a sick boy and a plea to parents

This has been a rough week. After a busy, action-packed weekend spent in good health, Super Boy woke up Monday morning with a headache and a low fever. No other symptoms, but already the alarms were starting to go off in my head because that was exactly how Super Boy started off when he had strep for the first time in the spring: headache and low fever and nothing else.

I waited for some other symptoms to kick in as the day progressed, but none did. The Motrin would take his fever down and have him acting his usual self until it wore off, and then he'd have a headache and fever again. Because of the ongoing fever, I knew he'd be home from school on Tuesday as well, but wasn't sure what the next day would actually bring.

After sleeping well through the night, Super Boy woke up Tuesday in much the same way - a low fever and a headache. Because of the H1N1 hysteria, I figured a call to his pediatrician was in order to see if we needed to be concerned/tested/treated. The nurse assured me that while it didn't sound like H1N1, strep is going around and because he was having the exact same symptoms as when he had strep in the spring, they wanted us to come in to swab his throat. Quick-strep test was negative, but they were going to grow the culture and see what happened (should hear today). The doctor felt that the culture probably won't grow strep, as there are also some viruses going around that have these same symptoms (and, incidentally, which he said are lasting up to a week in some kids), so it was a "wait-and-see" sort of deal.

Anyway, Tuesday was almost a mirror image of Monday except that his fever actually stayed away after his afternoon Motrin wore off, so while I was still planning to keep him home Wednesday (after all, they're supposed to be fever-free for 24 hours before returning to school), I was hopeful that he'd be able to go back today, just in time to make his class field trip to the local book store, which we'd both been looking forward to!

No such luck.

Wednesday went pretty well at the outset - he woke with NO fever, feeling pretty good other than being a bit congested in his head. But he was playful and active and his usual bubbly self most of the day, so I felt very good about his planned return to school today.

Until he ran another 99.9 fever yesterday evening.

Now I know that there are parents out there who won't consider their kids to have a TRUE fever until they're over 100 (and some even stretch that further, for reasons I can't fathom) and will still send them to school (most often pumped full of fever-reducer so they won't get sent home), but I'm strongly of the opinion that if my child is running a fever, he's staying home. And he's one of those kids who is almost ALWAYS an exact 98.6 sort of person, so when he's got a temp of 99.9, I know that he's not healthy.

He fell asleep fine last night, slept well, but again woke super congested and hoarse. No fever, no headache, but he said he felt lousy (and he sure looked lousy), so the poor kid stayed home again today and missed his field trip.

He's frustrated about missing out on seeing his friends, missing his field trip, and missing his favorite class - gym - but even he knows that it's better for him to stay home and get healthy and NOT infect his classmates than to go back before he's really feeling better and get everyone else sick, too.

And that has definitely been on my mind the past few days, too - the issue of parents who send their still-sick kids to school without any apparent regard for the other kids. Because I'm 98% sure that's where he picked up this little gem of a virus.

I get that I perhaps err more on the side of caution than others when it comes to gauging how sick my child is, but there are two reasons for that: (1) Super Boy was CONSTANTLY sick in daycare (and I'm NOT exaggerating that) and it took a major toll on his immune system, so I'm very sensitive to his health after all of that, and (2) I AM concerned about the health of the kids he plays with, or went to daycare with, or goes to school with and I don't want them to get sick, too.

I know that not all parents are stay-at-homes like I am right now, but I lived the full-time working mom scenario for the first four years of Super Boy's life, through his chronic & recurring sinus infections that went on for the better part of four years. I know that it IS hard to juggle work schedules with sick kids. That said, we all have to suck it up and do what we have to do for our children, even when it means seeing if we can work from home or having to use our vacation time and sick days for our kids' illnesses.

When parents send their kids to school knowing full well that they are still sick - and contagious - whether it's with a fever or anything else, those parents are knowingly and willfully sending their kids to school where they are going to get other kids sick. It's not even a question of maybe; it's a guarantee. Especially in a first grade classroom.

I'm sorry, but even the most frequently reminded of kids that age generally are NOT good about keeping their hands out of their eyes/nose/mouth (especially if they have boogers or runny noses, come on!), and they're also NOT good about always washing their hands or using hand-sanitizer after they've picked/wiped their noses, and they DON'T always cover their coughs and sneezes, etc. You get my drift.

So, to all the parents who read this blog, PLEASE do all of us a favor and keep your sick kids home until they are (1) fever-free for 24 hours, (2) clearly feeling better and past the worst of it, and/or (3) the doctor has said they're no longer contagious and can go back. Especially with H1N1 going around, I beg you to consider the health of the other kids in your child's classroom and just keep your sick kid home until they're truly well enough to return. Think about how much less time EVERY parent would have to take off in the long run if all of us just did the right thing when it was our child who was ill?

And to all of you who have sick kids at home right now, I feel your pain and I hope your kiddos feel better soon!

Your germ-conscious pal,


  1. I run a daycare and hold the same rules towards sick kids as school districts. The state requires it. But still parents bring there kids. It's very frustrating.

  2. Maybe you should lobby for paid sick leave for all parents. I was fortunate enough to have my mom available as backup childcare when I was an employed mom. But if I hadn't, I would've had to choose between my paycheck and keeping my child home.

    It's all very easy to get on one's high horse but if you haven't walked a mile in her shoes, you have no right to judge another mom's choices...

  3. I totally agree!!! I worked at a gym and I would get so frustrated because parents would bring thier kids feeling sick and awful--so they could get their workout in for the day--I'm sorry but when I'm sick I want to stay at home in bed--really it's selfish of parents.

  4. Crimson Wife, perhaps you didn't read my post closely - I was a full-time working parent from the time Super Boy was born until he was nearly 4 years old, and ONLY became a SAHM then because his specialists wanted me to remove him from daycare because his immune system was so battered after 4 years of CONSTANT illnesses (chronic sinus infections) while in daycare. So, yes, I also had to make the tough decisions to stay home with my child when he was sick and miss work, or have to work from home. I am fully aware that it's not easy. I'm simply saying that when parents choose to repeatedly bring their sick kids to daycare or school, they're only making it harder on every other parent who then has a sick child as a result.

    Thank you for all the comments - I know this particular subject sometimes has a tendency to devolve solely into a "working-mom-vs.-stay-at-home-mom" debate, but that wasn't my intention, as I HAVE walked a mile in both sets of shoes. Anyway, thanks again for the input on the topic, everyone!


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