I have debated writing this post for over 24 hours. In the end I decided to write it, not because I can’t handle the situation on my own, but because it happened to me, because it feels wrong although I can’t put my finger on why, and because you guys often help me sort through what I’m thinking. So here goes. Would prefer not to get called to the principal’s office over this one, but I guess you sometimes have to pay a price for speaking publicly about your life.
I couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had a couple of contractions and that worried me. In addition to that, I’ve gotten big enough that walking the five blocks down to Charlie’s school in the afternoon and then pushing him back was starting to feel like an Olympic sport. By the time we got home, I would have to lie on the couch to recover.
So we decided to hire someone to help get Charlie home in the afternoons. He could take the bus, but as I have discussed before, the bus’s are un-airconditioned and I have no way of knowing how long he might sit there, unmoving, until the bus got rolling. Since Charlie’s neurologist believes over-heating could lead to a seizure, I decided this wasn’t a solution I was comfortable with.
I went to school and spoke with one of Charlie’s aides. Her daughter is a high school student and thought she might know someone who was looking to earn some extra spending money. As it turns out, her daughter is interested in children with special needs and she was interested. Perfection! I’d already met her daughter who seemed like a nice, responsible kid, and it’s a bonus that she’s already interested in/comfortable with the special needs population.
For a week and a half, my husband or I would meet her at school and walk with her as she pushed Charlie to our house. Seriously, this is not difficult stuff. I say it’s five blocks because one of them if very long. The truth is that the school is three and a half blocks from my house. So close, that every year the Kindergarten parade come within a couple yards of my doorstep.
Things have been going well. I’m more relaxed and rested in the afternoons–I’ve even managed to cook a few times. And then yesterday I got a phone call.
Apparently the school nurse had been by for a visit and was there when our helper-girl had gotten ready to take Charlie home. The school nurse did not like this arrangement. She went to the office to make sure that our helper was on the approved list. She was. I, as Charlie’s mother had not only put her name on the list, but had also mentioned it to the school secretary so that she was aware. I handled my end of the deal.
Despite having filled out the requisite paperwork, the school nurse STILL wasn’t happy and went to talk to the principal about this. Her big concern was that Charlie has a history of seizures.
Principal thinks long and hard about this (I wasn’t there, so I’m guessing) and determines that the only issue is one of liability. It needed to be clear that the girl I hired was not a school employee that they were not responsible for her actions. This is utter silliness–I hired the girl, she’s a high school student–there’s no way she could be mistaken for a school employee. But, as the relative of many, many lawyers I understood the instinct to cover your behind.
So I wrote the note and still I’m left with a funny feeling. A feeling that things are not right. From my perspective:
- I should have every right to determine who picks up my child from school. To call into question my decisions feels as if someone is calling into question my ability to parent, which makes me batty. My house may be a mess and I may only cook dinner a third of the time, but I do right by my kid and have every faith in my ability to make decisions about his welfare. More importantly, I’m not sure who gives the nurse the authority to question these decisions.
- I really don’t see what seizures have to do with anything. Charlie is too young for an emergency injection and all of his previous seizures (last one at age 6 mo.) have been the kind that barely look like seizures. The girl who walks him home has a cell phone, so she can always call me. Besides, the age of the person pushing the chair will have absolutely no effect on whether or not he has a seizure.
- I don’t like that I have to fill out more paperwork than anyone else. If it were to receive a service from the school, I understand that, but this is the simple act of having someone pick him up. I’m sure that other families are not forced to do the same.
So here I sit. Wondering if I should have done differently. Wondering if I should have fought the extra paperwork. Hoping that I haven’t given in to something because it’s easy without thinking about the full repercussions that decision may have. Confused about access to school records, who has what rights, and not being sure exactly how much of Charlie’s personal information is being handed out willy-nilly.
Parenting is never easy and this is one of those days where it’s actually making my head hurt.