Posted by VERITAS
Returning from a morning walk in the park, I pass nearby a mother standing by her bike, holding its handlebars, as she waits at the stop for a childcare center bus with her toddler, a girl in the bike’s child seat; the girl screaming bloody murder that she doesn’t want to go to the childcare center.
“I won’t go, Mother!!! I won’t go to the childcare center!!! Mother understands, doesn’t she!!!” screams the child in Japanese.
But the mother doesn’t seem to understand. Doesn’t seem, at least, to be taking her daughter’s outburst as indicating the possibility of anything other than a routine aversion a toddler may have to leaving their home — as a sign of nothing more than this.
Why can’t the mother take her daughter aside, away from the bus stop, where others are waiting; try to create some sense of privacy for herself and her child, and then try to find out what exactly is bothering her daughter about going to the childcare center? Whether it might be abuse (verbal, physical, sexual) by one or more teachers or something else.
This reminds me of a swimming instructor I had two summers for one or two weeks each. My mother had read an article about the instructor in “Reader’s Digest” praising the instructor for a course he taught — a course in “drown-proofing.” And so she put us in the course and took us to the guy’s large-sized (25 yards or meters?) pool for the lessons without staying, just like the other parents — the parents leaving us alone with this guy. Had he asked them to do so for some supposedly pedagogical reason — so, for example, our attention wouldn’t be divided between our parents and his instruction, or so we wouldn’t turn crying to our parents for a break if things became a little challenging? I never asked my mother and now she’s passed away.
Anyway, once the parents were gone the fun would begin — the guy hitting us on the head with a poll if we didn’t stay under water long enough, just as we tried to surface; yelling at us in a growling voice — those are the specific things I remember; those and the time he chased down a young girl, must have been around 5, 6, 7, maybe 8 at the most, afraid of going into the deep end — chased her down, grabbed her by her long, straight hair, lifted her by her hair from the poolside surface, and slung her into the water as she screamed in terror. Incidents such as these were not for the parents viewing.
Those are the only clearly abusive behaviors on this guy’s part that I remember specifically, and maybe those were enough to have the effect on me that the thought of going to his lessons had or maybe there were other abuses that he perpetrated upon us as well, but I remember it got so bad that at least once I locked myself in the upstairs bathroom of my grandmother’s house in Atlanta, where we stayed when, for two summers, we came down from Nashville for one or two weeks to take the lessons — locked myself in the bathroom and started eating soap, hoping like all get out it would make me sick enough so I wouldn’t have to go, though it ended up not working — somehow my mother finagled me into stopping the soap eating, opening the door, and letting me take her to the lesson, I guess because, among other things, I didn’t possess the verbal-mental capacity at that age — which, as I recall, was around four to six — to articulate the abuse the guy was perpetrating on me and the other kids.
Which brings me back to the mother and her screaming toddler at the daycare center bus stop. It may very well be that the child couldn’t have directly articulated what it was she so feared about the daycare center, but the mother could have at least tried to draw some information out of the child by asking questions — what are you afraid of? etc. — or other means.
Another factor may have been that the mother may have been looking forward to the break from her child that her child’s time at the daycare center provided and so a part of her didn’t want to jeopardize this break time by asking questions which, if her child gave certain information in response — might have resulted in the mother’s feeling a moral obligation not to send her child to the center.