I’m just like any other father when it’s time for my children to go back to school—so excited! All kidding aside, transitioning back to school can be difficult for everyone if you’re not prepared. When it comes to the extra challenges our kids with bleeding disorders face, the added stress can become an even larger obstacle. Let’s face it—the daily routine (or lack thereof) that goes with summer has ended, and it’s time to refocus on the classroom.
Each year, my wife and I tend to revert back to those routines that have helped smooth out this transition in the past. For instance, we start talking about school early, so all our kids start thinking about it. With six sons that fall within a broad age range, it means something different to each of them, so this creates an opportunity to discuss any of their individual concerns one-on-one. In our household, we’ve found that the sooner we start, the better it is for everyone. Our kids are used to running around outside until dark each night, which brings up one of the biggest obstacles for most parents –establishing bedtimes. During the summer, we become more relaxed, but it’s time to transition the kids from the couch and trampolines back to their own beds. My wife and I like to ease into it by starting their bedtime routine about 10 minutes earlier each night and waking them up 10 minutes earlier each morning. If you can get their body to adjust, it’s easier to adjust emotionally as well.
If your family is anything like ours, your pantry is filled with potato chips, cookies, and other junk food. Transitioning back to school is the perfect time to reload and focus on healthy foods. It’s really not too difficult, especially when our kids already know our expectations for healthy school lunches. Don’t get me wrong, if we forget the treat—we’ll hear about it for days. We also make sure we have an assortment of healthy options available for when they come home from school and instantly hit the fridge for the all-important after school snack.
If all this doesn’t sound any different than preparing other kids without hemophilia for school, you’re right, because hemophilia doesn’t require us to isolate our kids or make them feel different. Two of our six boys have hemophilia—yet you wouldn’t know it without careful interaction with them. This doesn’t mean it’s not important to make absolutely sure that teachers and other school officials become acquainted with hemophilia and what to look for. That’s why we make several trips to the school before the first day, to ensure that everyone is knowledgeable and all questions have been answered. It’s important to make time to meet and greet the key people in your child’s school for the upcoming year. Let them know who your son or daughter is and tell them about his/her bleeding disorder. We let our kids help educate teachers and staff on how to oversee and respond to any bleeds that they may encounter. It’s a positive way to help teach them the importance of advocating for themselves.
We’re finding that the majority of our younger son’s teachers are more comfortable now because most have already met or taught our oldest son (he has since moved on to high school). However, despite having shared his story with many teachers and staff over the years, we still visit the high school and prepare in the same manner. He may be old enough to take care of himself and self infuse, but everyone needs to become acquainted with hemophilia and what to do in case of an emergency.
By the end of the first week, it’s time to celebrate. We all go out to dinner as a family and talk about surviving the new school year. Did someone say “homework?”
Scott and his wife, Angie, live in Idaho Falls and have been married for 17 years. They have 6 sons, including two little boys they just adopted after having been foster parents since 2011. Preston is 15 years old, Parker is 12, Payton is 9, and Paxton is 5. Their newest family members are Crew, 6 years old, and Jaxson, 2 years old. Two of Scott’s sons, Preston and Payton, have moderate hemophilia. Scott enjoys spending time with his family and being outdoors – particularly cycling and flying. Scott serves on HFA’s Board of Directors as the Idaho representative and also serves as Vice President for the Snake River Hemophilia and Bleeding Disorder Association.