For the Love of All That Is Good, Keep Your Sick Kid at Home

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Mommy. Mommy. My head hurts. My knee hurts. My elbow. Mommy. I’m so sorry, Mommy. I don’t feel good. Mommy, it hurrrtttts! No, Mommy, I don’t want it! No, ohhh, my diaper…Mommy.

This has been our soundtrack. For weeks. Not days, weeks. Our little Phoenix came down with the flu a week after the New Year. Fine, we said. She’ll get sick. That’s what happens in school. You know little kids and their germs, right? I even blamed myself, because I had been unsure about whether to get her the flu shot due to all the controversy and some rather vehement opinions from the grandparents.

After two weeks at home, she was excited to go back to school, see her teachers and friends, and get back into her routine. For six days. By the end of the sixth day, she was running a temperature, and the next morning, we were back at the pediatrician. This time, the likely diagnosis is strep.

I called the school and reminded the administrator that sick kids pose a danger to their classes and shouldn’t be allowed to stay in school. Her response? “Oh, yeah, I’ve told them that. They don’t listen.” WTF? WTF on ALL the levels? Listen up. IT DOES NO ONE ANY GOOD for your kids to be in school sick. Especially when they are tiny.

You are putting your child at risk, and making them miserable because they have to suffer without you all day. You are placing the teachers in a difficult situation, because they have to take on an inappropriate level of responsibility for your child’s care. You are placing the other students in the classroom and potentially the entire school at risk for infection. And you may be doing more damage than you know. Your child’s classmates are bringing these germs home to their families. Some of their parents are pregnant. Some of them are big siblings to very tiny babies. Some of them live with elderly grandparents. All of them deserve to be happy and well at school.

I know you have to go to work, but so do I. I missed nearly two weeks of work having to stay home with my daughter, because it is irresponsible to send her back to school with an infectious disease. I shouldn’t be bearing that burden alone, losing paychecks and wasting money on an entire month of school she couldn’t attend because someone else “couldn’t afford to miss a day.” I promise you, take the day and get over the illness–it will be a lot faster than if you keep running yourself and your kids, half-dead, to your obligations. It’s just one more example of how we need to prioritize self-care and common sense over “getting things done.”

P.S.: I know some of you want to stay home with your babies when they’re sick, and you have bosses that treat you like you’re lying every time you need a sick day. Fuck ’em. Tell them to fly a fucking kite. In those exact words. If they want to push you, stop talking to them and take it to HR. You have rights around this shit.

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