Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Day Care Double Standard

First off, I realize I didn't post yesterday - Way to stick to my renewed blogging commitment for two whole days, huh?

But, in my defense, I sort of have an excuse, and it's sort of tied to the subject of this post.

Monkey wasn't feeling 100% yesterday, and to top it off, his Daddy was reduced to a whimpering pile of mucous, becoming more of a hindrance than a help. Just one of those days, and I was exhausted by the time the boys got to bed.

But here's the question: Was Monkey "sick"? As in, could I still send him to day care today? (Monkey goes every other day, so we didn't have this dilemma yesterday...) Well, I asked myself this question, and decided to tally up Monkey's symptoms.

For starters, there was a very runny nose, which started over the weekend, and has caused us to run through our share of Kleenex and "I do it" moments (Yes, Monkey prefers to wipe his own nose, which often results in the snot being smeared all over his face - gotta love toddler independence). But a runny nose is practically a REQUIREMENT in day care, particularly at this time of year. I can't tell you the number of times I have dropped Monkey off, only to glance about the room and see just about every single kid with matching snot lines running from their noses to their mouths - apparently it's quite the fashion statement among the toddler day care crowd?

Next, a cough, again picked up in the past couple of days. Just your basic cough, which he seems to get and lose every few weeks or so this time of year, and not a particular reason for concern. Although he did have a bit of a spell Monday night, which woke him up crying and struggling a bit. But once he got some water and relaxed again, he was fine. And both runny noses and coughs are expressly listed in the day care manual as "OK to send to school," which we've done more than once.

But, as evening came, he started to feel a bit warm. In an effort to avoid the discomfort of the rectal thermometer, I tried one of those strips you hold up to their forehead. Those things basically suck, but I have had them work when Monkey's been burning up, so while I don't trust it to give me anything near a precise reading, I do expect it to give me a quick read as to whether we're in fever territory. Last night, however, I couldn't even get it all the way UP to normal. Yeah, I'm thinking that's wrong. So on to the digital thermometer under the arm. Squirming toddler + arm measurement = false "normal." So with apologies to Monkey, we went for the accurate reading, which was about 100.5 before I finally concluded we were "close enough" and took it out to soothe his complaints. Not a particularly high temp, and within the range that, even if he couldn't be in the classroom, he could be in the "sick bay." Hmmm...

Miscellaneous symptoms included first-time ever complaint that "my tummy hurts," followed by "tummy OK now" after some follow-up questions over the next hour. (And, can I just say, this is one of the great things about him becoming more communicative? I'm still not 100% sure if he had a tummy ache or not, but I look forward to the day when he can REALLY tell me what's bothering him). And one not-so-pleasant diaper change - I'll spare the details, but it wasn't a clear-cut problem either.

So herein lies the double standard: As an already tired Mommy who is supposed to be using day care days to do actual work to bring money into the house, all signs point to sending Monkey to day care. He really seems to just have a cold, not the dreaded flu, and the day care checklist suggests he's OK to go. But as the Mommy of a toddler who wants MY son to stay as healthy as possible, and is really hoping we can avoid the flu this year, I can't help but put myself in the shoes of the other mommies in the class, who would probably prefer that Monkey stay home. So who wins, Tired Mommy or PC Mommy?

And does the answer depend on the fact that this is day care, where parents usually have no choice but to send their kids, but also understand that they're going to be exposed to various germs, and just hope that this will give them loads of antibodies to make them super-healthy kindergartners? What if Monkey were scheduled not to be in day care, but a paid class of some kind - sports, music, what have you? Does the fact that these kids are more likely of the stay-at-home variety mean that they haven't "signed on" to the same risks of catching colds? But what about the fact that we're all paying for those classes? Does that mean we're entitled to try to get our money's worth, as long as the situation isn't more serious? And what about free activities - certainly those seem the easiest case for the "keep your kid away" approach - you don't HAVE to engage in that activity on that day, and no one there invited Typhoon Toddler or is benefiting from his presence...

Bottom line? It's tough being able to see both sides, yet being the one who has to make the decision.

1 comment:

Swimming-duck said...

I haven't visited in awhile.I'm trying to catch up on some blog reading. Your post kind of made me chuckle a bit - I can relate with the back and forth feelings when it comes to accepting children when Boo is a bit under the weather. You put so much thought and care behind your decision.