As I sit in the staff room eating my lunch, I listen to the chatter happening around me. We speak about students, supplies, our families, daycare, sports and what’s for dinner tonight. It’s nice to be able to speak to adults for a while.
Then, the discussion turns to how ridiculous it is that kids can’t stay at daycare when they have a fever – just give them Tylenol and let them play!
I listen and wish that I could be so naïve. To think that a fever is nothing more than a normal part of childhood- slap some meds on it and move along. If I had been given a typical child – I’m sure I would have joined in – creating a chorus united in singing of our misfortune at missing yet another day of work.
It must be so incredibly annoying to miss 5 days of work only to watch as your kid plays all day because, other than the fever, they are genuinely fine. They haven’t lost their appetite, they are happy and playing and they are completely and utterly NOT SICK.
Parents of typical kids – I feel for you. I hear you. I get it. And yet… I still want you to keep your kid home. I know, it sounds harsh and it sounds rude – after all, they’re fine right!? The thing that you may not realize though, is that they’re not fine… their body is simply fighting a battle that you can not see. They probably don’t even feel the battle within – their immune systems have become so prepared for battle that they can simply swat that little bug away like it was nothing.
When your child goes to school/ daycare/ swimming lessons with that fever, they are able to do their work, pass a test and even participate at recess because they don’t feel sick. However, in the course of that day, how many people did they have direct contact with? Do you know each one of those people personally? Can you say with certainty that that little bug that didn’t cause any damage to your child won’t make it’s way to a child’s mother who is fighting cancer? Or to an immune compromised child? Or to a very pregnant teacher?
I know you’re tired. I know you have bills to pay. I know that you want to use those sick days for yourself someday. But could you live with yourself if it turned out that that fever which was nothing turned out to be your child fighting off an infection which landed another kid in hospital? What if that child needs to be hospitalized? Intubated? What if that child misses out of a month of school because of it? I bet their parent had to use an awful lot of sick days to be with them in hospital.
When I think about the years that I chose NOT to get the flu shot because I never got sick anyway – my stomach turns. I feel horrible. No one ever told me that I could still carry the disease and pass it onto someone more fragile than myself. I should have known – but I never thought about it. Let’s take the time to educate our neighbours – they are not intentionally causing harm. Perhaps they just never considered the consequences.