Hi, just a quick note before I leave work to explain some stuff--I had a 3 hour talk with the main caregiver at the daycare. Yes, she is very solid about her beliefs, but she did concede that it wasn't good to take DD in the car seat. (I later found out that she tried to put her in the front seat and turn off the airbag and couldn't, so she put her in the back and I hope it was rear facing). However, she will never do that again or be allowed to take her somewhere.
My DD loves baths, absolutely jumps up and down, and since this is like a second home to her, I really trust this lady giving her a bath, naked and all. However, I do not trust her smoking pot while doing so. My DH is now questioning whether I really smelled "pot" but I have a good nose. This is because when I went to see her yesterday, she had incense burning and it was very different that the previous smell. I don't know if this was to cover up something, but I definitely feel I can tell the difference. I don't smoke (I have in the past) and know what it smells like. Besides, I'm fairly certain I saw a joint near the bathtub. What if she totally denies it and says it was incense? I am quite certain they smoke pot in their off time, but this lady is usually not "out of it" and so I was shocked when I thought this was happening. This is the only concern I haven't confronted her about and I'm going to, but I'm afraid with how she will respond. I'm 99% sure.
She agreed to make a higher gate at the front entrance, she still stands by the kids playing "independently" in the backyard with it being fenced in. I realize that this allows the kids to play longer outside, because they don't have someone watching constantly, but it is also risker. A few kids escaped about two years ago, and after that, she put up a better gate, but its still easy for kids to escape the front yard if they wanted to. There is not even a lock on the front door--I guess from the start, you have to be okay with that "kind" of place. It's a small town and a wealthy community, there are lots of Montessori's that are much more expensive. Regarding the escaping, I told her that kids are unpredictable. Just because they haven't escaped before, doesn't mean their behavior won't change. Our DS escaped one night out the front door in his socks in winter--to the neighbors house while DH was putting DD to bed. This was a big shock to us. At the daycare, he gets "privileges" to go outside by himself. Overall, when I look back on it, there haven't been any serious injuries--but is that just luck?
When my DS hit the trim after falling off the slide--apparently this was seen by the caregiver and he hit the mattress at the bottom first and then turned his head and hit the trim. It sure seemed like a good indentation for a slight bump, but...this last time a child whacked him by accident with a small bulb planting trowel, and they said it couldn't have been prevented (I don't believe anyone was outside with them). He came inside bleeding profusely, but in the end it was a small cut that didn't require stitches. My DH went balistic and that's when this whole thing started. Now he's willing to take them back.
This is like an extended family, my kids love it there, and they have helped us in many other areas. (We don't have many friends--its a rather tight community and seems difficult to make new friendships), so we do love and trust these folks for our kids emotional health, but whether they are physically safe is another question... They are not pediphiles, I know that. They do have a license, and they cook all healthy meals for the kids, sing and read to them at bedtime, all kind of good stuff, but is it safe enough that I don't have to worry about them? I don't know--I don't feel completely safe, but then does anyone? I wish I could be with my children and not work full time.
I am going to confront her about the other issues, but I basically told her most of my concerns. She begged me to keep them there and felt that my DD would not get an enriching experience at my neighbor (she only speaks spanish) which would be important with her potential learning disabilities. But I would like to of course have her safe. I took DD to my neighbor this morning and she cried and cried, it was heart breaking.
For now, I've decided to take my DS there. On a side note, he has broken his leg twice in freak accidents--but not at this daycare. One was with my next door neighbor (the one who does not speak english or know CPR/First Aid) and one was on my watch (a freak accident while running in our backyard).
So our DS is accident prone and the caregiver at the daycare said she raised three kids without a broken bone and they turned out fine and good citizens because of this "free play" concept. I think she goes a little overboard on this concept, because she feels like it is the end all if they don't have this type of experience before they go to kindergarten. Actually, they have about 14 other kids, some are teachers who take their kids there, some are homeopathic doctors believe it or not! All of them have really liked the daycare, but also have the same safety concerns as me. No body has pulled their kids out--but a few have gone part-time elsewhere and part time there.
More later. I've got to get home and show the responses from Mothering Mamas to my DH. Last week, I knew in my gut that I didn't want to take them there--but then I have such a hard time making changes, even when it feels unsafe. I went Friday to another daycare that was really great and has the more learning type of schedule, and all of these kids where so mellow. They weren't running amok like my kid. His behavior was really embarrassing. It always seems like other kids are better behaved, maybe because they have more structure in their daycare. I just don't know what to do.