Sick

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S I C K... A RANT By Strawberryindigo…

This is usually the magical time of the year when one or both of my kids bring home from school something they did not take there; this comes as the form of a virus that if not carefully contained infects the entire household.

It all starts with a cough, just one, then another and another. The coughs get deeper and deeper.  I know, MM knows, we look at each other..”Oh no, not again.”  We know the drill, It happens every year, flu shot or not.

We are lucky enough to work at home so it is no problem keeping our kids in when they are sick.    This year it was my daughter who first fell victim.  I kept her home for 4 days.  She rested, took in lots of fluids and basically sat around waiting to get better.

On the morning of her last sick day I received a phone call from the school. To my surprise it was the school psychologist. She inquired about my daughter’s state of health.  I told her that my she had been ill but that she was “getting better and that she would be returning the next school day”.  The psychologist then, in a breezy offhand manner told me that “something was going around”… and then she became way too serious when she said that my daughter had stayed out longer than anyone else.

I was a bit surprised.  4 days?  This warrants a call from the school psychologist?

I said what she wanted to hear and  somehow I felt that I had barely passed some test of hers.  We said our goodbyes and the next day I sent my still coughing daughter to school.

The words of the psychologist echoed in my mind and the more I thought about it the angrier I became.  I thought back to the beginning of the year to a speech given by the Principal during Back to School Night.  She was bragging up the school’s achievements from last year and justifiably so. My daughter’s school is fantastic, it is one of the best  in the city and we are lucky to be able to have our daughter attend it.

It was something she said specifically about the school’s attendance record…”which was and still is…award-winning”?

Did I hear correctly?  The schools compete with attendance records, the ones with the fewest absences “win”.  What do they win?  The winning school and apparently the winning principal get bragging rights, which I say are well deserved… but in hindsight I can’t help but wonder if the school is a bit over-zealous in their commitment to achieve perfect attendance.

I thought of my daughter and all the make up work she must do just to catch up.  I think of all the valuable school days missed.  School is important and the quality of her education suffers when she must miss school because of illness.  However, I think my daughter’s health and the health of all the people in the school are more important than an attendance record.  It seems that this prevalent attitude among the schools fosters a climate that encourages families to send their sick children to school where they infect others…and the cycle continues.

It is amazing how one small seemingly insignificant action or non-action can affect so many.  One properly sick child can infect a roomful of people and through that action can affect so many more.  We are all connected, even in sickness.

I realise that many people have to work and have no choice but to send their sick kids to school as well as coming to work with obvious illness themselves.   Maybe an attitude adjustment would be appropriate for bosses and the bosses of bosses as well. Maybe an attitude adjustment for everyone, public school systems too.

We all know firsthand that sick people are not at their best and do not perform well, at school or on the job.  Sick people make more sick people.  This seems to have a snowball effect; making more people perform at sub par. It also turns people off.  When the teller at the bank sneezes on my money or the grocery clerk coughs all over my celery, I’m turned off.

What I’m trying to say, in a long-winded round-about way, trying not to offend anyone but I need to say, really plead….You. (you know who you are) If you are sick and you are able to, please stay home. If your child is sick, try to keep him or her at home, If you can’t do that please wash your hands and do what you can not to infect everyone.

And in a personal note to one school psychologist; keeping my daughter home when she is ill is a consideration to you as well as everyone else.

And so to everyone: Have a great and healthy day!  Strawberryindigo.

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