his classroom, I explained to the teacher that Liam wanted to give his book to the class. "Oh thank you Liam. That's very nice of you. Go put it on the shelf." Liam beamed.
Fast forward to that afternoon... Kevin picked Liam up from school and en route to his Taekwondo lesson, was told some very disturbing news... His teacher, Ms. T., had thrown his book in the trash. WTF?
Because he was running around with the book, not listening as three-year-olds are prone to do, Ms. T. took the book from Liam and in front of him and all his friends, threw the book in the trash to punish him. He said that it hurt his feelings and he cried and cried...
Okay sure, it was a cheap little kids' meal book of no monetary value, but that is totally beside the point. It was important to a little boy who thought he was doing a good thing by bringing it and giving it to the school to share with his friends. Whether or not a child is behaving does not make it appropriate to purposefully hurt their feelings and embarrass them in front of their friends! What in the world is wrong with you?!!
Have I thrown away cheap and broken toys before? Sure, every chance I get, otherwise we would be swimming in cheap plastic junk. But NEVER in front of my child (I wait until he is asleep and has forgotten about it). And if he's misbehaving, then yes, toys get taken away but they're put on a shelf and he understands that he is being punished and when he learns to play nice, he gets it back.
What upsets me most is that my son is truly a very sweet and loving child. Granted he can be an obstinate handful at times, but he is genuinely a giving little person, shares well, and is as considerate as a child his age could be. He loves to make other people happy. The very idea that he took a cruel and unnecessary blow to his self-esteem and had his feelings crushed due to the misguided, inexcusable actions from an authoritative adult who is supposed to be his role model and teacher unnerves me to no end.
There is NO EXCUSE for being mean to a small child.
Thursday morning, both Kevin and I had a chat with the director. There were other issues that needed to be raised as well, and have been, by other parents. But this was, for me, the straw that broke the camel's back so to speak. The director indicated that she was arranging training for the teacher as she is inexperienced... There is no amount of training nor experience, as I explained, that can instill in someone the instinct to nurture and be genuinely kind.
Most of us (myself included) recognize that we are not equipped with infinite patience and therefore it is not productive nor healthy to choose a profession which requires forty hours a week's worth of exposure to energetic, rambunctious young people who need constant supervision, interaction, and attention in a positive, consistent, and caring manner. However, there are those who clearly lack the common sense and self-awareness to see this in themselves and continue to ignorantly trudge on toward carreer suicide. The problem with this is that while these folks are bumbling along figuring out the hard way that perhaps they're not cut out to work with kids, they have already left their mark on the young hearts and minds that have been entrusted to them.
I'm sure we can all think back over our young school years and recall at least one teacher, maybe more, who still, many years later, causes us to recoil at the mere thought of. I know I can.
I'm not sure whether or not Ms. Teacher still has a job after this week (studies have shown that Fridays are the best day to fire people after all) and frankly I don't care as - long as my child is no longer in her class.
I am Mommie. Hear me ROAR.
"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."