I don’t want to go to school today

I don't want to go to school

This morning brought out a grumpy 4 year old.

Grumpy because he had to be woken up.

Grumpy because we are still transitioning away from a nap, and his sleep schedule is not well set.

Grumpy because he is not a morning person.

And, grumpy because he did not want to go to school.

“Today is not a school day, it is a special home day!” he asserted, scrunching his nose and narrowing his eyes for dramatic emphasis. “School is not fun. School is boring. School is the stupidest thing ever.” He then draped his entire body on mine and popped his thumb into his mouth, as if daring the world to try and take him away from his momma and his home.

I snuggled him, I talked to him, but it did not really do any good. Deep in my heart, I felt pretty darn ambivalent about sending him off to another long day of preschool (daycare).* Ambivalence can be sniffed out by children, and I am sure he got the idea that he might wear me down. As soon as my schedule featured more flexibility, he began to wheedle and negotiate for more time at home. My husband does not feel this ambivalence. He wants to get H off to school so that he can get on to his work day. He firmly ordered H out of his jammies and into his clothes, and guided him out the door, all while stopping further complaints. H gave me a good-bye kiss and off he went.

Moments like this are not very easy on my momma heart, or any other pieces of my identity. It has taken me 4 years to realize that there would never be an easy stage to dropping my child off with others—nor do I imagine it will get easier as time goes on and he enters elementary, middle, or high school. I don’t imagine that a simple solution lies in keeping him at home. There is so much he gets out of the challenge of being with peers, and his teachers and friends offer tremendous enrichment. And still, there is a part of me—a part that hated school myself, that felt like it was boring and the stupidest thing ever—that just wants to keep him with me forever and always and protect him from school. After all, part of me would rather spend my day with him, and is thrilled that he wants to spend his with me.

On a day like today, I feel a bit sheepish. If I were as clear and level-headed as my husband, I would just as easily guide him out the door. Without that ambivalent mother, snuggling him and asking him about why he didn’t want to go to school, my son would head out the door with more confidence of his own.  And, if I felt clearer on my own career trajectory and purpose, I would not feel as ambivalent. His uncertainty is, more than anything, a mirror of my own.

There are the times in life when you realize that you need to better support your child, and there are also times when you realize you need to get your own head on straight. I am trying to embrace the fact that this moment, for our family, represents both. I am in a moment of transition in my career, and our family is also in transition. There is a new baby coming, a search for new jobs, a knowledge that we will be moving in half a year. There is a conversation to be had with my little boy to acknowledge these uncertainties and frustrations. But, there is a conversation to be had with myself. I need to allow it to begin.


*Let me be crystal clear: I think preschool is a wonderful experience for 4 and 5 year olds, and something that should be available to all children without fee. Research bears this out. That said, my son is enrolled in a 7-day-a-week, 9-hour day program. He does not spend that full amount of time there, but he does spend at least as much time at school as a kindergartener would. It is a lot … sometimes too much.

Preparing for asthma season

Here are my visual checklists for preparing for asthma / flu / cold season. Keep reading below for a more linear version.

Inhaler checklist Nebulizer checklist

If you are like us, you have an assortment of asthma paraphernalia:

    • A cheery and squat ProAir inhaler, in cherry red
    • An officious-looking orange Flovent inhaler, with cap and dose counter
        • But watch out, because we have had two identical Flovent inhalers, with different doses
      • A rather elegant and lean Ventolin inhaler, with its pricy dosage counter (why else would it cost 6 times as much to purchase as its simple ProAir cousin?)
      • A space-age cylinder that is the chamber for your spacer, with the blue rubber hole in which to insert the inhaler on one end and the strange tube that fits the mask on the other
      • A mask that fits the spacer chamber (apparently pediatric masks are required to have some silly animal on them, because ours has an orange duck)
      • One of the many, many varieties of nebulizer machines
      • The tangle of tubing that fits onto the nebulizer
      • The plastic chamber/pot to hold the liquid medicine for the nebulizer. This one is tricky because it is made up of several parts that are REQUIRED to make the nebulizer work:
        • A base, usually with little legs
        • Perhaps a small piece that fits into the base—this is easily lost but the nebulizer does not work without it
        • A lid, that keeps the medicine contained and passes the medicine onto the mask
      • The mask that fits with the nebulizer, with yet another silly cartoon animal (a purple elephant or a fish, in this case)
      • And let’s not forget the plastic capsules that hold your bronchiodilator (or steroid), with their twist-off ends
      • You may even have—as we did once—a solemn brown bottle with a dropper lid so that you could add a bronchiodilator to either a saline solution or your steroid capsule, mixing them in the plastic medicine pot of your nebulizer so that you do not need to big back-to-back nebulizer treatments to get both the steroid and bronchiodilator. This became obsolete for us once we switched to the inhaler + spacer chamber combination
      • Those of you dealing with allergy-induced asthma may also have an assortment of allergy medicine. We have:
        • An over-the-counter environmental allergy medicine (cytirizine hydrochloride, or generic children’s Zyrtec, in our case, although we have tried Claritin as well)
        • Prescription-only singulair
        • Children’s Benadryl, for reactions to thinks like bug bites

Is it any wonder that getting organized for asthma season can be difficult? I did not even include in this list the snot suckers, the saline, the tissues, the humidifiers, and all the other goodies that ease congestion but can’t be precisely categorized as asthma medication, nor the thermometers, etc., that go with being sick.

At the start of asthma season, I need to sort through each of the asthma medications with a few goals in mind:

  • Is all equipment properly functioning? This means:
    • The spacer chamber is intact with no cracks in the section connecting to the mask. Being clean is a bonus
    • The masks are all the appropriate size for my child’s current state of development (he actually had an infant-sized mask for his school inhaler…woops)
    • The nebulizer machine can still plug in and turn on
    • There are no strange kinks in the tubing that would prevent medicine from being used. Bonus points for having a backup set of tubing
    • The medicine chamber has all the appropriate components. My vote is for an extra set on hand as well, because these little parts get lost easily in the wash, particularly when your child is sick and you are distracted
    • All medicine is well within its expiration date
    • You have the correct dosage of all medicines
    • There is a sufficient stockpile of medicine to get you through several months

As I go through the medicine, I am sure to get rid of any expired and unused medications. The FDA has information on how to properly dispose of medicine here. I have several steps to try and keep us organized for the upcoming months. For example, I have a system of tracking active prescriptions. I have a special place where I keep any medicine or equipment that I might need to access in the middle of the night while groggy and not thinking clearly (e.g., thermometer, Tylenol, albuterol). I also label medications with the appropriate dose for the appropriate child. But this is content for another post.

How about you? How do you prepare your household for cold/flu/asthma season? Is there anything that I might have missed?