Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18, 2011 ~ Day 130
Rolling With It

Today when I arrived to pick my son up from school I learned that one of his classmates has a MRSA infection, and the entire classroom (including my son) was potentially exposed last week.

Allow me to reiterate. I learned this today at PICKUP (why not drop-off????) when I was handed a letter. The teacher said, "Oh, I wasn't able to give you this last week, I think your son was absent on Friday?" I raised my eyebrows because my son was definitely NOT absent last Friday. "Anyway, here it is," she said.

"What is it regarding?" I asked.

"Oh, nothing really - just a virus that has been circulating around the classroom."

"Oh really, a virus? Which one?"


Of course, MRSA is not a virus but a bacteria, so her ignorance alone left me feeling hesitant about their ability to handle the situation... and sort of reinforced my sense that they don't really know what they're doing at that school.

I actually DO know a lot about bacteria thanks to my odyssey with lyme and the more recent spider bite... so I promptly replied, "Well then, my son will likely miss the next few days because he has several open scrapes on his elbows and knees and we can't risk that kind of bacterial infection."

The teacher looked at me quizzically, no doubt mentally confirming her suspicion that I am a crazed overprotective mama.

Later, the school secretary told me over the telephone that they didn't think the MRSA was a big deal because so far no other child had "come down with it" and also, "We have no idea how long we've had this here anyway - the child may have been carrying it for a while". Not very encouraging words.

I'll be honest and say that I wanted to snap into the phone, "Not a big deal? Do you HAVE children of your own? MRSA is a very big deal!" Just last week in fact I received a heartbreaking email from the president of our local Slow Food group describing the sudden death of his 19 year old son, injured on the job at work, from a staph infection that infiltrated the site of the injury. The young man was dead within days of being injured. Just shockingly sad.

I told the school secretary that our pediatrician thought my son should stay home until the scrapes on his arms and legs were healed, to reduce potential blood borne exposure to the staph bacteria.

She sounded soooooooooo annoyed with me as she sighed and asked, "So will he be out for the rest of the week, then?"

"Well, would you like me to call you every day and let you know how his cuts are healing?"
I responded (laughing internally) ~ "I'd be happy to do that. Or would you rather he just return when he is ready?"

"Oh, just have him return whenever he is ready,"
she hurriedly replied. I'm quite sure she does NOT want to be hearing from our family more than necessary.

So there you have it, my carefully planned week of work and preparation for brothers in town now involves watching a second child (while continuing to pay his school for the privilege). Almost like Spring Break part II.

A year ago this added pressure might have brought me to my knees, but I'm feeling so much better - so energetic and enthusiastic. I feel like I can take on the extra boy with ease, and perhaps it will even work out well for us. My brothers will be in town later this week and they will love to see him!

After scrubbing the little guy from top to toe - especially under his fingernails! - and throwing his clothes into the a hot wash, I spent the next few hours researching preschools.

I've been very disappointed with his new school so far, for many reasons. Our son has fallen far behind where he was just two months ago academically at the old school. It has been painful to watch our elder son soar academically and the little one lose a tremendous amount of ground, thanks to our move.

He has forgotten all of the phonetic sounds and science content knowledge that he'd learned before February. When I ask him about it he tells me, "Oh mommy, that was a LONG time ago. I don't remember!" Considering the amount of money we are paying to send him to school there, it has been frustrating to watch.

My husband and I had already discussed his not going back next Fall. This MRSA experience functioned as the kick in the pants I needed to get off my laurels and really look into other schools.

I asked other mommies at kindergarten pickup if they could recommend a local preschool, and finally the kindergarten teacher herself gave me a strong suggestion for a new school that we're currently looking into. It costs almost $150 less per month and is apparently well known around the city for its academic excellence.

So, in a weird way, MRSA has done us a favor. It has got me looking in earnest for a new situation which might turn out to be a huge improvement.

I feel really guilty and badly though, for taking him away from a school he loved and three "best friends" to bring him to a new school where he is also adapting and making new friends... only to move him again in the Fall.

He may be only three, but is he resilient enough to switch schools so many times? I wonder how this moving around may affect his intellectual development and social confidence. For example, he has been practicing songs for a Mother's Day performance for about four weeks now... would it scar him to miss that show and never perform the songs live with his class?

This is a part of motherhood which is so tough to navigate. I rarely fully know if I am making the right choices for my kids until after the fact. This new house, neighborhood, babysitter (yay!!!) and school for my eldest boy are all RIGHT! but I didn't know it with certainty until we'd already made the move. I thought the new preschool would be great, and I was totally mistaken.

In the vein of 'rolling with it' though, I realize that the situation at hand presents wonderful opportunities for me to teach my son how to roll with life's many surprises and changes. My nurse-cousin also lovingly reminds me that this unexpected situation offers us the chance to reinforce to all three of our children the importance of good hand washing... a skill that will benefit them forever.

Crisis = opportunity.

Somehow there is a link from this experience to the next blessing, whatever awaits us. I look forward to sharing good news soon!

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