All across Israel today, and in some parts of the the United States, the 2012/2013 school year began. In our home, we reached a new milestone, as our baby was also starting gan. At 17 months old, we decided it was time for her to interact with other children. Since the day she was born, she has been home with me and primarily interacting with my eldest daughter, our family, and DD1’s play dates.
To say we were all excited about today is an understatement. We have been counting down for the past month! Beforehand, DD2 would waved at her Daddy and sister as they left each morning for work and gan. But today, she has finally joined the ranks! Instead of letting her lounge about in her pajamas, as I used to do until I was ready to get us dressed and out the door, we got her dressed with her older sister. I could tell she was excited, she ran around the house babbling and singing. If she could skip, I swear there was a skip in her step.
Because there are 22 kids in her day care, she was slotted to come between 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. It was good since it gave me plenty of time to review with her what to expect, to finished labeling her sippy cup, extra clothing, package of wipes. I packed her little Skip Hop lunchie with her pretzels and animal crackers, got her dressed in a yellow sundress to match her bright, yellow bee knapsac, and together we left the house. I sang to her the entire walk to gan, which is about 5 minutes away. As I walked into the building, I was stopped by the “principal,” who asked to have a word with me.
Now, I was fully prepared to discuss DD’s food allergies. I know it is going to be a big issue, but I’ve been hoping to work with my daughter’s gannent and team to have a smooth transition. I know it will take some time, in the beginning, for them to get acclimated to what she can and cannot eat. And, I’m fully prepared to provide support, information, and some meal replacements, if necessary.
What I wasn’t prepared for, was for her to tell me that they want to move my daughter to a different class. Now, I am well aware that she is the youngest in the class. As a second child with a stubborn personality, I think she will thrive in an environment with primarily older children. We are new parents, but I am learning a lot from my eldest daughter. Last year, we took a risk and put her in a day care where she was the youngest. By a lot. She was 2 1/2 in a room full of kids 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 year olds. She was a baby compared to the rest of the class. And, in a single year, she absolutely blossomed. She developed quickly and nicely. She became eloquent, communicative, polite, imaginative, introspective and witty. We were so pleased with the outcome, that we were hoping to perpetuate the environment with our youngest daughter.
But, it looks like the school she is in isn’t interested in our desires or aspirations. Now, this is not the first time they have asked us to consider moving our daughter to the younger class. They asked us months ago, and we even met with the gannenet of the other class. She was lovely and her team was nice, but we decided not to switch. We wanted to see how our daughter would do in a class with older kids. We wanted to see if she, too, would thrive, blossom, and develop quicker when surrounded by kids 6 months to a year older than herself.
But, this morning, when the “principal” told me that the ganenet doesn’t want our daughter in the gan, that was unexpected. I mentioned the other child, exactly my daughter’s age, who will be in the gan. The principal said that they also asked her to move but since she was with this ganenet last year, they decided to let her stay. So, it’s okay for that 1 1/2 year old to be in the gan, but not my child? I listened with a heavy heart, and explained that my position hadn’t changed and that I wanted her to stay and try it out with this gan. The principal was not pleased but she didn’t push me any further. I gathered my daughter and entered the gan, and was greeted by a very surprised ganenet.
I pulled her aside and asked her, in all seriousness, to tell me if she doesn’t want my daughter in the gan. In a roundabout way, she said that she didn’t mind it but didn’t think it would necessarily be such a good place for her. We settled on a one-month trial. And then, for the next hour, I absolutely stewed in my disappointment and frustration. I listened to another staff member tell me that they are concerned about her food allergies and do not want to take any chances with food, and that I need to bring all of her food from home. I explained that I take my child to restaurants and that she eats there, with no problems. As long as I order carefully, she is fine. The staffer told me that it’s okay when it’s one on one, but since there are 22 kids in the class, they do not have the availability to sit with my daughter to ensure that she isn’t eating something she is allergic to.
So, now they don’t want my daughter because she is the youngest in the class and they don’t want her because her food allergies are too much for them? And, just when I thought my heart couldn’t break any more, a new Mother sits down at the lunch table with her son and starts asking one of the staffers why the baby is at the table. The staffer quickly switched to French and they had an animated conversation. Now, I’ve been in enough NYC manicure places to know when someone is talking about me in another language. And it didn’t feel good, not at all.
It doesn’t help that my 1 1/2 year old looks like she is barely a year. She is in the 5% for weight and is absolutely tiny! Her feet just grew out of the size 6-12 month shoes and she can easily be bowled over by about half of the kids in her gan. But still, I think she can take it.
When it was time to leave, she didn’t want to go home. She wanted to go outside and play in the playground. I had to pick her up and carry her home, and she protested all the way. And then, I fought back the tears of frustration and disappointment, and spent a depressing afternoon trying to figure out what I’m going to do.
I do not want to leave her in a gan where the team does not want her. It’s not a good feeling for me and I’m afraid, if they don’t want her, they will not take care of her. I do not want a situation where they police her at meal times and then ignore her during the rest of the day.
Another sleepless night is ahead of me as I try to decide what’s best for my child. But, I can honestly say, this has been the most depressing start to the new year.
Parents and friends, what would you do?