Boys and Hygiene
Take Me Out to the Ball Game

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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