Expelled as an 18 Month Old: Friday’s “What the frak?” Moment

Friday’s “What the frak…?” moment (WTFM) is brought to you by………..

Policies that expel an 18 month old: Because really, they’re just like a 4 year old. Or an 8 year old. Why bother adding staff when you can get rid of them?

Thursday was my Zumba class day. I LOVE this Zumba class. Not only is the teacher fabulous and energetic, but I get to dance while consistently burning between 500-600 calories (so, you know, I can eat chocolate).

Thursday is supposed to be my “easy” day – the Tackler off at his Mother’s Day Out program so I only have to wrangle a single child on my visit.

Imagine my surprise, when twenty minutes into my class, one of the child care workers summoned me.

“Dirty diaper?” I asked, because they do not change those.

“You have to pick her up. She won’t stop tackling other kids and putting them into headlocks.”

I was dumbfounded.

Yes, I was aware of my Tacklerette (aka Lil Diva), but she’s easily distracted, only of average size for her age, and “loving” as opposed to malicious in her headlock hugging affections.

I left my class, and checked on the situation myself. Sure enough, she was infatuated with another little boy, wanting to hug, tackle, or point out his nose and eyes on his face. Injury was easily avoided by giving her something else interesting to do.

“She’s doing OK right now. Can I shower at least?” I asked.


I set a land speed record for a shower and returned.

An “Incident Report” waited for me.

As I read through the familiar jargon – already well acquainted with it following The Tackler’s expulsions earlier this year – I fought to control my temper.

“Are you seriously writing her up for this? She doesn’t even understand the concept of a time out yet. I can understand removing her on a day where you’re short staffed and she’s more than a handful, but holding her up to the standards of a child that actually knows what is right and wrong, when all she’s trying to do is love on them is ridiculous!”

“It’s our policy.”

“Your policy needs to be revised for younger kids. She’s EIGHTEEN MONTHS.”

“We have to protect the other kids.”

“Then watch her. Sit her in your lap with the child she wants to love on so she can get it out of her system in a supervised, behaviorally corrected way. Kicking her out will do nothing.”

Except punish me, because it certainly isn’t her fault she equates headlocks, overzealous hugs, and pushing with showing her affection. She’s had a year tolerating such things from her brother.

She’s stronger because of it.

Except for now fearing expulsions and loss of my beloved gym workout and uninterrupted hot shower, I’m rather fond of my Tacklerette – I know she won’t take crap from other kids as she gets older and will dish it right back.

She isn’t cruel in her actions, she’s just an 18 month old who loves babies and doesn’t understand why she can’t “play” with them.

This is a normal stage for kids. Why the frak does a child care system not understand this and have an area safe for those kids to play, with perhaps a smaller adult to child ratio?

Why the frak do they punish her with the same standards as a child old enough to comprehend what they’re doing is “not nice” or wrong?

If she consistently does it again, I’m told the same rules apply as with the Tackler: next time she will be expelled for three days, not just one. Then a week.

You have to frakking be kidding me.*

Am I alone in this?


Did you have a “What the frak?” moment this week?

*Sadly, this is not an April Fool’s Joke.

About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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31 Responses to Expelled as an 18 Month Old: Friday’s “What the frak?” Moment

  1. Sara says:

    You are so not lane, that is ridiculous! Hilarious but ridiculous!
    My fellow rebel, love it! Seriously what the frak? You need tshirts with that btw.

    • Merchandising.. of course.. Where the real “money” from blogging is made. 🙂

      I get kicking them out for an unruly day.. but threatening me with the policy of 3 days next time? Because at her age that will make such a difference..

  2. Erica M says:

    I’m hoping for your sanity and for your kids’, you can find a new MDO. That sounds insane.

  3. I feel sorry for you! I miss my workouts so much since going back to work. There was one woman who worked at the infant room who refused to pick up the children and cuddle them if they had a little cry. She would just page the parent. I stopped going when she was working.

    Maybe you could tell them what to do when there’s a “hugging” incident instead of getting you.

    I found if I forewarned people that my little Sweet Pea would cry about 15minutes into me being gone but if they read her a book or re-directed her to a fave toy she was fine.

    Either way – totally a what the frak moment!

    • I suggested having one of them sit down and work directly with her and her designated object of affection and get them to play “together” the right way. I think part of the problem is she’s usually removed from her interest while she’s still “interested” and the “babies” are like the forbidden toy.

      She also doesn’t know her own strength – she is capable of taking out her much larger brother, though typically she is the only one injured during this process.

      The people working when we go know her well; she’s been going since she was 3 months old. They worked well with her during her crying/cranky phase, then her sweet phase.

      At one point, she had to stay in the “toddler room” when she wanted to explore, b/c an over 2 year old loved to shove babies. This girl occasionally snuck into the toddler room and I witnessed at least one instance of her pushing Lil Diva so hard I thought she might have cracked her skull.

      This was in the curious “I want to see what would happen” type shoving, compared to Diva’s “I want to play and love them” roughhousing.

      I don’t know if she was ever banned, or kicked out.

      I’m about ready to suggest all young one’s are stuck in the toddler room where a closer eye can be kept on them. Diva will hate it after her freedom, but this is a bit ridiculous.

  4. This makes me really REALLY angry.
    Child care providers should have the education and knowledge to understand the developmental stages of the youth they’re providing care to.
    In this case your 18 month old.
    An energetic, loving, curious child who needs interaction and re-direction when her behavious are not the kind they desire.
    I am disgusted that they have written an “incident report” for such a thing.
    I ran a home for kids in crisis and an incident report would never have been written unless a child had an INCIDENT! Meaning harming themselves or others!

    • They claim to have repeatedly redirected her. However, if that redirection did not involve “proper” play with her “friend”, she is likely to return to what she can’t have the moment a back is turned, because that’s what kids do with forbidden “toys”.

      I know she is capable of harming someone, because she can take down her much older brother. A child less steady on their feet does not stand a chance with her headlocks. I was not made aware of anyone was truly injured, or just “cried” as a result of a too tight hug or a tackle.

      I know and (typically) like the person who wrote up the report. I think she was just “doing her job” because to not do so could have put her job in jeopardy. I was just in awe that the report even existed AND that it would follow similar suit to what my son’s did.

      It is not designed for an 18 month old.

  5. Leigh Ann says:

    This is ridiculous! You need to send this in it’s almost exact same form (minus the “what the frak?) to your gym’s corporate office. That is unacceptable. If you can’t trust that your child will be taken care of there in an age appropriate manner, then you can’t work out, and need your membership fees back! Sorry, shitty customer service gets me in a rage.

  6. Katie says:

    I have to say that while I generally really like Lifetime, the child care is one area that for me leaves something to be desired. I don’t particularly like how they put the young toddlers (i.e. 15, 18, 24 months old) in with the older toddlers and preschoolers (even elementary age) who don’t need as much supervision. Jake doesn’t have Lil’ Diva’s issue — it’s kind of the opposite actually. He’s a really shy kid at the child care center, so when we go pick him up, he’s usually sitting off in a corner by himself. I really wish that they would interact more with the kids that age — for the dual purpose of engaging an affectionate child who’s maybe slightly-more-rowdy in showing her affection like Lil’ Diva, as well as the quieter kid like Jake. At his MDO program, there is the proper caregiver-to-child ratio (1 to 4 in MO and KS), so he’s far more engaged and as a result is sweet and outgoing, not shy and reserved. In fact, I rarely bring him to Lifetime’s child care center anymore, opting instead to just go work out at times when I can leave him home with Albert. I’m sure I’ll use it more when he gets older (and with Baby Girl when she’s an infant), but it sure seems to me that they don’t do a good job with that young toddler age group.

    • There’s a gap in the chain of things. That’s what I want to address. They’re so good with infants and ratios, I’m fine with them having to require reservations for young toddlers too, so they can have the room adequately staffed.

      With my husband’s schedule not very “gym” friendly, especially for classes, it doesn’t give me a lot of options for working out if I don’t use the childcare.

      She’ll be in MDO too, but not until fall. Being outgoing is definitely not her issue.

      I’m glad Jake is doing so well.

      • Katie says:

        Yes, hence the reason my workouts are limited to weekends. Except that it’s MY schedule that’s not very “gym friendly.” I think I would use the child care a lot more, even though my use is limited to weekends, if the place was properly staffed for young toddlers. I also would certainly agree to a reservation system — I really think that’s just more appropriate until probably around age 3 or so. Even at almost-2, I just think Jake needs that smaller group.

  7. Ironic Mom says:

    I think you should send this to your local paper. It’s ridiculous.

    Also, feminist me wonders if they would have summoned a boy as young for doing the same thing.

    Come on, Kelly, go all Erin Brokovitch on this one!

    • A part of me would love to.

      The other part fears it would piss people off and I’d lose access to the child care – which really is a great thing, it just needs some help. No child care = no break, no workout, no hot shower, and I lose my mind and gain 40 lbs.

      I plan on talking more directly with the “higher ups” about their policy and how to work with her. If they persist and do end up banning her for 3 days because of
      “policy” then the shit will hit the fan. That exists for troublemakers and bad behavior, not an 18 month old who doesn’t understand what she’s doing is wrong.

  8. I don’t know what the answer is but I do know that your Lil Diva and my Sweet Pea would get along smashingly! Just as I suspect their mothers would :). Too bad we live so far away.

  9. Carri says:

    What the heck is that about? Toddlers don’t know. They just don’t. At 18 months, they don’t understand the concept of causing pain to another person. My guess is that these people are $10 an hour types that really don’t know a thing about young kids. Sad.

  10. Tina says:

    Zumba sounds like a lot of fun!

    It’s difficult to find a happy medium in childcare. You want your child to have a consequence for not doing what they are supposed to so they stop engaging in that behavior, but you also don’t want your child to be harmed by that consequence. For every parent who wants more clearly established behavioral boundaries, there’s another who goes ballistic when a childcare worker tells their child ‘no’, and means it. The childcare center at your gym has a stoopid policy, but it was probably written that way because of another parent’s abuse of the system.

  11. Galit Breen says:

    Oh Kelly, ugh! I’m so sorry that happened!

    I love that you distinguished between age appropriate standards to hold kids to and ones that are just…not.

    I also love that you wrote that you’re fond of her tacklette ways b/c you don’t have to worry about her in that way- isn’t *that* the truth!

    Hang in there, lady!

  12. Kat says:

    Fa-reaking CRAZY!!!! Then again, the people at my gym are not to be classified as “Child Care Experts”. They have no idea what they are doing. They are more like babysitters, but whatever. She is 18 months old. How much damage could she be doing? Please. They just sound lazy to me.
    I would be pretty hot about this too.

    Here from RDC.

  13. Jessica Anne says:

    That’s just insane. 18 months, no way she understands and should be held responsible for her actions. The grown ups need to monitor better and redirect, as is age appropriate. I agree with what others have said though, the gym employees probably have no training in child development, they’re just hourly employees.

  14. Amy says:

    Sounds like the gym needs to hire a better daycare person. That’s just crazy!!!

  15. Jennie B says:

    I also love my Zumba class, but I have to go in the evening when my husband can watch the kids. I don’t even try to leave my kids anymore. My son would escape and my daughter, on the few times I have left her, screams and cries the whole time until they come get me. Fun times.

  16. I just wandered over here from Clay’s blog, and I read this: “I get to dance while consistently burning between 500-600 calories (so, you know, I can eat chocolate).” You and me…we’re going to get along fabulously.

    Sorry to hear about the Tackler. =(

  17. Have you considered leaving her with a drop in care provider who is skilled in caring for children? I have seen some of these gym type care facilities and they are scary to say the least.

    Someone 18 months old needs a bit of supervision and redirection. Certainly no time outs!

    17 year licensed child care provider. Very willing to have your little miss!


  18. CJ says:

    Poor thing! She’s just trying to give some hearty loves! They should be teaching her, not booting her! Frustrating! BTW, I love Zumba too!

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  20. Angie says:

    Hang on, they don’t change diapers? They remove you from your class so YOU can do that? And they have you pay for this ‘service’?

    I don’t get it…..?

    I so get that you need the sanity of the workout. I have a little one with a high temp two days in a row so no workout for me. And I’m feeling it. And commiserating with a side of crispy bacon. Sigh.

    But seriously, this place sounds wacky. They don’t change diapers and they don’t run interference between children. What DO they do?

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  22. Baby Parent says:

    I’m not sure how I feel about this one, because my 8-month-old was actually injured by a well-meaning “lovey” toddler who just could not be kept away from him. Good center, small adult-to-kid ratio, experienced babysitters, but they just can’t watch every child every second. Yes, an 18-month-old doesn’t understand this behavior is wrong, but the result is the same – injury to an infant. Now, I have no idea if my baby will do this to other babies when he’s a toddler, and I don’t know what I would do to prevent it–looks like you have a system that works for you. But, please put yourself in the shoes of the baby’s parent. If the babysitter at the gym has tried a thing or two to get the behavior to stop and it hasn’t, whatever the motivation behind it, they have to remove the older child. They risk insulting you, but if they don’t remove a possible injury risk, they also risk, well, injury, and an angry infant’s parent. Wouldn’t you have been upset if a toddler had injured your daughter when she was a baby at the same center, especially if you learned it was known the toddler could behave in a way that could hurt someone? It’s a lose-lose for everyone, and I hope it gets worked out so you can continue to.

    • No, I understand this completely, actually.

      My daughter “learned” this behavior. Headlocks equal love because she has an older brother. She’s been pushed and knocked down many times in her life. She’s tough now, because of it.

      What irked me was the handling of it. My daughter was the victim of a 2 year old on multiple occasions who went through a “shove this baby as hard as I can” phase. I witnessed first hand, her shoving my daughter so hard her skull thudded across the room on the carpeted floor. I was livid. I wanted to push the girl. But this was no lovey behavior.

      They knew about this behavior, she was supposed to be in the bigger area, and no one paid attention that she’d gone into the baby room. During this girl’s “reign of terror” they kept her with the older kids, who she never bothered, and kept the babies in the toddler room. I restricted my daughter to the toddler room whenever this girl was around.

      Yet, they are incapable of doing this with my daughter, because they don’t want to restrict the other kids her age. Or work with her. She learns, but you have to show her. Also, many times she is not the “bigger” child. Older maybe, but not always bigger.

      Every child has an “off” day sometimes. I didn’t mind removing her for the day. The policy of banning her and following guidelines put into place for older kids, THAT bothered me. Telling me next time she’d be banned for 3 days because she’s “loving” upon kids is ridiculous. Most kids go through this phase.

      She hasn’t had a day “that bad” again, so I don’t know what, if anything changed.

      I am more in favor of them increasing the ratio of “teachers” to toddlers. They have a 4:1 for infants, but no rules for the younger toddlers, who still require a lot of supervision. I’m in favor of policy changes that fix that glaring hole, because so many kids do go through so many phases as they try out new things.

      I appreciate your opinion, but every toddler can behave in a way to hurt someone – they’re little time bombs. All it takes is one snatching another’s toy. You can’t wrap them in bubble. I just want the teacher’s to pay a bit more attention (which is easier with more staff or fewer kids), to those who are going through a phase.

      Thank you for commenting, even if it though you kept it totally anonymous.

      • Baby Parent says:

        Oh, I totally think they could have handled this better, and I get your irk. You obviously can see both sides, too. It’s the daycare who can’t. They’d rather risk insulting you than take the time to use your solution that you’ve obviously put time and thought into to see if it works for them. Good luck!

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