Thursday, September 1, 2016

My First Grader’s Experience with Pills at School

In January while washing laundry I found a little Ziploc bag with a assortment of different pills in it in the wash.  Not labelled in any way and each pill was different.  Needless to say I kind of freaked out a bit with my husband as we talked about how to approach the kids and handle the situation.  Fortunately for them it was a quiet freak out that they didn’t witness.  All they saw was the calm and composed approach we used to deal with it.  So I started with my fifth grader and the conversation went something like this “Hey sweetheart I was doing laundry today and I found something weird in the wash that isn’t mine.”  I showed her the baggie and asked.  “Is this yours or do you know anything about it by chance?”  She insisted that she had never seen it before and didn’t know what it was.  Knowing I can trust her because she is always honest with me, I moved down the line to my fourth grader.  Same conversation and same answer.  While it was a relief it was also more worrisome because now I only had my younger children left to ask.

When my first grader walked in the door from playing outside I asked him the same question.  His response “Are those mine mom?”  I calmly asked him to tell me a little bit about the bag.  “Oh, a friend at school gave it to me but I didn’t know what it was so I just put it in my pocket and forgot about it.”  Did he take or eat any of the pills? No.  Did he understand that this little bag was considered drugs? No, he face turned very pale and he insisted that he would never take drugs and didn’t know that medicine was drugs.  The details of the event were that another first grader had given him the bag on the playground during lunch time and told him not to worry about it because he would forget that he gave them to my son.  Fortunately, because we have a child with epilepsy and a heart condition we have previously instilled in all of our children how dangerous medicine can be and that if they take their brother’s pills or anyone’s pills without mom or dad knowing they could get sick and die.  Because of this knowledge about medicine and not the talk about drugs we had with my son, he was protected and knew better then to take any of the pills he was given.

My son’s teacher was contacted and the school principal got involved and I gave the principal the now partially dissolved pills from being in the washing machine to show the other child involved and the child’s parents.  Do I think the other first grader should be punished severely? No.  This may shock you and you may disagree, but at the age of 6 years old I firmly believe that this child didn’t understand that he was doing something so dangerous any more then my own 6 year old son did.  I only wanted to make sure that the child understood that it was dangerous and should never happen again.  Honestly, it could easily have been a daily pack from mom’s purse with her vitamins and a pain killer or something, but it was not something that I could just let go.

Now that it has been dealt with I have had the strong impression that I needed to share our story.  Not because I wanted people to tell me what they thought about how it was handled, but because children deserve to be protected.  I have always wondered when the right time to warn my children and teach them about drugs and medicine was, and I can honestly say that with the world the way it is today that as soon as they head off to school, or as soon as they can reach the medicine cabinet is when you should be talking with your children.  Tell them what medicine they are taking when they are sick and why you are giving it to them.  Explain what could happen if they took too much of it and help them understand that when you take something and you don’t need it because you are sick it is considered drugs.

This entry was originally posted on March 22, 2015 on my previous blog.  I am currently moving all of it's content to this blog.

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