It’s just the second week of school, and I’m sure the other parents are talking about me and already calling me “THAT MOM” ― the mom who thinks her kid is more important than the rest of the kids; the mom who wants everyone else to change their routines and behaviors so that her kid can go to school with everyone else.
I am that mom, but you have the luxury of misunderstanding me and other moms like me.
Let me explain why I’m that mom, and what it feels like to be labeled as such.
But first, as I was saying…
There hasn’t even been a full week of school yet, and I’ve already had to pick up my daughter from school twice, because the other children in her class were brought to school with coughs and gooey, runny noses.
I know that parents are not going out of their way to intentionally infect the other children, including my child who is living with Bronchial Pulmonary Dysplasia (BPD), and they are just concerned with not missing work and they don’t understand the consequences certain germs can have on another child.
No parent sends their sick kid off to school and consciously says “F*** those other kids and their parents” and “F*** those teachers, too. If my kid is sick than they should all be sick” ― although as a school teacher myself and a parent of a child with special medical needs, it sometimes feels that way.
My daughter was born extremely premature at 23 weeks gestation in 2012. She is what’s called a micro-preemie. She was just one pound and four ounces at birth and not even as long as a ruler. She was not expected to live at all, yet she is now 5 years old and is doing amazingly! Although we elected to “redshirt” her and postpone kindergarten for one more year, you would never know her story and all that she was been through ― unless you see her when she has a cold.
My daughter has had pneumonia more times than I can count on one hand and many of those times caused her to be admitted to the hospital.
When my daughter contracts any type of respiratory virus, it almost always turns into pneumonia. She has had pneumonia more times than I can count on one hand, and many of those times caused her to be admitted to the hospital for several weeks until her body could recover.
So what is BPD and why is my daughter so susceptible to respiratory viruses?
A quick explanation is that her lungs are mostly scar tissue because of the breathing tube that she had down her throat for 3 of the 4 months she was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) after her extremely premature birth. The forcing of air into and out of her lungs caused them to grow under duress and most of her lungs are scarred. She has grown and will continue to grow some new lung tissue around the scar tissue until she is around 6 or 7 years old, which will help her compensate better, but the scar tissue is never replaced.
She will live with weak lungs and extreme asthma-like conditions forever, which does not make her special, as many children and adults live with similar (and much worse) conditions ― but why not help the poor girl out and allow her to stay as healthy as possible if you can do it?
That’s my question.
I have kept her out of regular school as long as I can. We had tutors and all sorts of interventions come to our house so that she could avoid exposure yet meet all of her milestones, and she has met them all. She was not ever in library storytimes, music playgroups, Mommy and Me classes or anything of that nature, due to how easily germs are spread between babies and small children.
I had to cancel parties and not show up to other parties and holiday gatherings when the guests were ill.
That is my job as her mother and I’ve done it. Now that she is kindergarten age, the services will no longer come to our home and they must be administered at a school, and quite frankly, she needs to go to school and be with other kids and socialize. Her three older brothers are her world, but she needs to experience a bit more.
I understand that she will get sick once she is out and mingling with other children. She has already had pneumonia several times and she could have gotten it from anyone or anywhere as most people do. I expect that will happen more now.
What I am asking parents is simple.
Do not send your children into school if they are visibly sick.
I cannot understand why they do.
Maybe they cannot afford to take off of work?
Maybe they cannot miss that meeting or deadline or flight?
I actually understand all of this to some degree, but something has to give.
It’s unfair to send a child to school who is sneezing and coughing like crazy or one that requires nose blowing every two minutes.
It’s not just my daughter who can get sick. Little Johnny and Little Suzy can catch it just as easily ― and although they may get well more quickly ― I’m sure Johnny and Suzy’s parents don’t want them to bring germs home to the rest of their family who will then have to take off of work, or perhaps infect an infant or elderly person in the home. And don’t forget about the teacher who is very hands on with your children and loves them. Do you want to get him/her sick too?
Why spread the germs?
Many illnesses are contagious before symptoms are noticed. That’s different. I’m talking about children who show up to school and are visibly ill.
Please keep them home.
Much as a parent with a child who has a severe nut allergy would ask the other Pre-K parents to not pack snacks that could endanger the life of their child, I’m asking the same.
Respiratory viruses endanger the life of my daughter.
My daughter and Little Johnny with the nut allergy deserve to go to school and have other parents consider them important as well.
We are not asking a lot.
We would do it for your kid.
Thanks for letting me vent ― now excuse me while to go back to pick up my daughter from school again (1 hour after it started!) because another student got dropped off with green boogers coming out of his nose. I’m so lucky that her teacher calls me to let me know.
I wish I didn’t have to be “that mom.”