Not mine. My toddler’s. And what a hassle.
My son is almost 3 years old, and between day care germs, my husband’s pre-K classroom germs AND baseball team’s germs, and my classroom’s high school germs, our household is a regular petri dish.
K spent a couple hours this afternoon with his babysitter while I attended a PD meeting and J was coaching. Super excited when I picked him up outside the library, K wanted to go catch the end of the baseball practice, so we hung out in the field house for a few minutes before we all headed home.
The moment we pulled into our driveway, his face turned. We came inside; his head was on my shoulder, his body heavy in my arms. He gagged. We ran to the bathroom – not in time.
After we both got changed and J got him set up on the couch in his playroom and watching Daniel Tiger, J and I spent the next thirty minutes arguing about who was going to take a sick day tomorrow. Because here’s the ugly truth about a household full of working parents: it just doesn’t work when there’s a sick kid.
Our society is not set up to support working parents. Someone has to take time off when the kid is sick, when there’s a snow day, doctor’s appointments, meetings at the school. We’re lucky; both J and I are teachers, so things like school vacations and summer break don’t phase us. We get paid time off. We have salaried jobs. Many parents are not so lucky.
We are also lucky that there are two of us to share the burden; I have friends who are single parents by choice or by chance. If there’s a sick kid, an emergency, they either must stay home or try to find care.
Even preschool seems set up for the now seemingly antiquated notion that one parent (most likely the mother) is home full-time, or at least with flexible work hours. We are lucky to have a free public preschool program in our town, but the hours are 8:30 am – 2:00 pm. That doesn’t work for parents who work 7:30-3, like we do, nor for most 9-5 jobs. It seems that private preschool is our only option, and though the tuition is cheaper than what we’re currently paying for daycare, it’s still going to be four figures a month. How lucky we are that Massachusetts is the most expensive state in the nation for childcare, right?!
I’m not the first person to bemoan any of this, and unfortunately, I doubt I’ll be the last. Our culture requires many paradigm shifts, and what to do with working parents appears to be one of them. Luckily, J was able to take tomorrow off (with a little rearranging of his schedule) so I can teach my classes. And hopefully, fingers crossed, this will be the last illness of the school year to hit our household.