My Daughter, the Fire Hazard – Laura Fahrenthold – Author
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My Daughter, the Fire Hazard

My daughter is a lot of things, but never has anyone called her a “fire hazard.”


“You gotta be kidding me!” I exclaimed to the school nurse’s office on the phone today. “A fire hazard? Really?”


I admittedly shouldn’t have rudely followed up with, “Should I send her to school tomorrow with a fire extinguisher in her backpack, just in case she bursts into flames?”


Thankfully, the nurse laughed.


Only I was annoyed. She needed a doctor’s note to get out of gym and wasn’t even  allowed in the cafeteria without one too. Forget classes. There was also the problem of giving her a key to the elevator without the almighty note.


PS: I am not one of those parents who calls the school. I’ve never signed a school petition for or against anything. And I’ve never joined or participated in the PTA. (They’d hate me anyway.) I learned that early on, when asked to bring grapes to the nursery school sing along. I knew enough about choking hazards to cut them in half, but no one told me I had to peel them too! After one of the hostess moms actually yelled at me, I asked for them back, rushed to buy a steak knife from the local grocery store and spent the next 30 minutes in the parking lot peeling away at the grape halves until every bit of skin was gone. Meanwhile, I missed the entire “musical” and no one — not even the kid who looked like Mikey– touched the grapes after all of that.  They’d been manhandled beyond recognition! Look Mom! No skin!


grapesPerhaps this is why I eventually turned into what you could call the Anti-Mom. Well, it had something to do with being a Girl Scout Leader too, but mostly the deal got sealed when a parent called the school SUPERINTENDENT to complain that an after school activity leader (thank God it wasn’t me!) taught the kids how to make grilled cheese sandwiches on white bread, not whole wheat. The horrors!


And now, years later after all the lawsuits caught up, there’s apparently some New York State law that says kids on crutches pose a serious danger at school. What if someone trips over them and sues the district? Worse, if there’s a fire, the offending crutches could cause a pile up of tripped kids trying to make their ways out the door!


That’s the world we live in. You can’t go to school on crutches without a doctor’s note now too. Only, I was not up on the rule.


Even if I had been, the injury did not warrant a weekend emergency room visit. Forget the $500 it would cost just to walk in the door.


That wasn’t the point. She’d simply twisted her ankle after tripping on an untied shoelace. Nothing that a frozen pack of peas, two Advil and an ace bandage wouldn’t take care of. It could wait until Monday when I’d get an x-ray at the doctor’s office, or so I thought, just to be one hundred thousand percent sure. (That’s what Moms do.) Knowing it would hurt to trek to classes that week, I called a friend to borrow her crutches.


No sooner did she get to school on Monday morning did my phone ring. It was my daughter informing me that she was called to the nurse’s office and that she needed a doctor’s note for the crutches.


Fair enough, but it would have to wait until the doctor’s office opened.


I called back first thing this morning. (It’s been a looong day.) They said to bring her in at 1:45. For what? Since they didn’t have an x-ray machine there, meaning I’d have to go to the hospital to get one done anyway, what would be the point in having her hop up on the table, remove her shoe, look at her ankle, poke at it, and ask if she could put weight on it. Then the doctor would rub his chin a bit, looking thoughtful and perplexed, only to proclaim that in order to be one hundred thousand percent sure too, she would need an x-ray. Oh and that will be $60 please.


“Can’t he just write the school a note, saying yes, she is on crutches until further notice and give me a prescription for an x-ray? Why do we need to make an office visit for that?” I asked the receptionist. “It will save all of us a lot of eventual time in the long run.”


“Well, no, she has to be seen before we can write the note,” I was told.


“Are you kidding me? Really?”


This was becoming ridiculous.


The receptionist saw my point and called back an hour later, saying to come pick up the x-ray prescription. After that, she’d fax a note to the school nurse.




I pulled my daughter out of school early, drove to the doctor’s office, got the prescription, drove her to the hospital, and sat.


A few hours later, the x-ray was complete, only they couldn’t give me the results.


“It’s against the rules,” I was told.


“Against what rules?”



Apparently, there’s now a rule in hospitals that test results can’t be given directly to a patient. They must only go through a doctor. Maybe it’s an old rule, I’m not sure. All I know is no one would tell me anything.


“You mean to tell me I am a customer who paid for a service and you can not tell me what I paid for? What if I came in here with a bone popping out of my head? Are you telling me you couldn’t confirm that there really was a bone popping out of my head? You’d need to call my doctor first to say, ‘There’s a bone popping out of the patient’s head!’ and then he would have to call me to repeat the information– ‘THERE’S A BONE POPPING OUT OF YOUR HEAD.'”


I actually felt my head just to be sure nothing was popping out of it.


Ok. Fine. Rules are rules. Whatever.


About 20 minutes later, my cell phone rang. At least it was fast.


“Hi, Mrs. Pittman?”


“Yes, this is she speaking.” I knew it was the doctor’s office. The only time I get called Mrs. Pittman anymore is when my kids are involved.


“The x-ray is clear. Nothing broken.”


“Thanks for telling me,” I said, somehow feeling vindicated. She was then nice enough to fax the note, rather than have me go pick it up.


Still, all this for a simple note?


The answer is yes.


Welcome to Sue-merica! And have a nice day!



  1. And in case no one told you Mrs. Pittman, you will need a note once she is ready to go off the crutches too! Don’t even think about healing without one

  2. mindy mangan says:

    Laura….I feel your pain! But be prepared, Betsy is right. A note will probably be needed when she heals! Hoping for quick healing for you all! <3

    • Laura says:

      Thanks Mindy! I hung out with some AC people at an alumni cocktail party the other night. Wished you were there!

  3. Gitte Brix says:

    Do the kids still need notes to go to the bathroom?

  4. Trish says:

    Hi Honey – and THATS why you join the PTA. Erin was on crutches so many times – but they all knew me and yes – politics is as prevalent in school as everywhere else. Yes, get a note when she is off crutches. OR – start dating a doctor – all your problems will be solved…….

    • Laura says:

      HA! I remember everything Erin went through with that. She’s a great girl. Miss you!