Tuesday, September 24, 2013

king's daughters

When Jeff decided to enter rehab at the end of April, I was faced with an immediate dilemma.  He had been a full-time caretaker for our daughter, and she needed somewhere to spend her days while I was at work!  If only baby Todd had been more considerate of our schedule, I could have kept them both during my maternity leave (okay, that actually sounds like a nightmare, but I know that lots of moms do it!).  However, he still had a month more to cook, unbeknownst to me at the time!

She came with me to work for a week or two.  You know what is exhausting for a 38-week-pregnant lady? Trying to keep your toddler from misbehaving at work while simultaneously getting any work done.  So when Jeff's grandmother (our beloved Memaw) called and said a spot had opened up at King's Daughters and offered it to Vicki Jo, I rejoiced to the heavens.

Let me explain a little bit.  King's Daughters Day Home is a non-profit preschool started in 1965 to serve low-income families in Madison, TN.  (This is the northern suburb of Nashville where my church is and Memaw lives.)  The International Order of The King's Daughters and Sons is a religious philanthropic organization that I'd never heard of before meeting Memaw.  Their goal is to "lend a hand in service."  Um, yeah.  I think you could say they have done this for our family!

Memaw is a King's Daughter.  She has been one for a long time.  She works very part-time at the Day Home as part of their development team (sidenote:  the woman is 83 and still works because she wants to!).  The Day Home is not just any preschool.  Every person that works there has a college degree - most of them in early education and development.  Some of them have or are working on advanced degrees.  They care deeply about the education and emotional well-being of their small charges.  And it shows.  They make an effort to learn about each home environment (some of which are very troubled).  They incorporate elements of Montessori and Reggio education into their lesson plans, which are posted on the wall near the student folders for all to see.

They offer superb education for young people at a marginal, sliding-scale cost based on income.  They get lots of grants and are always actively seeking donations.  They accept children starting at age 2 1/2 and potty-trained.

But Vicki Jo was neither of these things.  She had just turned two on April 2, and was just beginning to tell us when she needed to use her potty.  They took her anyway, mostly because of Memaw.  And they knew that our situation was pretty pressing.

It has been one of the best things that has happened to our family.  They took Vicki in and basically potty trained her for me.  She is now totally dry during the day.  She is learning so much.  She tells me every day about new language and math skills she is picking up.  I hear daily about each of her friends in class - Jorge and King and Ciara and Autumn and Micah - and her teachers, Ms. Jasmine and Ms. Sonya.

Vicki has a hard time going to school in the morning.  She still cries a little when I drop her off.  But they tell me that she is fine after a minute or two.  And when I come to get her in the afternoon, she is playing joyfully, and has all the adults wrapped around her finger.  I cannot wait until they open their Infant-Toddler Center next spring, and Todd gets a chance to be at King's Daughters too!

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