Saturday, February 25, 2006

Preventing Germs: Keep Sick Children Home!

Okay, as the mother of three children, one in grade school, one in preschool, and a baby still at home, I realize that my older two kids are going to bring home a certain amount of germs. I also realize that it seems to be inevitable that all three of my children will probably be sick at least once this winter with all the germs floating around. It seems, in the town where I live (and it is probably a similar situation in the town where you live) that we have had several nasty viruses going around that include copious amounts of hacking, coughing, sneezing, runny noses, etc, etc.

But after having spent a small fortune taking all three of my children to the pediatrician several times apiece this winter, I have finally had enough. Never mind that at least half of the doctor visits were simply exercises in throwing away our hard-earned money because I had to hear (yet again) that my child's illness was viral and they could do nothing about it. Never mind that my daughter has missed a ton of school because she has had tonsillitis, bronchitis, that nasty viral thing going around and several colds for good measure. Never mind that my baby has not had four straight weeks since October when he has not contracted something his older brother and sister brought home. Never mind that I got a note from the preschool saying that several of the students had been diagnosed with RSV and had been attending school until their parents figured out what was wrong with them. The bottom line is, I am sick and tired of having sick kids because other parents don't bother to keep their kids home when they are sick. And it is only getting worse.

Yes, I'm talking about you people, the ones who don't want to or you think you can't take off work because you rationalize to yourself that your child is not TOO sick. The ones who would rather send their child to school, daycare, after school activities, etc, with fevers, runny noses, and enough cold symptoms to make anyone gag than have to argue with their boss or take a sick day to take care of their sick child.

To everyone who is guilty of this, I simply say, keep them home and do the rest of the world a favor! Change plans, call a friend or relative, just do the right thing. The rest of the world is tired of having their children get sick because you won't keep them home.

It's not like we don't try to keep from getting sick. We take every precaution we can at our house. We are constantly washing our hands. We take vitamins. We get flue shots and keep our immunizations up to date. We try to avoid people who we know are sick. I keep my children home if they are not feeling well.

So here is a little list of symptoms for you parents who perhaps aren't sure whether you should keep your child home or not.

-If they are running a fever, even a low grade one, keep them home. If they have a fever, they are sick, they have germs, and during fever is one of the times that most children are contagious.
-If they feel urpy, or like they are going to throw up, keep them home for at least half the day until you are sure they are not going to throw up. Trust me, the school nurse doesn't like other people's urpy kids any more than you do, the school janitor hates to clean it up, the school secretary gets aggravated when the urpy kid doesn't make it to the nurse's office, and just the smell alone can have other normally healthy children upchucking their most recent meal out in droves as they pass the problem on the way to their classroom. And if your child is anything like mine, they are completely embarrassed by the thought of throwing up at school in front of their friends.
-If they ache, have a really runny nose, seem more tired than usual, and generally don't look like they feel good, trust your parental instincts and keep them home. If it isn't serious, one day home from school is not going to keep them from attending an Ivy League college

So yes, when in doubt that your child is well, keep them home. And yes, I heard all the excuses for not doing it.

You have an important meeting/presentation/water cooler discussion planned for that day. You have to go out of town/visit all the stores in your district/interview someone. I have one word for you: reschedule. Yes, you're probably going to take some flak for it. But you're an adult, aren't you? Part of being an adult is life not always being easy or convenient.

You've used up all your sick days and don't want to waste a vacation day. There is always a solution. Buy a personal day. Ask a co-worker to donate one of their sick days. Bite the bullet and use a vacation day. Ask to telecommute from home that day, if possible with your job. Take a day without pay if you have to, which is really terrible, I know, but don't you think your child is worth it?

You are a single parent and can’t take off work and have no one to watch your child when they are home sick. Let me ask you, who did you put down on your child's school admission form as a secondary emergency contact? Everyone has someone they can prevail upon to watch their sick child if they absolutely can't be home with them. And if your boss is that much of a jerk about you staying home with your sick child, you might want to re-think that job. Any job that ignores the fact that you have a family is not a good job, no matter what they are paying you.

I know there are tons of other reasons you rationalize to yourself that are good ones for sending your sick child to school or daycare or wherever. But they're not. I alswo realize that even the best parent can send their child to school just fine and then have them come home sick later in the day. I understand. That happens. But if they are sick before you send them, don't send them. Do the rest of the kids at school and favor and don't spread germs.

Personally, I think parents who send an obviously sick child to school, daycare, activities, etc, should be fined for probably making it so that at least three other children will get sick.

Or, I can just send you my doctor bills. Eitehr way, maybe it will stop parents from being so stupid. Or maybe not. There seems to be an open door policy on parent stupidity these days. And dang it, I think I'm coming down with what my son had last week.

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