Nothing quite says back to school like getting sick. For whatever reason, Connor seems especially susceptible to the various germs flying rapidly around the preschool. I’ve been told that preschool is the worst because it’s their first time in school, surrounded by other children, essentially changing the classroom into a cesspool.
And I don’t know about any other mothers out there but I feel especially guilty (I saw especially because I seem to have a pretty consistent level of guilt running through me at all times) when the school nurse calls me to pick Connor up from school. This has happened three or four times since he entered school last April. The call always starts with whatever is wrong with Connor, which immediately terrifies me, and then manages to somehow imply that perhaps this illness/rash/horrible diarrhea was happening before I sent Connor to school that morning. I am then racked by self-doubt. WAS IT?? Did I simply miss the signs???? Or even worse, did I ignore them???? AM I THE WORLD’S WORST MOTHER?!?!
(Granted Connor’s autism makes it impossible for him to tell me if he’s feeling sick, but that never factors into my guilt level.)
I always end up driving like a bat out of hell to get to school, plagued by the belief that I purposefully sent my sick child to school and therefore imparted a miserable day on everyone involved with him. I curse any red lights or pedestrians that get in my way! I silently stew over the injustice of traffic laws! I wonder if the nurse is timing me in my trip to school…Am I being judged on the amount of time that passes between phone call and pick up? And before you say anything, just because it’s paranoid, doesn’t mean it isn’t true.
I usually jog across the parking lot, trying not to look like the hot mess that I feel. Bursting into the office, the school secretary has to remind me every single time to sign Connor out of school. Every time! I’m sure this makes me look even crazier. The signing in process is also time stamped, just one more reminder that it took me eons to get there.
By the time I get back to the nurses office, I’m frantic. But every time I find him there, Connor is sitting placidly in a tiny blue chair, playing with trains, and waiting for me. Sweeping him up into my arms, the nurse begins to tell me what is wrong, what happened, etc. I usually only hear about a third of what she says as I’m too busy looking over my boy to pay attention. I nod me head, mutter uh huh a couple of times, and make a bee line for the door.
My raging guilt provides Connor with whatever entertainment he desires. My poor child is sick and I, his monstrous mother, forced him to go to school. I’ll make it up to him with endless episodes of My Little Pony and popsicles.
The aftermath of these sick from school days is always a lingering self-doubt. He seems fine, do I send him to school? Am I capable of judging at this point? To assuage my guilt-doubt combo and please my little boy, I keep him home. Sure, he’s tired and cranky, and maybe there are some lingering symptoms, or maybe they’re all in my head. I just don’t know. I JUST DON’T KNOW!!!
At this point if the fiance hadn’t stepped in and announced that Connor needed to go back to school, I think I may have just kept him home indefinitely. Finally someone with a clear head and an even emotional keel made a decision. I was only too happy to abide by it.
And wouldn’t you know it, when I dropped Connor off at school this morning, there were no tears, no whining, no trembling lip. He simply walked up to his classroom aid, took her hand, and waved goodbye.
I’m pretty sure that if motherhood doesn’t drive my crazy in the next few years, nothing ever will.