Aaron Gouveia thought his son was at the perfect preschool…until he saw the hat they’d given him.
We have not had good luck with day cares.
We thought our first provider was a godsend and we viewed her as part of the family. But then we found out she was letting her personal problems affect how she handled Will, and it ended with her calling my son names IN FRONT OF HIM. Our second go-round was another in-home provider who turned out to be a complete bigot. Then, we found out she was letting Will sit around in his own shit all day.
I told you. Not a good track record.
But that all changed last year when we found Will’s current preschool. It’s a school instead of in-home, which has turned out to be wonderful. It’s an accredited facility with educated, trained teachers. They are fun, dedicated, kind and Will absolutely adores them. In fact, I’m happy to say my son has flourished over the past nine months and continues to progress at an astounding pace. Except for the school’s bizarre “No Apology” rule, it’s flat out perfect.
Or at least it was, until yesterday.
My wife and I got out of work at the same time, so we decided to surprise Will by picking him up together. We walked into the building, said hi to a few teachers and meandered downstairs to the playroom. The kids were all outside cavorting on the playground, so MJ and I decided to watch for a minute and get a glimpse of how Will gets along with all the other kids.
I smiled as he ran around like a maniac with his friends—his back turned to us the whole time—playing some version of “tag” and having a blast. Then MJ and I made our way through the door and called out to him. And that’s when I saw it.
He was wearing a New York Yankees hat!
As parents we all fear what goes on when we leave our precious cargo in the hands of others. I’m no different. But after nine months of exemplary care, I guess I had let my guard down and grown complacent. However, when I came face-to-face with the atrocities kids can suffer, it was jarring to say the least.
“Get that awful thing off of your head RIGHT NOW!” I shouted, startling Will, his teacher, and bringing the flurry of playground activity to a grinding halt.
Will whipped the hat off his head and looked around in confusion, as his bottom lip started to tremble. I rushed over to him, grabbed him by both arms and—with tears in both our eyes—confronted him about what was happening.
“Will. Do you know what was on your head?”
“Do you know what kind of hat?”
“A blue hat?”
“Will. Son. You were just wearing…a Yankees hat!”
His eyes went wide as saucers as he stared at me incredulously. Then he looked down at the discarded hat in disgust, fell to his knees and began apologizing profusely in between convulsions. I held him close and channeled Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting, telling him it wasn’t his fault. It’s not your fault Will. It’s not your fault.
Some of you might be thinking “What’s the big deal?” But as a dedicated Red Sox fan and the father of a Red Sox diehard in training, there is no worse tragedy that could befall an upstanding Red Sox youth than what happened with my son.
I’d rather have Sarah Palin come to my kid’s preschool as a guest lecturer on politics while taking the class on an aerial wolf hunting field trip. I’d rather have Louise Woodward hired as the school’s new nanny. If Mel Gibson came to school to talk on Diversity Day, I’d be less upset than seeing my son wearing an emblem of evil.
For you see, that “NY” insignia is representative of all that is wrong with society. It’s about greed and corruption of power. It’s teaching my son that money solves everything. It sends the message that it’s OK to be named Vinny and grease your hair to the point of absurdity while wearing multiple ostentatious gold chains around your neck. It’s spitting in the face of my father, his father and all my other relatives who have dedicated themselves to hating the Yankees for more than a century.
I have no idea how long that hat was on my son’s head. Just to be on the safe side, we took Will home and put him in the shower immediately where he was given a haz-mat level scrubbing. The extent of the damage might not be known for weeks, and I can only hope the recovery time is minimal. I tried talking to him a little more extensively about what happened but, like anyone who has been through a traumatic experience, he didn’t want to delve into it. That’s probably for the best.
In the meantime, we talked of Big Papi, Youk, and Dustin Pedroia’s laser show. And all was right with the world.
Unfortunately, MJ and I both work so we had to send him back to school today. But we made sure he had his Red Sox hat so there would be no more confusion. I also went and altered his emergency medical forms, adding “New York Yankees” and “Pinstripes” to his list of potentially deadly allergies.
I can only hope that by sharing this frightening tale, I can prevent it from happening to other unsuspecting kids and parents.
Stay safe out there.