Friday, April 28, 2006

Kids, Health, School and Bullies

After struggling with my children's health and their school, I've just sent this letter to the editors of our area newspapers.  This mom is FED UP!

I have a growing concern for the health of my children.  Both children have been excessively ill this year, one in middle school and the other in elementary school.  The one in elementary school just had his tonsils removed this week and is on some pretty heavy antidepressants after being diagnosed as severely depressed (much of which has to do with teasing and social struggles at school) in hopes of helping alleviate his health issues.  My other child, a normally very health child who missed 2 days last year is suddenly missing quite a bit or being sent home much more than I’d consider normal.


There are times when people are sick with a severe cold and running a fever which can be treated at home, however, because of a strict attendance policy at school, I am placed in the position to obtain a doctors note each and every time one of my children are sick.  This results in a bill anywhere from $44.50 to $62.00 depending on which doctor they visit and prescriptions on top of that.  It’s getting financially devastating.  I’ve always been a mother who refuses to turn to welfare of any kind.


I think the attendance policy at our school is resulting in a catch 22.  Certainly I understand there have to be rules, but we all know there are exceptions to every rule.


When a child is sick and a parent has received a letter that’s copied to the prosecutor such as the one that I received a couple of months ago, it places me in the position of sending my sick and contagious child to school only to end up having to drive the 7+ miles to pick him up.  During that trip to school, he has most likely infected the entire bus – upon arriving at school he is likely to infect students and teachers he comes in contact with until I’ve picked him up.  Thus begins a vicious cycle – especially considering how many other parents are placed in a similar situation.


It seems rather elementary to me that in order to put an end to these excessive illnesses that sick people should stay home – even elementary school health teaches us that everyone is different and some people just naturally have stronger immune systems.  My children are twins.  When they were born prematurely, they were a whopping 3 pounds.  The doctor told me then that they would most likely struggle with their health and their teeth into adulthood.  I would think its obvious how a three pound baby could wind up having a challenged immune system – even when they appear to be a “normal kid” on the outside.   


I will be taking my son to the doctor soon to have him evaluated for possible depressions or emotional issues that may need dealt with as well because it’s either the school is an unhealthy environment I’m sending him to or he’s suffering some other way that’s making him not want to be there.  And rather than receive letters that I feel are insulting my parenting abilities, I believe it’s time that we all wake up and realize there may be more of a problem here than just another kid crying wolf.


I’d also like to point out that contrary to what some parents believe - teasing and hurting another child’s feelings is not normal.  It’s painful and the emotional scars can last a lifetime.  As a former bullied child, I know firsthand, it does have lingering affects.  And it does make it emotionally challenging to board that bus or walk those halls every single day.  Regardless of how “cute” some parents may think their strong willed child is, it’s not cute – it’s devastating to someone else, somewhere.


Furthermore, I’d like to express how fortunate my children have been to have and have had wonderful teachers.  I trust that when my children are being watched over as best as any one person can watch over 20 to 30 children at a time.  So often, parents who struggle taking care of one child fail to realize just how difficult a job our teachers have watching over so many more.  It would be impossible for teachers to see and hear everything, so it becomes the job of the parent to be in tune with their children and aware of any inconsistencies in their behavior and work with the teacher to help minimize any issues that may be causing harm.


I am not a parent who believes in going to the doctor for every little sniffle.  I believe children today are placed in more unhealthy environments due to the closed up schools.  When we were children we had windows that were often opened.  I also feel that so much activity with computers where germy little fingers are prancing across keyboards and on various other electronics are something that shouldn’t be discounted.  Not to mention the lack of manners that kids have these days.  How often do you really see a child pick up a Kleenex or properly cover their mouths when they cough? 

It’s rare!


At the risk of sounding arrogant, I try to be the best mother I can be – always placing my children first and foremost!  I’ve made many sacrifices as a parent, having been a work at home mom for 8 years, to insure that my children grow up to be respectable and responsible adults rather than long term liabilities on the taxpayers of Indiana – and if I fail, I have no one to blame but myself.


Short of masks and gloves, I’m not sure what can be done.  But someone needs to speak up and stand up for the kids who may be more health challenged – because they do exist too!  Those children are just as important to the reported numbers, I-Step scores and graduation rates of our schools as the ones who help bring home the trophies and make the front page of the sports section.