Dear Parents, Can We Please Agree on This?
Dear Parents, we’re all different.
And that’s (mostly) okay. Some of us are tiger-moms and others are unschoolers. Some of us were raised in a barn, and others went to boarding school. We’re all different, and there’s plenty of room in the world for different. Hell, I’m about as different as they come. As long as no one is getting hurt because of it, you do you. And while we may not all agree on the who/what/where/when/why and how of parenting, I think we can all agree on this: no one enjoys being sick. But guess what? It’s that time of year, again. I’m guessing you didn’t need a reminder.
Sick season is here.
With kids back in school, your kids (and you) are almost guaranteed to get sick. It’s estimated that healthy kiddos will be sick four to six times a year, and that average can be double for kids with compromised immune systems or those living with a smoker. That’s once per month during sick season for healthy kiddoes and double that for those who are compromised! And our society isn’t set up to deal with that on any level.
Schools and workplaces are not set up for people to be… human.
Only 76% of working people are guaranteed sick time. In our family, we are entitled to two weeks of sick time – that’s the equivalent of 10 business days. A “cold” is contagious for an average of 5-7 days, which means two colds in a year, and the sick days are GONZO (if you stay home for the entire contagious period, that is). That’s not a lot if you think about a family of 5.
I’m lucky to be a stay-at-home parent, but if I’m incapacitated during any of our family’s sick days, or my husband needs time (he’s in Biotech, so he actually can’t go to work sick), that cuts into the time we might need to take for medical visits and the like. Forget the need for mental health days or the random muscle spasms or migraines.
And then there’s school. Those policies aren’t set up to deal with sickness, either. They want you present, and they encourage this with awards and threats of truancy or falling behind. In their eyes, you’re good to go if you’ve been fever-free for 24 hours without medication. Cool, you could still be contagious.
What may be a cold to you, could be deadly to someone else.
Just think about the recent pandemic we all lived through. COVID-19 is in the same family of viruses as a typical cold and is still deadly. Who would’ve thought? Just last winter, my cousin lost her mother-in-law to a “cold”. She was fighting cancer, caught a cold, and within a week, she was dead. Now three little kids are out a loving grandparent, a husband is devasted, and two sons (and daughter-in-law) are missing her. I know not everyone loves their mother-in-law, but most people don’t want them to die from something completely preventable, either.
Our society is so polarized, that we’ve stopped thinking logically.
Beyond that, we have a vaccination fallacy in our culture. It goes something like this: “I’m vaccinated; therefore, I am not dangerous to others.” We’ve become so polarized that we’ve decided, as a society, that the unvaccinated among us are dangerous cotton-headed-ninny-muggins, and the vaccinated are safe, law-abiding citizens who care about others. I’m not here to dispute the life-saving advances of modern medicine and public health (clean water being my favorite), but let’s all take a step into a cool shower for just a second and think back to what we learned with COVID-19. In my MPH-dropout mind, there were two main takeaways that were pretty glaring:
- COVID-19 infection could look like a cold in some, and kill others. Bam.
- Those who were vaccinated were less likely to die from COVID-19, but could still transmit it to other people. Crazy. Business.