They are not fine

If Your Child Is Sick, For The Love Of God, Keep Them At Home

Cancel your plans and stay the hell home.

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I grew up in the ‘80s, a time when we went to school sick on the regular. Short of a high fever or vomiting, I was told to go to school and tough it out. If you were puking or the thermometer registered more than 101, you could stay home and watch The Price Is Right with flat ginger ale and a sleeve of ancient Saltine crackers. Otherwise, you were going to school. I never remember my parents saying, “I think you need one more day to get your strength back,” even if I didn’t feel 100 percent. Damn the consequences.

And when I had kids, rather than just taking a “tough it out” attitude, I decided to do it differently.

My teen has been home sick for a few days — against his wishes. He assured me it was just a cold, that his friends were sick and that’s all it was. He insisted that all of his friends who had colds were going to school. But I put my foot down.

When his “cold” turned into strep throat, I was glad I made the call for him to stay home.

I recently overheard a mom say that she sent her child to school even though he’d thrown up that morning because “he seemed fine.” Maybe he was; maybe something he ate didn’t agree with him and there was no risk of him passing germs onto anyone else. But I think that’s a pretty rude risk to take.

As a single mom with multiple kids in school, I know firsthand that it’s inconvenient to take time off work or see if there’s someone who can help you out if your child is sick. I’ve had days when I broke down in tears because I couldn’t do all the things. Working and running errands and keeping plans don’t mix with a sick child.

It’s not fair to send sick kids out into the public if you know they could infect other people, especially those with a weakened immune system. It’s my job as a parent to keep that from happening. Think about a time when your child got sick because a sick child was at a gathering. It’s miserable.

Look, I know it’s a pain, and we’ve all been that parent who had our kid stay home because they were sick when they woke up, but bouncing off the walls by lunchtime. But after the events of the past couple of years it seems like many employers are more understanding about letting people take sick time to take care of themselves and their family. So, for the love of God, if your child is sick and you know it, keep them home from school. Don’t let them infect other kids at the birthday party. Cancel your plans and stay the hell home.

It sucks to miss out on things, but you know what’s worse? Getting a bunch of other kids and teachers sick.

Diana Park is a writer who finds solitude in a good book, the ocean, and eating fast food with her kids.

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