If ever I’m asked, “what is the worst experience you’ve had as a parent to a child with eczema”, my mind immediately focuses on the years my child was at school. Between the ages of 10 and 15 my son went through a barrage of torment, abuse and bullying at school, which I’m sure still affects him to this day. At first he would tell us about his days at school and what other children were saying about him but then he stopped telling us. As parents we encouraged him to speak openly with us so we could explain why the other children were being so cruel and heartless. We tried to find reasons for everything but the reality was we were only making excuses for other people’s children and their ignorance.
The worst and most memorable time
Of all the incidents that have happened to our son at school over the years, there is one that stands out well above the rest. It was in December and his class were rehearsing for the school Christmas concert. As 10-year olds they were a little old for the traditional Jesus, Mary and Joseph type play with stable and animals, so their teacher decided to stage a play about Scrooge. When selecting children for the various parts, one child suggested my son should play the part of Tiny Tim because he was “disabled” and not like the other kids. Apparently my son flew into a rage and there was an altercation, of sorts. Later, when he came home from school he told us what had happened. His teacher also called us later that evening and explained the event in some detail. She was very understanding. However, we didn’t sleep well that night.
“When am I ever going to get better?”
Obviously still upset, my son didn’t want to go to school the next morning. My wife and I both worked and she would leave the house before me. I always dropped my son off at school and would then drive on to the office. On this particular day, it was obvious I was going to have to deal with this latest problem as a priority. This particular morning, I talked to my son and tried to get him to understand that kids say things they don’t really mean and because they were ignorant to his condition, they didn’t really understand what he had to deal with. He turned to me and said, “Yes I know that Dad, but when am I ever going to get better?” Until that very moment, it hadn’t quite dawned on me that he didn’t realise he was never going to get better. I called in sick that day, phoned the school and told them my son was not feeling well. We spent the day together.
We both cried a lot that day
During the course of the day I had to explain to my son that he was going to have to live with his condition for the rest of his life. That’s not an easy task for any parent. It certainly wasn’t easy for me, and I’ll never forget the sad look on his face. It was like I’d condemned him to a life of misery, and that’s what I felt too. We both cried that day but I feel it was also the day I believe my son grew up and faced the facts. At least I think he listened to my advice. I knew however, it would only be a matter of time before we would see how well he was going to handle the truth.
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