The Medical Form and The Principal

In a replay of my Catholic boarding school days, I was pulled into the principal’s office at Savannah’s school on Friday.  Not mincing words, the principal dead-eyed me and said, “Quite frankly, given your daughter’s medical condition, I’m shocked you’re not more on top of it.”

Looking for a short cut, I tried to re-use the medical forms from summer camp with the school and she was pissed.

Still her comment hurt, popping a blister of pain and frustration that had been festering since Savannah’s birth. Overwhelmed managing the endless doctors’ appointments, therapists and mounds of paper work, I had a breakdown then and there — the second day of school.

I tried to use the “single mom” card as an excuse.  But, actually, I wanted to say to the granola principal:  “You. Don’t. Get. It.”

Savannah is an enigma.  She’s not wheelchair bound or displays telltale signs of mental or emotional delays.  “She looks so healthy,” I often hear, which is true because I deliberately downplay the situation to prevent her from being labeled “THAT kid.”

I’ve known people, who upon visiting a dark Sesame Street set, are shocked to see Big Bird deflated and shoved in the corner.  That’s not the affable bird they know and love.  Likewise, I often feel if people could peek backstage into my life, they’d be equally horror-stricken.

I’ve raced through the streets of New York in a cab while Savannah had seizures in the back seat and watched a doctor force an IV into an infant’s head.  I have an uncanny ability to stay composed in stressful situations, but later, during an entirely unrelated moment, will crack.  I’ll go to pay a medical bill or catch the eye of another parent of a special needs child at the doctor’s office, and begin to cry.

Divorce, bankruptcy and alcoholism rates are high among parents of special needs children.  Recently, a friend shared that mutual friends with a severely handicapped child are heavy drinkers.  “They’re at the bar every day by 3:00,” she said.

Honestly, I don’t blame them, and my only hope is someone buys them a drink.

9 responses to “The Medical Form and The Principal

  1. You should find a short essay contest about parenting and enter this. It was amazingly graphic and heart-wrenching and honest and, well, beautiful in that “life sucks” kind of way. This is a really special piece of writing from your heart that will move others.


  2. Letting it all out is a crucial way to maintain one’s sanity.

    How cool that you keep your cool when needed, and then lose it when you’re freer to do so…


  3. Excellent Blog Lipstick mama. I think your trick is actually smart, almost like a standard form you could make and hand out ahead. Heck, laminate it, maybe the Pricipal would like that. 😉


  4. Like other parents, parents of kids in a certain condition want to provide their kids with normal life as much as possible. However, that goal can become more difficult to achieve when others do not understand the situation.


  5. That was a very judgemental thing for the principal to say. I can well understand your life is full of difficulties which only you and other parents in similar situations understand.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s