On a Wednesday morning a couple of weeks ago, the day dawned sunny and warm. It promised to be a lovely spring day. I was getting Penelope ready for our appointment at Sick Kids that morning, and Charlotte was excitedly preparing for her morning at nursery school, where they would be having a teddy bear picnic. She picked out one of the new outfits she had received for her birthday, and she and Teddy were ready to go. She was scratching absently at her mosquito bites, which she had acquired the previous week on a trip up north to visit my grandmother and my aunt. She has inherited my unfortunate reaction to insect bites- ever since I was little, I get large, red, angry-looking welts from the bites, which remain swollen and itchy for weeks. And so, Charlotte headed off to school, and Penelope and I were on our way to the hospital.
Penelope’s appointment was going very well, and when the doctor left for a few minutes to consult someone, I checked my phone to see if I had any messages. There were three missed calls from an unknown number, but no message was left. I shrugged it off, thinking that if it was important, the caller would have left a message. A short while later, a text message came in from my father-in-law, Rick. It said that he had Charlotte and everything was ok. I stared at the message for a minute, uncomprehending. Why did Rick have Charlotte? She was supposed to be on her teddy bear picnic. Was she hurt? What had happened? I texted Rick back, asking for details, and was infuriated when he provided them.
Charlotte had been sent home from school when one of the supervisors had seen her bug bites and decided they could be ringworm. She would not be allowed to return to school until the spots had disappeared or until we provided a doctor’s note stating that it was not ringworm.
I was positively enraged upon learning this. First of all, to think of my sweet girl missing out on her teddy bear picnic, when she had been so excited for it, was heartbreaking. Second of all, she had been attending school for over a week with these spots on her arms and legs; I had informed her teachers about the fact that they were bug bites on her first day back at school, and they accepted that. Why now, over a week later, are they sending her home and asking for a doctor’s note? And why was there no message left on my phone when they called to tell me she was being sent home?
I knew the spots were not ringworm, but I also knew they weren’t going to disappear anytime soon, so I was forced to drag Charlotte and Penelope to the doctor to get that note. Now, I had already taken Penelope to a lengthy appointment that day, and the prospect of having to do it again did not entice me. I had to endure Charlotte’s questions about why she had to go to the doctor, why was she sent home from school, why couldn’t she go on the teddy bear picnic. Penelope wasn’t too happy about heading out again and voiced her displeasure by crying the entire car ride to the office. Of course, the doctor took a look at her bites, confirmed that it was not ringworm, gave us our note, and sent us on our way. And then, just to make my day a bit harder, Penelope pulled out her NG tube when we got home.
It was a lot of hassle for something that wasn’t actually a problem. And there was no make-up day for the teddy bear picnic- she missed it for no reason, and I’m still fielding questions from her about it two weeks later. Now, I understand that the school has to be careful about things like ringworm- you don’t want that spreading throughout the class. But the fact is, if they were concerned about it, they should have asked for the note the first day she attended school with the spots. That’s something I could have accepted. It makes no sense to send her home a week later. And the supervisor who requested she be sent home was not familiar with the situation, and I think that a simple conversation with me or Mark about it would have cleared things up. Is a bit of communication and a bit of common sense really too much to ask for?
With Charlotte heading into kindergarten this fall, I have a feeling this won’t be the last situation of its kind. Any advice on handling these issues with the school? What sorts of frustrating situations have you dealt with?