A recent conversation online went like this:
- I sent my kid with a contagious virus back to daycare after a day because our pediatrician said it would be ok.
- huh. The CDC says that illness is contagious for at least several days up to a few weeks.
- What am I supposed to do? Keep her home?
- Well, yes, generally it’s good to keep people who you know have a contagious illness home.
- My husband and I both work, neither of us can stay home with a sick kid. I don’t know what you think we’re supposed to do here. I let daycare know she was sick. That’s the best I can do.
I get that people have to work, OK? I do. But part of having kids is having sick kids. If you have no ability to provide care for a sick child – if neither parent can miss a day or two of work, and there are no other friends or family members who can care for a sick child – then you have a problem. It’s like having a baby and then being surprised that people expect you to feed and clothe that child. Providing basic care for your own children is a big basic part of having kids.
(Before we get sidetracked – being thrust into a situation you weren’t expecting is NOT what we’re talking about here. People get unexpectedly pregnant when they can’t afford a child. People are unexpectedly thrust into poverty and are unable to feed their kids without help. Kids get unexpectedly seriously ill and it does cause a major work-related issue with parents. But what I’m discussing here is regular, everyday contagious illnesses. The flu. Colds. Respiratory viruses. HFM.)
Kids get sick. You can’t be surprised when it happens. In fact, if people send their sick kids to school and daycare, you will have sick kids more often.
Thought about that? *YOU* can’t afford to take time off to care for your sick child, so you send them to school and daycare. Because YOU are the single most important person on the planet. YOU cannot miss work. But, evidently, you feel like the parents of all the other daycare kids, or kids in your child’s class at school, CAN miss work. Because when their kids catch whatever your kid has, they’re going to have to take time off from work. Time they wouldn’t have had to take if your kid had just stayed home.
But wait. What does that mean? That’s right – it means that YOUR kid is probably sick because some other jerk sent THEIR kid to school or daycare sick.
Now, sometimes it’s an accident. Kid doesn’t seem sick and you don’t know they’re brewing something, and they pass it along while they’re still asymptomatic. Or kid says they don’t feel well, but parent doesn’t believe them and sends them anyway. Sure, that happens.
But when you KNOW your kid is contagious… then sending them isn’t an accident. It’s being an asshole.
Don’t be an asshole.
NOW, besides all the other parents you’ll inconvenience by your oh so important work schedule that “forces” you to send your child to school or daycare with a contagious illness, consider whether one of the other children, or one of the other adults in those children’s lives, is particularly vulnerable.
Teddy doesn’t go to school or daycare, but what if he did? Are you OK with Teddy having a week or two in the hospital because YOU couldn’t miss a day or two of work? If you are, then you’re an asshole. Don’t be an asshole.
Or, to make it more relevant to the news right now, what if a classmate of your child’s has severe asthma? You send your kid with a respiratory virus to school, knowing he’s probably contagious, but he’s not “sick enough” to stay home. You don’t know it, but he has Enterovirus D68, which in most healthy kids is just a bad cold. Kids are disgusting, so your kid wipes his nose on his hand and then opens the door to the classroom. Asthma Kid opens the door next, then bites his fingernails. A week later, he’s in the ICU with D68. You maybe never hear about it, or you hear about it but don’t think much of it, not realizing that YOU are the asshole who sent this kid to the ICU.
Don’t be the asshole. Keep your sick kids at home.