• Fri, Jul 4 - 1:30 pm ET

If You Have To Ask If Your Kid Is Too Sick To Go Somewhere, The Answer is ‘Yes’

sick childI feel like there are two groups of people out there; those who don’t let a little stomach bug or case of explosive diarrhea get in the way of fun times with their kids, and people who aren’t assholes. I stumbled across this little gem on r/Parenting this morning, and it brought me to a dark place in my mind:

Sick kids: at what point do you keep them out of activities? 

So I’m here with my first, who has some stomach virus that doesn’t seem to be bothering him much except for giving him diarrhea, wondering about attending library storytime this week. I’m pretty sure he caught this bug there last week (and shared it with daddy and me).

He doesn’t seem to be in much discomfort and I’m sure he’d love to go… but I don’t want to be an asshole to other parents/kids.Thanks for sharing your thoughts!To this person’s credit, at least she’s asking people what the right thing to do is, and hopefully she will heed their advice, which is a unanimous “NO”, but I can’t help but feel a little annoyed that this is even something people consider.When I see sick kids someplace, I put my judgy pants on, followed by a surgical mask because in order to get me sick, all someone has to do is look at me. In fact, I’m sick right now with a stomach thing that I can’t seem to shake. I can walk around and everything, but I’m still going to stay home because I pride myself in not being a dickweed wherever possible. This goes double for my kid.The fact is, sometimes going some place with a sick kid is unavoidable. Life must continue on, and there have been many times when my child was younger that she was sick, dad was working super late, and if I didn’t at least run to the store to get Tylenol, no one was sleeping that night. So I do understand.

What I don’t understand is taking your little germ factory to highly-populated areas with other kids (and adults) around just because you don’t want to interrupt your routine and it’s getting boring sitting at home listening to the diarrhea chorus all day long. It’s selfish, and it’s rude, and it causes the never-ending circle of snot to continue on and on and on, as illustrated by this commenter:

“… I once had a play group mom bring her kid to group after he’d been puking and having diarrhea all night. He “seemed ok” that morning, so she came. She wound up causing 33 people to get violently ill. Some of those people were dads who didn’t even go to play group. Her kid gave it to a bunch of us, and we shared it amongst our families. Don’t be that mom.”

This goes for adults too. Nothing makes me angrier than hearing about so-and-so who is super sick and went to work anyway and then within three days my husband, my daughter, and I are all laid low with some kind of Ebola thing. Not cool. I put those people on my shit list right alongside parents who bring their sick kids to school/daycare/the playground/storytime/whatever.

Don’t. Be. That. Mom.

(Image: JPC-PROD/Shutterstock)

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  • AugustW

    If you think it’s any kind of virus, it’s a no brainer that they stay home. But at the end of school this year, my daughter had what could have been a cold, could have been allergies, and I honestly couldn’t tell. I treated her for allergies, she improved enough to go to school, so off she went.

    That said, when she was in a previous daycare, they had a VERY strict no rash policy. My daughter had an allergic reaction to Amoxicillan, was head-to-toe rash (it was awful), but I had a doctor’s note explaining that allergic reactions aren’t contagious.
    Her daycare banned her for the week and a half that it took for the rashes to all clear up. UGH.

    • Lilly

      that sucks — my son’s daycare has a similar policy re: rashes but allows exceptions on doctors notes — which saves me since he has sensitive skin and is rash prone (non-contagious)

    • AugustW

      The funny part was that I was the office assistant at the daycare, so when they banned my daughter, I had to stay home. Oops, lost your office worker!

    • Katherine Handcock

      Ha! Sounds like karma in action to me ;-)

    • UterineDudebroWhoLikesOlives

      My current daycare has a similar policy, but kids can attend if they have a clear doctor’s note stating the rash is non-contagious. My son suffers from on and off eczema (it’s especially bad in winter), which I told the daycare about upfront, but there have been at least two times where I’ve had to pick him up from daycare/school and take him to the doctor because the teachers were convinced it was ringworm or whatever when I knew darn well it wasn’t.

      I guess I’d rather have them “overreact” than underreact, but it’s still a bit annoying.

  • Katherine Handcock

    I understand the desperate need to get out of the house, but when the kids are sick, find something fun to do at home. If you wouldn’t want to go to a party in their condition, don’t take them to a playgroup.

    Semi-related rant: this is part of why governments need to mandate a certain amount of paid leave for parents taking care of sick kids. Many of the situations I saw crop up like this were with folks sending kids to preschool/daycare programs when they were “iffy” sick because they just plain couldn’t afford to stay home another day. That’s sad for the parent and kid, and awful for everyone who ends up exposed.

    • Harriet Meadow

      Agreed. A lot of people don’t have a choice, and that’s terrible.

    • http://emvandee.wordpress.com Emily Wight

      Yes. This. When my husband used up his sick time between him and the kid last year (he gets six days per year) we had to choose between me staying home from my much busier, deadline-filled job, or him giving up a day’s pay. So I stayed home, which made sense financially but left me playing catch-up all the next week, which affects the whole department’s productivity. No one wins.

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    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      We’ve been in this boat before. We both work at pretty family-friendly places now, but at my last job, I was told a month after returning from a year’s mat leave that I seemed “distracted” and was chastised for taking 3 sick days in a row when my kid had a fever that just kept coming back. Fuck yeah I was distracted, I just got back after being off for a year with my baby, get off my case. And second, yes I did take sick days, for my kid, who just started daycare. My wife had just started a new job and wasn’t allowed to take sick days for the first 3 months.

      ANYWAY. Before I finally got my current, way-more-family-friendly job, I have to admit there was at least one time when we sent her to daycare when she seemed mostly ok (like, she wasn’t vomiting or whatever but she had a mild fever the night before) but knew there was a possibility we’d get called later. It felt like it was less of an issue with my boss if I went to work and got called by daycare then if I just stayed home entirely.

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  • Harriet Meadow

    First of all, *your. I generally try to restrain my inner grammar nazi, but when it’s in the title, I can’t handle it.

    Second of all, yes. I have missed many things that I probably didn’t need to miss (kid had a low fever and might have just been teething or something) because I am conscientious of the fact that there are other people in the world (and some of my friends have newborns).

  • http://emvandee.wordpress.com Emily Wight

    Diarrhea chorus. Thank you for giving that a name.

  • jane

    Ahhh! Grammar, grammar! YOUR YOUR YOUR

    Now I can go and read the article.

  • UterineDudebroWhoLikesOlives

    Here are the three questions I ask myself when I think my kid might have to stay home:

    Is he running a fever?
    Is there gross stuff coming out of some kind of orifice?
    Is it pretty clear he is NOT doing well?

    If the answer to any of these questions is an unequivocal “yes”, then he stays home.

    But sometimes you’re in the borderline area, and it’s hard to make a decision. As AugustW said, is it a cold or is just allergies? Typically I try to err on the side of caution, but I’ve missed the mark a couple of times.

    There have also been a couple of times where literally the kid was just fine in the a.m. (no fever, no signs of illness) but then all hell broke loose later in the school day.

  • mediocrity511

    Depends on the illness really and whether it’s likely to be contagious or not. I don’t think the answer to ‘is my kid too sick to go out?’ should always be no, sometimes there are going to be borderline cases. I’ll ask myself it loads of times, because I am a worryguts, not because I want to drag poorly children all over town!

  • Ursi

    Where I work (which actually has a very reasonable sick leave policy) we get moms bringing sick kids to the office plenty of times.

    At first this drove me absolutely insane. How could you bring your sick child to work to infect all of us?? But the nature of my job is that it is not a job where you can take multiple sick days easily without pre-arrangement (and who can pre-arrange that?) not because of company policy but because my job has to get done every day whether I’m there or not. So if my coworker has to stay home because her child is too sick for school, we are all chipping in to do her work on top of ours. That’s just how the job goes. And the American mentality has become such that the work is always first. And I’m guilty of that too.

    The kids have all been pretty well behaved. It’s almost always a bad case of the sniffles and mild fever, no one’s brought anyone who needed to be bed-bound They chill out in the cubicle germing up only the spaces where their parents are. I feel a lot more sympathy for the parents then I once did. Who can afford an all day babysitter on short notice when both parents work? And I’m happy that company policy is such that you can bring your child in for the day if you’ve got nowhere else. I’ve been working here for a long time and I’ve never seen a kid have a tantrum or meltdown or disrupt my work. So if little Bibi is sick and can’t go to school I will shoot her a sympathetic look., avoid her like the plague, and get on working.

  • momma425

    Ugh, this makes me so mad!
    It is one thing when parents bring their child to school/daycare while sick because the boss won’t let you take time off. It sucks- it’s irritating for me when my kid comes home sick as a result, but at least I get it.
    But taking your kid to playgroups, family get togethers, and whatnot- no. I can’t even have empathy for it. You have a choice- why is getting everyone else sick okay in your mind? If there is a fever, anything oozing, vomiting/diarrhea, or kid is in any other way clearly sick (or adult is, or family member was sick within the past day)- stay home. We love little Johnny, but seeing you is not worth getting the flu for weeks.

    • AP

      When I was little, it was standard for moms to courtesy-call with the ailment the kid had, and then it would be mutually agreed upon what risk people were willing to accept for whatever the event was. Family at Christmas was willing to accept more exposure than friends for a random playdate, for example.

    • momma425

      I’m totally cool with calling ahead about stuff, especially depending what the kid has. My tolerance level is pretty low, unfortunately, even for family at Christmas and things like that. In fact, especially around the holidays when more people at work have PTO and you get even more crap at work for calling out. It sucks for everyone when a kid is sick, but the deal is- you don’t live in a bubble. It’s more like dropping a rock in a pond- ripples go out and spread out and touch everyone in the pond. When your kid is sick, it sucks for you and your family- but I just have extremely little empathy for those who do have a choice and choose to drop rocks in my pond too.

  • Linzon

    I hate this SO MUCH. ALLCAPS because it is SO MUCH HATE.

    One of the moms at gymnastics did this two weeks in a row with two different kids. “Oh, she was just throwing up last night but is fine today but I had to keep her home from school because they’re so silly and we were all just so bored sitting at home..” while the kid is sitting there sweaty, pale, and lethargic. Sure enough they both barfed everywhere. I’m so glad we didn’t get sick too because a 1-year old with a stomach bug is completely awful and i never want to go through that again!

  • NorthernGirl

    I hate when other parents do shit like that. No, play group isn’t necessary. Keep your contagious kid home.

  • http://twitter.com/jessbakescakes JessBakesCakes

    What’s frustrating for me is when parents take their ill children to class with them at night (now that I’m in graduate school, this happens a LOT more). I understand that a lot of times, there’s no choice, and I completely respect that, but not only is the parent distracted, we’re all distracted. And now we’re all exposed to whatever your kid has because you didn’t want to miss class. Each class of mine has a three absence policy, and we meet once a week. I completely respect that sometimes they can’t make last minute arrangements, but I feel like that’s one where you (general you) ask the instructor for some leeway (which I know the instructors in my program are happy to give; a woman had a sick tween at home last week during an exam and the instructor let her keep her phone on) and stay home.

  • JJ

    I always think of that facebook post I think it was from STFU parents written by a real mom who’s kid had pink eye. She sensibly wouldn’t take him to his friends birthday party because of course she didn’t want anyone to catch it. HOWEVER she did think it was okay to take the kid to the local public swimming pool and let everyone else near him risk catching that shit because to paraphrase, “I care about getting my friends sick but I don’t care about strangers at the pool”. Needless to say I am a bit questioning sometimes when out in public and I see kids who definitly appear sick and the parents say, “oh there okay its not contagious”. Yeah sure it isn’t and sure your not here just because you couldn’t stand being couped in the house anymore with a sick kid so why not take them out everywhere in public till they inevitably just puke randomly or spread a stomach virus. So when someone tells me their kids are sick and then promptly asks me not long after if I want to hang out in the next few days I’m just like No thank you. In my head I’m thinking oh hell fucking no! I don’t want to catch a contagious illness your whole family is getting we can hang out when your healthy in another week or so. I don’t want to shit my pants or throw up later so I can see you for a few hours tomorrow, sorry not worth the contagious flu or cold.

    Also there is a reason I am weary of public pools and dressing rooms because to many people child and adult alike go when they have upset stomach, pink eye or god knows what else fungus despite the huge sign at most pools that states something along the lines of: If you have had diarrhoea, upset stomach or illness in the last 24 hours please do not use the pool.

  • tk88

    Why would a kid with a stomach virus even want to leave the house? It’s just storytime at the library not a huge event. Read to him yourself!

  • Blueathena623

    I’m pretty strict on this because I’m so effing tired of pink eye so I’m not going to be the jerk who gives it to someone else. My question always is: would I be pissed if someone brought a kid with my kid’s same symptoms.

  • Guest

    Ugh the “your, you’re” obsessives are here. We get it, you’re smarter than everyone else. Just use your own awesome grammar and stop being annoying. You know you’re only making a big thing of it to show how much you know; no one can really be this bothered by the act of looking at the wrong word.

    Cue the “we expect more from professional writers!” It’s not the New York Times and that’s not really why you’re announcing it publicly. (If you actually cared about the journalistic integrity, you’d send private messages to the editor.) STFU.

  • HoolieB

    I worked in retail for many, many years. I saw sick children far more often than I should have. There was one mom who brought an actively sick kid into the store. The boy vomited several times throughout the store while she continued to leisurely browse the racks for what seemed like nothing in particular. We finally had to suggest that she leave the store to tend to her sick kid. I’d never seen a parent so indifferent to a child’s suffering.

  • Lindsey

    I had a teacher, in high school(years back), who was so proud of the fact that he didn’t use his sick days. And I’m like, really? You are proud of the fact that you made your students sick?

    • http://www.twitter.com/ohladyjayne allisonjayne

      My mom was like this too. She would always get “attendance bonuses” at work because she literally never took a sick day. Granted, she didn’t work with children or anything, but it’s still a weird thing to reward people for.

      I believe the company has since stopped doing it, because they realized that while you don’t really want people using their sick days willy-nilly, you also really don’t want actual sick people coming in to work.

  • Jenna Lynn C.

    Stomach bugs spread like the fucking plague. Ugh. I absolutely hate people who take their little petri dishes out for arbitrary things when they’re sick. That’s just so fucking selfish.

  • Alexandra

    Agree with you totally except for some people can’t take off work even if they’re super sick. I used to bartend/waitress and if you couldn’t find a cover – you HAD to come in. No health insurance (laughs, yea right) or sick days! And this was handling food and drinks and I LOOKED sick as a dog and STILL had to work.
    So yea, sometimes it’s unavoidable if you want to be able to put food on the table, sadly.
    For people who CAN keep their kids home or stay home when sick, and DON’T DO SO, those people are total asshats.