I’m having a fit. All over anyone who will listen. A HUGE fit. I’ve ranted about school attendance policies before, but I’m in the middle of another situation with this topic.
Alex is sick. She got sick over the “fall break” from school. She got worse over the weekend and, against my better judgment, I sent her to school on Monday. I did it because the new attendance policy sucks. Despite the fact that she was snotty and coughing and droopy, I sent her. I knew better. And it was socially irresponsible of me to expose others to the germs and I regret it. But, there was a part of me that was waiting for them to call me to tell me to come and pick her up because she was sick — just so I could ask… “Since you called ME.. is this an “excused” absence?”
It really is about the money from the school’s perspective, else they wouldn’t have “free days” so often and “movies” during library class, and no homework assignments on the days before weekends and often-times very few classes and no homework the days before and after big breaks (like Fall Break, Spring Break, Christmas Holiday, etc, etc…) If it were about educating the children, that would be the focus. That would be how the majority of the time in school was spent.
They are so worried about the “per head” money they get for each child, I figured having a contagious child would make them call me. After all, in the long term, more germs = more illness = fewer kids in school.
But that assumed they could see past the end of their collective noses, and was a flawed assumption. They didn’t call. Alex told me that she was sick all day and that she put her head down on her desk and that someone at school (an adult) had given her candy to help with her cough. But there was no call…
That alone tells me that the school and its officials aren’t competent to make determinations on my child. Of course, my guilt quotient shot up like a rocket. I’m a bad mom. I should never have sent that child to school. Monday afternoon, when Alex got home, she looked pale and asked me if she could go to bed. She didn’t want to eat.
MY daughter (aka “the tapeworm”) didn’t feel like EATING!! I shrunk in my own estimation of myself as a parent. I regretted sending the child to school even more. “I knew better” I chanted to myself under my breath. I knew that what she needed most was soup and juice and rest.
Tuesday, she was worse, now she was a little feverish with a stomach ache and a headache to go with her other symptoms, so I kept her home. Attendance policy be damned. Being a parent kicked in beyond my desire to take on this lousy system that doesn’t work. And I became indignant that the “system” was now hell-bent to tell me how to parent my child through an attendance policy. At what point, exactly, did the government become so good at what they do that they now have the God-given right to take over MY responsibilities and rights as a parent to raise my own child the way I know is best? The same government that can’t balance its own budget or even CREATE a “party line” — much less stick to one? (The “best legislature money can buy” strikes again.)
Wednesday she was worse still, and it had gone on long enough, so I took her to the doctor. I’m not a parent that runs a child into the doctor when a child sneezes. I know that rest and fluids will cure 80% of what ails a school-age child — and anyone else, for that matter. It’s not like I’m new at the whole parenting thing. I’ve been doing it awhile with no small degree of success.
Thusfar, all my charges have survived. And, I don’t support the healthcare industry or the pharmacies by dosing my kids with a plethora of drugs to mask symptoms and deny their immune systems from growing up strong and self-sufficient. I don’t believe in even Tylenol unless the temperature is over 102 and cool compresses and a lukewarm shower have failed to bring results. I only medicate after arguing with my doctor about the need for said medication — and discussing the counter-indications with a pharmacist — and looking up the drugs themselves online. Yeah, paranoia… whatever. My kids are (mostly) healthy and happy. I win.
And that’s what parents are SUPPOSED to do. We are supposed to take the advice of the professionals we hire to give us their opinion (like Doctors) and weigh that advice against all the potential problems with that advice — then come up with what we need to do based on that information, gathering of other information and an innate knowledge of our own individual child.
So, at what point did it become up to the DOCTOR to say when our children are too sick to go to school — in essence bypassing our own ability to discern such things and our own ability to use common sense when parenting and educating our children? When? I want to know! And at what point am I required to travel nearly two hours EACH WAY to my doctor’s office for a note to excuse my child “officially” so she can stay at home in bed when she’s sick? I object!
But, I took Alex to the doctor on Wednesday because the rest and fluids thing hadn’t improved her condition. We were in 20% territory and she still hadn’t regained her appetite. On the way to the doctor’s office, she started itching. Huge splotches of whelps broke out all over her thighs, backside and stomach. I’d never seen anything like it.
The doctor said she had a low grade temperature (100 degrees — which I already knew). They swabbed her for strep and listened to her lungs and my recitation of her list of symptoms/ailments. The doctor recommended not one, not two, but THREE medications for her. One was the new form of “super-antibiotic” that only requires three doses. He said she had some rattling in her lungs. I don’t play around with potential pneumonia — had a bout of that once when Nicholas was little and he really scared me. So I was ok with that medicine.
The second one was for her hives. He said it was probably a viral thing, like the other symptoms. The third medication was an inhaler. This was to help with her constant cough and make sure she could breathe ok. I argued that one a bit, and he said yes, that she really needed it.
I asked him if he thought she would be well enough to go back to school on Thursday. He said maybe, that sometimes kids turn the corner quickly, but maybe not. I asked for a school excuse for Tuesday, when I’d kept her home sick, for the current day, and for Thursday — in case I needed to keep her home an extra day. He said no. He said that he would only give me an excuse for the day I was actually in the office, that was their policy.
I told him that before last year, I refused to “turn in” doctor notes at all, because it was not the school’s business if I had to take the kids to the doctor, and that I was their parent and I made the decision whether or not they were too sick to attend school. This began a conversation about the politics of doctor notes. I expressed my opinions and was rather frank about how I felt about the recent federal changes in the attendance policy at school and how I felt about government regulated interference in my ability and my rights to parent my child in general.
He’s currently involved in the local schools (not my own school system, however) and said he understood my position, but that many people would sit where I was sitting in his office and ask for excuses because they had overslept. I told him that I knew who paid for the doctor bills for those parents too — I do. He just raised one eyebrow and nodded once and we dropped that tangent.
He said that there were four parent excuses per semester to use. I told him that I’d been told there were THREE per year. He said that was not the case in his district, although it may be different in mine. I told him that my own district didn’t know between schools (elementary and high) what the attendance policy was and that I’d already talked the representatives of the board of education on that issue.
I told him that I really didn’t care what other people did, or how they chose to raise their own children — I felt sorry for the children, but I felt that every parent had a right to raise their child the way they see fit without enduring constant governmental interference.
He defended his stance, I defended mine and we eventually agreed to disagree. He saw my point, but had seen so much of the other side that he couldn’t join my stance. So that’s how we left it and I took my ailing child to get the Rx filled.
I talked to the pharmacist after the scripts were filled. The antibiotic was necessary. The stuff for the hives was basically high-strength benadryl — and he said that benadryl would probably have worked just as well. But, the script was already filled and paid for. (I regretted that I’d not insisted on speaking with him PRIOR to the techs filling the scripts.) The inhaler was probably not going to be necessary unless there were breathing difficulties. He showed me (and Alex) how to use the inhaler, just in case.
We did use the inhaler once, when she was coughing so much she couldn’t really catch her breath. It didn’t help. We haven’t used it again. When we got home, and I gave her the first of the three-dose antibiotic, she threw up immediately. I called the doctor’s office and asked if I should give her a second dose, or if I should just wait until morning and try again. I was told to wait until in the morning and then call back.
This morning, I kept her home from school — she’d not had any medicine that stayed down and she still looked and sounded and felt horrible. Around 7:30 a.m., she broke out in hives all over again. I hadn’t used any of the medicine for that because they had gone away on their own last night. But, I did give her a dose this morning. It didn’t seem to help. They did fade some this afternoon, and I fussed and told her not to scratch – because it makes them worse.
I called the doctor’s office to inquire about the anti-biotic again. I was told they would have to check and would call me back. They called in a single dose (pill this time) to a local pharmacy to replace the one that she threw up. She kept this morning’s dose down, so that’s all good.
I called the gentleman at the school (the one I talked with a few weeks back, who probably regrets telling me to call back if I had any more questions about the attendance policy). I told him my situation, and asked if the single doctor’s note would suffice for the several days of illness. He said no, that they would need a note for each day. I told him what my doctor had said when I requested the notes and I told him I was NOT going to make that trip back for each day of illness — I may have added that THAT was crazy.
He recommended that I get a more competent doctor. He recommended that I find one locally that better understood the situation. When I questioned the particulars of the attendance policy, he suggested I read the handbook. I assured him that I had read the handbook and that I had also marked the inconsistencies, the blatant internal contradictions and even spelling and grammar errors therein. I suggested he read this year’s handbook.
We talked a bit longer, during which time he also reminded me that I had the option to home school Alex if I were so terribly disenchanted. I told him that I was well aware of that option, having done so for the boys for over a year and a half. But, I explained, I worked about 18 hours a day and needed to keep my job. And, I told him that although I could probably re-arrange my own schedule to do home schooling, that there were plenty of two-parent families out there that were both working, making minimum wage who could NOT afford to home school and could not afford the time required to object to a bad system and that if people like ME, who could, didn’t try to make the necessary changed in a bad system, who would?
We talked for some time about my concerns. He was extremely tolerant. He even wished me a good day when we were ending the conversation (and I think it was a genuine wish).
I called my doctor back. I talked with the nurse. She agreed to send me a note (by fax) for today — since Alex was out of school and hadn’t been able to hold down her meds. I asked about tomorrow and she said “Send her to school tomorrow.” She said that regardless of the cough, hives, headache, stomachache — that unless her fever was over 100 — I was to send her. I like this nurse. I like my doctor. Heck, I even like the guy at the school that took the time out of his day — twice now — to answer my questions and listen to my objections.
What I don’t like is being told how to parent.
And, most of all, I don’t like what’s happening to our entire country. If this government keeps sticking its nose in where it’s obviously going to fail — like parenting and dictating social policy and morals — we are all doomed.
My registered voting status aside, I’m not a happy “standard party” voter. I’m decidedly unhappy. I want a new party. I want a government that is dedicated to SERVING the voters, not imprisoning them.
Yeah, all it takes is a sick child to push my “rant” button — but this particular rant on government’s role in the individual’s life is never very far from the surface… and it’s coming up for air alot more lately.