As suspected, his daycare doesn’t feel like they can accommodate Mickey anymore. I am not mad at them, we have known for a while that it wasn’t a good fit. Last year in after school there was at least one other kid Mickey’s age, but this school year he is the oldest by 3 years and there are only 2 first graders. The rest are kindergarten or pre-k kids. He says it is a baby school and he is too big. He is bored and though he loves reading to the little ones while they sit in a circle at his feet, that only fills 15 minutes of the day. They tried to engage him, but it just isn’t working. Our last failed daycare after 2.5 years had a director yelling in my face and telling me that if his bus showed up the next day, he would be refused. So, this one has been relatively painless. They gave us two weeks to find alternate arrangements, and offered more if needed. The director offered to call other day cares and talk to them about him and see if she could help find a placement that would better suit his needs. She offered to help me screen candidates from Care.com when I mentioned that I am likely headed in that direction. She cried and apologized profusely.
See, here is the thing with Mickey. He is a charming and lovely boy. You really can’t help but love that infectious smile and his quirky way of thinking. I am biased, but he is funny and he adores adults. He has little to no interest in dealing with kids, but when he puts his little (ok, not so little) hand in yours because he enjoys the time he spends with you, you do melt. She loves him. That doesn’t mean that he won’t also drive you stark raving mad and be the most frustrating kid on earth, but he is kind of awesome. He is just a square peg trying to be put in a round hole. She so wanted it to work, I so wanted it to work and maybe most of all, Mickey wanted it to work. But it didn’t. The other children have a right to an after school program that isn’t dominated by a much larger child that is scary when not in control. The little ones are confused because the sweet Mickey that reads to them and helps with lessons can also rage and stomp and scream at a scary volume and can turn into a caged animal pacing when he is upset/overwhelmed.
We are done looking for day cares. As hard as this one worked to help him and provided him the smallest possible environment, I think I have to admit defeat. So, I try to find a sitter. We have put in the transportation change, which should take effect next week. I am home three days a week, so until I find a sitter that is a good fit, we will rely on my taking off early and/or my dad helping out when he can. Mickey will be given a house key and I activated a new cell phone for the house (we have no home phone), so that if Grandpa or the sitter is late, he can let himself in. Mickey, the school, his therapist and I all agree that he is capable of that on the two days a week that I am not there. My dad will never win awards for punctuality, so while I wouldn’t leave him alone all afternoon, we are confident that he can handle it if someone doesn’t meet the bus. His bus schedule varies somewhat, because it is a special needs bus and if a kid is absent, he could get home five minutes or more earlier than normal, so there is the very real possibility of someone not being there at the exact moment he is dropped.
Mickey has asked me to leave him alone and just come home earlier. I am not sure I am ready for that, but I would be lying if I say I wouldn’t consider it. He is very independent and is capable of getting a snack, locking the door, etc. Per state guidelines, he can technically be left for up to 2 hours during daylight. He has asked me to test it (I am a software tester by trade and Mickey knows how I like to analyze results and test things lol). On 3 occasions over the last two weeks he has asked if he could stay home while I ran to pick up Minnie We thought it safe to test it on short 15 minute hops and he has done fine. Without a phone though I wouldn’t test it any longer. But, we may try a little longer and see how he does now that we have resolved that problem. Right now the plan is a sitter, but maybe we transition into this plan and I leave work earlier and get to him about 50 minutes after the bus drops him? I don’t know – it seems like a lot for him. Though to fair, by 9 I was babysitting my younger brother every day after school for 3 hours and by 10 I had him all day during the summer too. Mickey skews young but without the outside distractions of other children, he actually does fairly well. He asked me to make him a sign to remember the rules (don’t open door/lock door/no oven or microwave, etc). I will do the sign. Minnie and I will run some errands this weekend and start with 30 minutes. By the time the two weeks we have left at daycare is up, maybe I will consider it. Oddly if it were Minnie who suddenly didn’t have a daycare option, I wouldn’t hesitate to let her do it, assuming she were the same age and wanted to. But, do Mickey’s challenges make it nuts? I don’t know. The social worker at the school, his teacher, his therapist and even his grandparents think it isn’t nuts. He has been begging for more independence and responsibility. I am not a helicopter parent, though I probably don’t qualify as free range either, but with Mickey things are different. His reasoning isn’t always sound. His impulse control is bad. But, can he call 911? Yes. Can he use the key to the house? Yes. Does he understand that he can’t open the door? Yes. That he can’t play outside? Yes. That he can’t announce to people that he is home alone? Yes. Can he use a phone? Most definitely. Can he let the dog out? Yep. Can he make himself a snack? Yep. He packs his own breakfast and lunch everyday now. Can he avoid self injurious behavior (fire play, jumping off roofs, etc)? Yes. Mickey is actually my cautious kid and has a deathly fear of fire, so I don’t worry about those things for him. We live in an extremely safe neighborhood, in a very safe city and the mom next door is home waiting for her kids by the time Mickey gets off the bus. Will he do his homework? Most likely no. Will he spend that 50 minutes streaming music or tv through the firestick? Almost definitely yes. Is that so bad? Not if it keeps him calm.
So, I may be crazy and I am hunting for a sitter, but I am thinking maybe…..just maybe. Thoughts?