Jacqui and I have talked about how this blog has a tendency to focus so exclusively on the joys of parenthood that the aggravations and general stress of life are edited out, leaving a more idealized version of our lives than is totally accurate. This is probably true of social media in general. However, we were recently on the periphery of a tragic event that would seem disingenuous to brush under the rug.
Last Monday we were shocked and saddened to learn that a three-month-old baby boy named Karl died on his first day at the daycare Henry also attends.
The death of a child, especially one so young, is a nightmare scenario that every parent fears but avoids allowing themselves to fully contemplate. We can’t fathom the grief his parents are experiencing and can only offer our deepest sympathies to them.
Immediate news reports focused on the fact that the daycare was never licensed. This lack of certification gave the press something to latch onto and in the simplistic way that headlines and media narratives are created, “Infant dies at unlicensed daycare” was strongly implied to mean, “Infant dies because daycare was unlicensed”. In these facile reports, correlation became causation.
The local tabloid press further lived up (or down) to its reputation of pandering to the lowest common denominator by dredging up unrelated past legal and financial troubles and subjecting Maryellen to the vilification of the perp-walk ritual though she was never accused or in custody.
In response I temporarily took down content on this blog showing Henry’s experience at daycare in the hopes of depriving such negative press of candid photos. Aside from expressing condolences to Karl’s family, we didn’t respond to press inquiries or allow ourselves to be drawn into a crass debate in the aftermath.
Subsequent investigation has revealed no culpability by Maryellen or her staff and as of now points to sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS. It’s becoming apparent that this tragedy would not have been prevented by regulatory measures. Nevertheless the daycare has been shut down.
We were aware beforehand that the daycare was unlicensed. It didn’t concern us because the nanny candidates we considered also weren’t licensed nor for that matter are the friends and family who regularly babysit for us. Maryellen came recommended to us via word of mouth and had over a decade of childcare experience in addition to raising six children of her own.
We chose Soho Childcare over other more traditional daycares we toured because walking into Maryellen’s, there was an immediate, natural sense of community. It was like a second home to Henry for almost three years and it’s where he took his first steps. Much of Henry’s social confidence and independence is attributable to his experience there. We’re grateful and consider Maryellen and her staff an extension of our family. We still trust her and don’t think that trust was ever misplaced.
Below are links to donate to Karl’s parents and to Maryellen’s family respectively: