Somber Reflection

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:

Graduation Day

We attended Henry’s graduation at SoHo Child Care yesterday. Maryellen gave each child a cape and hat as they marched to “Pomp and Circumstance”. We were happy to watch him in what was the first of many graduation ceremonies.

It is amazing to see how far Henry has come since starting daycare in 2013. Maryellen, Martha, Sophia and his friends there have become like family. As always, we are very thankful for all the ladies for everything they do for Henry and all the children at SoHo. Henry will continue to attend for post-graduate studies until December.

Ladies’ Man

Henry has known Stella and Halsey for about two years now. Halsey and him get picked up from daycare at the same time so they started holding hands and walking to the corner together. At each parting they hug and say their goodbyes and Henry usually says “no, come back” as he watches Halsey walk away.

Halloween ’14

For Halloween this year we took Henry trick-or-treating at the American Museum of Natural History after a fun day celebrating with his daycare friends. So he spent most of his day dressed as a T.Rex which was especially appropriate for the museum visit.

Maryellen and the daycare crew in costume.

Maryellen and the daycare crew in costume.

Bubbles, Bubbles, Everywhere

Henry had his final celebration for his second birthday at daycare today. Maryellen has a party for each child on or around their birthday including, bubbles, candles, and balloons in whatever color is chosen by the child. Henry chose orange, blue and well, whatever color was closest to him, so Maryellen used a variety of colors. Readers may recall that Henry was just learning to walk last year at this time and began taking consistent steps without falling at his daycare party last year. I was lucky enough to be there and see it.

Big Celebration

Henry’s big celebration for his 2nd birthday took place at Washington Market Park today. Many of his friends from daycare and other walks of life attended. Mark and I felt it was a success. Henry wore himself out eating watermelon, running around shirtless, yelling and opening gifts once we returned home.

Daycare Graduation ’14

The annual graduation ceremony took place at Henry’s daycare yesterday. This is mostly for children who are three and will be going to school in the fall, but all the children take part and send them off in style. Several of the friends Henry has come to know in the last year and a half will be leaving Maryellen’s. He will now be one of the veterans and take the stage next year. Congratulations to all the young graduates!