"I was just wondering if he (my 15 year old son) was ever left unsupervised with the children as I wouldn’t be comfortable with this..."
These are the words that were a springboard for a day's worth of deep and soul searching thoughts. I could not stop the cycle once it began.
First off, it was a shock to my system to look at my son the way others see him. He has grown up before my very eyes despite the fact that I still see (and hear) my young child within him. Reopening my daycare and bringing out various toys from his youth has sparked so many memories and conversations. It is interesting to hear your child talk about when they were young. I was shaken back into the reality that he has grown up to be a mini-man in front of my very eyes.
As soon as my new parent posed the question, our days flashed before my eyes. I have been open in telling my parents that My Son has been helping me throughout the summer holidays ... but have I told them how he helps? An extra set of eyes, ears and hands is so very much appreciated when dealing with a group of small children. His sense of calmness and way of reasoning with the kids is fresh and unbiased. His mere presence in my day gives me a sounding board (perhaps much more than he wishes). Plus ... he plays with the kids. I organize. I supervise. I hover. I enforce the rules. But I don't play.
Has my son ever been left unsupervised with the children?
I have one parent who habitually 'forgets' to call when she is running late from work. I can understand when it is a half hour or less. But an hour or more? This habit became apparent early on in our daycare arrangements. I had other obligations a few nights of the week, as well as various appointments and commitments from time to time. So I asked her (in advance), in cases like this if she minded if My Son watched over her child until she arrived. He has taken a babysitting course. He babysat on a regular basis for one of my parents a few years ago. She agreed. I took advantage of the situation a few times, but always called her first. My Son always ensured that I took care of any 'bathrooming needs' before I walked out the door and the mom usually arrived within minutes. My son said the longest time may have been twenty minutes.
More often than not, I am in the same room at the same time as my son. But I have been in the kitchen. Or run downstairs. Or run outside. Or gone to the bathroom. But I have always either been within earshot or seconds away from reappearing. I can almost always hear exactly what is going on.
So the reason this parent's question resonated in my mind is because "Yes, my son has been with the children without me being present." I could not erase that reality from my mind.
But the second part of that truth is what set me free (thank goodness for two quiet children as we strolled the city streets for an hour yesterday morning, as my thoughts finally had the chance to free fall through my mind and sift through the reason I could not quiet my thoughts). "But at no time, have I ever felt that I have put any one's children in jeopardy."
I realized then, that I have subconsciously been very aware of My Son's presence when he is with the kids. There has been a continual internal dialogue going on within my mind that I didn't even hear. "Would a parent be comfortable with this?" is a constant. And my answer is always, always "Yes".
Lessons learned while growing up in a daycare have taught My Son so much more than I realized. We had a few instances of "child curiosity" that sparked discussions among my young daycare family (years ago) about respecting other's privacy and 'private parts'. I have been discreet and encourage a certain amount of privacy when I am changing diapers. I am not overly demonstrative when it comes to hugging, kissing, tickling or anything that involves 'personal space' ... and I have passed this trait along to my own children. So My Son 'accepts hugs' when offered, with a respectful board-like quality (that I must admit, in cases where other people's children are involved, I appreciate).
I ran into two instances over the course of my 12 years in daycare, where the interaction among older kids made me very uneasy (personal boundaries and privacy issues were being tested). I was vigilant in my supervision in these cases, talked with parents about what I saw and felt ... and in one case, I did ask one family to leave because something just felt 'off' when their boys were here (thankfully the other matter was taken out of my hands when the child-in-question stopped coming here). So I can fully appreciate a parent's concerns and this is something that my mother bear instincts are tuned into.
So after recognizing the reason this question set this flurry of anxiety through me I can say with absolute conviction that at no point have I ever felt that I have placed the children in my care in any jeopardy.
When I feel a truth inside of me that is trying to escape, I like to examine the reasons why it feels so uncomfortable. The damage is done in cover-ups and excuses. I am satisfied that I have come to the bottom of my discomfort and there is nothing that I have to be hide.
Getting to the bottom of the 'hard questions' have the potential to wreak havoc with a person's peace of mind. I know from experience that I don't 'squirm' without reason. I would never have made a good criminal. I just don't have the stomach for the queasiness that comes from hidden truths.