Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blame it on Oprah

At what point does one qualify as a bad parent?

This morning, moments after I dropped Grace off at daycare, she was screaming. Almost out the door to go to work, I turned back and dashed back down the hall. Ms Felicitie, her primary caregiver, was moving quickly back to the infant room with Grace’s shirt in her hands.

“What’s wrong? What happened? Why is Grace crying?” I asked.

Felicitie (who has a thick French accent) said, “Coffee.” At least that’s what I thought I heard her say. Even in the moment I was unsure.

Grace was in another teacher’s arms screaming and blotchey red. As they replaced her clothes with a dry outfit, I calmed her down and covered her with kisses.

I asked again, “What happened? Did coffee spill on her?”

“No,” was Felicitie’s response, “It was my cold water.”

Grace was calm so I left for work. Ice water? Who drinks ice water out of a coffee mug at 7am? Are they lying to me? She’s not hurt, but still, I want to know if my kid had hot coffee spilt on her.

With these thoughts rattling around in my head, I went back down 15 minutes later. Grace was happy and playing, so I left. On the way out I ran into the other teacher involved again. “Do you know what was in that cup? Did hot water fall on her?” I asked.

“No,” was the response again. “It was some kind of juice.”

That just didn’t make sense to me. I went back down again in ½ hour. Grace was back in her original outfit, which had no stains, but now smelled like dish detergent. I laid her down on her back, raspberrying her belly and checking her chest for red marks. Nothing.

On my way out, I mentioned what I thought happened to a 3rd teacher. My favorite teacher. She said she would look into it.

30 minutes later I got a phone call from Felicitie. This is what actually happened.

I felt like an ass, but I will blame it on Oprah.

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Felicite saw an episode of Oprah a couple of weeks ago that suggested you drink smoothie of cucumber, raw spinach, plain yogurt & lemon for breakfast for an energy boost. (Disgusting, right? That’s what I thought when she told me about this drink weeks ago.)

Well, apparently, after finishing her green breakfast, she filled the cup with water from the fountain. Before she could get the lid screwed back on though, Grace bumped the cup and the leftover green slurry splashed all over them both.

Felicite pulled Grace’s shirt off to try and wash it before staining. The screaming was due to the hand-off to the other teacher, which she has not been showing much love to lately.

As she told me all this, I could hear the words choking in her throat. “I love Grace so much,” she said, “I would never do anything to hurt her or to make you not trust me.”

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I wanted to scream, “Why didn’t you tell me all this when I kept asking about whether the water was hot or cold?”

Now that the whole thing is resolved, the same question of, “At what point does one qualify as a bad parent?” keeps rattling around in my head.

Was I a bad parent because I didn’t scream my concern at the top of my lungs in the first few minutes?

Was I a bad parent because I left her down there when I wasn’t 100% sure what had happened?

Am I a bad parent because I’ve made the decision to enroll Grace in daycare and keep working?

In my heart, I do believe there is no "yes or no" answer to any of these questions. It is all a learning experience. It definitely has taught me some lessons though. Better preparing me for the next time something happens.

And I know there will be a next time.

I don’t want a bubble wrap kid. I want her to jump off the high dive. To crash into things. To embrace adventure.

Those things are all under her own volition though.

I am her voice for now.

This experience was preparation on how to use it in the future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Grandpa Olsen is ready for the mover and shaker, can't wait!!!!!!!!