I've sat down to write this post a few times and have always given up and deleted it because I wasn't sure how I wanted to go about doing so, or even if it was something I wanted to share. I've went back and forth in my mind trying to decide. On one hand, I want to say forget it; the drama is over and we have moved on with our lives. Wouldn't it be best to just let it go? Then, the other side of me is saying that I have the right to my side of the story. I have made the choice in my life to be a blogger. Some people see it as just a casual side of social networking. To me, it is much more than that. Personally, it is a record of my life; the ups and the downs. It is also an outlet for me. Sure, it is on the internet for anyone to see, but I know that when I write. I have never meant for this to be a private blog. I'm out there, Jerry, and I'm lovin' it! I have made actual friends through this blog. I have made contact with old friends, and have had old acquaintances become new friends. My blog and my readers are very important to me. I don't fabricate stories to interest you. I give you the truth. I don't feel the need to embellish to try to make the events seem better or worse than they happened. It is what it is. I have never claimed to be a great storyteller... Just ask Mike! I've also never claimed to be the best mom/wife/daughter/friend in the world, either. I have my flaws just like each and every one of you. But, I do what works best for myself and my family. I live my life on purpose. I make each moment count. When something goes wrong, I try with all my might to make it better. When I can't, well... Let's just say that I make some pretty sweet lemonade ;o)
Lately, our lives have been filled with a lot of unnecessary drama. It has been stressful to the point of literally giving my a stomachache. On Valentine's Day, I went to pick Jaden up at daycare to take her to preschool. I had asked her how Annie (our daycare provider) liked her Valentine's Day gift. Jaden told me that she hadn't opened it yet because she wasn't up yet and because the party wasn't until after lunch. You should know that we loved our daycare provider. She provided care for my girls when Mike and I couldn't. It is a fact of life that we need two incomes to support our family, so until I can get to the point where I am able to work from home, we need to send our kids to daycare. We went with an in-home daycare so we could give our girls the sense of home. We wanted them to have the personal attention and love that they would get with, not necessarily us, but maybe a really close friend. We also wanted a professional relationship with our provider. We wanted her to be able to come to us with any problems that may happen and, in turn, allow us to speak up if we had a problem with something she was or wasn't doing. There were often mornings that Annie was not available when we arrived. On those mornings, her husband was always awake and downstairs to greet the girls, so we really didn't have a huge problem with it. If there was something that I needed to discuss with her, I just waited until pick-up. As long as there was a responsible, trusted adult there that I knew, I was ok. So, when Jaden told me that Annie wasn't up yet, I didn't think much of it. Then, J asked me if it was weird that Annie takes a bath because she's not a kid. To Jaden, kids take baths and adults take showers. I was somewhat annoyed. I have had mornings where I have woken up late and know how frustrating it is to have to hurry and get around for work. But, I always get to work dressed and ready. If I would happen to miss a shower, I would just take it that evening (although I am an evening shower person anyway.) To take the time to relax in a bath instead of quickly jumping in the shower seemed a bit selfish and irresponsible. But, I pushed those thoughts to the side and tell Jaden that sometimes big people like to take baths, too. THEN, Jaden said, "Mom, sometimes when people get big, do they get hair on their privates?" I was LIVID. I asked J if she watched Annie take a bath and she said, "Yeah! She was being really silly with her wash cloth." I asked her who else watched Annie take a bath and she said, "Everyone. We all love Annie!" I was hot. I quickly explained to J that bath time is private time and she should give Annie her privacy and not watch her take a bath. I didn't want to make a huge deal about it to Jaden right before she was going into school. I didn't want her to feel like SHE did anything wrong. Jaden went into school and I cried. I freaking bawled my eyes out. Jaden is only four years old. I haven't yet taught her about the changes that happen to girls' bodies when the become an adult. I did not need for our paid, non-family daycare provider to do that for me. I was fueled with hatred toward this woman that I trusted. She was exposing herself to children that she is not related to! It made me want to throw up. I didn't know what to do.
I called Annie that evening after the girls went to bed. I proceeded to tell her what Jaden told me and she completely, 100% admitted it. In fact, she failed to see how what she did could be seen as inappropriate. She honestly could not believe that I had an issue with her being nude in front of my kids. She is a grown woman in her 60s that has been doing in-home daycare for over 30 years! How could she not see how totally inappropriate it was? She told me, "Shannon, in the 34 years I've been doing this, you are the first person that has ever had a problem with this." I asked if the other parents knew and she replied, "Yeah, in fact we joke about it all the time. Most of them find it endearing." She then told me that some of the children have even bathed WITH her! I was angry to the point where I was literally shaking. Even so, I kept a cool head and just talked to her. I never once called her any names or accused her of doing anything. I simply had a problem with what she had already admitted to doing. She explained that her family is very open when it comes to being naked. They think nothing of it. I had to ask if her husband had ever been naked in front of my kids... She said no, because they are girls, but he has been showering before with the boys in the bathroom. I know she is not forcing the kids to watch, but still. She said that she just wants to create a home away from home for the kids. I expressed my appreciation for that fact, but also told her that my kids have never even seen ME naked! In the end, we agreed to disagree about the inappropriateness of the issue. She said that she would not allow my girls to watch her bathe, but that would just be, "one more thing that they couldn't do." Fine then. I'm ok with that.
I tried to go on with each day being as normal and unawkward as possible. I'm all about second chances and putting the past in the past. Then I saw that one of the other moms posted a blog about the incident, only not so much. The story was completely twisted and made Annie sound like it was all an innocent mistake. This other mother claimed that Annie told her the girls happened to see her as she was changing for bible study. She wrote that Annie said I thought she was "disgusting" and "appalling," neither of which I said. The kids watched her BATHE! According to this mother, "This entire controversy that has since swept through my daycare like wildfire just seems too ridiculous to worry about. So the kids saw some boobs? What I find appalling is a parent who throws such a fit over such an insignificant issue. I find it disgusting that you would try to make a woman who cares for your children feel guilty and ashamed. By elevating a simple issue into a huge debate, this mother has made nakedness seem dirty. It doesn't have to be."
I don't know who lied. I don't know if Annie lied to the other parents because she thought I would run and tell them, so she wanted to try to get to them first and make me look like a liar? Or, did the other mother lie in her blog post because she didn't want to put the whole truth out there and get reamed by her readers? Either way, someone lied because they knew it was WRONG. I didn't "throw a fit." I simply had a problem with something that Annie had done, so as a mother, I called her to talk about it. We reached an agreement and were done with it. I would have done the same thing if it was any other issue. Many people have told me to tell the other parents. I have been advised to report her to the state and even to the authorities. I didn't because in my mind, she and I had settled our differences and came to an understanding that it wouldn't happen again. As a parent, I have the right to bring up any issue that I have a problem with, whether it be something that she had given them for lunch or how long of a nap the girls got. I called her after hours to talk privately about the issue. So, if it is spreading like wildfire, someone else lit the match, not I. I never brought the blog post up to Annie or the other mother.
Days passed and we went through the awkward motions of pick-up/drop-off at daycare each day. Since our talk, Annie had been distant. There was obvious tension between her and I. I honestly started to feel bad for even bringing it up, even though I knew in my heart that it needed to be talked about. As the weeks went by, I would casually throw into conversations with J, "What did you do today? What did you have for lunch? Did you watch Annie take a bath?" J always answered no. She would tell me if she had. J knows that there are NO SECRETS to be kept from me. Most importantly, she knows that if someone tells her to NOT tell me, she is to immediately come to me (or her dad or grandma if she feels like she will get into trouble) and tell me right away. I thought that we were in the clear. We are listing our house at the beginning of April. We will eventually need a new sitter, so I told myself that we just needed to make this last for a few more months. I didn't want to have to move the girls to a new daycare, then move them to a new house, then possibly move them to a new daycare again by our new house. They thrive on routine and stability.
Then, the other mother called me three weeks later. Her daughter goes to the same preschool as Jaden and she is able to pick the girls up from preschool to take them back to Annie's house. She said in a very serious tone, "Shannon, I need to talk to you about something that happened when I picked Jaden up." I was worried that maybe J ran through the parking lot or something. She began to tell me about how she has a DVD player in her car. That day, Jaden had asked if she could turn it on. This mother explain to J that it is really for long trips only (even though she had let the girls watch several times before) and that since they were only going a couple of blocks away, it was going to be left off. This mother then tells me that she looked in the rear view mirror and Jaden had stuck her tongue out at her. She told J that that was not nice and that I would be incredibly disappointed in her behavior (Completely untrue. I agree that it was inappropriate but disappointed was rather harsh). She just wanted to call to let me know of the incident in case J were to bring it up. I apologized and told her that I would talk to Jaden about it that night We talked a little and I thanked her for bringing it to my attention. She told me that it wasn't necessary to talk to Jaden because she resolved it and everything was fine. I again thanked her and assured her that it would not happen again. I still talked to J though. Jaden understood that it was disrespectful and promised me that it would not happen again. Issue over, right? Then I read her blog again, titled, "It Takes A Village: I'll Discipline Your Brat If I Need To." In her post, she mentioned how J (even though she didn't use her name) walked into daycare and told the other kids that she was a "jerk." She had not told me that in our phone conversation. I talked to Jaden that morning. I said, "I need to ask you something and I need you to tell me the truth. You will not get in trouble if you tell me the truth." I asked her if she had told her friends that her friend's mom was a jerk. She said, "No, why? What's a jerk?" Right then and there, I knew that mother had lied about that. I made some calls and found a new driver for Jaden. The blog post also quotes me saying, "You don't have any right to discipline my daughter. She's going through a rough phase right now. In the future, just call me if you have a problem and I'll address it with her later. But don't discipline my daughter for me." I was shocked. Some of the comments hurt. Especially the one that advised, "I wouldn't give the little wretch a ride anymore. Sounds like she needs her mouth smacked."
I called the mother that night. I first, thanked her again for filling me in on the situation. I told her I talked to J and that she understood that we respect everyone and their feelings. Jaden knew she had made a poor choice and it wouldn't happen again. Then, I told her that I read her blog. I told her that I was offended and embarrassed because she made my daughter and myself out to be completely different than we actually were and she lied about the situation and the outcome. She tried to tell me that she wasn't writing about Jaden and myself! She said that it was a collaboration of different situations that happened to her... That just so happen to be the same situation that she felt the need to call me at work (at my job with the school system -- she mentions that in the blog). I kept a cool head and politely told her that whatever her reasons were, it was done. I just wanted to let her know that I read it and that it hurt. She flipped it around and got mad at me, saying, "Well, you write about Annie in YOUR blog!" I told her that first of all, I don't write anything about Annie that I haven't already discussed with her. Second, my blog is not private. I write names and I show pictures (she too has written Annie's name). Third, ANNIE IS NOT THE ISSUE HERE. I told her that this had NOTHING to do with daycare. It was a preschool issue. She turned it into a daycare issue too. This woman clearly was getting defensive and wanting to put the blame on anyone but her when all I wanted to do was bring it to her attention that she hurt my feelings, as silly as that might sound.
So, I started to consider finding new daycare. I was torn because like I said, I wanted stability for the girls. I didn't want to tear them away from their BFFs because of an issue I was having with another parent and Annie. I felt like J would hold a grudge. Then Jaden's mood changed and she started getting sick. She would often tell me she didn't want to go to Annie's. I ask her why and she tells me that she just likes school and home more. One day, I picked her up from preschool and she asked me if we were going home. I told her that she had to go to Annie's because I had to go to work. She begged me to take her to work with me. She said she didn't like Annie's house anymore. I asked her why and she said that "Annie is always grumpy to me." Annie had started to take it out on J whether she knew it or not. I knew then that it was time to switch daycare. I found another daycare provider and scheduled a meeting with her. I was really optimistic about it. A good friend of mine recommended her to me and as it turns out, Mike works with her husband. When I picked Jaden up after work, she told me that she hadn't talked to anyone at all that day. She said she stayed quiet and just played all day so Annie wouldn't be grumpy. Broke my heart. I told Jaden that maybe we could find somewhere else for her to play and make new friends. Then, that night she vomited in the night. She looked up at me and asked if because her tummy hurt, did that mean that she didn't have to go to Annie's? I felt like she was starting to literally worry herself sick. My brother was bullied in elementary school. He went through the same thing. He had stomach ulcers in 3rd or 4th grade because he worried so much about the mean kid at school. I feel like in a way, Jaden was being bullied. I was moving as quickly as I could with this issue. It was just so hard on me because I wanted to be there for J and I feel like I was not.