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Ask Shifra

Something Different... Answering questions and making curious observations (online) since 2005.

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Sick Days

Dear Shifra,

How can I tell when my kids are sick enough to stay home from school?
Often when I let them stay home they seem fine, and of course on the days I do send them they turn out to be really sick... I end up feeling either like a total sap or an awful mother.

-Can't Win

You know what.... I wrote that question myself but it's one I've hear over and over from my friends with children especially during the winter months.

For me one of the hardest decisions I deal with regularly is determining whether my kids are too sick to go to school. I would never send a kid to school who was obviously contagious or had a fever but beyond that things become very gray for me.

My oldest, Bas-Shifra, is not a morning person. She often suffers from headaches, stomachaches, all manners of aches and pains, and what I'll refer to as a general "malaise" in the early morning hours (only on school days of course!)

My youngest, Chavi Kaufman (not her real name) is also impossible to get out of bed. It's not that anything hurts, or that she doesn't want to go to school, she just cannot wake up.

I put them to bed at a very reasonable hour so I know they are getting enough sleep, but somehow SCHOOL does not seem to be enough of a motivator to get these girls up and running in the morning. As a result I get a lot of requests to stay home due to "illness."

As such, I normally make them get out of bed and get ready for school in spite of their complaining and usually these things rectify themselves before breakfast.

If they persist I try to "treat" the symptoms and see if they improve. If they complain of a stomachache I give them toast, or Tums (a favorite of my younger daughter) with breakfast. Sore throats get tea with honey, maybe headaches get a compress etc... Just taking their complaints seriously seems to make them feel better. Maybe I do spoil them a little but some mornings kids need spoiling. I like it when my husband gets his non-morning-person-self up out of bed and makes coffee for me before I wake up. It makes my day.

If they are still feeling really bad I'll keep them home and if they are borderline I'll send them to school. Their school is quite challenging and I don't like them to get behind. It's a gamble and sometimes they feel better and have a good day (win) and sometimes I have to pick them up a couple hours later (lose). I'm not a doctor, nor am I a psychic who can tell how the day will unfold so I have to make my best guess.... and try not to feel guilty if I'm wrong.


At 9:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband always takes a hard line and packs them off to school. But more than once he's gotten a call from the school nurse to come and pick up his child who just puked all over the nurse's desk.

At 10:29 AM, Blogger Shifra said...

I never know with my husband, he always tells me to send them, but when he's in charge he always let's them stay home or come to work with him. All bark and no bite :-)

At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend told me her mother had a strict policy. If you were home sick, you stayed in bed with toast and lukewarm juice. No playing games, no baking cookies. No nice food.

She says she and her siblings were NEVER sick!


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