Scars following Jill Kargman‘s double mastectomy weren’t just physical.
The former “Odd Mom Out” star recalled a traumatizing experience that plagued her son, Fletch, for Tablet Magazine in a piece published Monday.
“The drains from my double mastectomy were flowing with a heinous Hawaiian Punch-esque blood-and-body-fluid combo, and I was in tremendous pain,” Kargman wrote. “Little did I know I was about to be in so much more, but in a shadowed fog of a worse anguish: The amorphous, harder-to-heal ache of emotional pain.”
After telling her tear-stricken son she had the surgery as a precaution, Kargman said her 11-year-old witnessed a disturbing scene at lunch involving a fellow student.
“A boy in his class blithely said, ‘I’m a fan of Hitler! God sent Hitler down to kill the Jews because they nailed Jesus to the cross!’” Kargman recounted.
Upon contacting the headmaster, Kargman said, she received the response, “Courage!” back. “Running on Tylenol and sheer rage,” Kargman said.
She and her husband, Harry, replied again to the school, which informed the parents they were “on it.”
“A disciplinary committee was empaneled, and we were told the student would miss two field trips as ‘punishment.’ He could have been glued to Nickelodeon that day for all we know. Oh, and as it turns out, he was on the second field trip, so he only had to miss one,” Kargman revealed. “We found the whole episode extremely upsetting and I found myself — a generally very happy person — in a dark spiral of anguish for a month.”
After conversing with other parents, Kargman discovered past anti-Semitic remarks had resulted in little punishment.
“Last fall, another Jewish student, two grades ahead of my son, was describing his summer vacation and said he’d been to sleep-away camp. A classmate responded, ‘Was it Auschwitz?’ Again, zero suspension. However, when a student called a black classmate the N-word, he was expelled,” she explained.
While Kargman’s son asked his teacher to move his desk away from the student who upset him, the actress said part of her blamed the surge in hatred on the “political hellscape.”
Following a trip to Mount Sinai to “get my drains out,” Kargman said, she later ventured to a bookstore on the Upper East Side.
“And an adorable, tattooed gay guy asked how he could help me. I told him. He selected a pile of books about the Holocaust and gift wrapped them beautifully in paper with watercolors of cooks and a gold ribbon,” Kargman shared.
With the assistance of her friend, the books were dropped off in the lobby of a Park Avenue residence, where the student resided.
“I had affixed a card to the package that read, ‘We thought this would prove valuable reading for your family. Best, the Kargmans.’ I never heard from them,” Kargman noted.
Though the fate of the books is unknown, the experience taught Kargman that the time to speak up is now.
“We can’t be afraid of ‘causing trouble.’ And institutions need to have protocols for punishment and community healing, as well as a schoolwide discussion on how this will simply not be tolerated. Racism, religious or sexual discrimination, sexism, none of it,” she explained.
As a result, Kargman enrolled her son in a new school in Greenwich Village for the forthcoming fall semester, when he’ll be starting the fifth grade.
“There was a rainbow flag in the lobby left over from Pride month, which you would never see at our old school. I knew our family was home,” Kargman wrote.
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