this is the letter i've just had to compose to send to the official inspection/regulating body for all the childminders in england – if i weren't writing an official letter to a govt body, i would add that at the moment i can't stop having visions of going over to our son's childminder's house and slapping her across the face until i leave marks, and punching her and knocking her to the floor and kicking her in the stomach until she's coughing up blood, and yanking her hair until it comes out, frankly, and telling her what a f*cking psychotic inhuman child-abusing b*tch she is and how i'm going to absolutely destroy her and get her locked up in prison and exposed all over town as the selfish evil phony (why are two different spell-checks telling me that word is spelled two different ways?) she really is, for hurting my child the way she did today – how i can't stop having obsessive visions of hurting her, even though i know i'm not actually going to physically do any of it (but i AM most DEFINITELY going to destroy her career), but i just can't stop shaking every time i think about this, i'm so furious, i just want to hurt her the way she's hurt my son. [br][br]




Dear Sirs[br][br]I’m writing to make a complaint about registered childminder Mrs Cherie Bacon of [xx address], who has been looking after our 26-month-old son Percy since January of this year.[br][br]

Today he came home with his whole forehead covered in burst blood vessels, with a bruise forming on one temple (please see enclosed photographs).  My partner, his father George, said apparently when he came to pick Percy up in the afternoon Cherie instantly began telling him quickly that Percy had a tantrum earlier on the floor and had the ‘imprint’ of the rug on his head.  George didn’t take it too seriously and wondered what the urgency was about, until he actually saw the state of our child, at which point he was so stunned by the whole thing that he was unable to talk about it properly at the moment and took Percy home to show me.  [br][br]

I called Cherie immediately, and told her I was greatly upset and concerned about this incident.  The ‘incident report’ she wrote up on the matter states:[br][br]

‘Percy woke up crying – when I removed him from the buggy he fell to the floor having a tantrum, so I put him back in where he stayed screaming really badly.  After a few minutes I got him back out still screaming and lay him on the rug in the play area – I was encouraging him to join Haydn [other minded child] and I but he just continued screaming – I went into the garden (to give Haydn and I a break from the noise).  The door was left open so Percy could come out at any time but he didn’t.  Percy’s screams became sobs, I sat him in the double buggy and I wiped his face up and noticed he had imprints on his forehead from my rug (I assume this is because he had thrashed about in temper).  It was the worst tantrum I’d ever seen him have!  Soon he was giggling with Hayden.’[br][br]

I pointed out to her a few things and she responded as follows:[br][br]

1.    Those aren’t rug imprints, it’s been hours and the marks are getting worse and he’s completely hysterical and out of it right now – he was quite obviously slamming his own forehead into the floor at her house during the tantrum, while she was busy not watching him.[br][br]

‘But he was in eyesight of me’[br][br]

Perhaps – but obviously not actually being watched or listened to, if she could have neglected to notice that he was physically slamming his head into the floor.[br][br]

2.    The only tantrums he has ever had at home have been when we moved house and switched his childminder because we’d changed towns, and when he was moved from his cot to a bed, and both times were obviously because he was adjusting to major life stresses for him.  We dealt with it either by using the ‘naughty step’ / time-out system or, if he got very worked up, by hugging him firmly and rocking him until he calmed down because he felt safe and secure.  We discussed this with her several months ago, because he was having tantrums at her house and she kept writing in his contact book that, when he threw himself on the floor, she just walked away and ‘ignored’ him.  It was obvious after several weeks that this was not effective and merely serving to make him more out of control because absolutely zero boundaries were being set for him, and also because it was inconsistent with how he was handled at home.  We told her expressly that we did not want her to do this, that we wanted her to put him in time out or, if he got out of control, to hug him firmly so he felt secure and calmed down, because this always worked at home.  Why were we, yet again, seeing an instance of her choosing to just ignore him?[br][br]

‘He was too out of control – and I’m not allowed to restrain him’[br][br]

I never asked her to ‘restrain’ him, I asked her to hold him in her arms firmly so he felt safe.
‘I could get hurt!’[br][br]

She might get accidentally bumped in the chin, but that’s absolutely nothing compared to the fact that she today left our child in a position that potentially could have landed him with a concussion!  [br][br]

‘Well you might not care if I get hurt, but I do’[br][br]

And what about our child!?  He’s a BABY![br][br]

‘He’s not a baby – he’s two-and-a-half’[br][br]

Actually, no, he’s only 26-months-old, and anyway two-and-a-half is still a toddler, and toddlers have tantrums.[br][br]

‘He was completely out of control’[br][br]

Yes, this is what toddlers do sometimes!  This is why it’s called ‘the terrible twos’!  If she can’t handle a toddler’s tantrum (which, by even her own admission, was the worst she’s seen in him, i.e. he isn’t normally prone to this and, in fact, every day in his contact book I’m reading all about how he’s such a happy, lovely child who’s settled in so well), then why on earth is she agreeing to look after one??[br][br]

Furthermore, I cannot believe she wrote in her incident report that she left him lying on the floor and went outside to get ‘a break from the noise’ !  What kind of childminder is that?  Would she treat her own child this way?  I also need to add that, despite her answering the phone in an obviously phoney cheerful way, within a minute she was already getting angry and by the end nearly yelling at me.  I said, ‘I’m his mother, of course I’m furious and concerned here, how can you not understand that?’  She cut me off to tell me she was giving us two weeks’ notice!  [br][br]

She also snapped at me at one point, ‘I’m not allowed to touch him,’ (surely she’s allowed to touch him, otherwise how would she ever carry him anywhere??) ‘ask Lily if you like.’  I asked who on earth Lily was, she said, ‘Or Lorraine or whoever, the woman you sometimes get to watch him.’
Lorraine is another childminder who has never looked after our son.  We interviewed her at the time we interviewed Cherie, before we’d moved to the neighbourhood and were unsure what area we’d be living in.  We chose Cherie because we picked a house a short walk away from her.  Some months ago Cherie one day, completely out of the blue, when George came to pick up Percy in the afternoon, suddenly said, ‘Oh and by the way, I’m handing in my notice,’ and walked off.  George had to struggle to get any sort of reason out of her, and at last I went to her house to talk to her about it in person.  I was then told a list of empty reasons why she actually suspected the two of us of ‘child neglect’.  This list included two mornings that week when Percy had needed to be changed on arrival because he was so insistent in the morning to eat something before his normal breakfast with Cherie that I gave in and let him have a banana and he wound up needing changing after that as a result – but she instantly jumped to the accusation that we ‘never’ changed him in the mornings.  Another item was one morning when he had a cold and George was driving him to Cherie’s and Percy, his car seat needing to be stationed in the backseat of the car and therefore out of George’s easy reach, sneezed and decided to rub it all over his own face and through his hair and George only got to him when he was taking him out of the car, but he was already dropping him with Cherie so, on arrival, explained what had happened and said he obviously needed some tissue.  Cherie told me this story without any explanation but simply as Percy arriving at her house dirty and uncared for.  I believe it was completely unprofessional and unfair of her to have refused to talk to George about any of this, and instead to have talked to me about it without him around, so that I was only able to say that I knew for a fact nothing was done on purpose and that our little boy is most definitely not a victim of child neglect.  When I came home, though, and talked about it with George, I was furious to find that really she was playing us against each other, because I remember the incidents and I know the truth of the ones I was personally involved in so I fully believe George’s version of the truth of what he was involved in – namely because, besides simply trusting him, I know the way Cherie extrapolated extreme and unfair ideas from my own actions.[br][br]

The thing that further worried me was that, if we really were neglecting our child, surely she should be talking about it with us right from the start, and speaking to some authority, rather than simply handing in her notice suddenly and then admitting to me flat out that she didn’t want to talk about it with us because she was ‘scared’ of us being angry at her!  Shouldn’t a registered childminder be making it her life’s work to protect children?  How does washing her hands of what she perceives to be a dangerous situation, fit in with a vow to care for children??[br][br]

Therefore, because we didn’t trust her, and because she had suddenly handed in her notice and had taken a lot of needling to get to agree to keep looking after Percy, we decided to see if the other childminder we had considered was still available to look after him instead.  She wasn’t available for the schedule Percy required, and that was the end of the matter.  We finally decided to leave Percy with Cherie and see if it improved any, because we felt stuck.  Our decision to look into a different childminder was firstly absolutely none of her business, as we never discussed it with her, and secondly what does she expect when she accuses us of neglect and hands in her notice?[br][br]

The added irony to this ‘child neglect’ issue is that, just a few weeks before she slapped us with that accusation, I had actually written her a note in the contact book and called her to discuss on the phone the fact that I felt seriously concerned by the way Percy had come home with cuts and bruises on his head (always it’s been his head) something like three times in the space of two weeks (I enclose copies of all his incident reports), and yet she never even bothered to tell me!  She would talk about it briefly with George, and George would assume I knew because he naturally assumed she wrote about it in the contact book, which he wasn’t really reading because he was under the impression that, when she talked to him about Percy’s day at his pick-up time, that was what was being written in the book.  Meanwhile, I’d be reading the book and there would be no mention of any accidents – then I’d see our son and be absolutely shocked by his cuts and bruises.  One time, in fact, his entire lip was split right open and completely encrusted in dried blood and his face was scraped and bruised (this was the incident that caused me to call her).  This apparently was caused by him flipping over the arm of her sofa.  I was flabbergasted – she said he often climbed up there and would fall sometimes.  Why then wasn’t he told he couldn’t go on the sofa?  Why was no one there to stop him from falling?  The only time he’s ever allowed to stand on our sofa at home is if one of us has our arms waiting to grab him if he stumbles, but usually he’s never allowed to stand on it, period.  In order to have actually flipped right over the arm of her sofa, he had to have been seriously jumping around, in which case I don’t know why she never told him to stop, or took him off the sofa, or something along those lines.  Does she ever discipline children when she’s looking after them?  Children need to be told ‘no’ and removed from situations and put in time out, I can’t believe she never seems to employ any such technique with Percy and instead chooses just to ‘ignore’ him, which she claims she’s trained to do, but I highly doubt the National Childminding Association is out there training the childminders to walk off into the garden when a toddler is throwing himself out on the floor, to get away from the noise, and allowing him to smash his head onto the floor – or that they train you to allow kids to jump around on sofas until they finally flip over and split their lips open![br][br]

She was never at ease with us after I got upset with her for allowing him to get hurt so often, and for not even bothering to inform me of what had happened.  She’s been an absolutely terrible communicator this whole time (in fact, on a related note, she went on holiday last week and chose to remind us about it the last day before her holiday, at the end of the day when Percy was being picked up, and claimed she’d sent us letters to let us know, when really she gave us one notification back in December and never once reminded us afterward that any kind of holiday was coming up, so naturally six months on it got forgotten and suddenly at the last minute we had to make a lot of drastic arrangements to make sure Percy was looked after ).  And really, if we were such neglectful parents, why would we be calling her up angry for not looking after our child properly?[br][br]

The thing that has made me most furious through this whole situation is that she has not once apologised.  She has blamed Percy through every incident, suddenly claiming today, for instance, that he was just too out of control for her to deal with – even though it’s so clear to both of us, as his parents, that he only got that severely out of control because his initial tantrum was being dealt with so horrendously; he never gets that way at home.  The second he drops himself onto the floor, he is instantly put on the ‘naughty step’ for two minutes and told what he’s doing is wrong, and the result has been a highly well-behaved little boy at home – he’s never even allowed to have a tantrum progress to the stage Cherie was describing, they are curbed the instant they begin.  How do we know this, but not a registered childminder and mother of two children herself?  To be told, in a very haughty accusatory tone, that he’s ‘not a baby, he’s two-and-a-half’, as though he should somehow know better by now, is absolutely disgusting.  To be told in no uncertain terms that she is more concerned with getting bumped in the chin than with a toddler bashing up his head or possibly even getting concussed, is absolutely disgusting as well.  To be told he has the ‘imprint of the rug’ on his forehead when it’s so clearly broken blood vessels and bruises that are swelling up, is absolutely disgusting and also a clear case of denial because she obviously knows she’s in trouble and is desperately trying to downplay the severity of the incident.  All of it has been her refusing to acknowledge the slightest bit of responsibility – in fact, she got so angry with me, when I’m the mother, it’s my child who’s been hurt by her neglect, and I’m the one paying her, that it became her accusing me as though it were my child who had some kind of problem (despite us never once have any issues with his childminder down in London who looked after him for a full year, and despite us leaving him with other family members and with babysitters and everyone unanimously saying he’s a remarkably well-behaved happy friendly child).  [br][br]

She has expressed absolutely zero responsibility for the incident, absolutely zero remorse, zero apology, zero acknowledged or understanding of even why I should be so upset.  It was so disgusting, in fact, in the end I had to hang up on her, I was so furious with her seeming total lack of conscience.  And meanwhile, George said, before I came home from work, Percy was being hyperactive in a way that is very unusual for him (and I witnessed it this evening, and it was clearly from stress) and kept suddenly very seriously pointing to his cuts and bruises and saying, ‘Head,’ in a sad voice.  He can speak very well, and he’s adept at letting us know when he’s in pain, and it is heartbreaking to see your child expressing this, particularly when it’s pain that could have been prevented if the person he’s trying to trust as his carer were more concerned with getting ‘a break from the noise’ than with making him feel safe and secure.[br][br]

On top of it all, we don’t know how she even knew we had asked Lorraine if she was available to watch our son, and we now feel there’s been a complete violation of privacy, and we’re well aware that several of the childminders around here are all friends and therefore she might influence them and make it difficult for us to find anyone to replace her.  All of this is completely unacceptable, and I believe the whole matter needs investigating because we are of the firm opinion that she should not be allowed to look after children under the age of 3 if she has the audacity to think a two-year-old shouldn’t be having tantrums, and if she’s really so selfish that she worries more about getting a bump on the chin than about leaving a toddler to head injuries and potential concussion.  The whole thing is abominable and inhuman.  She’s lucky so far he doesn’t seem too permanently damaged because, if he were, I’d be on the first phone to a lawyer.[br][br]

Yours faithfully[br][br]

Vrinda Barker


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