By Rosie Preston
This is a true story; one I must have stored deep inside my golf ball-sized writing brain.
Sometimes my great-grandchildren give me a memory jog by something they say or do. For example, the other day I decided to fill up their new swimming pool with water. But first we went shopping for bathing suits. Within minutes, I was questioning my sanity of doing so.
The girls are very close in age and both are middle children, so they are very competitive. As we quickly found the children’s bathing suit aisle, the cousins spotted a bright orange bathing suit decorated with fringe. With lightning speed, one quickly removed the top of the suit from the rack, while the other had the bottom still on the rack. It didn’t take two minutes until they were pulling it apart. These girls are very “girly,” until they decide they want the same thing. When that happens, they go at each other as tough as any wrestling match I’ve ever seen on TV.
Then the timeless words were uttered: “Mine!”
“I had it first!”
“I like this one the best!”
On and on it went until I lost count until I figured that I’d better intervene before the store security was called. Diving into the middle of little hands swinging with flailing arms, I captured the disputed suit in my right hand and held on as tightly as possible.
The next step was just a given after the tears began to flow. I noticed a handful of mothers standing a few feet from me (I wondered where they were during the fight). So, in my most patient voice, I said, “Oh, there’s more over there; let’s go look at them.”
As any grandparent knows, the kids never change. Oh, their bodies get bigger and they get smarter from attending school, but let’s just say this for what it is: the most violent age for a small child is a two-year old.
The Alabama Red Book is accessible to everything a childcare provider director needs to know. The toys, games, playdough and books and pain were supposed to be accessible to the children at all times. I had to break the law, the reason being that the children had no idea that to hit a child in the head with a wooden truck, or put playdough in their ears, or poke eyes with parts of puzzles was a no-no.
My solution was to have a carpenter install high shelves around the room, about five feet above the floor, where the toys could be seen but tall enough that only an adult could to get them down.
It was a couple of years later when I closed my day care service. I had my grandchildren with me at Noccalula Falls Park. I sat beside a lady on a bench as we watched the children play. I don’t know what brought up the conversation, but she seriously told me, “Don’t ever take your children to that day-care center. The owner puts the toys up high on a shelf so the kids can’t play with them!”
Laughing silently to myself, I already knew that she never had the experience of spending 12-hour days protecting the children!
Keep smiling, Rosie
Contact Rosie Preston at firstname.lastname@example.org.