Advice ASAP please (problems w/ pre-k -- perspective needed)

Christine - posted on 06/06/2010 ( 26 moms have responded )

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Hello ladies,

I hope your weekends all went well... Ours was busy, but not that eventful, which is partially why it's taken me three days to post this! I am torn between sad and furious right now, and I'm trying to figure out which emotion is more justified.

My (step)son is almost five (August birthday) and is finishing his last year of preschool. When he was three, we sent him to a private pre-k at the church I went to youth group at. It was great -- two and a half hours, and he learned SO much. They were very pro-active about educating the children (it was a blended 3 and 4 year old class) and did all sorts of activities, field trips, family events and so on. He had some issues for sure, but as a whole, I was very happy with our experience. The only problem? Tuition. And to top it all off, they raised prices for the 2009-10 school year. We were forced to look elsewhere, much to my displeasure.

In the end, we settled on the Headstart preschool in our area. To those of you unfamiliar with it, it is free/universal preschool for low income families. Ours is a full day (9-3:30) and provides breakfast and lunch, as well as school bus transportation to and from school. Sounds like a dream, right? Though I was somewhat leery about the program, my FH and I couldn't argue with the full day because of our own work and school schedules, not to mention the fact that it was free.

The first month or two went off without many problems -- a few insulting comments here and there... The people in our program, at least (I can't speak for Headstart as a whole, just what we've noticed personally) seemed to take the attitude that since we're low income, we must be sh!t parents who either abuse or neglect our child. Okay, so I know it takes all sorts, and I'm sure it's better to err on the side of safety *just in case*. And I kept telling myself 'it's only one year, and it's free.'

Then came the times when our son would be sent home wearing other clothes than the ones he was sent to school in. Their claim was that he peed in them (understandable) or that he kept 'spilling milk' on them (not so much.) My son is a very cautious little boy -- he does everything slowly because he does not like being dirty (weird, I know.) But even then, I said to myself 'maybe he gets excited at school and eats/drinks too quickly.' This worked until he was no longer being sent home in the spare clothes we sent in for him. He would come home in pants, shirts, socks and shoes that we'd never seen before, and his own clothes that he supposedly soiled would never be seen again. The school's claim was that they were 'being washed for him', but we would never get them back.

Now, I'll have you know that I personally pay for all his clothing (my FH just has no interest in clothing... Typical man) and the clothes I buy for him aren't cheap. Not that it really matters to a kid, but I usually buy Children's Place, Baby Gap, Gymboree, etc.... Year to date, we've 'lost' three or four shirts, a sweatshirt, two pairs of pants and I haven't even bothered to count socks and underwear. Not a huge loss, but at the same time, that's about a hundred dollars worth of clothes just... Gone. And I don't see why the *school* thinks they need to wash MY son's clothing... Never once have I sent him to school in anything but freshly laundered clothing. We may not have the most money in the world, but we do have pride and standards. But maybe they thought they were being helpful since they seem to think we're too poor to do laundry. Okay, whatever. 'It's only one year, and it's free...'

We've had problems with getting information from the school as well. We have not received a breakfast, lunch or events calendar in months. (Since Oct. for breakfast/lunch, since March or April for events -- school events, days off of school, etc.) The school has cancelled or had a half day for at least one Friday every month... We usually get a note home on Wednesday or Thursday 'reminding' us of their change in schedule. How can we be 'reminded' when we were never informed in the first place? But I didn't complain because I took the semester off of work to concentrate on school, and always had Fridays free. 'It's only one year, and it's free.'

Then came the allegations from my son that he would be sick or throw up at school, and 'Miss _____' took care of him. What the hell? Sorry, but I thought it was, like, a law that the parents would be notified when a child was sick, and that child would be sent home... Apparently not for Headstart. We have called after these allegations and our concerns were more or less dismissed.

The the Headstart teachers program has shown little to no interest or respect for me, despite the fact that I am listed as 'Mother' on the application. It was spelled both in writing and in person that BM is not involved in our son's day-to-day life. They would not share information with me and treat me like some sort of outsider when I come to the school. The head of the program would call my phone and leave alarming messages if I couldn't answer: 'This is ______ from Headstart, please call me back IMMEDIATELY (click)' I would return the call only to have her tell me she couldn't get ahold of FH and needed him to call her. She would never release any information to me, and tell me she 'just needed Ryan to call her.' Okay, whatever. She has also called and said things like 'D_____ is not in school today and we were wondering why' when either he WAS dropped off (talk about a heart attack -- we thought BM abducted him...) or FH had called hours earlier to say our son was sick or had a doc's appt. Okay, so I guess everyone has an off day, or doesn't always pay attention. 'One year and it's free.'

So here we are, three weeks from the end of the year, and I have bit my tongue so hard it's bled with these people, but now I am just about ready to snap. I have done all the 'family' homework with my son (which is very obv because my handwriting is ridiculously fem) and always made sure I came with FH for any conference or meeting, but apparently this has been all for naught (in the school's eyes.) My son told me on Friday that they refer to me as 'Christine' to him, not 'Mommy' like we told them he calls me. (They were told back in September that he calls BM by her first name and me 'Mommy'.) He says the school calls FH 'Daddy' and if he, my son, mentions something about 'Mommy' they make him clarify 'Christine-Mommy' or 'Mary-Mommy.' When I heard this, I was livid. I just don't feel that it's their place AT ALL to ask him to make a distinction between BM and I since they were told who he refers to as 'Mommy'. He calls me 'Mom' because he wants to -- he was told he can call me 'Tyger' (my nickname) or 'Mommy' since he was old enough to understand. By his own volition, he chose to call ME Mommy, and he also chosen NOT to call BM that. We have NEVER had a problem with any other school, daycare, extra-curricular, etc. with respecting this choice until now.

I guess the point is... What do I do? What would YOU do? Do I say something to the school or let it go since the year is almost over? There is SO much I've wanted to say to these people, but haven't. They told my son that it's 'bad' to kiss until you're married... FH and I won't be married until this October. When our son heard this, he was depressed for about three days until he could tell us why, and when he did he was almost crying because he thought his father and I were being very bad every time we kissed. Since when is it the damn school's place to tell a child how their parents should act? But we let it go. Should I let this go? Would you? Would you stand by and let a school trivialize your role in your (step)children's lives?

NEVER does he call me by my first name -- since he was two and a half, I have been 'Mommy'. I have been a part of his life since he was six months old (I was his godmother before FH and BM split) and have been raising him since then. When he was learning to talk, he thought I was 'Momma'... And that was when BM was still part of the picture! THEN we corrected him, of course, but now? I refuse to feel bad for letting him call me 'Mom', because I am the woman who does everything for him. I know many of you do the same for your (step)kids. I just don't know what to do, and morning is quickly coming. Do I say something or write a note or just grit my teeth (again) I know to some degree I'm just being sensitive, but I guess it's a compilation of the entire year that's gotten me to this state. I would LOVE someone to break through the warring emotions and help me find some clarity.

Hearts,
Christine

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

[deleted account]

I meant to also say maybe you should talk to the local media- I bet there'd be some hatchet-job journo that'd love to get their teeth into this little lot.

[deleted account]

I would honestly find out who runs Headstart and complain to them. Of course, it may be easier to wait until after the school year is over (that way you can guarantee that he won't get any flak from disgruntled teachers). I would first write a very detailed and thought out letter - much like you've written here. Try to use exact dates and find out exactly how many articles of clothing have gone missing and when. This adds credibility to all of it. After sending the letter, I would request an appointment with the person in charge as well. They deserve to know just how dissatisfied you are and they need to improve their standards of education for future children and parents.

FIGHT for your son and FIGHT for the future children that will be in there! YOU have every right to complain about the poor service you were receiving, even if it is free!

Good luck hun!

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Christine - posted on 06/14/2010

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His teacher phoned me today and left a message saying that she 'heard we were upset on Thursday' and she 'wanted to explain' since our son was not in school today and she didn't know if it was because of 'what happened' on Thursday or if he was sick. I haven't called back yet... Probably will tomorrow. Not looking forward to that conversation, lol.

[deleted account]

I agree with Anna- follow the 'protocol' and then involve the media, the children still stuck in this god-forsaken school deserve a voice.

Anna - posted on 06/14/2010

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lol! get mandies "hatchet job journo" on the case! lol!
seriously, if your letter to the head of the school organisation doesnt work, send a copy to whoever inspects the schools. if that doesnt work send copies of the letters to the papers with your story.
whether you live in "sin" or not is up to you, its not the schools place to dictate whats right and wrong with regards to your relationship.

my SDs teacher got cross with her and pulled her back by her cardigan, I WENT MAD!! i told BM and hubby to book an appointment with the head and inform her that they "wont tolerate this type of disgusting abusive behaviour". they took my SD along to this appointment but she was too scared to say anything.
me, a dog with a bone, wouldnt let it drop so i wrote a letter for my hubby to sign for the school to put on their records if anything like this happened again.
teachers sadly think theyre god. another incident: my underpriviledged single parent friend took her children to the park. one child fell over and the childs teaching assisstant started shouting at my friend in front of everyone calling her a shite parent. that was it! (me and my infamous letters again) she sent it into the school to which they replied that it was out of school hours and nothing to do with them.
swines!

[deleted account]

Absolutely keep us up to date and I'd be happy to give you some feedback on the letter- I absolutely think you guys are doing the right thing- there are so many things this school is doing wrong it's hard to know where to begin and yr right they need to know it is NOT their place to dictate to kids about their family life- sometimes 'do-gooders' get a bit carried away with what they perceive to be 'right'- they almost always mean well; but many a bad decision has been made on the back of 'meaning well'.

Christine - posted on 06/10/2010

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So orientation was fine -- the parents went into the aud, listened to everyone and their mother talk about the various programs and activities to expect next year (apparently cafeteria food will save the world, BTW... The woman in charge of the meals actually requested we not get lunchboxes and just have the kids eat their food... But I digress...) and the kids met some of the teachers and went for a bus ride around our ever-so-scenic one square mile town. Then we all met in the cafeteria for cookies and milk and the parents had the option to take the kids home with us then (about an hour earlier than normal.) Obviously, we opted to take Damie with us since we were there. (Plus today is BM's visitation -- she gets him from 4-8 Thursdays only, so we barely see him on Thursdays, so we wanted to spend some time with him before he goes there and turns into a terror.) We went with him back to his room, where the head of HS was. She COMPLETELY walked by me -- BLEW by me is more like it -- to get to my fiance and told him that she called our son's teacher and 'from now on' they'll know that 'when he says Mommy, he means Christine.' At this point, she gestured to me, and that was about it. THEN she and all the other teachers told him that they'd see him Monday, which FH told them THIS MORNING that today would be his last day. Love that they respect us enough to listen to our decisions.



You know... I consider myself a pretty reasonable gal. I put myself in the other person's shoes and I have always, ALWAYS granted people with the benefit of the doubt, but ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! I was even willing to let him finish out the school year if they showed me some sort of respect... Acknowledgement... SOMETHING, but I got nothing aside from pointedly ignored. Frickin' awesome. So we're done. And I am already mentally composing a letter to the HS association on behalf of myself and FH, our son, and any other blended families that may be unfortunate enough to decide to go through the program in our town. I'm disgusted at this point by the blatant disregard and disrespect they show step-parents. I am the woman who is raising that child. I am his mother, whether or not we share DNA, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let some second-rate teachers/teachers' aides tell MY son otherwise!



As you can tell, I'm a little more fired up now than I was when I originally posted, so I'm going to get to writing the letter and see this through. It's not right what they do to kids with step-parents or blended families. My son NEVER called me by my first name, since HE made the decision two years ago, but I did notice he would slip up here and there over the last few months. I figured it was because BM yells at him when he calls me 'Mommy', but he usually ignores her since she only gets to see him 4 hours/week. NEVER did I imagine it was his g-d school that started that unacceptable habit. I'm p!ssed.



Anyways, thank you to all you awesome ladies and your support/ideas. I will keep you updated (if you want) It would be lovely to be able to get some feedback on the letter before I send it.



@Lori... Was just wondering, hon... Did you get in touch with your contact and get any advice that way? Was jw if you might have an idea who to send the letter to... If not, I'm sure I can figure it out.

[deleted account]

Oh sweetie you poor thing- very good luck- I wish i could do it for you- as an ex-Police Officer I'd be just fine with these ignorant fools. LOL! :P

Christine - posted on 06/10/2010

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Oh, and the ____ for Mommy or Daddy is the parent's first name, btw. Can you tell I'm trying to get all the info out quickly before we have to leave? lol

Christine - posted on 06/10/2010

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UPDATE:



So FH finally got a chance to talk to the people at school today. He wanted to talk to our son's teacher, but (shocker) she was not in today, so he ended up talking to the head of the HS program. According to her, it's their policy to make kids with more than one mother or father call them '____ Mommy' or '_____ Daddy'. WHAT THE HELL. How is it within their rights to FORCE kids to call their parents by their first names at all?! Okay, so my fiance told her 'well, not for Damien. Christine has been 'Mommy' for the last two years and Mary has been 'Mary.' That's just the way we do it in our family.' (Which, BTW, he has told her on more than one occasion since the school year started!) He also told her that today would be Damien's last day, which she started arguing with him over, saying that he 'enjoys it here' and 'it's almost the end of the year.' FH pointed out that Damie is four and a half -- he enjoys anywhere where he can play with other kids. We're getting ready to head up to the school now for kindergarten orientation (oh, and they took the liberty of putting him through kindergarten screening without even sending us any sort of notification, btw) and I feel like I'm gearing up for a battle. FH says the head of HS in the school didn't take it well at all and started playing dumb/innocent and says we should have said something earlier. (Which, admittedly, we should have.) I just hate confrontation, but if it comes down to it, I will have to make an issue of this all. Ughh... Wish me luck!

[deleted account]

Hey Christine, I'm glad to hear abut yrs and hubby's decision and I think yr doing the right thing- dont beat yourself up about not having spoken up sooner- you were giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Betty - posted on 06/09/2010

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WOW! That is crazy! My SD just finnished a year at a Head Start program and they seemed to treat me just fine. They narked on me to BM for stupid stuff a few times but for the most part they were great. Besides, BM would work in her class all the time so of course they would side with her to some degree. My SD transformed from a child that hated going to preschool into a child that loves going to preschool so I couldn't be happier about her experiance.

I think you should always react when someone undermines what is what and you should talk to the teacher about everything you mentioned here. If they still continue to say stupid stuff to your son you should inform the department of education about it. Stop telling yourself it's free, collectively we are all paying for this school from our taxes and they should be doing a wonderful job if any of MY money is funding it. I'm not saying that out of bitterness toward you though. I just think they need to be corrected for this behavior.

Kendel - posted on 06/09/2010

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If I was you, I would be pissed off!!! You have a right to be! First off the school has no right to tell him what to call you, second off why the He!l are they telling him that your not allowed to kiss before your married! Its not there place to tell him any of that. I wouldnt bother saying anything to the teachers, file a formal complaint about the teachers, telling them everything that has happened in the past year. Then the teachers will be evaluated! Good Luck to you and your hubbie!!

Christine - posted on 06/08/2010

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Oh, and a PS:

Our son came home a few days ago and said Miss _____ took care of him again when he threw up. We called and were told that he 'started gagging' after being on the playground, but didn't actually vomit anything up. Well WTF.

Christine - posted on 06/08/2010

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Haha, thanks everyone! Sorry it's been a minute since I last checked in... For some reason CoM stopped e-mailing me when this thread got replies! MAN, I guess you just can't find good help anywhere, LOL.

WELL, to top everything off, we FINALLY got a calendar on Monday for the month of June... aka. on June SIXTH. Well, guess what was also that day? Our son's end of the year pre-school concert. F#CK!NG AWESOME! I just about lost it.

FH and I have come to a mutual decision -- since I am so non-confrontational in person and he gets tongue-tied so easily, we are going to sit down together and write a very strongly worded letter to someone higher up in HS than the head of our son's school, since talking to that woman obviously does us no good. We will probably pull him too, even though there's only two weeks left. I wish I had known this earlier, or we would have definitely made a huge stink.

I just feel so disrespected and disgusted by the whole ordeal. We should have said something each and every time something happened... I really wish we had. Let me tell you, though, we will NEVER make the mistake of trusting in the HS program again and we will make damn sure all our friends and family know the same.

Thanks for the support, everyone. I was worried I was just being too sensitive over the whole thing.

[deleted account]

I'm sorry, but I would have pulled him out of that damn preschool way earlier in the year! That is so ridiculous! You need to take this to the highest up person you can and report everything! If you are home every day, I would pull him now and stay home with him and teach him. Screw those people!!!!!

Lori - posted on 06/07/2010

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You know what... I am just livid!! I have the same situation as you do. I am SM to my husband's daughter, and I have been married to him since before she was even born! On top of that, I am mom, and her BM is called by her first name.,.. And schools have tried this crap before too, and I lost it. In a nice way. I pulled her from her classes at one point. And I pulled her from soccer until they could grasp the fact that I am her mother regardless if I gave birth to her!!!! ARGHHH!!! So Now, I am on a tangent... And I am going to go call my friend that works for Head Start in the area and find out phone numbers and what to say and who to say it to, and we're getting these snooty B*&%$ es jobs.

LMAO Sorry... I've had the week from hell and this topped it off! LOL

Lori - posted on 06/07/2010

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Look up the phone number to the department of Head Start in your State!!! Call them directly!

[deleted account]

Oh! Good idea about talking to the media Mandie! You could always do it annonymously as well... Just call in a tip to an investigative reporter or send them a letter saying what you posted here (omitting names of course).

Jessica - posted on 06/07/2010

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Ok so here is what I do when things like this happen.

1. I ALWAYS say something right when it happens. I dont care if they think im rude or what ever. It is my (step) daughter and I am very concerned about what happens in her life.

2. When my daughter came home in different clothes and they were washing them I told them just put the clothes in a bag and I will wash them at home. After I told them that I never had a problem with it again.

3. The mommy thing. When I put my children in daycare I told them bm is NOT allowed to do anything but to talk to you. She is not mommy, she is not to come pick her up, and not allowed to see her unless there is something going on where the parents are allowed to be there. So far havn't had a problem. I would tell them if they or him refers to you then it should be mommy. If they start telling him different then it is going to confuse him.

4. As for being notified about anything. I do the pick up and dropoff's with my children at daycare. I was listed as the mother on the papers for daycare. I tell her teachers everytime I do not recieve a paper. and if it goes a couple of days with out anything then I notify the front office of the teachers actions.

5. Him being sick. Deffentily say some thing to them about that. If the child is sick the parents have to be notifyed. No other person should be "taking care of him".



I hope I helped some!!! And do what you think is best!!

[deleted account]

Christine I agree with the others but I would pull your son from this place NOW. This is absolutely disgusting and I would worry about the kind of supervision that allows them to 'mistakenly' call you to ask why the child isnt there when he is. Even as a 'one-off' incident, this is NOT good enough and I'm sure they wouldn't do it if you were say, Angelina Jolie.

It really makes me mad when I hear things like this b/c even if you and yr hubby WERE total crackheads- (which clearly yr not) they still have no right to treat innocent children this way b/c of their parents choices. What about the kids who dont have decent parents like you and who would never notice these things?? They deserve better too.

I absolutely would send the letter but as you say, NOT to the teachers but to the management of this poor excuse for a school.

Christine - posted on 06/06/2010

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@Amy: As much as I hate to say it, I think their snooty holier-than-thou attitude comes from the fact that the 'village' we live in is very small. Now, I am about ten minutes from a big city, so don't think we're in the backwoods boonies, but our 'village' is a subsect of a larger suburb. It's technically the TOWN of A, but the VILLAGE of B. Stupid, I know, but the county just really wanted to milk us for taxes. Regardless, the 'village' is approx. one square mile and borders Lake Erie and two suburbs. There's Town A that is a typical upper middle to middle class suburb and Town C that is almost all lower class. Town C, while not the straight up 'hood, is just a crappy area. Lots of drugs, crime, run-down buildings, etc. Many of the people enrolled in HS in our area are from Town C. Hence the attitude that we all must be crackhead, negligent, abusive parents. I still find it insulting, though. Like I said, we never had a problem with last year's pre-k, which just happened to be in one of the 'richer' suburbs, or daycare(s) he's been in. IDK why the location has made such a difference this year, but that's what FH and I both believe.

@Holly: My FH wrote a letter, but I think it needs some tweaking before it gets sent. Unfortunately we have been letting things go for so long that we don't have EXACT details, but we can still put things together. I also think we need to NOT send it to his teachers because they have disregarded almost all notes from home and have been totally sh!t about communicating with us. At least two days out of the five day school week our son will come home in different or filthy clothes with no note explaining why anymore. They leave it up to a four (almost five) year old to tell us what happened. Part of me wants to wait for the end of the year evaluation, and the other part wants to go right over their heads and go to thee boss of the head of our local HS program (if you can make sense of that...) I know there's a certain order of operations you're supposed to take, but I'm just so disgusted at this point that I don't even want to deal with these people anymore. FH was so angry he wanted to pull our son from the program altogether, starting tomorrow, but I convinced him of otherwise.

Amy - posted on 06/06/2010

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Oh wow...My SD went to HS (at the time she was not living with us) and the school still contacted me as well as BF and BM. They are suppose to go by what the papers say. My Husband (we were not married at the time) had joint custody so if they couldn't get intouch with him they would talk to me since I was the other adult in the home. They also released SD and SD information to me. Im sorry I can not help you better than to say They should not be doing that kind of stuff. I don't know if I would say anything this late in the game however, I would make sure whatever school he was to be sent to next year understands and respects your families wishes as to what he calls you and how he is raised.

I know now that SD lives with us. I am the main person that the school deals with Teachers, and all staff that know SD calls me Momma or Mommy to her. they refer to her BM as Momma in (insert city) as well as SD. Hope it gets better next year if not before as for the clothes..I know its horrible but let it go..theres no telling where the clothes are now.

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