I work full time and so my son is in daycare full time. Last week I took a couple of hours out of my day to attend an event that his daycare was having in which they did a “parade” of babies around the daycare. Parents, teachers and children all walked around the center together – which was only about the size of a small neighborhood block. I was happy to spend some time with the Habanero during the day and get a break from the norm but my happiness was short lived and soon turned to a full on display of what High Needs is all about.
You see, ever since I’ve been telling my son’s teachers he was high needs I’ve met some resistance with the head teacher of his room telling me “He just doesn’t act like that here.” And to be honest, I was start to question my sanity a little thinking maybe he’s not really high needs, maybe I’m just imagining things. I suspected being that it is his personality and given his age that they probably just didn’t know what it means entirely even though I had given them the 12 Features article from Dr. Sears’ website.
I haven’t really had a chance to talk to the teachers about what happened last week yet, but I think that they may have started to realize just what I was trying to tell them during our parade. About 1/4 the way around the block, the Habanero decided he was no longer happy in his wagon and wanted to be held. Admittedly I struggle with the potential of “spoiling” him as they say by giving in to his every whim immediately. So I tried to calm him down while pulling the wagon and convince him it was more fun to be in the wagon than me carrying him. He was not so convinced.
After some time of loud, embarrassing, tantrum his teacher came over and picked him up out of the wagon to carry him. He stopped crying immediately. I knew that was what he wanted but fearing the judgement of other parents, I had hoped it would end as quickly has it had started (it usually does) and he’d realize that he wasn’t getting what he wanted. I made the wrong choice, and since I had ignored his pleas to be held, I paid the price.
What ensued was a game of “hot potato” baby style in which his teacher got tired of carrying him (he’s heavy and she’s got elbow issues) and so she handed him back to me. He started crying the second he left her arms. He was loud, and I could feel the other parents eyes burning through me as my kid was acting like a brat around all the other well behaved children. His teacher, realizing he wasn’t going to stop crying anytime soon, took him back and he immediately stopped crying. This happened a couple more times before she gave up and realized she was going to have to carry him the rest of the walk to keep him quiet. His teacher thought it was funny. If she had been a mother herself I am sure she would have realized how inappropriate and upsetting it really was.
You can imagine how horrible it felt as a parent to be rejected by my child for the first time publicly. Not only did my son decide he was upset that I had ignored his needs, he rejected my comfort for his teacher’s and to put a little extra salt in the wound, one of the nearby mothers who saw what was happening turned to her son and said “you better not ever do that to me”. I knew that the judgement of other parents, family and friends is something I will have to learn to deal with as the Habanero grows up – I wasn’t expecting to be put so on the spot right away about it.
If you’ve read up on high needs a little more by now, you’ve probably seen the article by Dr. Sears about Responding to Parenting Criticism. If not – here is a link. One of the hardest parts of raising a high needs child, so I’ve read, is learning to take the criticism from everywhere that you are spoiling your child. So, if and when this happens to you, it’s important to remember that you are doing the best you can and stay strong in your choices to meet the necessities of your child. Keep in mind that how we have all concluded is best to parent is highly dependent on the generation in which we were raised and the mindset at the time. Don’t let this interfere with your desire to do what’s right for your high needs child or you they may ensure that you regret it later!