Sante Cookies and…Red Flags

Archie started pre-school two days a week just before his third birthday.  As I was working part-time I needed another day of care for him so decided to try Occasional Care.  I found a centre in my neighbourhood and went there for a look-see.  As I walked in it was as if I was invisible and I stood there unnoticed.  That was my first red flag.

I approached the huddle of staff and waited for them to break up their conversation.  This took a few awkward minutes and then one of them said in an unfriendly tone, ‘Yes?’  That was my second red flag.

I said, ‘I’m wondering what the process is of booking my son into occasional care one day a week.’  A woman took me through the ins and outs of it all and then when she went to take my booking said, ‘It’s $5.50 an hour or $4.50 if you agree to help here on one of the days he’s here’.  I told the woman I’d be happy to pay the extra and not participate in helping.  From the scowl on her face I don’t think she liked that.  Third red flag.

Sante Cookies

The following Monday I dropped Archie at the centre.  Again, no one seemed to notice me or Archie.  Fourth red flag.

I hung his bag on a little hook and tried to hand him over to one of the staff and then left.  I went back in the afternoon.  None of the staff spoke to me.  I collected Archie and in the car on the way home he said, ‘I don’t want to go to the centre.  They put me in a cot.’   The next week I took him back and asked if he had to sleep in a cot.  The woman said, ‘Yes, all children have a sleep’.  I said, ‘But he hasn’t had daytime sleeps for a long time.’  And she cut me off and said, ‘All children here go to bed straight after lunch.  If they don’t sleep, they rest on their beds.’

‘Does he sleep in a cot?’


‘Oh, he doesn’t like that, at home he sleeps in a bed.’

‘Until he turns three he’ll be in a cot, then he can be moved into the other room where he’ll sleep on one of the beds.’

‘Well he’ll be three next week.’

‘Then next week he’ll sleep in a bed, today he’ll sleep in a cot.’  Fifth red flag.

So I left him at the centre with the disagreeable woman.

In the car on the way home that day Archie said, ‘I don’t want to go to the centre, they make me sit on a rock.’  Once home I phoned the centre and asked if there is a rock children have to sit on.  I was told Archie was in the sandpit and had been throwing sand so as a punishment he had to sit on a rock and not play with the others.  I told her I wanted to take the cheaper rate and help out one day a week.

The next week when I dropped him off he started crying.  All the staff ignored him.  Sixth red flag.

I calmed him down and left but as I drove off I noticed he ran outside and stood at the cyclone wire fence in the pouring rain, rattling the fence to try and get out.  Not good.

When I returned that afternoon I was told off for leaving while my child was distressed and that before I left that morning I should have handed Archie to one of the woman for consoling.  (Had they broken up from their huddle and paid attention to the arriving children that would have been possible).  Seventh red flag.

Cookie TimeThe next week I was there, on duty to see what went on.  There were four employed workers and me the ‘volunteer’.  The first thing they asked me to do was clean the kitchen and that included washing all their tea and coffee cups and wiping all the benches.  This was while they stood in their huddle drinking more coffee.  Next it was time to pack away the craft so I was told to clear all the tables, wash up the paint brushes and rinse the brushes that had been in the glue pots.  Then wipe the glue and paint off the tables and set up for morning tea.  After morning tea I had to wash all the plastic cups, dry them and put them away and again, wipe down the tables.  No one talked to me apart from giving me my next orders.  While the children were having lunch I was asked to set up all the beds.  When the children were in their beds I had to wash up the lunch dishes, wipe down the benches and tables, stack the chairs, stack the tables and sweep the floors.  I didn’t see any of the staff do much at all except drink coffee and gossip in a huddle.

By the end of the day I was exhausted and seething.  I collected Archie and no one said goodbye to me or thanked me for doing the work of five all on my own.  Eighth red flag.

In the car on the way home Archie said,  ‘I don’t like the centre.  I like pre-school’.  I said, ‘You don’t have to go their again Archie, it’s not a good place.’

And to this day Archie says, ‘Remember that place where you made me go and they made me sit on that rock?’

Happier parenting experiences were making these Sante Biscuits (cookies) that my mother used to make me.  The recipe is from the Edmonds Cookbook.

Cookie Time

Sante Biscuits

Makes:  30

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  This recipe uses basic pantry items.  I only had to purchase a tin of condensed milk.

  • 125g (4 oz) butter
  • 50g (2 0z) sugar
  • 1 tbspn sweetened condensed milk (I added a bit extra)
  • Few drops vanilla essence
  • 175g (6 0z) flour
  • 1 tspn Edmonds Baking Powder
  • 50g (2 0z) dark chocolate (there’s every chance I added a lot extra)

Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F.

Cream butter, sugar and condensed milk.  Add essence.  Add dry ingredients and chopped chocolate.  Roll into small balls.  Place on greased trays.  (I used trays covered in baking paper).  Flatten with a fork.

Bake for 20 mins.

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  1. WHAT a dreadful place. I am so glad you had the presence of mind to go and work there for a day and see for yourself how horrible it was..poor kids that have no option! Good for you! These biscuits look as though they could make anything better xx

  2. I promised myself not to read any blogs while I’m in my exams but then you post this on facebook and I can’t help it!!! How great that you got him out of there soon!!!

  3. Oh. Those biscuits are a FAVOURITE. Yum

  4. Magnolia Verandah says:

    A red flag has gone up – if I make these biscuits I will definitely eat too many, especially as it makes 30! Some child care place are just awful!

  5. Now that’s a lot of red flags.

  6. Poor Archie!  My only outburst was from Al’s 1st grade teacher who insisted the state that Boston lives is in called Massatoochetts.  I told her no, that was incorrect.  She screamed at me.  I went to the principal who said, “do you know how difficult it is to get teachers?”  Because they paid them nothing they hired stupid people.  I moved schools that day.

    Love the cookies (biscuits) they look yum.

    Charlie, I was nominated for a storytelling award at and I had to choose 5 people I thought deserved it more than I did.  (Not sure that’s the way she said it but it’s true.)

    I LOVE your stories.  I know you’ve probably been nominated 50 times but I wanted you to know how I felt.

    Check it out here (and see what I said about you) and if you choose to accept, just follow the instructions at the bottom of the post. 

  7. argh..  it’s here  I shouldn’t work past 11pm  🙂

  8. A child care center like this has no business being in business. 

  9. I want those cookies.  I really want those cookies.

  10. That sure is a lot of red flags! Good thing you got him outta there. But onto the recipe… I don’t know what I want more, those delicious looking little cookies or the big chunks of chocolate next to them!

  11. Jenny @ BAKE says:

    That sounds like such an awful place! it must have been heart breaking for you to have to leave him there! I’m sure you both felt better after a few of those biscuits though!

  12. the only cin says:

    They sound really mean, In spite, you ought to have given every kiddie one of those biscuits just before nap time ;p

  13. Those red flags are important to us as mothers–good thing you got him out of there.  Great looking cookies.  I feel inspired.

  14. Love that Archie still brings that up. What a terrible sounding place.

  15. How grim, how horrible. Good thing you were there to see what was happening.

  16. Hi,
    What a terrible place, it certainly sounds like they didn’t care about anything except themselves. It is an experience I don’t think Archie will ever forget, and the way they treated you as well. Makes you wonder who actually did do any work when there were no volunteers, or was it all just left.

  17. A_boleyn says:

    Certainly sounds like a miserable experience for poor Archie. What a selfish, self-centered bunch of employees.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks for your sympathy. I’ve lost the URL to your blog! Are you able to let me know what it is?

  18. Choc Chip Uru says:

    Good on you for keeping a vigilant eye – how horrible for Archie!
    On another note, a happier note, gorgeous biscuits 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  19. lisaiscooking says:

    What a place! Amazing that the employees got away with behaving like that. The cookies do look like a much happier parenting experience! 

  20. Wow there are some awful people out there. I don’t know how places like that can run!

    My friend just gave me a copy of Edmond’s but I haven’t tried these out yet. They look delicious! 

  21. I’m glad you pulled him out so quickly, Charlie, you’re a good mum.  A lot of people are so busy working that they don’t notice their kids are in dubious care. One of our extended family members (who will not be named) finally fired their nanny when they found out she was moonlighting as a prostitute and she spent all day on the phone making bookings for the evenings!

  22. Mary @ says:

    That seals it – I’m baking cookies today! 🙂

  23. Oh dear, the challenges of parenting – I imagine it was as traumatic for you as Archie. He’s probably glad to have something to dredge up when he wants to allocate blame your direction (it’s all because you made me go to the place where I sat on the rock!). These cookies should have helped soothe things afterwards – condensed milk + dark chocolate is a combination that can’t go wrong 🙂

  24. InTolerant Chef says:

    Poor old Archie! I’m glad you made the effort to check the place out instead of doing the dump-and-run every day.
    I’m sure these biscuits would be a much more positive experience for children than that ratty centre! 🙂

  25. Mandy - The Complete Cook Book says:

    Not sure I would have managed to get to so many red flags – well not before wanting to wallop one of them huddling woman!
    I could go a couple of those cookies with a cup of tea.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  26. What a horrible place and sadly not unique to Australia; I’m glad you took Archie out of it.
    This recipe is not one I could make. A can of sweetened condensed milk (less a tablespoon or two) sitting there with no other purpose? Well that just would not be good for me. Not good at all. Now all I can think about is its golden luscious sweetness. Hmmmm.
    We’re in NYC for the next few days, so please excuse me if I fail to comment.

  27. If you bring these cookies every day, Archie will be FREE!!

  28. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    What a nightmare and it seems from the very beginning too!  🙁 

  29. Your cookies look delicious! 

    Isn’t it amazing what they remember and how it sticks in their heads forever!? I had a similar situation myself as a child (what, 32 years ago or something) that I remember vividly. Then my son had a somewhat psychotic 1st grade teacher that we had to deal with. That has gotten somewhat cloudy in his mind over the years but he still remembers.

    Seriously, once you really stop and look around at the people who teach your children, it can be frightening! I’m glad Brandon is 20 now and I don’t have to worry about crazy teachers! 

  30. Oh yes, I remember that horrible leaving them moment and then finding they were miserable.  Thank goodness I’m so over that stage.  The cookies look great.  I love hearing your family stories. Thanks.  GG

  31. FiSh SzeHui says:

    dark chocolate is so good for the cookies 🙂 love the bittersweet taste in it


  32. am STARVING by looking at your wonderful photos.. 

  33. What an incredulous story! I’m so glad you got him out of there.

  34. Oh gosh, this is what I’m afraid of.. You just don’t know what goes on in a day care center.. Me and my husband have been talking about getting a babysitter or finding a day care for Leila(just part time, couple times a week), but we have been reluctant…
    You wish you could be with your child all the time, but it doesn’t work like that for many mothers. Besides, as much as I love being with my daughter, I do need breaks whether that’s work/school!

    The cookies look very tasty!

  35. It’s interesting that they all thought it was OK to exploit you in that way. Were they all volunteers too or paid staff? Either way it was a disgrace. Whether it is small children, or disabled adults or elderly folk there is always so much anxiety involved in leaving our loved ones in the care of others. I felt very sad reading your piece and it brought back memories of my nursery school where the owner, who was very nice, had a son who used to like to tease me. He came home from school for lunch and he used to tell me he was going to put me in the oven and have me for his lunch. Scary boy !

  36. That sounds terrible, poor Archie 🙁 Hope you found somewhere better to take him. The cookie’s look delicious, though 🙂

  37. No wonder you made a decision not to take Archie back .
    The cookies , lalalla what cookies ?
    (well when I bake them and the shed smells of warm cookies and there are none to be found)

  38. OMG Poor Archie 🙁 That seems like a horrible place thank gosh you got Archie outta there! These cookies sounds so lovely! I think i’m gonna make them tomorrow 😀 Thanks for sharing Charlie!

  39. Wow, stellar child-care establishment there! Who the hell makes a child sit on a rock? It’s like a place I heard about here which was telling my colleague that she should be spanking her child more because she was too naughty! :p

    Great looking cookies though 🙂

  40. Isn’t it wonderful when our children remind us of those things we’d really rather forget! Red flags were probably waving at other parents, too, but they weren’t paying attention…or ignored them. Otherwise this couldn’t have gone on! I hope you gave Archie lots of cookies to compensate for rock sitting! What a choice of deterrents! I like the sound of these cookies, though! Yum! Debra

  41. Oh you have the patience of a saint – I think I would have exploded! Poor Archie and POOR YOU! Its hard enough leaving your child at a day care let alone one that doesnt know he exists xxx

  42. I’m glad I’m not alone here. You make me feel better. I also give people the benefit of the doubt and I don’t read the flags that I know are waving

  43. Lauren aroundtheworldin80bakes says:

    glad you got you and archie out of there. it doesn’t sound like a fun place to stay. great cookies!!


  1. […] then I remembered Sante Cookies and how they don’t require much chocolate at all.  I grew up with Sante biscuits because my […]

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