Longform

Teach Your Children Well

Page 7 of 7

Since then, Martin has been working, little by little, to stray farther from her home in Lakewood. She's working at the hospital again, but she can't go as far as Aurora or even Englewood. "My kids want to go fishing and camping, but I can't. I haven't been to the mountains since I was sixteen. I don't even remember the mountains. I can't go on vacation. My husband went to Miami at the end of March, and I couldn't go. I know it's been really hard on him and my kids."

Now she's seeing the signs of anxiety disorder in the oldest of her six children, eleven-year-old Ryan. He had his first panic attack at the age of four. "I knew it was a panic attack because he said he couldn't breathe," Martin says.

Ryan is also claustrophobic, so when he was in a previous daycare center, Martin warned his teachers that he couldn't go to cramped, contained places such as movie theaters. But three years ago, his class went to an IMAX movie at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. When Ryan protested outside, his teachers dragged him in anyway. "He freaked out, and they called me and said he was misbehaving," Martin says.

A year later, Martin moved from her home in Denver to an apartment across the street from the Renaissance Children's Center, where she eventually enrolled Ryan and her other children. He's had panic attacks at school and at home, but he hasn't had any in daycare. He has had behavioral problems at Renaissance, however, and so has his ten-year-old brother, Michael. The two of them used to bully other kids. If they wanted something another child had, they'd take it. "A woman has come in to teach them techniques other than bullying," Martin says. "She's taught them that instead of grabbing something, they should calm down and ask the other children if they can play with them or if they can play with the toy after they're done. It's really worked. Now they wait for whatever they want or they offer to play with the other kids. At home they used to grab things, but now they ask permission."

Martin attributes the changes in Ryan and Michael to the daycare center. "I don't think we'd be as far as we are if it weren't for the Renaissance Children's Center," she says. "At home there's only so much you can do."

Now she's waiting for Demetrey's problems to subside. "I think he feels different than my other kids. He's the only one of my kids whose father is black. He's also the middle kid, age-wise. He's a big attention-seeker. With six kids, it's hard to give just one child attention, so he seeks that attention at school and daycare. If the teacher is giving another kid attention, he'll act up," Martin says.

She believes every child in daycare should have access to therapists. "I think that even if parents feel their child doesn't need it, it's good for them to have someone else to talk to. I know that if I ever have to pull my kids out of here, it's something I'll look for in another daycare."

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Julie Jargon
Contact: Julie Jargon