M.R. asks from Beverly Hills, CA on March 17, 2010
My Sons Principal
~I do not live in Beverly Hills, I'm in Calgary AB Canada- its the only zip code I know~
Mother of 3 boys, my eldest son is 8 1/2. Gr. 3 He has very dry skin and has a bad case of Eczema, especially on his legs. We have seen dermatologists and many doctors. We have used a VERY LARGE variety of creams and ointments. We have finally found a cream that is just absolutely fantastic, I will recommend it to all. Here is where my first problem starts. My son scratches his legs and scratches to the point where they bleed. He only scratches at home at night in bed, I believe he does it then because no one is around to see and if he does it at school a student may see and he is very self conscious. The itching feeling that he has is the scabs forming over the new skin. We have told him that cream will make the itching go away because he hates and fights about putting the cream on, it is applied daily after a lot of arguing. He is bathing and soaking with baby oil (Johnson Johnson) every other night and in between he showers. After the bath or shower we apply the medicated cream and we put on a type of galaxal based cream to seal it in- as per the doctors recommendations. I have tried everything, and I’m NOT about to strap him to his bed at night with oven mitts. I'm at a loss, I can't make him understand the repercussions of what he is doing. The scratching has to stop. Help!
That was my first problem.
The second problem is that today was the second time in 6 months that his principal has called Social Services. I don't believe that she is looking out for my son so much anymore, but more that she has something against me. That may sound nutty but she was my guidance counsellor 20 years ago-(I'm 27) and she didn't like me then either. When she calls me -which is frequent- to talk about my sons skin issues, she talks down to me. She does not address me by my last name like she does with other parents. We are not friends I find it inappropriate and have made mention to her several times. She calls about once a month or so asking me to let the school to apply this cream to my sons legs, which I will NOT allow. He is bothered and uncomfortable with this as it is. EVERYDAY AT HOME is just fine, I don't want him to feel singled out. The first time she called Social Services, they arrive at my door roughly 2 hours after I told her this was none of her business. Now the second time (-today-) is almost 1 year to the date after the first call. The file is held open for 1 year. The "assessor" told me when he came in that if they hadn't received a phone call they would have closed the file next week. She is a school principal, she would know how long these files stay open for. Am I being paranoid? I can't run the risk of this woman making such a fuss that she calls a third time. I am very worried that if a third call is made they will take my son. Please any advice would be great.
~Maybe I'm being a little dramatic by saying they will remove my son but honestly how many time can Social Services be called before they take some sort of action? I don't want to find out.
~I have left messages for the area superintendent to call me, just waiting for the call back
~To address one of the responses: When I said to the principal that "it was none of her business", let me clarify. Here is a breakdown of the conversation we had.
P: can you sign forms to lets us apply cream?
P: is there something we can do to help your son?
M: No, at this point there is nothing you can do
The following - I'm not kidding this is what she said with the most condescending attitude that would give Hugh Laurie a run for his money-
P: Well...M., what is it that YOU can do to help your son
M: it's none of your business
-this is why I said she talks down to me and is disrespectful, maybe my response to her was “bitchy” but I'm sure someone can understand my frustration
also I am not paranoid about social services, I was referring to the principal and her attitude towards me.
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So What Happened?™
Well Social Services was back last Friday to talk to my husband as well, (-because they need to meet with all directly responsible for the child-) at the end of our conversation he told us that he has
NO CAUSE FOR CONCERN. He is recommending to his superiors that AGAIN the file be closed. I find it interesting that “the school” deemed it necessary to contact S.S. again when after the first call a year ago there had been no follow up appointments or surprise visits. I think part of the problem we are having is that “the school” is not focusing on the fact that my sons skin has improved but they are focusing on the problem still being there. As we explained to “the school” after their first call to S.S., this is going to be a continuing condition we are going to have to deal with, it will never completely go away.
I am having our doctor write a letter stating that we are following all medical options etc. I will be coping this to S.S. and the school. I will have the school sign and date MY copy, stating that they have read and received a copy. Just in case by some freak accident the schools copy goes missing from my sons file. I did contact the school board superintendent for my area, we spoke briefly and I have yet to receive a call back at this point however I am not finished with “the school“.
We will be changing schools come the new school year. If in the event his “previous school” should make any inquiries regarding my son or make any personal appearances, we WILL be pressing charges. The same goes should the school call Social Services for a third time before the end of this school year.
Thank you to everyone for all your helpful advice. Should I feel the need to write “My Sons Principal Part 2” I will be back again for your help.
K.G. answers from San Francisco on March 17, 2010
My kid would have been out of that school yesterday. She is out of line. Homeschool if you have to. My child would not have attended again after the first cal to SS.
Can you give him benedryl to ease the itching?
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L.A. answers from Austin on March 17, 2010
I am going to play devils advocate.
If there was a child in my daughters class that was always scratching and bleeding, I would not be pleased. I would wonder why he was still suffering with this situation? I would want the child to ALWAYS wash his hands very well with a disinfectant before touching anything other children would be touching. EVERY TIME. This would include desks, chairs, books, papers, pencils, cafeteria line, play equipment, gym equipment.
I would wonder why on earth the parents would not allow a school nurse to apply any type of medication this child would need as necessary?
It sounds like you are already very stressed about your sons condition. It must be terrible seeing your child suffer.
I suggest you come up with a plan and work WITH the principal. You will need to be respectful, clear and have a good plan that you can present, rather than just saying no and "none of your business". It is her business. She is there to make sure that All of the children are safe.
What is the school allowed to do when your son is so obviously in discomfort during the day?
How can you reassure the district, the Principal and the parents that your child really is getting the help he needsand that the other children are going to be safe?
Suggestions. The school should call you when your sons legs are bleeding so you can go up to school and deal with it..
The school must call before they apply the cream to your son.
They pull your child out of class so he can apply the creams.
Your doctor will send the school nurse instructions on how to treat your son while at school.
This is not all about you. Your son needs to be able to feel like his mom is not always so negative about his school. He needs to feel like this health issue is not his fault and causing his mother to be freaking out about his school.
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M.P. answers from Lakeland on March 17, 2010
I am so sorry M. about this issue you are having with the school. I am a school administrator in Florida of a special school for Traumatic Brain Injured children. I understand why the principal may have done this the first time (laws and other school related issues). I don't know special ed law in Canada but if I were you I would become very proactive and get my pediatrician involved. I would also document what it is that you do for treatment. Next, I would get in touch with the school boards local special education coordinator and I would ask her about a meeting to discuss if your son needs a educational plan that addresses "other health impairments." This does not mean he needs special services but it does help the school understand your childs health issues and it would help them get off your back. Frankly, I think your childs principal is insensitive and this is a little silly. For your safety document any conversations, get your pediatrician involved letters to the school and call the special ed. coordinator. I hope this helps. If I can help in any other way just drop me a line and I will do my best.
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S.H. answers from Huntsville on March 17, 2010
I'm a little confused about the Social Services. What is she telling them when she calls?
And if they show up looking for evidence of what she is reporting, but find everything fine, then how can they remove your son?
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P.M. answers from Portland on March 17, 2010
First problem; I'm an extremely itchy person, too, and I would never be able to tolerate an oil that has any perfume in it. Is your baby oil scented? If so, you might try two or three unscented oils to see if they work better. Olive oil is fantastic (just a teaspoon floating on the bathwater, or even less patted over his wet skin after bathing, will do it). If that doesn't work, you might try jojoba oil, or sweet olive oil.
Another anti-itch cream that is almost immediately effective for me is available in many natural food stores. Look for a tube of FLORASONE CREAM (made by Boercke and Tafel, which makes a whole line of amazingly effective creams and gels for a variety of problems). The half-dozen people I've convinced to try this cream have all been really excited by the results they've gotten.
On the communication with your son's principal, it sounds like the problems really originate from both directions. You are uncomfortable about her, and she could be uncomfortable about you. It seems you could usefully address this "elephant in the room" so that perhaps you can find some mutual respect.
There's a great set of techniques that can help you with this difficulty called Non Violent Communication (or NVC). You can google many sites that offer the basic explanation, coaching, examples, books and classes. My husband and I find the process helpful in a variety of situations.
I find myself puzzled about something you wrote: If you tell the principal that the physical welfare of one of her students is "none of her business,"
I think that may be inaccurate if his itching distracts him or other students during class, or perhaps makes him the target of teasing.
If you indeed tell her to butt out that bluntly (that's my gentle way of saying "rudely"), I could see where that would only increase her concern, or at least increase her ego reaction to your attitude. What if you were to soften your response and let her know you hear her concern, and hope she will listen to yours?
I can't see why Social Services would be interested in removing your son if eczema is the only problem. Your "paranoia" suggests to me that there is possibly a lot more going on here, like a generally antagonistic relationship with the agency, the principal, or other authority figures. Are you giving them any other reasons to think you're harming or neglecting your son's welfare? If that's the case, and I'm not saying it necessarily is, then you may have some serious soul-searching to do. An antagonistic stance against the world isn't good for your emotional health, or your son's.
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L.S. answers from New London on March 17, 2010
I would make a call to the superintendent for a meeting to discuss these matters.
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J.C. answers from Chicago on March 17, 2010
Kids typically give parents a hard time about everything, but maybe he wouldn't give the nurse a hard time. I am shocked that the Principal called you instead of the nurse. But more importantly you were contacted for a reason & that needs to be addressed. Is it because he was a distraction to the teacher or the students? I volunteer at my sons school & if I noticed a child severely scratching himself to the point of bleeding & with open sores, I would be concerned & report it to the school for health & sanitation reasons for the child & the other children. These are just some reasonable reasons that you may have been approached. So now you have to be proactive, as this is a public school, so maybe you can call the nurse & start off fresh. Call and say I want to work with the school for my sons sake but my concern is he will feel singled out & I don't want anyone else applying the cream unless he ask's for help. Perhaps he can go during lunch period as this is in the middle of the day. It just sounds like you and the principal started off with bad attitudes towards each other & now it's out of control.
BTW we call our school Principal by her first name, so just do the same.
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D.D. answers from Los Angeles on March 18, 2010
well i am guessing that they don't know the story behind how your son does not like having the cream applied..i know you want to protect him but..i would let them have a go at it so they can see that that is why..you're not explaining it to her so she doesn't know why you're being so short with her.
About the eczema..i had that as a teen..the only thing that helped me was tetracycline but he's too young that could ruin his teeth..do you have a filter on your shower? i put one on mine and it softer on the skin...
sorry you're going through all this..i would tell her why..but i would let the school put the cream on him...i would let them do that with my own son...sometimes kids cooperate better with other people than their own parents.
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M.T. answers from New York on March 17, 2010
I would get your doctor to send a letter to school to keep in the file about your son's condition and the treatment that he is receiving. It isn't appropriate for the principal to call you about this issue. Principals should have more important things to deal with, this is an issue for the nurse. If the principal calls you by your first name, then you should call her by hers. I work in education, you pay the principal's salary and you are not a bad girl who was sent to her office, you are a parent of a student and should be spoken to with respect. I would complain to the superintendent of schools. Good luck
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