I hate having to choose between Nat's safety and her happiness.
by Kay Marner
Natalie is not happy. Since I fired The Exorcist, I’ve been taking Natalie to Formative Years when I’m at work.
Formative Years is a commercial daycare center near our home. Nat’s gone there off and on for several years — mostly after school and on some school holidays. It’s a really good place, as far as group care goes. Great staff. Lots of toys and activities. The lead teacher in Natalie’s room, Allie, is also one of our favorite babysitters / respite providers. Nat’s friend Harry goes there daily. What’s not to like?
“I hate waiting!” Natalie wails. “We always have to wait at Formative Years!” They wait in line to go outside. They wait in line to go the bathrooms. They wait in line to get in the vans for field trips. Nat’s right. That’s a lot of waiting for a kid with ADHD.
When I pictured Natalie’s summer, I envisioned lazy mornings. Sleeping in. Staying in pajamas for hours. Now we’re back to: “Eat your breakfast — we need to leave! Get dressed! Find your shoes!”
I wanted Natalie to have carefree afternoons - playing with friends, going to the park, swimming. Now, “swimming” means 14 kids sharing two small plastic wading pools.
I could try to find another babysitter, but I’m scared. Without other adults watching, how will I know Natalie is safe? It’ll be a long time before I trust my instincts again; take a chance on bringing a “stranger” into our home, and trusting her with my children.
I was nearly in tears today as I packed Nat’s backback. “I hate Formative Years! I’m not going!” Nat yelled. I hope I’m doing the right thing. I hope Nat is better off safe than happy.