Saturday, May 3, 2008


When I picked up the kids at school on Friday afternoon, Em came out looking...slightly pained.

"What's the matter?" I asked, concerned. This is one of the World's Cheeriest Kids, after all. If she's not looking happy, there's a reason.

"Oh, nothing," she said. "It's just that my hand hurts where I burned it in PE."

"What?" I turned over her hand. On the pad beneath her thumb, there was a red area, and a blister. "How did THAT happen?"

"Well, we were testing on pushups, and the ground was really, really hot, and..."

"Didn't you SAY anything to Mr. S [the PE teacher]? And where was your towel?"

"I forgot my towel, and when I told Mr. S the ground was too hot--a lot of us complained--he said he'd felt it and it was fine and to get down and do my pushups. But it really hurt. And then a little while later, I saw this blister."

Sixty-some kids with their hands spread on a blacktop after noon on a day where the temperature was upwards of 85 degrees. And at least one of them--MY one of them--sustains a burn bad enough to blister.

Are they fucking KIDDING ME?

I'm the first one to admit that maybe, just maybe, I'm (what was that word again, Jane?) somewhat hypervigilant. It's even possible that I DEFINE the word hypervigilant (and hypochondriac and hypersensitive and pretty much every other high-strung-sounding word that starts with hyp). But my kid got a third-degree burn in PE. Come ON.

And here I was worrying about STAIRS.

The funny thing is, it took a while to really sink in. After I saw the burn, we walked home and I put a little aloe on it, and let her go play at her friend C's house. She called a while later to ask if she could sleep at C's, and when she and C and C's mom came to get her stuff, she mentioned that her hand was still hurting, and C's mom said she'd put more aloe on it if she needed, and I told C's mom it was OK to give her some Tylenol if necessary, and that seemed to be it.

Until I went to sleep last night, and had a dream in which some vague authority figure took N from me for some kind of "therapy," and I suddenly realized that he meant that N was going to be, um, sexually abused, and I was running down hallways slamming my body into walls, screaming for N, and hearing him scream back, "Help me, Mommy. Make it stop, Mommy." And I couldn't find him, and the doors wouldn't open. And even just typing this is making me feel the panic and the sick rising in my throat again.

I knew the second I woke, absolutely drenched in sweat, that this was not just a dream about failing N, because the very first thing in my conscious mind was Em, with my very first waking thought being, "I should have taken her straight into the principal's office then and there. It's not going to have the same impact via email."

And then I spent the next half-hour staring at the ceiling, waiting for my heart to stop racing, composing angry emails, and trying to decide just whom to cc:.

We've been at that school for six years now, and the worst I've done until the last month or so was to kvetch about Santa Claus. I guess I can just think of this as making up for lost being-a-pain-in-the-ass time.


po said...

That's just HORRIBLE! Seriously, that is inexcusable on the part of the PE teacher. Can you still take a picture of the blister? I think the principal needs to see some visual aids in addition to emails, or a visit on Monday.

Poor Emmy!! :( And reading your dream made me sick to my stomach too :(!!

Ashley said...

Hi there! I'm Ashley, an editor with BlogHer ads. Good for you for being hypervigilant! I'm the SAME way. I'd have wanted to string the PE teacher up by his toenails, or, uhhh, talk to the principal, too. Scoff!

Green said...

That's bullshit. I'd go into the office and talk with the principal in person. And I'd also tell Em (because she doesn't sound like the type to abuse/manipulate it) that she is a person before she is a student, and blindly following what adults tell her to do is not something she has to do, despite the impression adults give kids. If an adult tells you to do something that is DAMAGING your body, you stop (unless you're an Olympian, and about to win the Olympics).

Then teach her the difference between the good hurt (working your muscles) and the bad hurt (doing damage to your body).

Because if she'd refused to do her pushups and gotten sent to the principal and ultimately you'd been called, you would have backed her up.

God, sometimes I'm so embarrassed to be an adult.

Ambre said...

re: the dream. Wow, guilt much? LOL!

Imagine how guilty you're going to feel when 100 women who read your blog stampede through E's school and tie up that PE teacher and start burning him with cigarette butts? And it will be ALL YOUR FAULT!

po said...

Hey Ambre, there's some guys who read here too. Rich is here, and I'm sure he'd be happy to burn the PE teacher with cigarette butts!