Daycare Dilemma (updated)

January 22, 2008 at 10:37 pm | Posted in AdoptThis!, M'ijo | 18 Comments

After I left P’ito at daycare this morning, I went downstairs to the director’s office to ask her a quick question about his tuition.

– Oh, I’m so glad you’re here – do you have a minute?

– Um, sure. (not what I was expecting)

She wanted to talk to me about early intervention.

I’m quite familiar with EI – it’s what my mom does for a living. And if I had any concerns about P’ito, I wouldn’t hesitate to call them and get him evaluated. So why do I feel so whiplashed that she brought it up? Her concern is not about physical or cognitive development – she feels he’s doing great in those regards. But as she put it, after spending some time in his classroom and talking to his lead teacher, they feel he’s a little serious/ withdrawn/ subdued (since before Pili’s commuting, btw). And, she explained, they’ve had lots of positive experiences with EI giving them suggestions to help internationally adopted kids adapt to the daycare setting.

I know the mood that they are talking about, but I also know my silly goofy boy who is anything but subdued. To wit: After his bath tonight, I was trying to ready the sixteen layers of cloth diaper that keep him from soaking through his pjs, and he was trying to unready them. Finally, I gave up and set his naked little self down on the floor. He WHOOPED, ran over to his zebra and climbed on it. Buck naked. Then he shot me the most mischevious grin ever.

I have a lot of trust and confidence in his daycare. They are NAEYC accredited, his teachers adore him & snuggle him lots, and I’ve certainly seen him be happy there. So I find myself wondering: if he weren’t adopted, would she be suggesting this?

My mom doesn’t see any need for evaluation; on the other hand, she is such a fabulously over the moon grandma that I think she may really believe his shit smells sweet. She thinks that he is quiet at daycare because he’s trying to hold onto his memories of Pili & me & we need to find a lovie for him (so far, he has no particular attachment to any soft objects other than his mommies) & send him to school with lots of pictures of us (he has a big poster with pictures of us right at his eye level).

I don’t know. I feel – glad that they are looking out for him – annoyed that I don’t think she’d make the same suggestion to the parents of the quiet, non-adopted kids in his class – sad that he is not happier at school and not sure what to do about it.

And then I went in to pick him up today, and he was absolutely positively giggly. And his afternoon teacher looked at me like she thought I was certifiable when I said that the director & teacher #1 thought he was subdued. Perhaps it’s just that he got a nice long nap in today?

UPDATE: We started sending P’ito to daycare with Blankie, which I guess I can no longer describe as “the closest thing to a lovie that he’s got” as it seems to have been upgraded to FULL ON LOVIE status.  And that seems to have helped – he’s been much happier and his normal goofy self at daycare ever since.  I checked back in with the director the other day and she immediately said “y’know I’m glad you brought that up again – I think you were right that he was just working through some separation anxiety and I’m not concerned anymore.” Whew.


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  1. Goodness. I have absolutely no wisdom or anything to say except that I’m thinking of you, and that’s an annoying situation.

  2. Ugh. How frustrating. Don’t really have any wisdom but sending you love.

  3. hrm. Sounds fishy to me, truth be told.

    I’d simply thank her for her “advice,” and keep doing what you’re doing.

    And if she pushes the issue? Give her the name of your ped, AND your mom.AND me, and I’ll tell them how social he is, but that maybe SHE (director) instills shyness in the little guy.

    Malka gets her shy on around new people and situations, too.

    It’s, oh what’s the word? Oh yeah – NORMAL.

    People are SOOOO EI trigger happy these days, sheesh! No one’s willing to take responsibility for their own actions. UGH.

  4. If its worth anything, I think there is only scant evidence that kids adopted from other countries have more difficulty assimilating into social environments including daycare. My niece was adopted from Russia 5 years ago and has never had any problem and in fact, has earned herself a reputation as a class clown, although she also does quite well academically (as well as any kindergardener can do, anyway).

    I would acknowledge her thoughts, but say that unless there are overt signs of problems, your son probably does not need any intervention at this time. He seems pretty well-adjusted from an outsider’s perspective.

  5. While I do think that every kid would benefit from EI, I think it’s fishy, fishy, fishy that she’s suggesting it because he’s subdued (in the morning only, it seems…).

    Would she be suggesting it if he weren’t adopted? No. Is it something that some adopted kids might benefit from? Sure thing. But she needs to come up with a better reason than “he cops a ‘tude in the mornings”.

    Here’s a good one for ya: Squeak gets congested from a cold and, a day or so later, gets wheezy and needs a nebulizer. It’s happened 3 times so far. The wheezing gets better in 24 hrs. Our doc told us to call if he needs the neb more often than every 4 hrs. The last time, he needed it every 3, so we called. She wanted us to bring him in to do some “testing”. What kind? “Well, since we don’t know his medical history, we should do a gene panel and stuff like that.” Um, to test for *what*, exactly? “Well, for things like Cystic Fibrosis.”

    *um* Our kid has allergies and eczema – add asthma to that for the win. He does not have cystic fibrosis just because he’s adopted. He has NO symptoms of it and he’s actually genetically unlikely to have it. She just thinks “adopted means blank slate. no information is TEH SCARY!” and wants to assume the worst. She needs to come up with some pretty convincing reasons in order to convince us to test him for anything.

  6. I guess I’d talk to the teachers together and ask them about it–I’ve generally found it’s useful to listen to people who have a lot of experience, although listening doesn’t always mean doing what they say. I’d be curious, too, though, about what they see him doing in daycare: I mean, just what does it mean that he’s withdrawn?

    He may just be processing things, not being unhappy, too.

    And, given that he’s hardly the first quiet kid in the room, I’d want to know what the teachers do with the situation.

    This seems like more of a classroom technique matter than an EI one.

  7. I saw a pretty vibrant kid, standing up to Pequita the way he did when they met. I think your caution is spot on. It will be interesting to see what the other teachers think. Clearly, someone has reported his ‘withdrawn’ behavior to the director.

  8. I love EI, I think it is the best thing ever. I say this, of course, because I was an EI worker for years. So I’m biased. I think that EI can help all kids, whether they have delays or challenges or special circumstances. BUT

    If you are not concerned and interested, and pedi is not concerned and interested, and afternoon teacher is not concerned and interested, then you do what’s in your heart, you know? Tell the morning teacher “thanks but no thanks.”


  9. Sounds a bit strange to me. I’m a child care provider myself and I’d certainly talk with parents if I had a concern about a child’s behavior/mood, but I wouldn’t make the leap to EI immediately unless things were out of control. In a scenario like the one you mentioned, I might encourage parents to leave a love note and a picture for their baby in his pocket, offer the little one lots of hugs and room for snuggly reading/cozy play, and let him set the pace for interactions. I think that putting up lots of pictures of you and Pili is a great idea and I love the idea of a transitional object as well, but I also think that some kids need a little time to warm up in the morning. Not everyone is chipper and cheerful at 8am…I’m certainly not, though I’ve learned to fake it pretty well! If I were in your shoes, I might just keep an eye on the whole situation. If it looks like adoption is becoming a preoccupation for Pepito’s morning teacher and director, that’s a whole ‘nother story. Good luck!

  10. I should be the last one commenting here because I don’t have any kids. But, my first thought was that this is the nature of the times we live in – “let’s look for something wrong so we can fix it……”.

  11. Hmmm … sounds like she is jumping the gun a bit. I would go with your gut. He’s your boy!

    Some people are quiet and subdued sometimes … it’s not a flaw …


  12. Thank you so much for these thoughtful comments. I too have been kind of preoccupied by this since Art-Sweet told me about the other night. I actually like Pepito’s serious moods – I like to think it’s a kind of quiet attentive mood where he’s really processing things. But then, part of the whole problem here is not really knowing what it is the teacher and director are referring to. What is this serious “withdrawn” mood she’s talking about? So, I’m going in on Friday to hang out in daycare for awhile, which I’ve been wanting to do anyway. Of course, my being there will affect how Pepito is….

    And thank you fostermommy for that hilarious and totally true remark: “She just thinks “adopted means blank slate. no information is TEH SCARY!”” I think sometimes for people in this day and age, NOT doing something (or non-action as Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita) is the hardest thing to do of all.

  13. I don’t have answers- but I wanted to wave.

  14. I think your suspicions are correct. Before I became a lawyer I was a special education teacher working with kids who were neurologically impaired and, later, with autistic children. I was fresh out of college and I had no children of my own at that time but I didn’t like the way the other teachers kept referring to files on the individual children that had every little detail about their lives including whether they were full-term or premature, C-section or vaginal birth, living with a step-parent, family on welfare, adopted, late at being toilet trained and on and on and on. It seemed that every time a kid had a bad day out came the file and some correlation was found with his or her early life or current home environment.
    So-called “normal” kids weren’t given this treatment. If I were you, I’d decline early intervention. It will become part of his permanent record and it will follow him through his school career. I don’t mean to seem paranoid, but I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen boys who were just energetic boys put on medication because some “expert” diagnosed then with ADHD, or whatever was the alphabet-named malady of the moment. You don’t want your son to be labeled and considered a problem where no problem exists. I don’t think ANY child your son’s age doesn’t have some sadness over leaving home and going to school. It’s part of growing up and eventually, he’ll adjust. Go with your instincts. As one of his moms, you know your child best.

  15. instinctively it seems ok to me to have a bit of a shift when you’re not there. actually, it seems positive- a sign of attachment. why wouldn’t it be normal to be a little pensive, and maybe even a little sad to be away from your mommies?

    and on another note, i love the image of the zebra ride. wish you got that on camera!


  16. Her reaction seems a bit over the top to me. Being a little subdued in the morning is perfectly natural to me. Not everyone is a morning person. I’m sure not…Don’t kill me, but…Hey, I tagged you! Check my blog for the rules…

  17. So he’s not a morning person, big deal. I’d thank her for the advice but leave it at that. If other people start mentioning it then by all means look into it. But geez.

  18. It doesn’t sound serious. I would just say what you probably already know: how he is with you at home, or how he is when he is getting one on one attention could be markedly different than how he is in a group situation, at daycare. It’s something to consider. But then, it could be that the head teacher is just letting her ideas about adopted kids come into her interpretation of his normal range of moods. If you do decide to get an eval, probably do it in his daycare environment.
    You’re lucky to have your mom’s input and expertise – although you’re right, what grandparent can be objective? LOL

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