Monday, March 2, 2009

You've Got to Be Kidding Me

Today I'm home with not one, but two sick kids. Are you kidding me? Sore throats, fever, stomachaches.

We haven't had a school year that was this unhealthy in. . .ever. I'm just beside myself with annoyance. The key issue here, and I see it all the time in the classrooms, is that parents see no problem with sending their kids to school when they're symptomatic: "Oh, it's just a little runny nose." This is so incredibly frustrating to me.

Parents have no problem sending a note to school when it's their own issue at stake: "Johnny is allergic to all nuts, including peanuts, and also wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, and dust mites. Please do not send any of these items to school and make sure your children are well dusted. Thanks, Johnny's Mom."

OK, so I feel bad that Johnny has all of these allergies, but Johnny is the same kid who comes to school with a dribbly nose which means he's likely in the very early stages of something contagious, but Johnny's Mom has no problem sending him to school and exposing him to my immuno-suppressed kid. Guess what, Johnny's Mom? That dribbly nose, which might be something minor for Johnny, is still really contagious and is going to wipe my kid out for a week and cost me in doctor visits and time that I can't work.

Believe me, we've tried the allergy parent tack and sent home notes to parents letting them know how important it is for Finn that they not send their kids to school when they're even mildly sick. You know what? People don't care. What if I did that? What if I sent in a PB&J sandwich even after a parent made their child's food allergy known? To me, it's the same thing. It's caring enough to respect someone else's situation.

Now obviously, I would never send it a food that I thought would endanger another child. Our very good friends have a child with a severe nut allergy and frankly, I get nervous any time I serve him something to eat and I scrutinize all labels before I even open something in his presence. But my point here is that if it means keeping a kid home from school and missing work or having to arrange child care, going that extra step just doesn't seem to be important enough to people.

We do as much as humanly possible to keep our kids healthy--healthy food, lots of sleep, supplements, being really vigilant about handwashing and germs--but nothing is going to overcome kids who come to school when they're contagious and cough and sneeze all over my kids. Nothing.

The school we're at now isn't actually a peanut free school, but we have been at them in the past. And I do have to admit, those kinds of restrictions used to annoy me because I would think to myself, "Wow, if my kid's food allergy were that life threatening that he couldn't be in the same building as a nut, I'd be too nervous to let him go to school and I'd homeschool." Heck, maybe our situation is the same. Until Finn is of an age where he can totally police himself and can consistently keep his hands away from his eyes, nose and mouth (and that does tend to be hard), maybe I should stop kvetching and homeschool him.

But let's face it, no one wants to do that. And I get that. Selfishly, I just wish other parents would give my kids the same consideration I give theirs. Is that asking too much?

Sigh. I know I've raged about this before. It gets me nowhere except making me sound like I have something against kids with food allergies. Which I don't. I'll stop now. I have to go take temperatures anyway and make chicken soup.


Alisa White said...

I couldn't agree with you more! This is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves!

in a world surrounded by men said...

I agree with you - although I homeschool my two older boys, our #3 goes to preschool and I share the same gripe that you do.

Beth said...

Oh I can't stand it when other kids share their germs--especially when it's obvious they should be home and not out sharing!

Hope your guys start feeling well soon (and that they don't share it with you).

1dreamr said...

I can assure you, that is NOT too much to ask. But, you're right - people are generally inconsiderate and worried only about themselves. Sad, really.

Hope everyone feels better soon...

Jane Copes (Professor Sepoc) said...

Hey Declan, hey Finn--hope you're feeling better really soooooon. In the meantime, see if your mom will let you make some oobleck to celebrate Dr. Suess's birthday: www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/00000088 It's made from cornstarch and water and food coloring. Hope you aren't allergic to corn starch.

Hi Natalie, hope you don't get the bug too! Jane

Anonymous said...

I agree. I try to keep my kids home when they are sick, but having that kid with all of the allergies it's hard to tell when they are sick or when it's their allergies acting up. My son has a runny nose every day of his life. I would have to homeschool too, but that is financially impossible. I wish there was a good way to know when it's just his allergies or when it's a cold and he's contagious.

If you have any suggestions on how to know the difference I really would appreciate it. He rarely runs a temp even if he is really sick.

I agree too, this year has been the worst years for my kids to be sick. I've never taken so much time off from work as I have this year.

I hope Finn and Declan get better soon! You guys are in my prayers.


Leeann said...

Totally sucks. And I totally agree with you about the sick kid thing.

This year my husband has been the one with the eternal illness. This area has just been way hard hit.

I hope your boys get well really soon.


M said...

And you wouldn't believe all the booger picking that goes on at school! I am constantly telling kids to go and wash their hands WITH SOAP...at first I was nice- now I am all "QUIT PICKING YOUR NOSE!!!" I embarrass them by saying I don't want to touch the pencil, paint brush, toy etc that they just touched with booger fingers. UH!

Lisa said...

And this is why I home school.......but should be at work....because I really can't afford to stay home either.

Your right! NO!Body wants to home school...but....I must say the pay off of home schooling is more then I ever imagined.

It makes me crazy when parents take their kids to a class outside of school or a sporting event and KNOW there kids are sick. WHY!?

I use to be nice about it UNTIL my dad was diagnosed with NON-smokers lung cancer. NOW I say, Do you realize there are people here who might have a loved one on chemo? This is just the thing that could kill someone...........

It is SELFISH!! We live in a society of ME, ME, ME.

I am sorry your kids are sick and I hope they get better soon....I wish your son and other child well and some peace and sanity for you!

Mamasita said...

Hope your kiddos get to feeling better soon.

Definetly not fun. :-(

Mom on the Run said...

I cringe when I think of my son's kindergarten class. I sent in a bottle of hand sanitizer, like all the other parents. But are the kids instructed to use it before lunch, etc. Then there is the issue of the bathroom. Blechh. Too horrible to contemplate how may Ks do not wash their hands.

The Professional Bag Lady said...

I'm a teacher in one of those 'germ infested' schools... I have not been healthy since August! Just when I think I'm clear... another kid comes up and coughs or sneezes in my direction!

Believe me I know what you are talking about... I'm "SICK and TIRED" of parents not keeping their kiddos home when they are sick (and tired).

Lauren said...

I'm with you, Natalie. Just found out the lingering illness here is strep throat--our first ever bout. Hmm, during our first ever winter attending school...:)

Hope you all are getting well; we're trying that here.


Anonymous said...

I came across your blog thru bloglines searching for peanut-free recipes. I have to say that I'm extremely upset at your views on how you are comparing a cold germ to an allergy, or food allergy. My youngest has a severe peanut allergy, although I have never sent a paper to the school asking parents to have their kids "well dusted" I did ask the school to not give him anything sent in by other parents. His allergy is (from what our allergist has told us) is life-long and his RAST test was considered life threatening. I would be very concered if I found out there was a parent in my sons class who thought the way you did and compared something that isn't avoidable to something that can be avoided. I'm sorry that your kids are sick and hope they do feel better, but your post really struck a nerve with me.

Natalie said...

Anonymous, I'm sorry I struck a nerve with you, but when Finn was even more immunosuppressed from the chemo than he is now, germs that come home from sick kids at school were life threatening for him.

Did you know chicken pox can kill an immunosuppressed child? When Declan was in first grade, we had to keep him home for a week because someone sent their child to his class with chicken pox. If Declan had brought it home and even just exposed Finn, Finn would have had to have been hospitalized. Things like chicken pox are still very serious for Finn. It's no joke. It goes beyond a runny nose. I guess I should be grateful that it's only been multiple cases of croup, ear infections, and now strep that we've had so far. I'll overlook the pink eye they've both had.

And like I said, I am very, very careful when I find out there is a child with a food allergy in the boys' class. I take it very seriously. What I said was that I wished people felt our situation was important, too. A runny nose that's a mild nuisance in someone else's family can turn into something severe for my family. Some consideration in the reverse direction would be nice.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled onto your blog today, and I'm so sorry to hear of your family's battle.

I don't see how a food allergy (which is avoidable) is comparable to colds (which even before symptoms appear are contagious. Germs aren't exactly avoidable. Unless you live in a bubble. They are needed however, even as nasty as they are.) If Johnny's mom really wrote "make sure your children are well dusted" the teach shouldn't have distributed the note. That's going to far. Well then is it too far for me to ask for all the parents who smoke to put their childrens coats in bags so my kid doesn't smell it?
I understand you desire for children who are sick to stay away. I understand how someone with an suppressed immune system could be affected by a cold, or worse.

I really don't see how a cold is comparable to chicken pox. The parent who sent the kid in with chicken pox was stupid and wrong.
However, We can't always keep our kids home for every sniffle.

For me, personally its very frustrating NOT to be able to keep my 2 school aged kids home when they have a cold. (i.e. runny nose, cough, tummy ache. Basic cold symptoms with out a fever of 100* or higher) Our school district has a very strict policy when it comes to attendance. Which it bothers me because it's calling my judgment as a parent to question. They are basically telling me how many days I can keep my kid home. We have 10 days of parent excused days for the 180 day school year. Dr. excused days are not counted in the 10 days, however if one of my children has just a cold they don't need to go see the Dr. for an excuse. Those spots are for the kids who really do need to see the Dr. Since, as I'm sure you know. There is nothing you can do for a cold except let it run its course and stay hydrated. If a child uses those 10 days then all other absences need to have a Dr's note. If no note is turned into the school within 3 days of returning to school a report will be filed with the local magistrate (court) and children services will be called. Also, there are so many standardized tests that kids started in grade 2 have to prepare and take. My oldest (in 4th grade) has a runny nose, sneezes and a cough. But I couldn't keep her home today because our state mandatory test is next week and she has to prepare for it. Any days she misses makes the test harder for her. The school district stresses how important these test are for placement and encourages. Its not that I don't want to keep my mildly sick kid home, its that I can't. Now if she had a fever or worse I would. But she can't stay home for the sniffles.

I had a mother of one of my 2nd youngest friends tell me that she sent her daughter to school after her daughter vomited because her daughter wanted to go. The mother should have put her foot down and said no, your sick.

There are a lot of people who are very inconsiderate of others, however there is only so much you can do. With the policies that school's have in place, I don't know how other parent's could keep your child into consideration.