And every year, I've been the dutiful mother who alerts the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to not panic and send him home. They've tried convincing me to come get him in the past, but I've always refused. They tell me his cough is terrifying the other children, and I tell them that their selective enrollment process terrifies me. It's taken countless doctors' notes and paperwork to persuade CPS that this horrible, months-long condition is just normal for Daniel.
The Irish are known for the ol' "weakness of the chest" (bronchial and respiratory issues). Everybody in my family has drippy noses, dry coughs, and asthma. It's a curse.
Yet as I flipped through the medical forms for CPS last week and got to the line about "existing conditions," I paused. I knew the gates of hell would be opened if I checked that stupid box.
The calls from the nurse.
The appointments with the pediatrician.
The endless faxes and letters back and forth.
It is all designed to limit CPS' legal liability should Danny inadvertently hack up a lung on the playground. I mean, can't they just send the kid for a cup of water if he starts coughing during recess? Have him sit down for a few minutes? When did common sense get replaced with a mile-long paper trail designed to cover one's ass?
At the end of the day, the kid is just going to cough. And no amount of forms, school meetings or medical interventions will change this. I will do everything in my power to minimize his suffering (cough drops, Benadryl, the occasional Prednisone, and a vaporizer), but I know from experience that Dan's cough is as much part of his permanent life as his big brown eyes.
|In case you were wondering, Children's Benadryl works quite nicely on adults, too.|
I remember all too well how this goes. The cute little kids are the pets of the school - adored by teachers and administration alike. The big loud hacking ones are cast aside like used tissues, relegated to emptying the trash cans for the janitor.
In the middle of all my angst, Daniel came home with an announcement: his teacher had appointed him to student council. He beamed and told me this was the first teacher he ever had who really seemed to like him.
Perhaps I had jumped the gun. Dare I infer that my son has landed that rare breed of educator? Someone who understands Daniel's early-onset gawkiness and decided to act? Someone who peers right into the soul of each child, tending to his heart and mind like the most devoted of nurturers?
Like a mom.
It's probably too early to tell if Daniel's teacher is truly exceptional. Yet after all of the ups and downs I go through daily with CPS, I am opting to believe the best. And something tells me that this teacher might have an even greater impact on Daniel than even his vaporizer.
Suddenly, things are looking up.
|Thank you, Mrs. 2nd Grade Teacher. Thank you.|