Children in just about every classroom across the United States have begun to come home with sore throats, runny noses or upset stomachs. We as parents aren’t surprised. We’re programmed to expect these mini viral epidemics once school starts. We make sure the school attendance line number is handy. We check with our backup care providers to make sure we have all our bases covered in the event of an illness. We are prepared! And then you receive the dreaded call at work. Maggie is sick and in the nurse’s office. Of course, as luck would have it, today is just crazy at work. You want to be supportive, but not now! You call your backup, but the phone just rings. No answer. You fly to the school, hoping against hope that you can talk Maggie into going back to class. Of course that isn’t what Maggie needs. She needs to go home, cuddle up on the couch and just rest, but this is 2007 and your life doesn’t make that scenario possible.
You rush into the school office and see Maggie sitting on a small bench. She’s hunched over and coughing. When you enter the room, she looks up with a weak smile and says, “Thanks, mom.” All your work commitments suddenly seem unimportant. You throw a jacket over your child’s shoulders and walk her out to the car. Yes, life is complex, but taking care of a sick child takes precedence over just about everything else. You may have a child who needs lots of soup and cuddles, a child who is cranky, or a child who wants to be left alone, but whatever their needs in the moment, you are the parent and you understand. It wasn’t all that long ago that you were a kid. You remember what it’s like to need soup, cuddles, space or someone to grumble at. I have a few more things I could add, but I hear coughing in the next room. I better go see if my sick boy needs some tea.