This September, my precious baby boy starts kindergarten. While he is jumping up on the bed excited about it, I cry myself to sleep at night. He is busy practicing writing his name and making a list of things he would like in his lunch box. I am trying to convince my husband that I should quit my job and be a stay-at-home mom for the next few months.
There’s a lot of paperwork to do when sending your child to school for the first time, and there should be. But there are things I never anticipated, like the media release form. If my son happens to be photographed at athletic events, concerts, performances, or graduation ceremonies, his image is fair game. But I have to agree that his “name, picture, voice, or statements” be used by the district and school websites, as well as by any authorized outside media. I get the choice, and I so agreed. It makes perfect sense, but my 1986 registration was primeval in comparison.
They want to know what language we speak and if we speak many. I didn’t ask if Klingon counted. They want to know if we are migrant and if we process dairy or cotton on a regular basis. They want to know if I went full term and what his birth weight was. They want to know if he had Osgood Schaltter Disease, to which I said, “Huh?” They need a day-by-day account of where the bus should pick him up and drop him off, and who is allowed to do that. All of these things are wonderfully necessary, but they don’t calm the pulse rate as I prepare to loosen the apron strings.
And then there’s the one that gets GeekMom buzzing, sets the internet on fire, and raises more controversy than John Travolta’s Oscars gaffe.
I wasn’t too worried about this. I believe in medicine and our doctor’s education. My kids get all the vaccines that are currently available and recommended. Nicely spaced out, they have kept many a fear at bay in my mind. But now my boy is going to be in a school with 660 other kids whose parents had to fill out this paperwork. And they got asked the same questions and given the same choices I did. Like this for example:
Non-immunized students are not permitted to attend school unless one of the following conditions is met:
(Please check the applicable)
___Parent/legal guardian provides written assurance the student will be immunized within 90 days.
___Parent/legal guardian provides a written statement from a physician stating that immunization against one or more diseases may be medically inadvisable. (Required each year.)
___Parent/legal guardian provides a written statement that immunization is contrary to their sincere religious beliefs, or that he/she is opposed to immunization for philosophical reasons. (Required each year.)
Hmmm, so this herd that my baby is joining may not be as immune as he. This herd may not be quite what I thought. I’m not too worried about this, but I did check with some lawyers, and the main point of me mentioning this here today is to share this little fact with other kindergarten-starting GeekMoms who might be wondering.
You are allowed to ask if anyone checked these boxes.
You are not allowed to know who, you are not allowed to see anyone’s documentation, and you are not allowed to speculate with staff. You have no rights to any files and you have no rights to details of conversations regarding this. But you are allowed to say, “Hey, there are 660 kids here, any of them not get vaccinated?” And get just a number in response.
Now I’m not looking to fearmonger and I’m not looking to judge anyone’s beliefs. I don’t want to praise my own method of parenting over anyone else’s and I by no means have all, or any, of the answers to this lifelong gig we have engaged in. But, just so you know, you have the right to know how healthy your herd is, and that’s all I have to say about that.