Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The time that Oscar's school lost him and they kind of lied to me about it but eventually told the truth

You guys, I can't believe I have not told you this story!  I had to dig back through my archives to make sure, but nope, I did not tell you about that one time Oscar's school lost him and they kind of fibbed about what happened and then the next day told me the whole truth and apologized profusely.

So, this incident happened on St. Patrick's Day (this is important), so way back when in March.  During lunch bunch (LB), Oscar ate his lunch and then promptly fell asleep (the LB room shared spaced with the library, which had a rug and lots of pillows.)  He's fallen asleep during LB a couple of times, usually when he gets up too early or stays up late the night before.  He is a child who needs is 12 hours.

Anyway, so LB is an hour long; they eat lunch for 30 minutes and then they go outside to the playground for 30 minutes, or into the gymnasium if the weather is poor.  This particular day, the weather was fantastic.  So fantastic that the kids did not even need jackets, so probably in the 60s at least.

Okay, so flash forward to my pick up of Oscar.  I parked along the back of the playground per usual and hopped out of the car to snatch up my boy.  One of the teachers, Mrs. B, came over with Oscar and gave me his bag and said to me something like (I do not recall her exact, exact words, but this is the gist), "Oscar fell asleep during lunch bunch today, but when he woke up, Mrs. T [the director of the school] brought him out to the playground."

Now, I thought this was a little strange.  As I've said before, Oscar has fallen asleep during LB on other occasions and they always wake him up to take him outside or to the gym or whatever.  It seemed a little off to me that they'd leave my 3.5-year-old asleep and unattended in the LB room.  Now, Mrs. T's office is right across from the LB room so I thought, "Maybe they asked Mrs. T to watch him? Maybe he would not wake up?" But it would be strange for Oscar not to wake up; he's good about that.

So I'm quickly thinking all these things, but I also have Miles and Benji in the car behind me and while they are only a few yards away and not going to perish in these two minutes I'm taking to grab Oscar, I really don't like leaving them and I'm feeling rushed to get back to them, so I just say, "Oh, okay, thanks," and hustle Oscar to the car.

Once I have Oscar strapped in, I begin grilling him.

"So, you fell asleep during lunch bunch?"


"Do you feel okay?"


"What happened when you woke up?"

"Everyone was gone, and Mrs. T. heard me turning a doorknob and brought me outside."

"Was the door to the lunch bunch room closed?" (?!?!?!?)


"What doorknob were you turning, buddy?"


"Were you afraid when you woke up and everyone was gone?"

"Yeah, I was a little bit nervous."

"But then Mrs. T got you and took you outside and you feel fine?"

"Yes and I played and played!"


After this conversation it still was not very clear to me what happened and I decide to talk with Mrs. T myself in the morning to try and get to the bottom of things.  I mean, clearly Oscar was fine, but I just wanted to know what happened, and to let them know that I was not comfortable with them leaving him asleep in the lunch bunch room by himself.  I was not angry or anything, but that's just not okay and I wanted to be clear with them that it was not okay.

The next morning I take Oscar in for drop off and before I got a chance to go visit with Mrs. T, another of the teachers, Mrs. W, came up to me and said, "Can I speak with you in private for a moment?  We had an incident with Oscar yesterday and I just want to clarify what what exactly happened."

This made me nervous.  Before she and I even started talking, I knew that what I had been told had happened, had not really happened, and that made sense to me because really, they would never have left a kid unattended, even if he were sleeping.  Their whole job is to attend to him (and the other kids); they would not just leave him.  Of course not.

So, nervous.

"As you know, we had an incident with Oscar yesterday and I just wanted to make sure you know exactly what happened."


"Oscar was feeling sleepy during lunch bunch, so he went over to the pillows and took a nap. We woke him up when it was time to go out to the playground and he got at the end of the line.  I was leading the line out to the playground and Mrs. B was at the back of the line.  Before we got outside, she had to turn around because we forgot someone's bag.  When she got back out and we counted the kids, one was missing."


And the Mrs. W (who also has a daughter in Oscar's class) started tearing up.

"Yes, but we did not know he was the one who was missing because.."

"All the kids were wearing green because of St. Patrick's Day."

"Right, so we couldn't immediately tell who was gone.  Mrs. B when back in to find him and he was with Mrs. T and Mrs. H (who is Oscar's teacher).  When Oscar saw Mrs. B turn around to get the bag, he must have followed her and slipped into the bathroom.  She never even knew he was back there, and he had not finished before she came out again.  Then she put down the bag and we did the count and were missing one.  She came right back in.  He was only lost for a minute."

Here is where I finally realized that there was a period of time where no on in the world knew where my child was and what he was doing.

"So, he was alone."

"Yes, only for a few minutes.  When Mrs. B told me what she told you, I just felt sick about it; I'm so sorry.  I'm so, so sorry.  I have little ones too and I know you trust us with them..."

She felt so bad, and I felt so bad.

"It's okay."

"No, it's really not."

"I know, but I understand.  He can be so quiet, and he slips away so easily.  He was probably confused because he'd just woken up and though he was following Mrs. B to the bathroom.  It happens. He is okay."

We made these noises for a few more minutes and I left.  I'm not sure why I was not livid with her for losing my kid.  Maybe because I know she's a mom too and I could tell how awful she felt, or maybe because he really was okay and it's not like they were being neglectful; it was an accident.

At pick up that day, I let the boys play in the playground for a while, and the director, Mrs. T, came out to talk to me as well.

"I heard a doorknob rattling and I came out to check and he was standing at the end of the hallway.  At the same time Mrs H saw his bunny poking around the corner and said to [the fours teacher] 'I think that's one of my little guys.'"

"Thank you for finding him."

"No, I'm just sorry it happened.  I want you to know we've changed how we do the count so this won't happen again. We're now counting them before they go out and again once they are outside."

"That's good, I'm glad to hear that. It's okay; he can slip away like that."

"Mrs. H said he's usually does not."

"I talked to him about it yesterday, and he seemed okay." [Before I really knew what happened, of course.]

"He was pretty nervous when I found him.  He was chewing on his bunny's paw."

"Was he crying?"

"No, but he was upset."

We chatted for a few more moments and then that was that.  All in all, I think everything is fine.  These things happen and the school took steps to ensure that it would not happen again.  I'm happy with that resolution.  Oscar and I talked about it a little more, and I made sure he knew that he should tell someone if he is going to the bathroom, and should never go off by himself.

What seems weird to me is that Mrs. B kind of lied to me when she told me what happened that first day.  Or, at the very least omitted certain key facts.  And I guess I should be really angry about this, but honestly I just chalk it up to human nature.  She was nervous and she felt responsible.  She either did not want me to be angry or did not want to get into trouble, so she misconstrued the facts.  I'm not happy about that, but I don't think she is a bad person or even a bad teacher.  On the contrary; she's great with the kids and Oscar loves her.  He trusts her; that's why he followed her back into the school.

I guess I should have address the lying issue with Mrs. T, but I just really felt like they knew what had happened and they would take care of it appropriately, even though a small part of me wants to know how they resolved things with Mrs. B.  They probably would not have told me that even if I had asked.

That's the whole story right there.


Sprite's Keeper said...

I think you handled it well. It wasn't for long, Oscar was fine,and they've even implemented a change which is better for all. When a teacher tells me Sprite has done something, I will usually grill her myself to get a better understanding of why, but there have been cases where the teacher did not have all the facts and I usually bring this up the next time I see them and pull Sprite into the discussion so she can either fess up or implicate the actual cause. (In this case, another 4 year old who has a long history of terrorizing the other kids..)

Becky said...

Whew! You must have felt nervous indeed while you were trying to get the whole story. It sounds to me like this wasn't too bad a situation. He was not far out of pocket and not for long. He is also a big enough guy that he knows when he needs help, right? I bet that in a moment more of trying to open the door, he would have yelled for help. I also wonder if it's possible that Ms. B was not lying exactly, but was confused about exactly what had gone on? Or didn't have all the facts yet? I am always trying to find a way for everyone to be telling the truth though. Either way, it's obvious they took it really seriously, which is good. I would still feel very safe and confident with those teachers.

Michele said...

It is a little worrying that you had to get the story from more than one individual. Mostly, because it prolonged the suspense. Chances are no one knew all the facts until they all got together to hash it out. You handled it the best way possible and they have made a change in policy to ensure that it should never happen again.

gretchen said...

I think you handled it well too. I think the thing that would bother me most was that the first teacher kind of lied. It doesn't sound like he was ever in any real danger, and I guess the teachers knew that, and kind of figured they didn't need to scare you. But it just seems sort of...sneaky. Which is, I guess, why the other teacher told you about it. I think I'd be willing to forgive it like you did.

Patty O. said...

I think you handled it well, too. Like you said, it wasn't like they were being negligent or anything, though I can see how Mrs. B's omission could rub you the wrong way...They should have been up front from the start.