Everything about school feels new to me. Let’s face it — it’s been over 30 (ahem) years since I was a wee one and I certainly don’t recall the policies and procedures of primary school, much less pre-K. (Was there even such a thing as policies and procedures back then? I think whatever adults said was simply “The Law”). I defer to my friends who have been here before me, especially the other moms at my son’s school who have an older child and have been navigating within the system for a few years now because, let’s be honest, I’m clueless.
I’m not sure what got to me last week. Pregnancy hormones? My natural distaste for bureaucratic BS? Or maybe it was in fact the nonsensical school policies that drove me over the edge. All I know is I lost my shit at an administrator last week. You see, we received our third phone call from the school nurse in two weeks. Actually, our 3rd false alarm. #1 and #3 required doctor notes before they would allow my son back in class and #2 required he stay at home until he was symptom-free for 24 hours. Luckily, my husband and I work from home, but holy moly, what do parents do when they are in an office? I can’t imagine. We work from home and have only four precious, child-free hours every day to get our most critical tasks done. To have that serenity disturbed three times in two weeks…well, that third call lit my fuse.
The first call happened two weeks ago. I admit, I waited a bit too long to trim my son’s nails. He rubbed his eyes and scratched it a bit so it became ever so slightly red. Towards the end of the morning at school, he felt tired, rubbed his eye, irritated it some more, and off to the nurse he went. I was called to pick him up right away as it might be pink eye. Pink eye? I know what pink eye looks like and this was not pink eye. No gooey drippy discharge. No extreme pink or red. No bloodshot eyes. Just a little red as if one was overtired. But of course, I don’t want my son to have something contagious! We rushed to school, piled him in the car, and called the doctor on the way to their office. The doctor took a quick look and immediately knew it was not pink eye. She prescribed some antibiotic/steroid drops to treat the irritation, wrote us a note allowing him back to class, and away we went. We thought it odd that the nurse rang the alarm for something that was obviously not pink eye, but we shrugged it off with the aphorism “better safe than sorry”.
Fast forward to the next week. Another call from the nurse. He had been tired all morning and had a low-grade fever (99.1). We were told he had to stay home until his fever was gone for 24 hours. He was sleeping soundly in his teacher’s arms when we got there and we tenderly transferred him to the car. Within five minutes he was awake in a fantastic mood. I got him home and there was absolutely NO fever. He was 100% fine. I scratched my head trying to figure out what happened. I tend to overheat easily and my little man takes after his mama in this respect. They keep his classroom at a temperature resembling a sauna. I myself drop him off and run in the morning because I cannot last more than two minutes in there without passing out. So this kid didn’t have a fever; he was just hot. I explained this to the teachers and I hope next time they will take him outside for 10 minutes to cool down before running to the nurse. Nevertheless, we were stuck with this misdiagnosis, so we kept him home the next day and got zero work done.
The following week came the third call. That morning, before class started, we actually had a parent-teacher conference. I mentioned that I had bought a new bubblebath for Aiven and he got a rash from it. He has extremely sensitive skin, even more so than me. He wasn’t itching, it wasn’t raised, and as far as rashes go, it was pretty benign.
Well, when they changed his diaper later in the morning, they saw it on his legs and off to the nurse’s office he went where they called me to pick him up. Again. Because the nurse, the NURSE, couldn’t be sure it wasn’t chicken pox. Seriously? I am not a nurse and even I know what chicken pox presents like. We picked him up and I curtly informed his teacher and the nurse we would be back in an hour with a note. Once again, the doctor was not the least bit concerned, wrote us a note, and as promised, one hour later, I brought my screaming child back to class. Never mind the disruption to my day — could we have disrupted his day any more? I dropped him off and let the teachers deal with his hysteria. They caused it, and now they could fix it.
On the way out, I ran into the a school administrator. I asked if she got my message and when she replied not yet, I said, “let me save you the trouble” and laid into her:
“Three false alarms in two weeks? Are you kidding me? Can the nurse not make a simple diagnosis? If you call me again and make it four times in three weeks, I will pick up my son and not be bringing him back here. Because I cannot get any work done. And if my company cannot make money because I cannot get the work done, then I cannot pay your tuition.”
And there you have it. The boy who cried wolf, pregnancy hormones, lack of sleep, whatever. I lost my shit at school. And it sort of felt good. Because the last time I wanted to tell someone off at school I was a student and was not allowed to. But I have to ask, is this school nurse particularly incompetent, or do all school nurses always assume the worst diagnosis and force unnecessary doctor’s visits upon students and parents? Do I have to deal with this for the next 11 years? Because if I do, I might actually consider home schooling my kids.