mellow yellow

sometimes, we all need to be mellow (and respect the stuff that’s yellow.)

the story goes that here, in the people’s republic of arlington, one of the full-day public elementary preschool programs has booted a three year old girl for having more than eight accidents in a month. i am actually quite familiar with this sort of situation; jools was three when he started at claremont’s sister school’s montessori program. and while he was potty trained by that point, something about the program discombobulated him. they didn’t nap. they were very structured. and, in short, he had accidents.  the teacher and the teacher’s aide were not happy about the situation, and neither were we. ultimately, we pulled him out of that program into a more day care-like situation, where he proceeded to have many dry days and never looked back.

while i feel badly for the little girl and her mom, i think a lot of their anger is rather misplaced.  here in arlington, elementary school-sponsored preschool is not universal. you get in via lottery (or sometimes via an older sibling preference) unless you are entering one of the income-based programs.  these programs are not daycare programs — these are classroom-based programs where the children essentially have a similar experience to their older compatriots. this is far more structured than what you might get at some fluffy preschool program. it’s a bargain, financially- speaking, if you can get in. and for some kids, it’s a great fit. they are both intellectually and physically ready for the experience.

for other kids, it’s a nightmare. their little bodies aren’t ready for the full-time pressure of monitoring when they have to go. sometimes, they get so engaged in an activity that it’s too late before they realize they needed a pit stop. there’s nothing wrong with that, of course — it’s developmentally quite appropriate for a lot of kids.

but one thing i have learned in my short but eventful career as a parent — sometimes, a class or a program may be fabulous, but it’s not a fabulous fit for MY child. for whatever reason, there have been situations which just didn’t work out for my kids. so BS and i dropped back, figured out plan B (or sometimes C), and punted. it wasn’t easy — sometimes, it caused challenges that upset our daily lives at work and at home. but we did what we had to do and we moved on.

arlington county public schools is pretty specific and up front about what they expect of children in the program: children must be potty trained. this is not daycare, people. this is a public school.  they tell you up front that they won’t be changing nappies, and they mean it. and while even older children occasionally have an oops! moment, these occurrences are not and should not be something that disrupts class with frequency or else it isn’t fair to the other kids who are completely ready for the experience.  no child should be shamed about his ability to control his body. but no child should be forced into a position where she’s facing embarrassment on a daily basis. if this sort of thing happens frequently, as a parent i would recognize that something is not right for my kid. and, recognizing that the school is not going to bend a whole lot on this matter, i would have moved my kid. period.

but blaming the school is not fair. i think in our society, we always look to point the finger at anyone but ourselves.  i would think it would be more useful to instead focus energies on finding a place that works best for the child and which welcomes her — all of her.

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