Thursday, March 24, 2011

Germ Warfare on Standardized Testing


            Yesterday after I got the boys on the bus I did 50 minutes of cardio, wrote a rough draft of a short story, did some correspondence, and tried on 80% of the clothes in my closet looking for things to wear for the weekends of my play (I’ve poured my heart and soul into this project for eight weeks, I’m not wearing jeans and sneakers). By 2:00 I was feeling somewhat accomplished but a little hazy so I set my alarm to go off in 40 minutes. I read for ten and closed my eyes for a thirty-minute power nap. And then the phone rang.
            I don’t have caller ID because I’m cheap frugal but I absolutely knew who was calling.
            “Hello?”
            “Hi. It’s Fran Nelson* the nurse at the Hancock School. It’s Owen this time.”
            Well that was nice. At least it was a different kid today. Fran and I have talked a lot over the last two years. She and I have been through hives, vomiting, a chronic cough, an anxiety attack and a variety of abrasions and contusions. We talk so often I’m thinking of inviting her to be in the Christmas card picture next year.
            “Owen is running a temperature of 100.8”
            “I’ll be right there.” I told her. I bid goodbye to my lovely down pillow and memory foam mattress topper and pulled on my clothes and headed out the door.
            I wasn’t terribly surprised by the call. Owen had been complaining the day before of a headache and a little nausea. He seemed fine otherwise, so I attributed it to stress. It’s MCAS testing at school this week. MCAS testing is one of the standardized testing hoops kids jump through here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I’m not a fan of standardized testing. I understand why people feel we need them, but I feel like they suck the joy out of learning and being a kid. Oh, and they stress out my baby—and that just pisses me off irritates me.
            When we got home, Owen immediately fell asleep on the couch. Poor thing clearly wasn’t doing so well. Around 3:00 he woke up and we cuddled up and watched an episode of “The Jacky Chan Adventures” from Netflix instant view. After the first episode he started getting sick. Really sick.
I wasn’t feeling that well myself—it was time to get James from the bus stop. There I was rubbing the back of one kid while his little brother was about to get off the bus three blocks away. If I took the time to clean Owen up and get him into the car my six-year-old would get off the bus and there would be no mommy there.
I was already feeling a little guilty about sending Owen to school in the first place. But I knew I had no other choice. 
“Owen,” I said. “I’m going to leave you here while I get James. Okay?”
“Okay,” he said. It didn’t seem to bother him one bit. It bothered me a lot.
“I’m going to lock the door. Don’t open it for anyone.”
“Okay.”
I gave him a hug and left him alone in the house for the very first time. I knew he’d be fine. He was too sick to get into any mischief and I’d only be gone ten minutes or so. But I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to leave my sick kid alone for a second. But that’s part of the parenting gig, isn’t it? We just have to do the best we can with the options and information we have available to us. Besides, I have a chance to make up for it today. I not only have Owen home with me, but James woke up feverish this morning too. Looks we’re having a “Jackie Chan Adventures” marathon today.



*name changed