“No, no, no!” Johnny screamed and threw himself on the floor. Marla Evans let out a sigh. Never again! She checked her watch. She’d be late again if he launched a full-fledged rage.
She exasperatedly looked at her three-year-old. Johnny had been attending daycare for two years and had always enjoyed it. He’d been making a commotion for the previous week, asking Marla not to take him.
She’d consulted with her doctors, who had informed her that kids frequently experienced the “terrible threes.” “Put a stop to it!” Marla heard herself yell and then noticed her son’s fearful expression. Something was wrong.
Marla sat down next to Johnny on the floor and drew him onto her lap. He cried, pushing his cheek into hers. Marla determined that this was more than a tantrum, but what could possibly be wrong?
“Honey,” Marla said softly. “I apologize. “Mommy had no intention of snapping.” She hugged him until he stopped weeping, then softly said, “Why don’t you enjoy daycare any longer?”
Setting and respecting limits is an important part of parenting.
Johnny shuddered in her embrace, murmuring, “I don’t like it!”
“But, sweetheart, why?” Marla inquired. “Do the other kids treat you badly?” But Johnny remained silent. Marla let out a sigh. “Baby, mom has to go to work, but I tell you what… “I’m going to pick you up from daycare early today, OK?”
Johnny rose from her lap. “What, no lunch?” He looked up at her, concerned. “Mommy, no lunch?” Lunch? The concerned mother scowled. What was going on with her son?
Marla left Johnny after promising to pick him up before noon. He strolled into the daycare softly, but he gave Marla a begging look that crushed her heart. She arrived at work and requested an afternoon off to deal with a personal matter. Fortunately, her manager was also a mother and understood!
Marla was desperate to find out why Johnny refused to go to daycare. She decided to drop in during the supper rather than before, as she had promised Johnny.
Johnny’s daycare did not let parents enter the children’s playrooms or the dining area, but each facility entrance featured a wide, transparent glass window. Hopefully, Marla will be able to see what is going on, if anything.
When she arrived, the receptionist informed her that the kids were eating lunch. Marla entered the dining room and looked around. The youngsters were all eating at their tables.
Each table was overseen by a teacher or an assistant. Johnny was soon identified by Marla. Marla noticed a lady seated next to him whom she didn’t recognize.
As Marla looked on, the woman took Johnny’s spoon, scooped up some mashed potatoes, and put it to his lips. “Eat!” she exclaimed. Johnny shook his head angrily, his jaws clenched, and tears streamed down his cheeks.
“Open your mouth and eat!” said the mother fiercely. Johnny was visibly disturbed. “You’re going to sit here until you clean your plate!” said the woman.
Marla noticed a little bit of mince, mashed potatoes, and veggies on Johnny’s plate and recognized her kid. Johnny wasn’t a huge eater, so she never pressed him when he said he’d eaten enough.
When Johnny opened his lips to complain, the teacher immediately inserted the spoon. Marla noticed her kid choking and sputtering. She had had it! She stormed in via the front door.
“Get away from my child!” she screamed.
The woman raised her head, her mouth agape. “Parents are not permitted in the dining room!” she said.
“Then they should be,” Marla responded, controlling her rage. “Isn’t it obvious that Johnny has had enough?” He’s a healthy kid, but he doesn’t eat much. As a teacher, you should understand how stressful forcing food on a kid can be.
“Forcing people to wipe their plates is an old-fashioned idea.” You should be informed of the statistics and causes of childhood obesity and eating problems.
“And one of them is bringing up the subject of eating!” My little kid is an energetic youngster, and if he believes he’s had enough, you must follow his wishes and refrain from forcing him to eat.
“It is abhorrent to shove food into a child’s mouth in that manner! You should have known better. These youngsters are not puppets to be manipulated at your leisure!
“They are small beings with their own needs and desires.” You educate kids, but they don’t deserve respect if you don’t respect their boundaries. “I don’t think that’s the message you want to send!”
The teacher rose to her feet, blushing blazing crimson. “I’ve never…” she sobbed.
“That’s unfortunate,” Marla said flatly. “Because if this occurs again, I will make sure you don’t have a job!” “I’m not taking my child to daycare to be abused!”
Marla approached Johnny and gently cleaned his mouth. “Come on, honey,” she softly invited. “This afternoon, Mommy promised you a treat!”
Marla and Johnny had a lengthy conversation, and there was no tantrum the next morning. She visited the daycare at lunchtime for the next three weeks to keep an eye on things.
Johnny’s good humor and excitement returned after the teacher never pushed him to eat again.