You know that massive packet of paperwork for school registration that you get about this time every year – the ones where you have to provide your name, address, relationship to your child, who their doctor is, and who can pick them up on endless sheets of paper? Well every year the nurse at my son’s school slips in a form that, if I sign it, will allow my son to become enrolled in the Albuquerque Public School’s asthma education program and long-term study.
Figure this – they actually want to pull my kid out of class to teach him such things as how to tell if he’s having an asthma attack (like he doesn’t know when he’s wheezing that it’s hard to breathe) and what to do. This same set of instructions is disseminated to all kids across APS, regardless of their own unique diagnosis and recommendations from their own private pediatrician or pulmonologist. After taking the paper to my own son’s pediatrician, we agreed that it was irresponsible to allow some institution to insert itself into the medical care of my son and that it was best for him to always go to a medical doctor for help and advice about how to manage his asthma.
So, being the closet anarchist that I can sometimes be, I never sign that little sheet. In fact, I find one of my kid’s bright Sharpies and write across the page: MY SON MAY NOT BE ENROLLED IN ANY PROGRAM WITHOUT MY CONSENT. HIS DOCTOR WILL PROVIDE EDUCATION FOR HIS MEDICAL CONDITIONS, NOT THE SCHOOL.
Of course, this has not in any way endeared me to the nursing staff at the school, but they grit their teeth… and send the paper again the following year in hopes that I’ll slip up and sign the thing.
Imagine my consternation when I unloaded a stack of papers from his backpack this morning only to find an “asthma newsletter” with my son’s name and address on a mailing label at the top of the paper. A quick phone call to the nurse ended up with a few stammered explanations and an offer to remove his name from the mailing list. And in an almost admirable show of courage, she asks me, “Can I ask why you’re so certain you don’t want him to have this valuable information that could help save his life?” (translated: you’re a bad mom who doesn’t care if your kid keels over from your lack of care.)
“Nothing personal,” I tell her. “I have consulted with my son’s doctors, and we all agree that any education or treatment plans regarding his medical conditions need to come from qualified professionals that know his personal medical history.”
“Qualified professionals?” she asks. “You do realize we are nurses who have been certified to teach these courses?”
“Being certified to teach a course isn’t the same as being his doctor.” There is a long pause, and I am certain she is trying to keep her temper in check.
“Fine. But he’s missing out. The other kids really like getting to go to the special programs.”
I bet they do, I think. I sure would have chosen to go to some special program with no tests or grades than to have to sit in class and actually learn the academics required.
She promises to remove his name from the list, but I have my doubts. Seems they get credit for each kid they enroll, and that’s a lot more interesting than dealing with some cranky mom a few times a year.
Now if they had a special program from kids with a room-cleaning disability, I would so be on board. They could even skip math if they could teach him how to clean his room on his own. But so far, no one’s tried to sneak a permission form in his packet for that kind of class.
Oh, well, I can dream, can’t I?