Being a Dad…the best role I've ever had.

In a week full of sadness and terrible memories, something wonderful happened. My son, Chase, graduated from high school. Like thousands others on that hot, Saturday, Chase walked across the stage, shook a few hands and received his diploma. Less than an hour later, the super intendant of Hanover County schools declared him and 378 others as graduates of high school and no longer required to attend public schools.  In effect, they became adults at that moment.  Adults.  Made me think about when I graduated and how I felt.  But, the day was his, not mine, and so, we celebrated. We met some friends and family and had pizza and exchanged stories. All the while, I had to wonder…how the hell did he grow up so damned fast? And, boy, his Mom, Papa and, now, Nana, would be so damned proud. Indeed. We all were.

And, admittedly, there was a bit of relief too. Relief that we no longer had to deal with the red tape because of his health, which is not great. Living with an immune system that barely works is a difficult thing, being persecuted for it, however, is just wrong.  Now, don’t get me wrong, Chase has been fortunate and had many, many wonderful teachers who not only understood, but CARED that he was sick and worked with him on staying up to date with his work. And, for the most part, the school administration has been kind and worked with us. But…

…there were times when it was not easy and, in fact, much more difficult than it should be.  The key, to both a smooth relationship and to cover everything, is documentation. Doctor’s notes, detailed journals, transcripts of testing, medical test results and patience. Don’t get upset with the school when they want ‘proof’, it is their job and there are those who would take advantage of the situation.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS get a note from the doctor’s office no matter what.  If your child is in kindergarten, where it, seemingly, does not matter, it really does.  AND CALL the school. When your child is out, call the school.  Do that as soon as you can. Do not miss a day. This is important, as important as that doctor’s note. For one, it alerts the school that your child is not there and won’t have to be accounted for IF there is a problem. Secondly, and importantly, you establish that, yes, you know where your child is, you care about your child’s education and you want to establish a good relationship with the school.

One great way to maintain all of that documentation is with a computer.  I use Microsoft’s OneNote to maintain a journal of my kids’ health (as well as my own and that of my wonderful wife.)  OneNote has an OCR capability (meaning, it ‘sees’ text in images and can search on that text) which means you can scan in test results, doctor’s notes, and any other documentation that you may need. That documentation can then be searched. Having your stuff in a computer will help you not only at school’s end, but you can also produce reports for your doctor. If you keep them updated, then your doctor will have a good picture of what is going on with your child.

It is also important for YOU to contact your child’s teachers IF they are out for more than a couple of days.  Be courteous and mindful of the fact that your child is not the only one these teachers deal with.  And, remember, they have, likely, seen and heard it all.  When you talk to them, let them know what’s going on with your child, how long you think they might be out and offer to come pick up any make up work.

For Chase, I’ve had to coordinate things myself. It was not easy, but being organized is important.  Know yours child’s schedule, teacher names and the times they have class.  I have not always done this and it usually ended up a confusing mess.

Follow these tips and you should have an easier time dealing with the school. Just remember, one troublesome administrator or teacher does not mean all of them will be the same way. They have your child, plus dozens more to deal with, just keep that in mind.

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