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September 2012
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January 2013

Work, School, Telecommuting and Sick Days

This cold and flu season has been quite horrific and is only half way through. Everyone in our family has been sick at least once. Both boys and my husband had the stomach flu in the fall. I luckily escaped that one. LT was just this side of being taken to the hospital for dehydration. He vomited at least a dozen times. And we've all had some sort of cold or sinus trouble. I started the year with a sinus infection. Both of the boys have been home with it over the past month and Blackstone has a post nasal drip that is seriously offending my beauty sleep.

Trouble is home sick again today. We started the morning with, "Mom, I can't breathe." Never a good start to a day. Trouble has asthma, but that's not the problem. His throat is so swollen he's having trouble breathing. After being well dosed with medication, he is now comfortable enough to be reading in the arm chair. This is coming on the heels of the note we received home from the truancy officer on Friday. Trouble has six unexcused absences this year. There are others that have already been excused. The only absences the school considers excused are a doctor's note, court date or death in the family. More than five unexcused absences warrants detention. More than ten and they send DCYF to your home.

Really, I think the policy is a bit overboard. I understand that school is important and that there is need to be concerned over a child's environment, but ten days in the course of a year is not that much. Especially, not when you throw in the fact that most of the country, RI included, is in the midst of a flu epidemic.

Trouble's unexcused absences are all sick days. If he has the flu or a cold and is home for a day or two, I often don't call the pediatrician. I know what he's going to tell me to do. I've been at this parenting thing for almost twelve years now. I don't freak out every time my child has a fever or tells me he can't breathe. I am not even all that phased by a temperature of 103 degrees, as long as I can get it drop in the course of an hour. And even then, I might reach for Belladona before I reach for Tylenol or Advil. Depends on how the child is feeling.

So I had to call the pediatrician this morning and not only ask for an excuse for today but also for the four most recent absences when he was sick. Sick enough to need to stay home, but not so sick that I had felt the need to call the pediatrician at the time. There's a part of me that is so frustrated by this. It just seems a waste of my time and my pediatrician's. But it's something I am going to have to get in the habit of doing each and every time Trouble is out, or even late to school due to illness. Late can be an issue for us too with Trouble's asthma. If I get him up in the morning and he needs to sit with the nebulizer for 20-30 minutes, we're not getting out of the house on time.

Five unexcused lates and absences can go by very quickly. It never really occurred to me that we were approaching that limit. At the beginning of the year, I thought we'd never hit that. But we did and it's not even halfway through the year.

Now when one of the boys is home sick, that means Blackstone or I need to be home too. LT hasn't had quite as many days out of school, and at the elementary level their hasn't been much concern over needing doctor's notes. LT really seems to shoot for weekends and school vacations for getting sick. He also doesn't have asthma to contribute to the sick time. Blackstone works out of the house, so he does stay home with the boys often. Some days, like today, he needed to be in the field, so I'm home. It's great that Blackstone can take so much of that on, but I know he doesn't do as good as a job tending to them when they're sick as I do. He's still going to spend the day working in the home office, just checking on them periodically. I have to call home to remind him to give them medicine, get them a drink and feed them. He will forget to do these things if I don't call. He also will not give them the correct medication or in the correct dosage. Recently he told me he had given LT Triaminic for his fever, which would be fine, he had a cold/flu, except there was no acetaminophen in the type of Triaminic we had. He hadn't actually given him anything for his fever and I had to explain the importance of reading the label on the medication. If it doesn't say it treats fever, if it doesn't have acetaminophen listed as an ingredient, then it's not for fever.

Almost twelve years we've had kids. He still doesn't know this. Of course, I've also known him to complain about falling asleep after taking Tylenol for a headache himself.

Hhhmmm. Which Tylenol did you take? The red one or the blue one? Yeah, the blue one is the PM to help you sleep, that would explain why you're so tired.

When I stay home when one of the boys are sick, I can telecommute into work, and I usually do. I do have four family sick days, which is more than most people have, but that's not enough to cover two kids. I could use vacation time too, but who wants to do that? And even when it's the beginning of the year and I have those four days, I still feel pressured to log on and work to meet deadlines.

I feel the pressure today, but I still can't make myself do it. I have been up getting ready (because I wasn't sure if I was staying home or not), caring for Connor, calling the school, calling the pediatrician (repeated busy signal), calling the pharmacy, emailing work, sterilizing door knobs, furniture, light switches and other frequently touched surfaces for four hours. I am tired. Maybe I'm coming down with something myself. More likely, I am just worn out. This mommy business is hard work.

It's time for a nap.

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Boys and Hygiene

I know, scary thought right. My boys at eight and eleven are way past the ages where I bathe them anymore. It's been at least a couple of years since I felt the need to wash LT's hair and body for him. And I figured after bathing them each for five or six years that they sort of had the process down, but there seems to be some confusion.

My boys are clean after they bathe. It's not like they haven't been using soap or anything like that. The confusion came in this year after Trouble started on the swim team. His hair quickly became the texture of straw from the chlorine. So I bought him some special shampoo and conditioner for swimmers. Now this was new to him. He'd never used separate conditioner before. When he first started using it I talked to him about it. He was putting them both on his head at the same time. I explained this was not how it was done. He had to use the shampoo first and then use the conditioner.

I thought that was the end of it for some number of months. His hair still had the texture of straw put at least slightly fresher and more pliable straw. I kept reminding him to use his special shampoo and conditioner after each practice. I bought travel size bottles so he had his products in his bag and at home in the tub.I really thought I was on top of this.

Yesterday he got out of the tub and I asked how he had conditioned his hair when, for some unknown reason, the conditioner was on the shelf above the toilet.

"Well, you said I should use the shampoo and then the conditioner. So one time I use the shampoo and the other time I use the conditioner."

Oh, for the love of all that is holy! How on earth did using the conditioner after shampooing turn into only use one or the other each time you bathe when you processed it in your brain? And how am I just finding this now when this has been going on for MONTHS?!

The child has swim practice four times a week. I know his hair is getting washed plenty. But it would look more like hair and less like a scarecrow at Halloween if he was using the products correctly.

I very carefully explained that he has to use BOTH every time he washes his hair. BUT not put them on his head at the same time. First you put in the shampoo. Then you rub it in. Then you rinse it out. Then you put in the conditioner and rub that in. Then you rinse it out.

I really think he's got it this time. Of course, I can never be completely sure that Trouble completely understands anything I tell him. It's not that he's not listening, or that he's not a very bright boy. He is. He just has his own take on doing things and it never really occurs to him that he might be doing something wrong.

I am fairly certain he's got it this time. His hair is looking a little more like, well, hair.

I was trying to remember about how I learned to shampoo and condition my own hair. I don't remember my mom ever having to explain it to me. Maybe being a girl with long hair she conditioned it separately for me right from the time I was small enough that she was doing it for me. Or maybe I learned from watching advertisements. Or maybe I simply read the directions on the bottle. I really have no idea.

I will always remember how Trouble learned, though. Seriously, never even occurred to me that washing and conditioning one's hair could be so darn complicated.

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