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Wednesday 20 June 2018

I sent my child to nursery* for a better life - and what happened next shook me to the core

This nursery was the kind of place where dreams come true - or so we were told. Our children would be happy and safe. They would have better life chances and the opportunity to make friends with a diverse range of people. Of course, there would be a settling in period and like most places, we would be able to stay with our children until they were confident and comfortable with the adults in the setting...

I sent my child to nursery for a better life - what happened next shook me to the core - replace nursery with America and classrooms with cages

This particular nursery can be rather exclusive and over subscribed. Places are usually reserved purely for those of a certain level of financial wealth, a family or friend recommendation or those who simply ‘fit the mould’....but we had heard about an opening and we took our chance. We clawed together a reservation fee to save our place and went on our way.

The first day of nursery arrived and we were all feeling a little nervous about how it would go. We packed our bags and waved goodbye to our home ready for our adventure. Holding hands tightly I tried to hide the fact that I was slightly worried about the kind of reception we would receive once we arrived, we aren’t the usual type for this particular setting but I told myself we had just as much right to a great future for our children than anyone else in this world right?


As soon as we arrived we could tell that something didn’t feel right. The staff at the setting were uniformed, regimented, authoritarian. There were no smiles or welcoming gestures. No effort was made to put the children at ease despite their obvious feelings of nervousness - they could sense the same air of unkindness that I could and their little hands clung to mine tightly.

We walked further down the path and could hear the sound of children crying - not just one child...lots of children...tiny classrooms full of children, with their sensory space blankets crunching and crackling around their sobs ... were these children new? Were they struggling to settle in to their nursery? Where was their key worker?? Why were the adult to child ratios not being adhered to in this setting? I had so many obvious questions about the procedures at this seemingly free world nursery and yet everyone who worked here seemed to be acting as if this was acceptable process.

Suddenly, the tug on my arm became stronger. My own children began to cry as their grip tightened to a level I had never known, their little fingers intertwined in mine, their tiny nails digging into my flesh as they scraped down the palm of my hand, along my fingers and away....away Into the tiny little room with the noisy blankets, the pools of tears and the cries of ‘mummy’.

The staff were forceful and steadfast - they lead me away down a corridor further inside the Center to await an interview. Further away from the cries of my children, to a room with a person where I must try my best to explain why our place here is just as valuable as theirs.

And still I wait. And I wait. And my children sit in their tiny room*, without their mummy, wondering if they will ever see me again. I sent my children to nursery* for a better life - and they have already left scars deeper than you can imagine. They have already taught my children about unkindness, lack of tolerance and their perceived place in this world. All the lessons they didn’t need to learn.

I sent my children to nursery for a better life - but what we really need is a better world.

*Replace 'nursery' with 'America', 'room' with 'cage' and 'Staff' with 'Border Patrol Agent' - this is what is currently happening at US immigration centres. Children are being detained in cages, separated from their parents after crossing the US-Mexico border. This is what they call a 'zero tolerance' policy under the Trump administration...and it needs to stop.

Sarah x

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