They Don’t Want My Daughter

DD ready for her first day of school!

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.

Um, okay.

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?

 

 

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11 Responses to They Don’t Want My Daughter

  1. First of all, it wasnt clear what the age range is in the class you wanted her in, and in the other class. As a former ganenet (don’t ask – I’ve been everything…) I feel that the younger the group, the smaller the age range should be. I.e. even a full year is a wide range for such young children, and should be less if possible. While it may be nice for a younger toddler to be surrounded by older, more mature ones, it is not necessarily appropriate for the group to have someone so much younger.

    You indicated that they don’t want to deal with the allergies and her being too young. Allergies are a complex bundle to add to care of a child, and not something to take lightly. Adding to that the natural immaturity of a baby or toddler and a large group of kids, it is certainly no easy task.

    Without having all the facts, I would not discount exploring the younger age-appropriate group. Wherever she is, your daughter will grow and blossom – whether she is following the group, or blazing her own trails. You want her to be in the best place for her, from every angle.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents. Hope it helps.

    • holylandhipstermom says:

      Wow, talk about jack of all trades!

      So, the class was advertised at being from 1 year, 6 months to 2 years, 3 months. In reality, the eldest child is 2 years, 7 months and there are two girls that are 1 year, 6 months. Most of the kids, however, are closer to 2 and older.

      I think I wasn’t clear about the food allergies. They are a big deal and important, but she can and should lead a normal life. She doesn’t have Epi-pen worthy allergies, B”H, but she does break out into hives and sometimes she can vomit, if she eats the wrong things. It is manageable though, once they get the hang of what she can and cannot eat. She doesn’t have to be seated by herself at meal times and she just needs replacement foods so that she isn’t hungry. I wrote them a giant sign with the foods she can and cannot eat. I left them drops and authorized them to use it, in case she breaks out in hives. And, I am going to bring replacement foods for lunch meals when they have items she is allergic too. I want to work with them so she has a good year, and I want them to feel at ease that they can handle it and that it won’t be too much of a time consuming process.

      We are going to check out the gan with the younger children, tomorrow morning. And, I will probably look at other places in the neighborhood. I just want to make sure I am doing right by her!

  2. Miriam says:

    I have a 16 month old at home, and I plan on sending him to playgroup as early as theyll accept him because that’s what I did with my others. DS1 went from age 18 months and DS2 from 21 months.
    Honestly? I would put him/her in a class of his/her peers. I agree some children do better around older kids, but the staff will treat her better if they aren’t mad at her mom. It’s just how it is.

    • holylandhipstermom says:

      Isn’t it horrible that the staff will treat her badly because they are mad at me? That just awful!

      • Klara LeVine says:

        I think the most important way to “fight” for your daughter is to have a trusting close relationship with the staff – yes, it does sound like it started off on a wrong foot – but that doesn’t mean it has to continue that way. I think the best sign is how your daughter wanted to remain and play there afterwards. I was wondering why you had to haul her off – I hope she doesn’t feel your frustration. If it were me, I would try to talk with the staff in an “understanding” way, rather than a confrontational way – and of course, all those relationship tips, how you understand why they are concerned, etc etc but how you love what you see in their gan – and how can you help to make it easier for them. The other part, is I would befriend the other parents, especially if your daughter seems to have a special friend, and have them socialize outside the gan.

        otoh, you have no idea is this is a blessing in disguise, and that you might find a gan that both you and your daughter will enjoy more.

  3. Estee says:

    I agree with Laura. The younger group may really be appropriate and all stats show that children who are older than their peers (January babies) are more successful in life in the long term. I. Also think that a teacher should monitor allergies but this can be difficult with little kids who do not know how to manage it themselves especially in an environment where all kids eat the same lunch. In order to ensure the safety of your daughter on day one, they have asked you to supply all food. Though it is hard and I’ll admit rude to reneg, I understand this approach when handling 22 children.

  4. Good luck with the younger gan today. I think you are better off being in a gan where you know they want her. You want the older gan but you’re not the one left there every day with a ganenet who didn’t want you. Also DD1 was a year older when she was placed with the older kids – you can still find an older gan for next year if you want DD2 to have a similar experience. What an upsetting start to the year – I’m so sorry this happened. xxx

  5. fer steinberg says:

    hI Shira: I feel so sorry to hear that you are having these difficulties. I would suggest that you put her in a class with the same age kids to start with. Children can be very mean to one another and if she is in any way different (i.e. because of her food allergies and eating different things) the other kids may not be as nice or welcoming to her as they should be. With kids her own age, she will fit in better and the food differences may not be a problem to them. Good luck. Fern

  6. Mrs Belogski says:

    For what it’s worth, I would put her in the class with more kids her age. At that age, a few months makes a tremendous difference. We have a daughter whose birthday is 2 weeks over the cut-off date for school years. When we were applying for school for her, we considered trying to get her into the year above the correct one, but in the end decided not to pursue it, based on advice. It was definitely the right decision for us – she has blossomed as one of the oldest in the class (and I always felt sorry for another little girl, whose parents did go through with it, when she was a tiny little thing, already in uniform, while ours was still in nursery!). Why don’t you meet the other ganenet and see? Maybe she’ll be better about the allergies too… I’m sure the staff wouldn’t take it out on your daughter if they are irritated with you, but positive feelings to the parents would probably spill over to the children.

  7. ilya says:

    Hey Shira,

    Sounds like the first day of school was way harder on Mommy than on cutie. But I actually agree with the Gan. I know it can be tempting and seem right to place a little one with older kids (and sooooo many parents want to do that) but there are probably more reasons not to. Younger kids surely thrive and learn from older children but it can tax a teaching staff and even the slightly older children. I think the exact cut offs don’t matter but keeping a strict range is probably really critical for a school. Making exceptions, except in extreme cirumstances should be avoided. It sounds like the gan is wishy washy about that which is really the problem. If you had been told straight off – no way- kids have to be in the class for the age range, no way around it — there would not have been an issue.

    Regarding the allergies, 22 kids is a LOT of children. In our area, kids with allergies always bring their own foods simply because it is safer. Sounds like her allergies are not epi-pen worthy but she is so young, I can understand how could a teacher keep her from grabbing the next little ones cookie etc. If the class were smaller – say 8 kids, it could be manageable. Rest assured, as she gets older, and god wiling she will outgrow these allergies, she will be totally responsible and it won’t freak schools or camps out.

    Overall, however, sounds a little odd to me that this was all brought up with seriousness on the first day of school. I know you said they tried to talk to you about it before but if they felt so strongly it should have been communicated as such.

    Two more thoughts:
    As parents, it is really hard not to project our emotions, or emotions we think we would have for our child upon them. I think we often misunderstand what our kids are feeling because miraculously, they are not us. Now, of course, she had no clue what was going on behind the scenes here but she will be fine wherever you put her because she is adorable and anyone who carries a pocketbook at 17 months rocks:) But seriously, we have to always remove our histories, our pasts, any slights we’ve felt throughout our childhood and adulthood and I think that is very tough to do. I guess what I am suggesting is that this may have felt like a bigger deal to you for some other reason relating to your fears for her as someone who is different (her eating needs are special.)

    And finally, the bottom line is you really felt awful with the experience, you were surprised by what you heard, felt your daughter had been rejected (worst feeling ever – get’s worse as they get older) and you had a very bad first day of school. The question for you is whether you can be happy bringing her there every day. She may thrive but your happiness is key in making that happen. So if you had a bad experience and already felt like people were talking about you (in French no less) – like another responder said, maybe this is a blessing in disguise. Whatever the reasons, right or wrong, you dont really want her in a class where the teacher wishes she werent there. You might set yourself up for them seeking “proof” they were right.

    Sorry it was a rough day, but I am sure some lessons were learned. And that’s what school is all about right?

    • holylandhipstermom says:

      Thanks for your comment and advice! This morning, we moved Sivan down to the other class. Size wise, she fit right in and seemed a little more comfortable walking amongst the children. We realized last night that, if the team doesn’t want her in their class for all of the reasons they mentioned, then we do not want her there either. We are hoping she will be a better fit with the younger class and, already tonight, we have had some encouragement from the main gannenet who told all the parents not to bring Cheerios to class. You are right, though, about this being brought up on the first day of gan. I was blindsided by it since, during the time we were looking at gans, I met with them and discussed her food allergies. And, at the time, they assured me it wouldn’t be a problem – 22 kids or no 22 kids. There are only 14 kids in her new gan, which means she will hopefully get more personalized attention and they will ensure that she doesn’t swipe food she can’t eat off of someone else’s plate. As for her lunch meals, I just fried up 23 shnitzels and individually froze them to bring with her on the days when the catering company is sending shnitzel. I also stocked up on Orzo to send her when they will be having rice and rice and beans. Everything else, at least according to the catering company, shouldn’t be a problem. As for keeping my emotions out of it, I’m really trying :) I just want her to be in an environment that’s safe, loving, and warm.

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