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I Sent My Son to School Sick

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I didn't mean to, I promise ... but why do I feel like the worst mom in the world?

sick kid

Momlogic's Julie: Yesterday, my 7-year-old son woke up complaining of a sore throat. He had just finished 10 days of antibiotics for strep the day before so I figured there was no way he could be sick again. Plus, I had a big day at work and my husband had a morning meeting, and we had no babysitter lined up. I felt his forehead (no fever), stuck a Scooby Doo Sore Throat Strip on his tongue despite his protests, and then sent him off. I told myself he'd feel just fine once he got to school. I sometimes wake up with a sore throat, too, but it's fine once I get to work. Plus, I figured the California wildfires might be irritating his throat as well. He'd be just fine.

I dove headfirst into my day and was buried in work when my cell phone rang at 9:15 a.m. It was the school nurse. She said my son was throwing up, was very pale, and had a fever and a headache. I needed to come get him right away.

On the drive over, I felt like the World's Worst Mom. My son had told me he didn't feel good, and I didn't really believe him. I figured I knew best, not him. And, when I was really honest with myself, I had to admit it was a "bad time" for him to be sick, so I tried to tell himself he wasn't. And I'd always hated those moms who sent their kids with green snotty noses to preschool ... and now I'd become one of them!

After I picked my little boy up, we drove straight to the doctor. He said my son's strep hadn't been knocked out by the first antibiotic so they'd have to give a second round. Guess the Scooby Doo Sore Throat Strip wasn't going to cut it. Meanwhile, I frantically tried to get in touch with my husband so I could go to work. His cell phone had died and he wasn't getting my messages. After we finally connected, he got a ticket rushing cross-town over to the doctor's. We were both stressed beyond belief and felt guilty as hell.

An hour later, we got a call from our daughter's kindergarten teacher: A boy had thrown up all over her arm. I couldn't help but wonder if that was payback or some sick kind of karma for our bad behavior.

Next time, I will listen a little better when my son says he's sick, even if it isn't convenient for me. Promise.

Have you ever sent your kid to school sick, either intentionally or unintentionally? Comment in the momlogic community.

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18 comments so far | Post a comment now
ame i. November 18, 2008, 3:21 PM

Been there!
When my 10 year old was 8, she didn’t feel well on a Monday and stayed home. She said she felt better Tuesday, so she went to school. After school, she said she was feeling ill again. Turned out to be Type B flu.

usuck! November 18, 2008, 4:44 PM

It is because of parents like you that there are outbreaks in school. Why should my kids get sick because you were to busy to take care of your kid? If your career is so important then maybe you shouldn’t have had kids. Mothers spend too much time thinking of themselves nowdays and not enough about the kids they committed to raising.

ame i. November 18, 2008, 5:18 PM

wow, very mature of you, commenting “person” #2! Some children “cry wolf” when they aren’t sick. Some children, like mine, have allergies and sniffle and snort every time the weather changes. I do take mine to the doctor to verify the sniffles and snorts are due to allergies. Most schools have a no fever or vomiting for 24 hours rule, but if a child is doing neither, it can be hard to tell. The common cold is contagious and can last for up to 10 days. Children can’t afford to miss school for up to 10 days!
Teaching children to wash their hands correctly and often, and teaching them to keep their hands out of their mouths, away from their noses and eyes can go a long way to keep children from getting sick.

Lisa Survillas November 18, 2008, 5:59 PM

Don’t feel bad. If I let mine stay home everytime they complained, then I would be hauled off to court for truancy. It happens. You are just human and you can’t feel what is happening to your kids. Don’t beat yourself up!

Anne November 18, 2008, 6:13 PM

Don’t feel bad at all. According to school recommendations, you were supposed to send him to school. Most schools say that having a sore throat without a fever should not keep a child out of school. Besides, sometimes real life does intrude. I bet you are working to keep your kids in a home, with meals and clothes and the other things that they need. That hardly qualifies as selfish. I can’t imagine any way you could have known that the strep wasn’t knocked out by the antibiotic. Do not feel bad and do not allow others to try to make you feel bad about anything you do. It sounds like it was a really stressful situation and it sounds like you and your husband both handled it beautifully (and like great parents).

April November 18, 2008, 6:14 PM

Commenter #2: “If your career is so important then maybe you shouldn’t have had kids. Mothers spend too much time thinking of themselves nowdays and not enough about the kids they committed to raising.”
Excuse me, some people have to work to keep food on the table and a roof over their kids heads. What year are you living in - 1953? Would you rather her be on welfare? Unbelievable.

Kara November 18, 2008, 6:31 PM

While I appreciate that some children fake it, some just have allergies and most parents need to work I also understand that when you send you kid to school sick you are doing more harm than good - and not just to your kid! My 13 year old daughter would not be severely disabled if a parent had kept their child home from school when he had a virus. I taught pre-k, was just a month pregnant and that one kid not only got most of us sick but that virus caused my unborn childs brain to stop developing. So think twice before sending your sick kid to school.

mother of five angels November 18, 2008, 7:10 PM

This is one of many reason I homeschool.

Seeing that your child just had strep did you even take the time to look at his throat when he complained it hurt? With strep you can tell pretty easily. I’m not a fan of parents who send their children to school sick because they have to go to work or have a full social calender but I do understand how things can arise after they have been sent to school. In your case I am finding it hard to have too much sympathy because you admit that he was sent to school because it was inconvenient for you for him to be sick. I know a lot of parents who intentionally dope their kids up on medicine and send their children to school sick on a regular basis which is just plain inconciderate.

I’m glad that you cared enough to write about your experience.

Hope your son feels better!

usuck November 18, 2008, 7:17 PM

April, I wish it was 1953, back then parents actually parented their children and spent quality time with them. No I have never needed to do welfare. What we do in our home is make better choices about where our money goes. Instead of needing to have the latest, most expensive everything we live a very reasonable lifestyle and read instead of using cable to babysit our kids. Books are much cheaper than cable.

Anonymous November 18, 2008, 7:52 PM

Honestly, what child HASN’T said “I’m sick” when they didn’t want to go to school. I know I did. Honestly, if I had just finished a regimen of antibiotics, I would think it’s nothing and go about my day. I’m in grad school now, and my mom would KILL me if she had known how many times I had drug my sick self to class. Let alone, there were many times in high school and before that I went to school and was offered a stay at home. How else are we supposed to build our immune systems if we are not exposed to other sicknesses? Did you happen to think about that? My mom happened to say how in the 60’s no child had peanut allergies, now we can’t even bring baked goods to school.

Anonymous November 19, 2008, 12:13 AM

mother of fve angels…i find it sad that you home school your children and can’t spell INCONSIDERATE

mother of five angels November 19, 2008, 3:46 PM

Anonymous…Your right I mispelled the word that doesn’t mean that my children are receiving a poor education. It means I should have paid better attention, my bad. People make mistakes but I am glad that you are there to point out when they do.

iamthatmom November 20, 2008, 11:57 AM

It happens. Life happens. Just remember adults do the same thing. They come to work sick and spread their germs. How many co-workers should be home and they are not? I could count at least 3 in my office today. Truancy and work policies don’t allow for time it would take to recover from a cold. I’d still be home if that were the case. Should we live a sheltered life? No human contact for fear of getting sick? Come on… lets be real. Person #2 - what do say when a kid appears perfectly healthy (no complaints, no cough, fever, sniffles, nothing) then gets sick at school? Are we still bad parents for sending them? I’m sorry - my crystal ball is broken and I can’t predict when my kid will get the flu. Illness happens.

what? November 21, 2008, 11:55 PM

You home school how is he gonna go to college with no friends and not know the real life of all the things. well it works if every one was homed schooled
back then. but thats america for u u dum americans allways do something wrong. to bad you guys lose jobs when asians take over. europe still has more kids with better grades.

Ju February 26, 2009, 2:56 AM

Person #2 … so a mother that helps provide for her family is selfish? Your post is so ignorant it actually had me seeing red. So sorry, your highness we peasants must work for our bread! Honestly!
And I know people that were homeschooled that function perfectly fine in life. It’s some of the brats that went to schools that have problems.
Everytime my daughter started getting gunky nose and eyes I took her to the doctor and after a couple of days on antibiotics, she was cleared for school.(In Korea, daycares double as schools, she’s 2) I have left work, worked overtime, take college classes, stressed myself out and then to have at-home mommies b****ing about how I’m a bad parent becasue I’m being “selfish” … . I WAS an at-home mommy and didn’t return to work until she was 21 mths and was looking for playmates. I didn’t know anyone else with a baby her age. My daughter hardly gets sick now, her immune system rocks compared to before. She doesn’t get back to back ear infections and don’t you dare say it’s because I wasn’t taking care of her! Her Daddy had the same problem as a child.
Sorry for ranting, but to claim a mother is bad for trying to provide for her family … because yes, she should have listened and checked, but last I checked Mommies were human, too. I have a lot of respect for At-Home Mommies, they are awesome, until, #2 someone like you somehow thinks a working mother cares less about her babies than they do. I’d wish a pox on you, but I wouldn’t want your kids to catch it.

Michigan Mom April 23, 2009, 10:39 AM

I’ve always kept my son home from school when he was sick, so that he wouldn’t infect the other students. Unfortunately, he gets sick quite a bit during the winter months - he has severe asthma that is exacerbated by the dry forced air heat and also makes him more susceptible to illnesses. Today, I got a call from his teacher saying that if he misses 2 more days of school this year, she will be required to report him to the state as a truant! I am so embarrassed - I respect education very much, but as a worked in the public health field, I’ve always tried to provide him with a lot of peace, quiet, and rest when he was sick. However, in the remaining 6 weeks of school, he will have to go in, sick or not. What’s worse is that his past 2 report cards have reported “0” for absences!

Anonymous April 23, 2009, 10:49 AM

Mother of five angels,

“You’re” not “your” It scares me, too, that you’re homeschooling your children.

kim October 8, 2009, 11:26 AM

I think the truancy is b.s. because I don’t believe parents just let there kids fake being sick. Plus I don’t think it should count in kids who are under 6th grade at least. I have a kindergartener and a preschooler and they have been sick for a week with may or may not be swine flu and the school wants to bring truancy in the conversation when I ask to pick up thier homework! UHhhh it pisses me off! 1 kids that young can’t fake a fever! and 2 My husband and I have had it and believe me if they weren’t sick they would be in school because I would rather be resting than tending to faking kids!

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