Hide And Seek
With her eyes wide and staring at the door, she tried to make herself as small as possible and prayed that he wouldn’t try to open it. She moved in front of her niece, who was crouched behind the toilet.
She tried to prepare herself for the inevitable. She knew it was only a matter of time before he found them. Then, she felt a reassuring shape pressing into her leg. She had totally forgotten about what she had stowed in her pocket.
Looking For A Solution
Yesenia Barragan and her daughter, Zoyee, live in California. Yesenia is as protective as any mother and seldom left 4-year-old Zoyee alone. However, as for any other working mom, this is not always possible.
When Yesenia was told that there was going to be a business meeting out of town and that she was expected to be there, her heart sank. Even worse, she couldn’t take Zoyee with. She needed a solution… and fast.
Between A Rock And A Hard Place
Yesenia weighed her options carefully. Juggling motherhood and a full-time job wasn’t easy at the best of times, but she had no choice.
But on top of all the leave she had already taken when Zoyee had been sick, she knew that if she didn’t go to this business meeting it wouldn’t look good for her – her job could be on the line. She was faced with a tough decision.
Calming Her Fears
Yesenia’s mom tried to calm her fears by assuring her that Savanna had looked after children before, but she just couldn’t shake the sinking feeling in her stomach.
Indeed, Yesenia knew Savanna well, after all, and she was her sister. But that did nothing to soothe her worries. What she didn’t know was that this simple decision would end up changing the lives of everyone involved.
Savanna Jones had been given a big responsibility, but she had never expected the unthinkable to happen. In her eyes, her older sister had given her a chance to prove that she was grown-up enough to babysit her 4-year-old niece, Zoyee.
But while they were in the family home, she found herself in a situation that few would be able to handle. Soon, she would be living a nightmare.
Marie pulled up to Yesenia’s home and dropped Savanna off, but as she pulled out the drive she had an uneasy feeling she couldn’t shake. There was a car with tinted windows parked on the opposite side of the road.
She knew the neighborhood well, but suddenly she couldn’t help but worry. Nevertheless, she ignored the little voice inside her head and tried to focus. It was probably just one of the neighbors, she thought to herself. But a mother’s instincts are rarely wrong.
Meanwhile, Yesenia busied herself by showing her little sister where everything was. She gave her a list of emergency numbers, then she kissed Zoyee goodbye.
But by the time her mom got that terrifying text message, everyone was already too far away to help. But it was too late to turn back now. What was done was done.
Yesenia left, but she was too distracted to notice the suspicious car. What was done was done. Safely inside, Savanna asked Zoyee to show her her toys, which she happily pulled out of the toybox in the lounge.
Then, the pair cuddled up on the sofa to watch a Disney movie. Surely nothing would happen in this quiet neighborhood, located in Montclair, California?
A Knock On The Door
It was around 3:30 PM. Savanna and Zoyee were singing along to “Frozen” when they heard a knock on the door. She turned the TV off and walked into the hallway to see who it was.
She didn’t expect Yesenia to come back for days, so who could be at the door? Was her sister expecting a delivery? But when she looked through the peephole, she knew something was very wrong.
There was a man at the door. He was wearing a hat and Savanna couldn’t make out his features clearly, but she instinctively knew that something just wasn’t right about him. Although she didn’t recognize him, he didn’t look like a salesman.
And he definitely wasn’t an official. So, what did he want? Savanna quietly crept away from the door, hoping that if she ignored him he’d go away. But she was so wrong.
The man continued to knock on the door for a few minutes, and then the knocks stopped. Savanna let out a sigh of relief, but it was short-lived. To her horror, the doorknob began to rattle.
Whoever the man was, he wanted to get in! Thankfully, the door was locked. Then, the knocking began again — this time the knocks were louder.
He Wanted To Get In
Savanna’s heart leaped into her throat. If the man wanted to get in, she knew he would. What could she do? They were trapped.
Any minute now, the man was going to burst through the door. She had to think fast. She grabbed Zoyee and sprinted down the hall, to the master bedroom. But would the girls be safe there?
Looking For A Safe Place
Savanna looked around, calculating. The bedroom had a door, but where was the key? She didn’t have time to find it. Panicked and terrified, she looked for a place to hide.
Then, she saw the master bathroom. Without another thought, she scooped up her niece and ran inside, slamming and locking the door behind her. Then, she heard a sound that made her blood run cold.
Keeping Her Cool
The man, emboldened, was not going to wait to be let in. Savanna heard the sickening sound of wood splintering as he broke down the front door.
She gathered her wits and told Zoyee that they were playing a game, but she couldn’t keep her voice from trembling. She whispered that Zoyee must be as quiet as she can. They couldn’t make a sound.
Savanna could hear the man inside the house now, stomping around. Then, she heard his heavy footsteps walking through the hallway and enter the master bedroom.
She told Zoyee to hide behind the toilet and she crouched in front of her, readying herself. She was going to make sure that nothing happened to her niece.
Crouching In Silence
As they crouched in silence, Savanna knew that it was only a matter of time before the man found them. What could she do? Her eyes stared at the bathroom door like a frightened animal.
She braced herself for the worst. But what was this? Just then, she became aware of something in her pocket, pressing into her thigh.
Something She’d Forgotten
Savanna slid her phone out of her pocket. How could she have forgotten that she had it? Now, she could get help! But would help come in time?
She frantically texted her mother with shaking fingers, but autocorrect made the first message unintelligible. After sending “I’m baby,” she tried again. “He is inside mom he’s gonna here me,” she wrote.
While she was waiting for her mom’s reply, she could hear the man walking around the house, opening doors and rifling through cupboards.
When Maria finally read her daughter’s message, a chill went down her spine. But she was too far away to do anything, and emergency services would take too long. But she knew she had to do something.
Meanwhile, the girls waited in silence. They could hear the man ransacking the house, but Savanna prayed that he wouldn’t try to get into the bathroom.
“I kept staring at the door and hoping he wouldn’t try to open it,” she said. Then, after what felt like hours, she got a text back from her mom.
Maria had called a neighbor, and it wasn’t long after that Savanna heard another man’s voice echoing through the house. Relief washed over her in waves as she heard the intruder, spooked, begin to scramble.
He sprinted down the hall and pushed past the neighbor before disappearing out of sight. Soon after, the police arrived on the scene.
Thankfully, the man had only ransacked two rooms in the house, and everyone was grateful that he hadn’t found the girls hiding in the bathroom.
Montclair police officers, including a K-9 officer, conducted an extensive search for the home invader. But, despite his scent being on just about everything, the man had escaped. Then, Maria and Savanna’s sister arrived on the scene.
Obviously, Savanna’s mom and sister were extremely proud of how she had taken control of the situation. “She was very smart and brave,” said her sister Yesenia Barragan.
“She did everything right.” But Savanna, understandably, has mixed feelings about the situation. Her main concern is that the man was never caught and is still out there.
Processing What Happened
Today, Savannah Jones is working with her family to process what happened that fateful day. She says that she is still experiencing a range of emotions.
“Relief, and then knowing that he’s still out there, I don’t know, scary,” she told a local news station. She described the intruder to the police and the investigation is still ongoing.
The police in the Montclair area are still looking for him though, and are confident he won’t go back to the Jones house anytime soon. Savannah’s story is a valuable lesson for any young babysitter who is left alone in a house.
Always keep your phone with you, never engage a home invader, and remain calm so that you can come up with the best way to keep you and your charges safe. Marie and Savanna’s quick-thinking saved the day. A protective mom is a formidable figure to cross. But what one mom did made headlines.
A seemingly insignificant incident at a Colorado school has ignited a powder keg of controversy and sparked a much-heated debate between teachers and parents.
When a young student came home complaining about being hungry, her mother questioned her. Was she still hungry after eating the lunch she had packed her? But this mom wasn’t prepared for the answers she got.
Coming Back Hungry
Leeza Pearson was going about her day as usual. But when her young daughter arrived home from school hungry, she knew there was something up. Leeza had sent little Natalee to school with her usual packed lunch.
And it had come back with her untouched. But when she looked inside Natalee’s lunchbox, she was taken aback to find an audacious note inside.
Strange Behavior For Colorado Residents
Leeza and her daughter live in Aurora, Colorado. The town is well- known for its residents, who display respect, acceptance, and generally treat each other well.
Naturally, Leeza was rather surprised that the staff at Aurora’s Children’s Academy would treat her and her daughter like this. No child or parent should have to endure this. They had gone too far.
A Bad Start To Natalee’s School Career
Of course, Leeza only wanted the best for little Natalee. She herself had grown up in a rather competitive society, so when she enrolled Natalee in Aurora’s Children’s Academy, she thought she would be giving her daughter the best start in life.
But the “dream school” was quickly becoming a nightmare. On the stressful morning in question, Leeza had taken Natalee’s lunch box and had done something that the school would see as unforgivable.
A Highly-Regarded School
The Aurora Children’s Academy and Childcare Center preschool can accommodate up to 150 students at any given time and is a very popular choice with the mothers in Aurora.
Community members held the school in high regard and trusted the staff there to help young learners prepare for elementary school – which is exactly what Leeza wanted for Natalee.
So Far, So Good
Everything was coming together for Leeza. She was close to completing her degree, and Natalee was adjusting well, making friends, and excelling at preschool.
It seemed as though things were finally looking up for the family. But little did Leeza know, she was about to be jolted out of her dream by a shameful and rude awakening.
The Day Everything Changed
Natalee had been attending the preschool for almost the entire school year, and Leeza was very happy with her daughter’s tuition thus far.
She had no grievances and was confident that she and her husband, Nate, had made the right choice by choosing Aurora Children’s Academy. But one fateful Friday, all hell broke loose.
A Busy Mom
Natalee said that she was always busy, as most mothers of young children are. And completing her degree, working in law enforcement, and taking care of Natalee was no easy feat.
She said that she was too busy on one particular day to realize that she had run out of fresh fruit and vegetables for her daughter’s packed lunch. But it was this small oversight that would ultimately become a much bigger issue.
It was on that fateful morning that Leeza had decided to include a little treat for her daughter, so she threw in a few Oreo cookies as a sweet surprise for Natalee.
She also packed a ham and cheese sandwich, as well as string cheese to balance her daughter’s meal. Normally, she would include a piece of fresh fruit, but she hadn’t had any in the fridge on that particular day.
Not Too Bad, Right?
If you consider how sugar-filled Oreo cookies are, it’s no surprise that they are one of the unhealthiest cookies on the market today.
Not Too Bad, Right?Sweets such as these are notorious for causing diseases such as diabetes, which can also lead to heart disease. The school officials call lunches that include sugary treats “poor.” Should a little girl be eating them? And was the school’s concern warranted?
Arriving Home Hungry
That Friday, Natalee arrived home from preschool with a sad expression on her face. Leeza asked what the matter was, and Natalee said that she was hungry.
That’s when Leeza looked in her daughter’s full lunchbox and saw the note on top of the offending cookies, which were uneaten. But when Leeza read the note, she became furious.
An Insulting Letter
Leeza knew she needed to share the note with everybody and shame the school for their behavior. The note read: “Dear Parents, it is very important that all students have a nutritious lunch.”
“This is a public school setting, and all children are required to have a fruit, a vegetable, and a healthy snack from home, along with a milk. If they have potatoes, the child will also need bread to go along with it.”
Sharing Her Anger Online
Leeza was absolutely furious. How dare the school dictate what her daughter could eat and what she couldn’t? But that wasn’t all, there was more.
The note also stated that “Lunchables, chips, fruit snacks and peanut butter are not considered to be a healthy snack.” She was so incensed that she decided to share her outrage online.
Causing A Stir
When she posted the note and her summary of the day on social media, Leeza was quickly met with support from other parents and general outrage about the situation.
“I just got a bunch of outrage from friends I hadn’t heard from in years,” Leeza said later, noting that one of her friends summed up the incident as “ridiculous.”
The Era Of Obesity
From the school’s point of view, they were saving Natalee. We need to consider that the past twenty years has seen a huge rise in obese children.
Whereas thirty and forty years ago, a larger person would have stood out and would have been acknowledged, today obesity is the norm and is being treated as such. The folks at Aurora’s Children’s Academy probably just wanted to set Natalee on the right track.
Emphasis On Healthy Foods
The Children’s Academy was just keeping a watchful eye out. It’s no secret that there’s an obesity and health problem in America, and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act came about to encourage healthier lunches for kids in schools.
They are not going to allow their students to eat “poor lunch.” Seeing Natalee open a pail full of carbs and sweets and zero veggies must have set off a lot of alarms among the staff.
Educating The Masses On Health
We must keep in mind that the Children’s Academy is a place where toddlers aim to higher their education. They can’t do that with a pail full of Oreos. Studies have shown that healthy food does help children learn more efficiently.
“Students who eat regular, healthy meals are less likely to be tired, are more attentive in class and retain more information,” said NYU Associate Professor of Economics and Education Policy Sean Patrick Corcoran. Natalee definitely wasn’t eating healthily.
What No Parent Wants To Hear
No parent wants to be made an example of and no one wants to be accused of poisoning their child with bad food. The school basically went out of their way.
They wanted to make Leeza feel like a bad mother. One can’t deny that she’d probably spend nights tossing and turning in bed whilst questioning her own parenting methods.
Leeza Felt “Shamed”
Leeza would later tell the media that her biggest problem with the issue was not that the school wanted students to eat healthy foods. It was that the school “took it over the top.”
She said she felt “shamed” and that it was wrong for the school to say what her daughter could or couldn’t eat.
Overstepping Their Boundaries
Leeza believed that by telling Natalee what she could and couldn’t eat out of her lunch, the school had overstepped its boundaries. She wrote a furious post on Facebook to vent her anger.
“What the school thinks is healthy for her is not what I think is healthy for her,” she said. “She needs to eat what she’s going to eat. That’s between me and her and our doctor – not the school.”
Natalee Showed No Signs Of Obesity
It would be one thing if Leeza’s daughter was 100 pounds and waddling through the class hallways — then the school may have been justified.
By all means, at that point show some concern, but she was otherwise a thin and active little girl. This made the accusations all the worse.
Defending Her Decision
Leeza said she was particularly unable to understand the school’s response considering that her daughter is healthy and not overweight.
“It’s not like I was offering cookies to the entire class, and it’s not like that was the only thing in her lunch,” Leeza said.
Were They Hypocrites?
To add fuel to the fire, Leeza alleges that the school once offered her daughter treats, making their actions hypocritical.
“They say I can’t decide what to feed her but then they sometimes feed her junk food,” Leeza said during an interview with ABC News.
Standing Up For Her Rights
After the controversy that ensued, Leeza defended her decision to include Oreo cookies in her daughter’s lunch.
“We’re not the parents that send junk food every day,” she said later in an interview. “She has a full, healthy lunch. And this was Friday! Why not give her a special treat?”
School’s Bad Reputation
The accusation is a bit strange, especially seeing as schools aren’t exactly sporting reputations that associate them with healthy food. The meals that kids usually get in school cafeterias are usually full of mystery.
The meats will taste rubbery and everything else will commonly share a disgusting texture. Also, candy is too commonly handed out in class.
Against School Policy
At the time, Brenda Dean worked as the Children’s Academy’s director.
She said to the media that she was looking into the note, but that the note was not in accordance with school policy and should not have been sent home to a parent in such a manner.
If you are picturing this little girl getting her lunch ripped from her grasp and tossed in the trash, you might be getting this story all wrong.
Nobody exactly took the girl’s lunch and left to starve for the rest of the school. As the plot thickened, the whole truth came out.
The Plot Thickens
Aurora Public Schools Chief Communications Officer Patti Moon said that although the school did prefer to keep parents informed about healthy choices, such actions should not be “punitive.”
She did, however, say that Natalee had been given the choice to have another snack and therefore did not have to go home hungry.
That means that Natalee took a stubborn stance and refused to eat the meal that was further provided for her.
That said, amid over a hundred children eating she sat there and wouldn’t eat anything. She decided that going through the day hungry was better than giving them the satisfaction.
Where Do Schools Stand?
When it comes to the feud between Leeza and the preschool that her daughter attended, it seems the drama was dropped when Natalee started elementary school.
But, one has to wonder. What did schools and parents learn from this situation? And what are they doing to fix the problem?
In the end, the public school system certainly reevaluated its stance and definitely won’t be sending any more notes home to parents.
Meanwhile, Natalee moved on to elementary school and hasn’t had any other issues. However, the situation definitely shined a light on what role, if any, public schools should have in what kids can and can’t eat for lunch.