Many daycares have fees depending on how tardy a parent is picking up their child or how late they are with payment. But some parents find paying any amount extra to be financially burdensome.
For one parent, that was the case, but she has regretted not paying it immediately ever since.
A mom explains why she deeply regrets arguing about her daycare’s late fee.
Typically, Dani Morin posts parenting and child advice to the video-sharing app TikTok. However, recently she shared a nightmarish story of when she lost a child. In 2016, Dani Morin had an 18-month-old son that died in the hands of a daycare in Fontana, California.
“He was strangled by a Baltic amber teething necklace at a childcare [that] was watching 20 kids more than they were supposed to,” Morin shared.
Sagan Marriott and Rebecca Lutz were running the daycare when the nightmare happened. Morin’s son Deacon was found unresponsive and not breathing after the necklace strangled him during a nap.
Instead of immediately calling 911, they phoned their boss, Deborah Jimenez. It was only after Jimenez arrived that they finally called the authorities. The hospital took Deacon off life support a few days later.
All three were arrested on suspicion of child endangerment.
“[They] did not attempt CPR because they were trying to hide their negligence,” Morin said.
Morin was “triggered” after encountering a TikTok about a school charging a late fee for parents picking up their children.
“Prior to my son dying, he was at two other home daycares,” Morin said. “One of them ended up moving, so we had to find somebody else, and she was phenomenal.”
The daycare provider only cared for four children. So, for many parents, their child receiving that much attention is ideal.
“All eyes were on my son,” Morin said. “She was constantly doing crafts with them, sending me photos. I mean, it was just like a dream situation.”
Morin paid her every Friday, which coincided with getting her weekly salary on the same day. One holiday week, the daycare provider took Thursday and Friday off, and Morin went out of town. So, Morin opted to pay her on Monday.
However, the daycare provider demanded $25 more.
“I go to pay her, and she’s like, ‘You owe me a late fee,’” Morin said. Morin fired back and texted her, “I feel like this is petty.”
She pled ignorance of the daycare's late fee policy. Even though $25 may not seem like much to some people, Morin shared that that was significant to her at that time. She called her mother, who took the daycare provider's side. She told Morin to go and apologize, saying, “she’s the best we’ve ever had.”
Unfortunately, her apology was too late. The daycare provider followed up, saying she would no longer care for Deacon. Morin is filled with regret for arguing against that policy.
“Had I just sucked it up and not said anything because those are in fact her rules, he probably would have never gone to that other daycare,” Morin said. “And it’s something that I think about all the time.”
Commenters urged Morin not to harbor any guilt about her son's death. Morin appeared to recognize this advice, replying to several comments saying she agrees that she must “let it go.” But the painful process of moving on after losing a child can be complicated and difficult to navigate.
In 2022, writer and mom Kathleen Sullivan told us that living with permanent guilt was one of 10 ways her child's death had altered her as a person.
"With time, I have learned to be gentler with myself. What happened to Liam wasn't my fault. However, I'm his mom. If given a chance, any parent would switch places with a sick child. Sometimes I wonder why it wasn't me instead. I also feel as if I let my baby down," Sullivan explained.
Self-forgiveness is vital to living with the pain of child loss. Parents will never stop missing their deceased child, nor will they ever stop wishing things were different but holding yourself accountable will only make life more painful and will prevent parents from honoring their child's life.
Ethan Cotler is a writer living in Boston. He writes on entertainment and news.