So last week, Bella had a bad fall off of the high monkey bars at school, and fell with a "WHUMP!" flat on her back onto the gravel of the playground. She reassured me that it was at least nice smooth river rock gravel, as opposed to pointy slate gravel, but still. Rocks is rocks, and OUCH. Since she couldn't stop crying for an hour, the school nurse called and said we'd better come on and get her, which of course we did.
I took her to the ER, and based on her symptoms (her back hurt, yes, but her CHEST hurt more than anything), they performed an X-Ray and diagnosed her with a "chest wall contusion." And there was some heavily-accented mumbling about the point where the sternum attaches to something else being "knocked loose," or something, basically meaning that while she was fine and nothing was broken, she was gonna be sore for some time. We were instructed to keep her quiet for a couple of weeks, no heavy impact activities, etc.
I called the school and reported in, then kept her home the next day, and sent her back the following Monday with a note from the ER doctor.
This brings us to Tuesday, when my child, who had been improving steadily, and was really doing a great job of assessing her pain and adjusting her activities accordingly, climbed into the car after school wincing at every movement. This kept up well into the next day, and I finally asked her if her chest was hurting more, because if so, we needed to check back in with the doctor. She said, "Well, it was a lot better, but then yesterday, they took us outside for a reward for doing good on the benchmark testing, and they had games. We had to do a sack race, in teams, and hopping really hurt."
*blink, blink* "Honey, if you'd just told the teacher in charge that it hurt you to do that, she'd have let you sit out."
"Nuh-uhh. I DID tell her, as soon as I took two hops and I knew that it hurt, I TOLD her that I couldn't do it because it hurt my chest! And she said that she didn't have a note from my parents saying anything about that, so I had to go finish the race."
"Are you serious?"
"Yeah. I tried to make little tiny hops so they wouldn't hurt, but they still did. And then my team was mad at me because I went so slow I made them lose."
And then Mommy's heart broke. And then Mommy got mad.
"So they have to have a NOTE, do they? From your PARENTS? Saying that they have our permission NOT TO HURT YOU? Bring me a piece of paper, honey, I have to write a note to your school."
I think I managed to maintain my decorum, explaining the nature of my child's injury and asking that they please respect her pain threshold, and that if she tells them that an activity hurt, they please NOT FORCE HER TO CONTINUE SAID ACTIVITY. And yeah, I did resort to all caps in one section, which I hope they saw not as yelling, but as an firm but genteel raising of the voice, in a civilized manner.
I think what really annoyed me is that the girl TOLD them that the activity was causing her pain, and they essentially responded that unless she had "backup" in the form of a note from an adult, then she had absolutely zero credibility in representing her own health, her own feelings, her own PAIN. It's telling her that she is not worth believing, not even when it's something important like a medical condition or injury that they could be exacerbating by ignoring her...which is precisely what they did. She hurt for two solid days after the sack race incident, and is still saying "ouch" when I hug or hold her. Grrrrrr.
And it's not like my child is a liar, or even has a history of exaggerating her pain, illness, or other problems for sympathy or special treatment or attention. Quite the contrary--the morning after the accident, she WANTED to go to school. She kept saying, "I think I can do it, if I just go really slow and no one touches me." So when THIS kid evaluates her pain level, and says, "I'd better not do this, it hurts me," then I just feel that SHE SHOULD BE RESPECTED AS A HUMAN BEING. A small human being, yes, but a human being nonetheless.
Shouldn't she? Shouldn't all our kids? Kids, like babies, are PEOPLE, same as adults.
I really hope my note wasn't over-the-top snarky, but then again, with the knowledge that we've been rezoned into a new school next year, I might not've been all that careful...