Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Season for Illness

It's hard when you have a kid who actually has a season for illness. I want to tell his teachers that Nick is a good and intelligent kid and to have patience with him. I want to tell them that Mike and I agonize over whether to send him to school in the condition that he's in. Well, Mike doesn't agonize. I'm the only one who does that. Mike is the picture of confidence when it comes to those decisions, but I'm the one who has to deal with the teachers' complaints. I'm the one who works with Nick to make up all that school work. I want to tell his teachers that I frequently feel cruel when we do send him to school because I know he feels like crap and will barely be able to learn.

I had assumed that they could tell when he was sick, but they can't. One of his teachers complained that he was listless and seemed to be disinterested lately. I must be dense because it just now hit me that what she's talking about are those days when we sent him to school anyway. On those days, we tell him to realize that he won't be doing his best work but to be gentle with himself and try to manage anyway. I had assumed that his teachers took one look at him and said to themselves, as I would, 'that boy should not be here at all, but he's trying.' Instead, they are impatient with him and complain to me whenever I ask how he's doing after he's been sick.

I want to scream at them that he's an honest and intelligent kid who simply has a weak immune system.

So far this year, he's missed thirteen days of school. It's more than last year when he got down to 11 days, but less that other years. His average is 15 days. His worst was 17 days. If I were to add up the days we sent him to school for which he was really too sick but we sent him anyway, it would probably add five or six more days to that total. It sucks.

It totally sucks. His grades have tanked yet again. He struggles to keep them up. The poor kid is so stressed, always having to make up all that work. They actually expect him to be able to work anyway when he's at home and sick. When Mike and I talk about sending him, our rule about keeping him home is that he's too sick to accomplish any significant work. So how the hell am I supposed to get him to work at home in those circumstances? I've tried. It doesn't work.

When did seventh grade get to be so important that his whole career would be impacted over something like this?

Oh hell, I've been getting complaints from his teachers about his attendance since he was four years old and got pneumonia for the first time. I do admit that we took him out of preschool for a week to go to Ireland when he was five. And there was one day in September in fifth grade when Mike and I let him go to the state fair with a friend. We told his teacher what we were doing and he said it was a great idea. By April, however, we realized that one day really did mean something to this teacher and the man wasn't so cheerful about any of it all through spring when the boy was actually sick. Even the woman who worked in the elementary school office nagged me to send him to school anyway.

I should have. I should have bagged up his nebulizer, the five different medications he was on, the meds schedule, the meds log, the oxygen sensor, and the peak-flow meter and left them at the office for her to manage.

The only thing that stopped me was that it would have been so incredibly cruel to Nick. And dangerous since they wouldn't have time to pay enough attention to his breathing.

Can you tell that I'm just a little angry about this?

I wish I were that dreamy kind of mom who managed to shield her child from these kinds of problems no matter what people are saying, the mom who stays confident that she knows what's right for her own child. When a teacher tells me something, I take it seriously. I know their jobs are to challenge their students.

But in moments of clarity, I just know that my boy is a good kid, doing the best he can. When he's struggling to even be at school and they continue to challenge him, when they're impatient with him, it's only succeeding in making him feel bad about himself and stressing him out more thoroughly. I wish he had even one teacher who could see that. 

Thank you for listening, jb

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