So after my call from my friend, which I blogged about in the last post, I already knew that they'd made their mind up, and so I approached the building and the 17:30 meeting with the Manager "W" with a great deal of trepidation.
She opened the meeting in a very authoritative way. As I have only stopped crying at at bout 19:45 having cried since 18:00 I can't even remember the words she used.
But it was words to the effect of I have investigated and spoken to all concerned.....
She very quickly moved on to say that G had not been rude and that witnesses agreed that she had not been, and that I had obviously misunderstood and there had been a miscommunication.
She also went down the road of saying that I had "collected" Y, and was describing all of their relevant procedures and policies and defending them.
She stressed that she had even gone to the trouble of watching the CCTV and outlined what she saw. The staff leaving at 18:12 and the Managers leaving at 18:15.
She said the words used "kicked out" etc... were due to the degree of "familiarity" between G and I.
You know what I am struggling to write this post as it is all SUCH a blur.
She went through all of their procedures (a lot of them I did not know), and explained that they are not allowed to care for children after 6 p.m. as Offsted states you can only look after children 10 hours a day.
I said so when my friend called to give them permission to move Y from the room to reception, how come we weren't told "no, please leave the premises after 6" at least then I would have known what I was getting in to.
To which she replied "we try to be flexible" "it is not that you can't wait at reception, but that once you removed him from the room you WERE legally responsible for him" to which I said "how was I to know that".
I repeated several times what had happened Tuesday but she put it down to "familiarity".
I then told her that I knew I wouldn't be believed for two reaons
- My friend who was with me in reception had stated as we walked down the road that he did not want to get involved, so I told W, I already know if you called him, he probably didn't say anything to strengthen my case; I also told her
- My friend (child's parent) called me earlier today and I know that you said to her that S, who was on duty with G had confirmed she was not rude, and that you told my friend that for that reason there would not be an apology as she had not been rude. So I said to her that I already knew going there tonight that this meeting would not be what I originally expected.
I told her about the irony that when I dropped Aaron this morning they made me sign a detailed and long consent form so that he could meet spiders, reptiles and snakes at 10 a.m. and yet I wasn't asked to sign a form to "collect" (to use their word) Y. Instead of being humble enough to acknowledge the irony, she stony faced said: "you had a verbal agreement with his Mum to collect him".
When I said there you go again like G saying that I'd agreed to collect him, when I did not. Now even though she knew this was the MOST CONTENTIOUS issue of the LOT (the bit me and G had played verbal tennis over) she said I have spoken to Y's Mum and she said she DID ask you to collect him.
I said actually what actually happened was she rung me, on my mobile while I was in the room, with Aaron on my knee and she sounded breathless and said "L are you at nursery, we are delayed, we're at X station" and I cut her off and said "shall I take Y for you, and wait with him in reception" to which she said yes.
The staff then made her call them (as I said in Tuesday's post) and the rest is history.
But basically W, was ALSO going down the road of telling ME what I had agreed to.
When she realised neither she nor I were "getting it" she helped matters by saying that because children can only be in there care (Offsted wise) till 6, that by me taking him from the room at 6, I WAS legally responsible for him, to which I said "how was I to know that!" and she looked incredulous like I should know childcare law back to front like she does.
I assumed if I said in front of adults, that I was taking him to reception, that it was clear the basis I was doing it on.
The two parties who had a stake in the matter: the parents and the nursery: NEITHER of them said "what then".
If G had chatted to me in reception, as a human, it would no doubt have come up in conversation.
W said, if G had known you were apprehensive about going out in to the dark with two 2 year olds, of course she would have supported you, and has said as much.
To which I laughed and said it was as CLEAR as the nose on my face I had concerns, and she laughed them off , so why was I going to go one step further and stoop to begging her when she'd laughingly dismissed everything I HAD said....
She then said who will you speak to in future regarding Aaron and his care, and parents' evenings etc? I said I would speak to her.
She said I don't think it is good for Aaron if two adults in close contact with him are "not speaking to each other" so she suggested a meeting with the 3 of us present (me + W + G).
I said if G came to that meeting open to hearing how what she says is received, then I would be open to having it. I also went on and on about 360 feedback and how it is not just important to impress your colleagues and bosses but direct line reports and clients TOO.
I said that my friend and my Mum had both said "don't complain, as it may result in Aaron being treated differently". By this point I had cried so she was being WAY more softer and compassionate with me, and said "we would never treat children any differently" followed by "I am glad you felt you could come to me". All of these nice phrases were too little too late though.
At the end of the formal part BEFORE I started crying, I said "I already decided before I came here that if this wasn't handled correctly I would go to the Head of the adjacent school who is also above here, and if that isn't dealt with correctly I will go to Offsted".
She then said that they have a very good reputation with the area and the community and in what way did I mean "correctly". I answered that but I can't remember how.
I said, just like I expected some compassion on Tuesday night, I expected some tonight and expected an apology. She said "I apologise on behalf of .... [and listed a few things]".
Anyway once we were talking "on a level" after I cried I explained that in 24 years of working, I have never ever let my professional veil down, to speak to someone the way G did to me. I should have said it is important to "read people" which G had failed to do.
She said that if I had said I was anxious about going out in the dark with 2 two years olds, G has said that she would have walked to the end of the road with me.
This I didn't find sincere, as it is what my other friend did with me. What would have been sincere, is if she did (or wishes she had) waited in the car park with me.
Anyway I am sure I have missed bits above, but then I left the room, and as my friend was in the corridor and I knew it was HIS statement that had weakened my case, I fell apart crying and went in to the loos adjacent to Aaron's room (the meeting was at 17:30 and it was now nearly 1800 and I needed to collect Aaron).
A staff member followed me and explained that all of the children were in a room at the other end of the room.
She was consoling me and telling me they'd already prepped all of Aaron's going home stuff.
My only purpose in being there was to wipe and dry my eyes so I was in a fit state to collect Aaron, but then G came into the loos, somebody had TOLD her I was in there crying.
Crazy as W knew that the meeting with the 3 of us would need to be in at least a week when the dust would settle but here she was IN MY FACE, saying "are you okay Mum?"
TO which I sobbed and said "no".
She took my sobbing as a chance to speak and said again and again and again that she hadn't been rude and would never ever intend to not be "nice to me" - the same words she'd used when speaking to Y's Mum yesterday evening.
Once I stopped for breath after sobbing, in response to her saying she hadn't been rude, I reminded her and said this was what you said and I imitated her word for word and body behaviour of Tuesday: "I don't care how close they are I would have been chucking you out anyway". I did it at the same volume as her, with the same cackle and hand gesture.
She was so alarmed by this she IRONICALLY did the same hand gesture and STORMED out of the room saying "I am not doing this Mum!".
So the same unprofessional behaviour reared its ugly head and all I did was offer her a mirror of Tuesday night's behaviour.
I thought she might be open to seeing what had been received, and make an attempt to justify it or apologise but no, she was so horrified she stormed off, but I ONLY immitated EXACTLY, how SHE herself had behaved. So if it was hard for her to watch on replay, why was I expected to have interpreted it as her just being "familiar" and "jokey" to use their words?
Anyway when I left my friend (the one who'd been with me in reception Tuesday night) had been so worried he'd waited for me. It took QUITE a few hundred metres and steps before we could talk about it, but I found a way of saying "I find it surprising you have waited for me when your statement weakened my case".
He is a VERY laid back guy so did not take offence and just concentrated on an aspect of it it he'd discussed with a colleague at work.
FURTHER ON I said "didn't you think it rude that she said I don't care how near they are I am kicking you out anyway" to which he said "I didn't hear that bit".
Then I said, didn't you think it rude that she kept disputing what I had agreed to like a tennis match over and back, despite me knowing what I had agreed to. To which he said "I'd forgotten that bit".
Then I said, didn't you think it rude that she used the phrase "kicking out" to which he said with hindsight yes, but that he hadn't stressed that when he took the call from W today.
So now I wonder how the Police conduct investigations when 2 adults can have such different versions of the same occurrence.....????
Then when we were nearer home, the other parents (of Y) walked passed, and they ALWAYS drive everywhere, so that was odd.
She stopped to ask if I was okay, and I said I have only just stopped crying (but I started again when I got home).
Then she said "out of interest, if we were further delayed, would you have taken Y home, and looked after him etc" to which I said that because I'd agreed to wait with him in reception, and had assumed they would arrive, I had genuinely not thought that far ahead.
I said what would have forced me to, was if (1) G had given me some countdowns that she was locking up (which she did not) and if (2) at that point they WERE still far away, then I would have started thinking WHAT NOW.
But to be fair, it would have been tough, as tonight for example, Aaron wouldn't let me hold the strap on the reins and kept running off, and for the latter part of the 20 minute walk made me carry him all the way home because of the "dark". Tuesday night was my first night collecting him in the dark. I WOULD have struggled with two boys.
JUST EDITING to add, that G seems to have really stressed to her boss that she WOULD have waited with me if I made IT CLEAR I had fears of walking and managing BOTH boys and if I'd mentioned the "dark" etc.... I just got a flash back and remembered (as a result of Aaron just now quoting from "We're Going on a Bear Hunt")....
I have remembered that we struggled to get Aaron Tuesday night, to walk out of the building into the dark (the clocks went back at the weekend and Aaron isn't at nursery on Mondays) and G had said is he scared of the dark, to which I bit back "only since he's been reading "We're Going On a Bear Hunt" here at school".
At that point I was fumbling to get Aaron's reins on to free up my other hand to hold Y's hand, and trusting that Aaron would be cooperative on the reins (which luckily he was) which he wasn't tonight (Thursday).
Another edit to say that I have remembered that I said to her that I thought I was doing the room staff (and Y's Mum) a favour, as at least me moving him meant that they could go home. To which she said no they can't, they can't go until the building is clear. But I remember seeing them all leave but she said that was at 18:12 versus us leaving at 18:15 (weird as the GAP between them leaving and us FELT like a lot longer).
Then I reminded her that at least me moving him meant they were free to tidy the room and get it ready for the next day, but she didn't express any warmth at my willingness to have done that, just stressed that I was legally responsible from when I took him.
That's what was missing Tuesday night and again tonight - warmth!