A daycare teacher with over twenty years experience recently wrote me this note:
“A child had a lot of very yucky bowel movements one day. This child stayed home sick for 2 days. His mother apologized when they returned to school and brought us teachers a box of goodies from the bakery!“
This teacher obviously really appreciated the kind gesture from the mother. Not too long ago, one of my children vomited all over a daycare teacher. Of course I got the call in the middle of the day to come pick him up, and when I learned she had to borrow an entire outfit of clothes because her own clothes were just gross, I felt pretty bad. I picked her up a gift card, nothing too fancy, but sent in with a note of apology and a quick thanks for taking care of my son until I could get to daycare.
I asked some parents if they’ve ever sent in an “apology gift” to daycare teachers when their child has been ill at school. I admit, I was a little surprised at how many parents said no.
Parent 1: “No one has told they’ve been thrown up on but I’m sure there’s been…never given a gift for it though.”
Parent 2: “Now I’m wondering if I should feel guilty for not buying apology gifts for C.’s teachers! She had a lot of GI issues until she was well over a year. I tried to thank them with generous thank you gifts when the girls transitioned from room to room.”
Parent 3: “Nope and K. throws up all the time. Goes with the job. Patients dont buy apology gifts for vomit…etc”
Many daycares do not require that children apologize when they’ve hurt another child. The idea is that a forced “sorry” becomes routine and meaningless. I respect that perspective, but part of me wonders how children will learn to say they are sorry, even if they do something by accident, unless someone encourages them and reminds them that our society expects people to apologize for causing someone else distress, whether it’s intentional or not.
Parent 3′s comment reminds us that many other professions encounter bodily fluids and often go unappreciated and don’t get apologies or apology gifts. But I argue there’s a difference between a nurse dealing with bodily fluids from a patient and a daycare teacher who deals with your child’s illness. You and your child are involved in a long-term relationship with that daycare teacher. Finding ways to show respect for each other is essential to keeping the relationship positive and productive. Certainly long-term care nurses develop relationships with their patients, and perhaps it’s a problem they DON’T receive more apologies and signs of gratitude from their patients.
Many teachers don’t expect this kind of treatment, but do you feel it helps the relationship? Or is it unnecessary?