Earlier this week I was an observer of a scene that stirred something in me. It happened in a library close to my home. I noticed that the kid section was unusually busy; very soon it was obvious that the commotion was caused by a daycare group that was visiting. As I was choosing books for my littles, I couldn't help but notice the interactions between the teachers and the toddlers present. Four two year olds per one teacher was the ratio with 12 kids present. For about 45 minutes that they were there, two teachers were busy choosing "teacher books" as they called it and reminded kids not to touch, and one was trying to keep an eye on the 12 kids who were forbidden to leave an area thats it about 10' by 20'. Throughout this entire time, I heard a lot of reminders, commands such as "Stop!" and "Sit Down!" the tone of which was not in a gentle reminder way but more of an utterance of annoyance. Not a single praise or compliment or positive one on one interaction. At one point I might have cried a little with one of the toddlers who was put into a timeout and started to cry "Mama!" in the middle of the library.
When I got home, I fumed with disbelief and ranted the story to my dad, then to my sister and my husband of how this daycare located in the middle to upper-middle class area can have workers like that take care of the kids. I mean, do these parents, who fork over close to a grand per month for these kids know how their kids are being treated? Do they know that these teachers didn't even make an effort to be nice to the kids while out in public? What then goes on inside the daycare?
I went on and on and on... until I stopped and thought.
Would it be fair for someone to judge the kind of a parent I am based on a 45 minute observation?
I too rely on others to care of my kids.
I too do not know how they are really being treated when I am not home.
My ratio of compliments to reminders sucks.
I utter reminders and threats in a tone of annoyance as well.
The words of Mathew 7:5 are spot on:
"You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."
In their defense, those daycare workers can argue that they are underpaid, understaffed,undertrained, and are simply treating it like a job not a career or an investment.
What excuses can I resort to? Yes, I am often outnumbered and always sleep deprived, but I have learned better and these children of mine are just that--MINE.
I sow every day in hopes that one day I can reap the sweet fruits of my labor. What does my labor looks like on a daily basis? Does what comes out of my mouth build them up or tear them down?
Reminders are always reactive, what can I do to practice responding to their actions in a way thats firm but kind? What about sibling interaction? How do I handle tattle-tailing, play turned fight, teasing and nagging in an non annoyed kind of way?
The truth is, I don't know the answers to these questions. Or maybe I do until I am in a middle of making dinner with a baby on my hip, a preschooler who is pulling the string of my apron open, a pre-teen who chose that very moment to complain about the fact that she doesn't have anything to wear again and a 7 year old who is crying about his 9 year brother 's comeback being far from gentle.
Yeah, it is then that it because clear I am in no position to judge anyone no matter how tempting it might be to me, the observer.