Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Too late

My kids have been going to the same summer day camp for about six years, which has also been their afterschool program.  It's a great program, and for the most part I've been happy with it, although they will not be attending next year because we're moving.

Anyway, on one of the last days of camp on which only my youngest was attending, they were going on a field trip, which they do maybe 3-4 times a week.  It was an 8:30 a.m. cutoff (which is usually 30 minutes before the leave time), and this is generally earlier than we would arrive most days.  So I got my daughter going early, and even with some bad luck with traffic, I got to the camp with the clock in my car reading 8:30. 

Except when I got into the camp, the trip director Lucy said, "Oh, I'm so sorry, it's 8:32, and the cutoff was 8:30 so we can't take her."

I was absolutely shocked.  First of all, my watch said 8:30.  Second of all, the bus for the trip hadn't even arrived, the lunches were still in an open cooler in the classroom, and nobody has made any move to leave.  When I pointed this out, she said, "Yeah, but I've already done the buddy list.  So there's nothing I can do."

We went back and forth on this for much longer than it could possibly have taken her to add one child to the buddy list.  (Presumably less than two minutes, since the cutoff was 8:30 and she was done with the buddy list by 8:32.)  I mean, it's not like a rocket was taking off and the doors were slamming shut at 8:30.  It would have been so easy for her to let this happen.  In fact, on another occasion three years earlier, I got the cutoff wrong and was late by FIFTEEN minutes, and even though they yelled at me and had already put the lunches on the bus, they still let my kid stay.  If they had turned me away that day, they would have been justified because I was really late, but they didn't.  So there was no reason for me to believe that being late by something between not at all and two minutes would result in rejection.  I'd seen plenty of parents stroll in at the deadline.  In five years, they were NEVER strict about this.

At some point, I was almost in tears, begging her to let my kid stay because I genuinely didn't know what I was going to do.  And my daughter was crying because she thought she wouldn't be able to go on the trip.  I'd known Lucy for about six years--she was new as trip director, but she taught my kids dance several years ago.  She was a new mom, so I thought she'd be sympathetic.  But no.

Finally, I saw the owner of the daycare, who I also knew pretty well.  I flagged her down and told her I was two minutes late, could my kid go on the trip.  She said, "Of course!  We always do a five-minute window!"  I had a feeling she'd say this, but I didn't want to go over Lucy's head.  But I had no choice, and Lucy had to eat it.

So my daughter got to go on the trip, I got to go to work, so technically, I WON.  But I was fuming all day.  I felt like Lucy had an opportunity to very easily be decent to me and she chose not to for no reason other than... I have no idea what.


  1. I'm glad everything worked out for you and your daughter!

  2. Replies
    1. Or possibly a horrible day or week or month for this gal and she was trying to exert some control over what she was subjected to do. I also think it was kind of you fizzy for not going over her head before giving her a chance to make the right decision on her own first. I think that shows great character.

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    1. I have a FAQ about PM&R:

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  4. Some people when they get in to positions of power do this, often because they are still trying to assert their authority. Asserting authority can often be a hard skill to learn to wield. When new to it you can make some silly little mistakes.

  5. If it weren't for the "I already made the buddy list" thing, I would've said that maybe she was new enough to the role that she didn't understand that she had the ability (and responsibility) to be flexible about the nanosecond when the cutoff time occurred.


    Since she said the buddy list thing and held onto rejecting you even in the face of a crying kid and your clear upset-- I'm going with (a) she was feeling lazy and didn't want to have to do what I suspect was a very minimal amount of rework on her list and (b) she's a jerk. Because some people are.

    If you didn't talk to the owner about exactly what had gone down before the owner showed up on the scene, I think you should. Someone who adheres to a "too bad, 2 minutes late" in the face of a crying kid and the knowledge that it doesn't HAVE to be too bad because the bus isn't even there... good grief. This is not someone who should not be in a decision-making role when it comes to other people's childcare. Or overseeing a group of children, for that matter, because she was not choosing to be patient and kind-- which are probably the two main things you need to be when it comes to her role.

  6. Lucy missed her calling. She should be working as a gate agent for an airline. She certainly behaved like ones I have seen in action. Or maybe she had a bad case of PMS?

  7. I wonder if she didn't know she had the authority to allow it? "I was told to do THIS WAY and that is what I am doing."