by: Emma Aguirre

I am writing tonight with a really heavy heart. I just saw on the news that the owner of the daycare that caught fire last week, killing four children, has apparently fled to Nigeria. I’m so angry. There’s a laundry list of obvious reasons. For one, reports have emerged of surveillance camera footage showing Jessica Tata at a Target store, allegedly leaving seven toddlers alone in her home.


I’m mostly angry because this woman was somehow able to be licensed to operate a daycare facility. Were there no clues? Was she even properly licensed? Who is this person?  I’m not a fan of daycares, but I do understand that they serve a purpose and I realize they are a necessity for most. I have plenty of friends who use them because they need to work.  But this tragedy makes me curious about daycare regulation, specifically in home daycare regulation. What are the fire safety requirements? Should the kitchen, bathrooms be blocked off? What about simple things – as parents baby proof their own homes, what do in home daycares have to do to prevent toddlers from getting into cupboards etc.? The entire thing infuriates me and I hope this does not just fall through the cracks. This woman needs to be caught and brought back to face Houstonians and parents alike.


Tragedies like this solidify my decision to be a stay home mom. Days like today make me happy I chose to be a stay home mom too. My daughter has a cold. I noticed a pretty chesty cough Friday morning but it passed. Saturday she was more fussy and the cough did not pass so easily, and by Sunday she had a runny nose in addition. Saturday, I spoke to the pharmacist at Target who by chance has a three month old at home with a cough too. She recommended a humidifier and the saline drops, so I picked those up. Sunday I called the nurse line at the doctor’s office and they suggested a quarter of a teaspoon of Triaminic every four to six hours, which we did. We also elevated her by adding the wedge pillow we had from when she was a newborn (we used it because she would spit up a lot and I was paranoid she would spit up in her sleep and choke). But by this morning, I just needed reassurance that it wasn’t something more serious, so off to the pediatrician we went.


The first thing the doctor did was rule out an ear infection. She’s had no fever, and is eating and pooping as normal, which is a good sign. We got prescription drops and she advised we get all the things I had just purchased. She also said the bulb would be our saving grace and so would the saline drops, adding that there’s no telling how long an infant’s cold will last. Typically they last two to three times longer than an adult cold. She said I could keep up the fruit I’m giving her (she’s had banana and peaches so far!), but it’s most important that she stays hydrated and finishes her bottles.  The doctor also recommended taking a shower with her and allowing the steam to loosen up the cough a little, so I tried that this evening. She was a little unsure of the shower at first and looked to me for reassurance but she was smiling by the end. I stepped out and let the bathroom get really steamy. I think it helped as afterwards she coughed more than she had all day. Fresh air will also do her good, the doctor said, but to avoid really crowded places. Thank goodness the weather is cooperating, as we should be able to get some walks in at least. I was looking forward to taking her to the Kids Zone at the Houston Rodeo & Livestock show this weekend, but I think we’ll have to skip it (they have a whole kid-friendly section including a butterfly exhibit, which I thought she would love!).


While I can’t help but feel the dreaded mom guilt about what I may have exposed her to, I’m her primary caregiver and she needs me now. Daycare is a really personal decision that many parents have to make, and I am grateful everyday that we didn’t have to. I don’t even know how it would have worked with my former office had I been working in fact…would I have had to take a personal day? A sick day? Do they make allowances for sick kids? My heart just breaks for the parents whose children perished in that fire. I will hug my daughter just a little tighter tonight.