How You Can Learn How To Trust Your Gut As A Parent
Over the past few weeks, I have started and deleted several versions of this blog post. My child Rye, three, was one of the 50+ kids who was suddenly without a school on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, when we received the email that Merryhill School, owned by Nobel Learning Communities, would be closed due to air quality issues. A few days later, they sent another big email saying that the school would be closed for longer.
And a week later, they said it was closed for good.
This obviously frustrated me, along with all of the other parents receiving those vague and aggravating emails. On top of that, I have another reason to be very upset. As I’ve talked about before, my toddler has a disease called Cystic Fibrosis. I talked with the school about his disease in great detail, and so has his social worker. They know that having mold and poor air quality is DANGEROUS to his health. More so than other kids (please know, it is absolutely dangerous to ALL other kids also). The school has done a decent job of providing him with enzymes before each meal – at least his original two teachers did. Back in December, several teachers left. The school was scrambling to hire new ones, with no luck for at least two months. And now, for these first three months of 2019, Rye has had an interim teacher and no secondary teacher in his classroom. Things haven’t been going smoothly, to say the least.
When You Don’t Trust Your Gut as a Parent
Since he started going to this school – part-time for three months and full-time starting last summer – there have been so many red flags. But my husband and I simply ignored them. Looking back, I wish my husband and I would have trusted our guts and started to look for a new school when the assigned therapist said was not a good fit for our son. The school was recommended by a friend who loved it when her daughters went there... But now I know, all kids are different!
Or maybe I should have listened to my gut around the November 2018 fires up in Paradise, CA, when smoke from “Camp Fire” blanketed Sonoma County, Sacramento, the East Bay, San Francisco, and even San Jose. Because the preschool (and many other schools in the county) kept the school open when there was still lingering smoke inside. We had to take Rye out of school for almost two weeks because the air quality was too poor.
Or, maybe I should have listened to my gut the time when he lost his two favorite teachers in the same week back in December 2018, right after two of his secondary teachers had left. Because of the government shutdown, as well as some other factors I don't know, we headed into March 2019 without a replacement teacher (as I mentioned above). Honestly, it seemed as if getting through the day was more of a priority than teaching the kids in the class.
Learning How to Trust Your Gut as a Parent
When it's your first time raising a young child, you question everything. But, there’s also a helpful parenting instinct that develops with time.
When you feel overwhelmed, try to remember to follow your intuition: take a deep breath and assess the situation. We make one million decisions almost every day as parents. It’s especially hard for new parents to trust their guts. That’s where some Facebook parent groups come in, or Googling “how to relieve a cough at night.” While you can look to other parents for advice, you have to ultimately trust your own instincts when it comes to your child. Every child is different, and what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another.
Write down your options: I'm a planner at heart, and there's something that triggers in my brain when I write things down. It just seems to make a little bit more sense on paper than jumbled up in my head.
Don't beat yourself up. All of us parents are doing the best we can. So focus on what you can do in the future, rather than lingering on the past.
And remember, when it comes to the well-being of your child, do what's in your gut. Go see the doctor if you think your kid has a lingering cough. Or if they are waking up at night screaming (this is how we found out that he had a double ear infection). I mean, I NEVER would have guessed that the reason we were in the doctor's office four times in two weeks was partly because the school had black mold that was making my kid (and, I might note, many other kids at Merryhill Preschool) rather ill.
Either way, to say that we’re upset is an understatement. We spent a lot of money for him to go to a school that we thought was good. That we thought would keep him safe. I mean, that is part of the job of a preschool, right?
Thankfully, now that he's been out of school for a few weeks, he's feeling much better.