What a Difference a Smile Makes...

All was Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows last Saturday morning when I took Bennett and Michelle to the airport. He and his mama were winging their way north to Anchorage, Alaska to join Max.

On Jan 4, Max began a new job as an "Arctic Marine Biologist" with Audubon Alaska. (I've linked it here to the announcement on the Audubon website, so click on over to read about Max and what he'll be doing.)

Michelle was due to report for her new position as Labor and Delivery RN, BSN at Providence Alaska Medical Center, Monday.

Yes, this move came suddenly, with less than a month to pack up and ship out, they'd had to scramble, but in a good way.  Although no one in our Tulsa family, was happy to see them leave, everyone: Barb, Chelsie, Bonnie, John, Rhonda, Chris & Parker pitched in to help them move. I flew in for the last week.

Their reunion Sunday was joyous and exciting! Then came Monday….

Max and Michelle had tried hard to get Bennett into a good daycare. There is a serious childcare crisis in Anchorage. All the “best” ones have a waiting list--about a year long--and costs about $1100 per month. So they found one that “seemed” good, Max checked it out and paid a deposit. They had to pack Bennett’s lunch each day, but no big deal.

When Michelle dropped Bennett off, no one seemed especially interested in him. No adult smiled. Patted him. Commented on his dinosaur.  He came home asking about his old teachers in his old school. To be expected. And a nasty, raw diaper rash...

The next day, Tuesday, Max took him to daycare. Bennett didn’t want Max to leave. “Stay and play with me.” So Max did for a bit. But he is in a conference all this week and had to leave. And Michelle was already at work. Max pulled himself away from Bennett…who understood "Dada" had to work. With a “see you later," waved goodbye.

Before driving off, Max paused to return a missed call. As it happened, he'd parked his car so it looked inside the day care. While he made his call he watched Bennett through the window. Bennett took his dinosaurs and sat down. No one spoke to him, or interacted. Staffers walked past him without a pat or a word.  Max said Bennett sat there for a bit with his dinosaurs, then he put his head down and cried.

 Work was work. A paycheck is a paycheck. Even Bennett knows that. Max went to the conference.

As soon as he could get away, about 2:00 pm, Max raced back to get Bennett. It was outdoor time: Bennett’s hat was on inside out, his boots were on the wrong feet, and his shirt tail was stuck inside his soggy diaper. Max was putting Bennett's boots on the right feet when the owner/operator came by.

“Oh, ,”the man said, “Bennett, did you put your boots on the wrong feet?”

Max glared at him. “He’s two,” Max spat. “He doesn’t put on his own boots.” Then he marched to Bennett’s cubicle, scooped up all his belongings and they left.

Michelle and Max’s co-workers stepped up when they heard this story. Everyone scrambled to find a better place for Bennett. The daycare at Michelle’s work—Providence Hospital—which can take B when he’s 3--agreed to let Bennett go there Wednesday, to give M&M time to find a better daycare. And, the director recommended some facilities. I believe she even made some calls, as did Michelle, until they found a spot in one.

On Wednesday, when we spoke—Max and I—Bennett was at Providence for the day, “running around the playground roaring like a tiger.”

Better news, Max called back that night. The daycare they wanted, near Max’s work and well-respected, Tundra Tykes, had a place for Bennett, so he started this Monday.

Two days in and so far so good! Tundra Tykes, doesn't cost any more than that first day care, however the staff is able to include diaper changes--and smiles--as part of the service. Fancy that!

Bennett’s daycare future is bright. Because His parents could take the time, have the resources, the job security education brings, the confidence to say "This is not right. My child deserves to be well treated."

But, I can't help thinking about those other children stuck in that day care... Where's their much deserved smile?

What a Difference Playlist:

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