Swine Flu and Your Child!
Children are little and yet they can get hugely ill. Cleaning up vomit at two a.m. is no small task. Dealing with their ear infections is no small task. Worrying, worrying, worrying over them is no small task, and so when something like H1N1 or, more romantically, Swine Flu, rears its ugly head, well it’s troubling.
The National PTA set the printing presses to work, though, and banded together its internet savvy correspondents to stop the spread of panic which, it seemed, was one hundred more times more virulent than the flu itself. The big fix? Not hand wringing, but hand washing! It was all over the PTA Facebook site, cleanly ladies pronouncing the virtues of a good old-fashioned scrub with soap and running water. And it didn’t matter if it had been commented on before, everyone felt justified repeating the information with their own personal flourish. It was just like an actual PTA meeting replete with repetition, only virtual.
As a full grown adult who has somehow managed to keep my two children not just alive, but fed, clothed, entertained and educated, I feel entitled to walk on to my daughter’s school campus with poise and confidence. As PTA president, however, I am generally hiding behind vending machines or just flat out running for my car in a state of avoidance. Believe me, a PTA president is rarely stopped to be praised. So, when I was accosted by a mother as I was walking off campus during the recent epidemic, nay pandemic, I guiltily thought I was going to be chastised for not having had the PTA mobile flu clinic come to our school and administer shots. I had good reason: our principal informed me our school district actually has its own clinic with free shots. Also, I had put it on the agenda at our October meeting and it raised some ire from the anti-immunization faction and little excitement from anyone else. All right, off to the district clinic you go. But now, in front of me stood a woman and I knew the look. It was the look of an imminent upbraiding. There was a flu, she told me in halting English and yet here I was…
Yes, yes, what was I? Negligent? Ill-informed? Unqualified? I am in fact all three, but this was not her concern. What concerned her, she continued, was that on campus we had…Oh Lord. I thought she was going to say Mexican kids. You recall the Swine Flu was particularly bad in Mexico? I mean it got bad enough that Americans stopped cruising there. A large number of our students and their families have family in Mexico whom they visit. “Please,” I thought to myself, “Please don’t suggest a PTA-sponsored quarantine.” And fortunately for me, and more fortunately for her, she didn’t. Her concern was the school pig who lives quite peaceably on the school farm with the school ponies and chickens and rabbits and goats and ducks and geese. It is quite the idyll. Except for that damn, dirty, swine-flu ridden pig, that is, breathing its swine flu all over our poor innocents. I stopped her before she could suggest the pig’s demise. I placed my hand on her arm and directed her to the PTA’s website page on H1N1, which was actually a good informational resource: nicely laid out, sensible and coherent. Everything she wasn’t. I also suggested she take it up with the principal. This, I believe, is called “passing the buck,” but it is always reassuring for me to know that if I am ever caught with no handy vending machine to hide behind, I can, at least, hide behind our principal.
Photo by Jeremy van Bedijik
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