Today I woke up feeling tired and overwhelmed and not able to handle the day.
Then my son woke up saying that he couldn’t breathe very well and he needed his puffer. My son has asthma that is triggered by a viral infection. Normally he has no asthma symptoms, but when he gets a cough – that would just be a regular cough in another kid – he starts to have difficulty breathing. He is also prone to getting croup – still at 8 years old!
Because I already felt unable to cope with the day, this made me feel very anxious. This made me feel like I was not a very good mom today. Mostly because of the “No Medication at School without a Doctor’s Note” rule and my own inaction in response to this.
At the end of the last school year, when my son had a cough and was doing some sort of outdoor activity all day, I sent his puffer with him in his bag just in case he needed it. Well, somehow his teacher saw this and called the office and the office called me, quite upset. Apparently I am not allowed to send medication with my son without having a form filled in and signed by my doctor. And the medication has to be left in the office at all times. My son has to come into the office to take it with supervision. The office asked me to come in and get the medication to take it home.
This was not such a big deal. I didn’t really feel like my son was going to need his puffer. I really just sent it as back up. So I went to school and picked it up and was given a copy of the forms that I need to have my doctor fill out and sign.
And then I did nothing about those forms for the rest of last school year and all of this school year.
Partly because it was an annoyance. I would have to make an appointment. Take my son and the forms into the doctor. Then get a prescription for another puffer and air chamber that I could then leave in the office. Then get that prescription filled.
And also because I didn’t really think he would need it. If he was sick enough for his breathing to be bothering him, I would probably just keep him at home with me. And, if his breathing was ever really all of a sudden bad at school, I could be at the school with his puffer in about 5 minutes (we are really close).
And because if he does get sick enough to have his breathing become difficult, croup is the more serious issue that I would have to be worrying about and the puffer does not do anything to help that.
And because he went most of this school year without any breathing issues whatsoever – so I sort of thought he had outgrown it.
However, in the back of my head I always did think that I should just have that puffer in the office. In case he does the Terry Fox Run on a really humid day and has trouble breathing. Or in case they are doing track and field and he gets so competitive in the races that he can’t tell himself that he should not give 100% because he is feeling a bit under the weather. The thing is, I don’t really understand asthma. I have never really figured out when it will bother him and when it is the asthma or croup that is bothering him more. And I know that this adds to my stress level, even though it is not an issue that I think about every day. It is just one of those things that sits on my “Things to Worry About” list as a mom. If I really thought about it, I knew that I should just make this doctor’s appointment and get a puffer to leave at school.
So this morning, as I was walking my 5 year old daughter to school, I was explaining to her about the fact that I was feeling anxious and overwhelmed this morning. I was telling her that sometimes I just feel that I can’t handle it all. Then I told her that when I get feeling like this, one thing that I like to do is to pick an action item that I can do immediately to make myself feel better. So I told her that as soon as I got home, I was going to book this appointment to get our doctor to fill in the forms so that next year, my son would have a puffer in the school office just in case.
I am not sure she was really listening, or really gave our conversation much thought, but I think that it was an important thing to raise with her. It is important for her to know that everybody feels overwhelmed sometimes, that everybody feels anxious every now and then. That these feelings are normal. And that one way to make yourself feel better is to just pick one small thing you can do to make it better. If she hears me having honest conversations with her about anxiety and stress now, at her young age, then hopefully my voice and my instruction for picking one small thing to take action on, will be in her head when she is facing anxiety herself. Hopefully she will be able to tell herself that everyone feels like this sometimes and she will be able to move through the feelings quickly.
I do remember my teacher in grade 5 and 6 talking about this. I don’t remember the exact conversation, but I remember him saying that everyone feels down every now and then. That this is a normal part of life. And that you will get through it.
Now, this obviously is a simplified version of the truth and there are more serious issues surrounding depression that would have to be taken into account. Not everybody is able to just get through it. But I still think that it is a valuable conversation to have with your kids. I think that it helped me to hear that as a child. And I am able to tell myself that I won’t feel overwhelmed for too long and that I just have to keep going through today.
Explaining this to our kids, and teaching them that picking an action item is one step that they can take to help make themselves feel better, will give them one tool in their tool box for dealing with anxiety. If we can help all of our awesome World-Changing Kids to learn and practice this, I think that they will be able to go more confidently through the world and complete their awesome world-changing work! That is part of our job as the adults in the lives of these kids. We are in charge of helping them deal with negative emotions like anxiety so that they can be the best World-Changing Kid that they can be and do great things that will make the world a better place.
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