Help Me Find The Words

I love my job, I really do. It’s rewarding in so many ways. I’m able to stay home. I have almost every holiday off and I never work weekends or evenings. I get to watch children grow and learn and discover new things about the world and themselves. I love watching my youngest daycare boy play in the sand box and in the summer, play in his pool. I have had him since he was 6 weeks old and he’s 21 months now. I love him as I do with every child that comes and goes.

With this one it is different though. This one has come with parents that don’t put a whole lot of energy into anything really. Especially when it comes to their children. I feel bad about writing this only because I can not fathom the thought of not wanting to spend time with your kids or making sure they are as well developed as they should be. He is such a cute, sweet boy with so much love to give. And he’s very well behaved. He never wants to go to his Mom when she picks him up and I know for a fact he does not get bathed like he should. I will say to her, ” he needs a bath tonight, he is covered in sunblock, bug spray, sand and sweat.” He will however come back the next morning in the same clothes he left in. The same dirt under his nails, the same bug spray covering his little body. I will feel so bad that I immediately put him in the bath myself. I have done this many times. And you would think after telling his Mom that I gave him a bath she would get the hint…NO she does not.

Above and beyond all that it has now become a developmental problem I am seeing with Andrew. I work with him constantly and even if I wasn’t, at this age he should be at least mimicking more things. Talking to him he seems lost. I’m afraid there is something not clicking, mentally. Something isn’t right and I do not know how to approach this issue with his parents. You can sit him in a room and he won’t move, you can ask him a very simple question that he should understand and he just looks at you like you are speaking foreign to him. I know every kid is different in their pace for learning and comprehension. He says Dadda for dad but that’s it. Nothing else. I can not take him to the doctor. His parents have never asked me what our daily activities are or even hinted that they were concerned about this issue.

What do I do??? I have to address this issue for the benefit of Andrew. I just don’t know how to go about doing so.

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19 Responses to Help Me Find The Words

  1. Joy says:

    Nikki, I’ll think of this more but right now I need to ask you if he seemingly hears you? That’s my first question. He’s such an adorable boy but he never says a word or goes out of his way, in any way to interact with anyone. Also, he’s way more content with things than my boys were. He hasn’t a “lets jump on the couch” bone in his body.

  2. nikki says:

    No not at all!!!! Nothing really interests him. He did start this week pushing matchbox cars around and that’s huge for him.

  3. SKL says:

    I obviously don’t know the parents, but I’d take them aside and tell him you have some concerns and recommend he be evaluated by a development professional. It may be possible that they could get an evaluation done for free (Early Intervention) if they qualify. (I don’t know any details of qualifying.)

    If this is their only child, they may really not know what he should be capable of at his age. Or, they may be concerned but have no idea what to do. Maybe you could give some suggestions for who they should go to to get an evaluation and develop an intervention plan.

    Interesting that you should post this today. My nanny just told me today that she is doing “evaluations” on my girls. She’s been with them 8 hours a day since January, so she ought to know where they are, but she says she wants to look at “objective measures.” For some reason this bugged me. I am constantly watching for my kids’ development milestones and googling different sites for developmental charts to see if they are on track – which they pretty much are. I’ve discussed my concerns with the nanny at length. Yet I feel a little defensive that she’s “testing” them on paper. Why? I’m really not sure. I guess part of me thinks, what is the benefit of a list of “can do” and “can’t do”? I’m not going by that to decide on the kids’ future activities. I didn’t ask her to do this and one of the reasons I hired a nanny was so that I could decide what the priorities were for my kids. Also, there are so many things you can’t put in writing that tell you your kid is fine or not fine. Like, so what if they don’t say “cookie” – I never serve cookies and there are lots of more sophisticated words they do say. It still bugs me that both their pediatrician and their nanny noted that they didn’t say “dada” – even though they don’t have a dada!

    OK, that was just an irrational vent. I guess the point is that we parents can find it difficult to be objective about our kids, so sometimes we need a little push.

  4. Nikki- I’m sorry I don’t have any helpful suggestions on how to deal with these parents, but I feel for you in this situation. It would be heartbreaking to witness what it seems could be classified as neglect. This little boy is really lucky to have you in his life.

    SKL- I definitely know how you feel. I homeschooled my son until the 5th grade, and when he entered school his handwriting and spelling was atrocious. His teacher was talking to me about putting him in a remedial class because of it. She showed me a paragraph he had written as evidence, and I asked her, are you looking at all at the CONTENT of the writing? She admitted that if it were typed and spelled correctly, the content would reflect an above grade level writing ability. Nevertheless, the only thing that kept him out of the remedial class was my promise that I would grill him on spelling and printing.

    Why do we measure kids by impersonal yardsticks instead of getting to know their abilities personally?

    I would trust Nikki’s subjective evaluation of this child, based on her daily concerned involvement, more than I would trust a “highly qualified” stranger’s box-ticking “objective” examination. Maybe that makes me naive and unevolved, but that’s how I feel.

  5. thegoddessanna says:

    I’m not sure what to say about the child not being bathed properly. About the developmental thing, though, I have my own experience.

    My twins were 6 weeks early. They were and are developmentally delayed – they are 3 now and only now really beginning to talk (one actually strings sentences together, the other doesn’t like to talk). When we had them in preschool, the teachers were worried that there was something wrong with them, especially the quiet one, Cameron. He does have some Aspie-like symptoms, but so do I. We’ve taken them to the doctor’s to have them evaluated, but they’ve found nothing wrong with them, other than that they’re delayed.

    Now, Cam is a smart boy, that doesn’t play with much, and can act very withdrawn at times. Apparently, this is exactly how my husband was as a small child. Part of me wonders if he does have some sort of a problem, and part of me thinks he’s just different than my other two (who are just like me), so I’m thinking there’s something wrong when there’s nothing there.

    Go with your gut instincts, and speak with the parents. Another thought – maybe the parents have noticed that you do bathe their kid, so they don’t, knowing you will. Be open and honest, and if things get worse, inform them you will be contacting authorities about it. Follow through as needed. It’ll be hell for them (I was investigated by base CPS because somebody put in a false call about me, I can tell the story at another time if asked), but in the end, the little boy and his parents will be better off.

  6. nikki says:

    This is their 2nd child. Mom has an 8year old from a previous relationship. Now Andrew dad is a friend of Jason’s,another reason this is hard. Andrew adores his dad, you can plainly see that. However he hits his Mom ( I would not believe it I did not see it) and he runs away from her and would clearly rather stay with me that leave with her. Now I’m not close to her and I do not know her very well outside of caring for her children, I do not think she physically abuses him. I do think she neglects him. I’ve heard through casual conversations with the Dad and older son that all she does is sit on her computer working or watches TV. All Dad says is “well she’s done this before so she must know what she’s doing.” I believe she puts ALL her energy into work. I talk about this often with Jason because I’m at a loss of what to do. For example she put off feeding him real food and bottle feed him until he was almost 8 months old. Why? Her reason was because it was easier. I would ask every week, “when are we going to start solid foods?” Finally she did, and still at 1 they were sending ONLY jarred baby food and only fruit and veggies. I told them that they were pretty much putting him on a diet and he had no fat on his body. I would try to incorporate solid foods, more fatty foods and it wasn’t until they took him to his 1 year check up that the doctor told them the same thing I’ve been telling them. He needs fatty foods. Then they say to me, you’re gonna have to buy his food because we don’t know what to send for a 1 year old. WHAT???? Just a taste of what I’ve had to go through with these parents.

  7. SKL says:

    Wow. Mama needs some parenting help. There is a simple write-up available on the Web, prepared for WIC recipients, that gives lots of great information on feeding wee ones. Maybe you could print it off and give it to her.

    Also, maybe Mama is depressed. That could explain her lack of energy to get hands-on with her child. Now, if that is the case, I have absolutely no idea what you can do about it. You can feed and bathe the baby, but you can’t force an adult to do anything, unless you can prove her child is being harmed pretty significantly by her actions. Not having a bath for a day probably wouldn’t qualify as neglect, and learning delays have too many possible causes.

    It sounds like she is relying on you to take a lot of responsibility. Maybe she honestly thinks it’s your responsibility, I don’t know. I wonder how she did things with her older child. Was he in a government pre-school program, for instance – if so, they do a lot more in terms of “picking up the slack” for parents who are either too naive, busy, or lazy to do the right things with their kids.

    Here’s another idea. See if you can get a copy of a toddler evaluation (on paper) and fill it out, then give her a copy and discuss it with her. (Yeah, that same thing I just complained about in my above comment.) Maybe seeing it on paper would motivate her to get more involved. Or if not her, maybe her husband.

  8. nikki says:

    Good idea about the toddler evaluation on paper. I don’t have a printer so maybe I’ll ask Joy to look that up for me and print it out. And the bathing issue. He has a “bath night” Fridays. That’s it. I cried last night to Jason because I love this little boy!! I’m so afraid that when I say something that they will just get mad and defensive and take him away. That is my worst fear. Then I will never know if he is being cared for the way I feel he deserves. Jason says it’s not my problem, he doesn’t think they will listen so what’s the point. He says to wait for the doctors to see it. I feel I owe it to him to do something before it is too late and he gets too far behind.

  9. SKL says:

    At least they take him to the doctor – that’s one bright spot.

  10. tessafroom says:

    It sounds like autism. Definitely talk to the parents about it just as you have done here! Tell them you are concerned because of his lack of interest, ect.

  11. tessafroom says:

    DEFINITELY follow your gut and say something, cuz you are right-the longer you wait the worse it could get if it is something at all. BEtter be safe than sorry! Express to them how much you care for their boy!

  12. tessafroom says:

    They might get offensive if you give them paperwork…maybe just try talking first to them.

  13. tessafroom says:

    Does he seem neglected a lot? Do you think there is more mom isn’t doing than not giving him baths? Do you think maybe there is abuse going on? That can also make a child act that way…. Maybe it is something you should talk to CPS-Child Protective Services about if the mom doesn’t seem to care when you approach her with the problems. You could ask them for advice without giving names.

    I know Leo’s hate confrontation! Eric does too. But set your fear aside, and sit down with this mom. As his caregiver, you have a right to voice concern for his welfare! Just leave judgement aside as you talk to her, and speak with concern for him and her…
    Let us know how it goes! Good luck. You’ve got a great heart Nikki!

  14. tessafroom says:

    Do you think dad neglects him? Are they married?

  15. nikki says:

    I don’t think the dad neglects. He is gone a lot though. Yes they are married. I don’t feel it is Autism, yes he shows some signs but it could mean many different things.

  16. SKL says:

    Another thought is that if you feel there is significant neglect going on, are you a mandated reporter? Teachers, doctors, and I believe child care providers are required to report to the authorities if they see evidence that child is at risk. From your posts, I can’t tell if you feel he is in physical danger (e.g., malnutrition) from the neglect you feel he is experiencing.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you should call authorities without first talking to the parents. But if you voice your concerns and feel both parents have failed to take steps to keep the child safe and healthy, then you might need to take it a step further. I know, that would totally suck, so I hope it never comes to that.

  17. mssc54 says:

    Really the bottom line is what is BEST for this little boy. Not what’s good for any one else.

    When we got our “new” little boy he was a little over two years old. He was extremely introverted and would barely make a sound much less speak any words. It wasn’t long after moving in with us and interacting with our family that he changed dramatically. His uncle who is a heart surgeon commented about the degree of developement he noticed in his nephew (that he couldn’t bother taking in and was going let him and his sister go to an orphanage if we hadn’t taken them. Sorry got off track a bit.)

    We had our little guy tested for developemental delays and found that he was borderling in a couple areas. We were given some exercises to help him improve in those areas and it was quite amazing to see the change.

    I’m thinking that you really know what you need to do but are resistant because you are afraid that if the parents find out it was you they will take away the relationship you already have with him.

    So here’s what you do. Keep doing what you are doing now. Call the what ever child protective agency there is in your county and tell them you would like to some information on Foster Parenting. Get through that program and THEN report the dead beat parents. When they complain about being investigated tell them you would be okay if they want to leave little Johnny with you for a while.

    That’s is sort of similar to the way we ended up with our new kids. Only we weren’t the ones who reported mom for driving around town drunk with the kids in the car.

    Just take EVERYBODY out of the equation except this little boy. Even if he is removed from his parents and you he needs to be in a better home environment.

    But you already know that.

  18. Jennifer says:

    This is so hard on so many levels…I agree with SKL about the mandated reporting if you truly suspect neglect or abuse. However I also believe that without documentation I’d be hesitant. I know that my daycare provider keeps logs on all of the kids. I learned this last year when I was in the unfortunate situation of having my provider show me all the documentation of when DS had been arriving to daycare with frequent colds that I had not taken him to the dr for and that she would not be taking him back until I had taken him to the dr and had a signed note.

    I also agree with mssc54 that the bottom line is what is best for the child.

    With that said, you mentioned that his nutrition has not been adequate for his age. Nutrition plays a very vital role in development. You also mentioned he was 21 months old? I know that my own DS did not utter a word until 18 months and most words have been intelligible until recently (he’s 2 1/2). If it weren’t for the fact that my husband was a very late talker (close to 5 years old and tested for autism, but began speaking in complete sentences when he did finally talk) I would have probably worried more about my own son.

    As far as the bathing goes I guess I can’t say much. We only bathe our kids once a week in this house as well unless they are particularly grimy. With that said I don’t know if your parents sign a contract with you? If not then perhaps it’s time to consider one? I know my provider has clauses about picking up children late and being charged a fee, perhaps you can also include a clause that says if children end up needing to be bathed and clothed in alternate clothing there will be a $5 fee or something similar. That might be a good deterrent.

    I can honestly say this though as a working parent. I feel guilty almost every day. Why? There’s so much I want to talk about with my daycare provider but when I arrive I’m always in a hurry, always having rushed out of some meeting or stopped work in the middle of a project to get the kids. It’s usually chaotic when I arrive and the last thing I can cope with at the end of a work day is arriving to the daycare full of screaming preschoolers and toddlers. I read their daily logs, I listen to what my provider tells me, but honestly 98% of the time it doesn’t sink in. I miss a lot of information. It’s not that I’m not interested, it’s that I’m overwhelmed. I race home at dinner time, the kids are cranky, my husband and I are cranky from work, we cook dinner, we eat, the kids inevitably hate whatever we’ve prepared, we clean up, they have an hour to play, and it’s bedtime. Honestly, in that hour before bed all I want out of my day is time to sit down and do something for ME. It sounds selfish but I just keep waiting to unwind, because from the time we arrive home everything is in full swing. It’s not uncommon for me to be on the computer and telling the kids to run off and play. I feel awful for it. I feel guilty. I also feel trapped. I feel disconnected from my family. I should be working with my daughter on her letters. I should be helping her with the potty. I should be giving the kids a bath. I should be cleaning the house. I should be connecting with my husband. I should be doing a thousand other things. But in the end you just try to survive. So you keep putting things off. I know I’ve got to start potty training my son but the whole task seems exhausting and I don’t know where to start and how to accomplish it in the mere three hours I have with them a day.

    I’m not saying it’s the same thing that this mother is feeling, but I know that lately I’ve been so overwhelmed at work and struggling to keep myself afloat there that I often take for granted my family. And if you’ve got a good daycare provider that takes initiative sometimes it makes it too easy. You just let them keep taking the initiative knowing that eventually you’re going to come to blows.

    In the meantime Nikki I would document everything you can, continue giving this little boy your love and attention and offer Mom the advice you have been but also your ear from time to time. Sometimes just showing Mom some of the documentation can be eye opening and allow her to see the pattern that she may or may not be aware of.

  19. Jane says:

    These are some good suggestions. I agree with those who say document what you can. See if you can get some “evaluation” forms of some kind and just if it’s for yourself, see if he’s anywhere near where he should be. We must all remember that all kids are different. We all develop and do things at different ages. Also, even if a child has a few characteristics of something, that doesn’t mean he has it so don’t start putting yourself in a panic.

    Jen, don’t be so hard on yourself. You made me sad reading that. You work full time and have a family. You can only do so much and it the end, you’ll all be just fine.

    It’s clear that Nikki doesn’t see abuse or she would have done something. He just seems a little off. I wouldn’t recommend getting any child protective agencies involved unless your very sure because you will lose your job and then who will have Andrew?

    Just my two cents.

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