Sick Kids: How Well Do You Follow the Rules?

toddler girlThe other day my daughter was sick, too sick for her very first day of preschool.

She'd been feverish and miserable with an occasional bout of vomit all weekend. By Sunday afternoon I'd convinced myself she would be fine in the morning, until I took her temperature before bed and it read 102. I thought if it was back down to normal in the morning, maybe, just maybe, we'd go ... even though the school policy is for children to be fever free for 24 hours.

But it was a miserable night for both of us, and in the morning I knew just from looking at her that she couldn't go.

While at 19 months, she was too young to be really disappointed, her mommy was majorly so. I'd been looking forward to this milestone, had her new outfit all picked out, backpack packed ... and I had to work. So it was tempting to just try and see how she did. 

But I didn't ... this time.


When I first had a child, I was the most polite, sick-child policy follower you'd ever met. If my child so much as sneezed within 48 hours of our play date, I would call just to let you know he may be coming down with something in case you wanted to cancel. I would keep him home from school if there was a stray sniffle, just in case.

That was until I realized that almost no one else follows the rules. I saw kids coming to playgroups with noses running greener than grass. And at school, kids who were hacking away though watery eyes weren't sent home. Once in awhile an embarrassed parent would mumble something about allergies, but I've come to realize that's more of an allergy of the parents -- to keeping their kids home when they're sick. 

So over the years I've relaxed a bit. And I will admit there have been a few times when I've stuck them in the daycare at my gym or sent my son to school after dosing him up with Tylenol, just praying they get through it. I try to alleviate my guilt by telling myself that's where they got it anyway and that at least I'm helping other kids build immunity. Then I wait all day in fear I'm going to get a call.

Even though I bend the rules a bit these days, I still err further on the side of caution than most it seems. And my true litmus test for if my kids can go to school isn't so much what's in the school handbook or the color of their mucus, but in how much they need me that day. Nothing will make me keep them home more than thinking of them sitting at school being miserable when they could be cuddled up on the couch with me.

What's the sickest you've ever sent your child to school?


Image via Julie Ryan Evans

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