Sometimes, there are things I can't write funny about. This is one of them. Remember the time my first grade daughter had water withheld (the entire grade, actually), for being "too noisy" at recess? Remember how I was able to (angrily) joke about it? Ain't happening this time.
On Thursday morning, my almost-ten-year-old daughter Cookie took the wrong prescription psychiatric medication. Instead of her morning Zoloft, she took her bedtime Clonidine, which she refers to as the "Super Loopers."
By mid-morning, based on the way she felt, she realized what had happened. She told her teacher that she thought she had taken the wrong medication that morning, and asked to go to the nurse.
The teacher said no.
I know. You're like, wait, what? It. Gets. Worse.
Cookie explained that she thought she had taken a Clonidine, a prescription medicine that helps her go to sleep at night, instead of the Zoloft she normally takes. And that if anything ever went wrong with her medication, she was supposed to go to the nurse, so that I could be called.
The teacher said, "I believe you. I just don't think the nurse would send you home for something like that."
I have absolutely no idea how Cookie got through the rest of the day, but she did. When I picked her up from school, she was slurring her words.
One doctor's appointment, one temporary medication adjustment, and 48 hours of careful observation later, her body was back in balance. She's fine now. We've taken steps at home to make sure this doesn't happen again. There is now a big sun on the morning med, and a moon and stars on the evening med.
I feel terrible that this happened in the first place, because it makes me question our decision to give Cookie this level of independence. Cookie is almost ten, and is a very smart, responsible girl. I make sure she takes her medications, but she is the one who takes them. I want her to have that responsibility because in all likelihood, she will be dealing with anxiety for the rest of her life. She needs to feel like she has some control over that.
The Pork Lo Maniac's medication, on the other hand, I dose out. She has ADHD, and hence, is less interested in details like what to take, and when. Also, her medication is a controlled substance. It's speed, actually. So that one, I dose out. Every time, no exceptions.
But Cookie, I still believe, is able to have more independence in her mental health care. So although we have made some changes, she is still the one taking her own medication. She made a mistake that I could have made. Mistakes happen. And while this particular mistake happened at home, it was at school that she was denied medical care.
Coming on the heels of the water incident, I'm not feeling confident that this school can take care of even the most basic human needs of my children.
I'm terrified. What's next? I couldn't have predicted that they would withhold water. No matter how whacked I think some of the people at that school are, I certainly couldn't have imagined that anyone would choose to not send a child to the nurse after the child said "I think I took the wrong prescription medication this morning." So what's next? No bathroom breaks? No food? I don't know.
I know that I have a lot of readers who homeschool, and I know that I'm about to get like 50 comments that say, "this is why I homeschool." Let me say this: I can't homeschool. For one thing, I'm trying to sell a freaking house and my husband is nine states away. I'm kind of losing it. For another, I just don't think I'm a good enough teacher to teach four children, including one with ADHD and one with Asperger Syndrome. We did the virtual online school for a while last year and it was great, but really not what's best for my kids. Assuming they're being given water and whatnot, they actually really like school.
Before, when I heard people talk about homeschooling, I didn't get it. Most of the people I know personally who homeschool do it for one of two reasons: because they want to incorporate their personal (usually religious) beliefs more intimately with their children's education, or because they want to give their kids the academic advantage of one-on-one teaching and an enriched curriculum.
Now, when I see the comments, "this is why I homeschool," I get it. Something went sour at their public school. I have many friends who are teachers, and I love them. My kids have had many fantastic teachers at all their schools, and I seriously love some of the teachers in our current school. Most of them are awesome.
But some of them suck.
The old adage says that one bad apple spoils the bunch, and that's certainly true of teachers. Our school is "exemplary" in terms of standardized testing. Ninety-nine percent of the teachers love teaching, love kids, and put their heart and soul into doing something amazing for other people's children. It's astounding, really, what teachers do.
But when you get that one suckfest of a teacher, it sours you. It sours the child on school, sometimes irretrievably. It sours the parent on mainstream schools.
I'm frustrated and angry, but I believe in our teachers, our public schools, and my kids. I believe that the problems in this school can be fixed. As long as I am still living in this town, I am going to be up their asses trying to make that happen. I am exhausted and I have a lot of other crap I need to get done right now, but nothing this important.
I had to wait a few days before I could write a coherent letter to the principal. I reviewed my own advice on how to write an effective nastygram to a school. I'm copying in a print-out of the email from October in which I notified all of Cookie's teachers about her medications, and noted that any behaviors out of the ordinary would warrant immediate medical care.
"Scathing" does not even begin to describe the letter I am bringing to the principal today. I waited to write it until I had most of my anger under control, because I don't want to just rant. I want results. My goal is not to get this particular teacher in trouble, it's to make sure this doesn't happen to one of my children, or any other child, again in that school.
On the other hand, principals can't make certain changes without parent input. Unless parents are willing to state, in writing, when things go wrong, there is absolutely nothing that can or will be done about certain suckfest teachers. It's possible that this teacher has made other grievous errors; I don't know. Neither does the principal unless you tell them. In writing.
I am requesting an apology, in my presence. I am requesting that Cookie be reassured that she did the right thing by asking for help, and that she isn't in trouble for telling her parents what happened. I am requesting that the teachers receive training on kids and medication and how to handle emergencies. I am requesting that the principal make it clear to the entire staff that negligence is not tolerated, and that a policy be put in place that covers treating children with basic human respect.
Now excuse me while I go lodge a size 9 cowgirl boot up someone's ass.