When Your Child Gets Sick

Photo courtesy iStockphoto.com

I was only a few minutes into the warm-up during a fitness class at the gym when my phone rang.  It was the nurse at my daughter’s school.

“Mrs. Cheng?  Megumi is sick and she wants you to come pick her up.”

Why now?  She was a bit dizzy this morning but thought she was going to be fine, so this couldn’t be too serious.  I was just starting one of my favorite classes, looking forward to burning a lot of calories with a group of other like-minded fitness fanatics like me.  Can’t Meg take a nap in the school nurse’s office for the next 57 minutes?

Other moms all nodded around me in sympathy.  We’ve all been there — when our kids get sick, our own plans go completely out the window.

If you’re a parent and have ever had your child get sick without warning (as if they ever give us any warning!), you know the drill.  Time to cancel that appointment, lunch plans, workout, haircut, and shopping.

It gets more complicated when I have very important plans.  The irony is that the more important the task, the higher the likelihood that one of my kids wakes up with a fever.

Even with careful planning and a backup plan to cover my backup plan, things still sometimes fall apart.  The babysitter can’t make it.  My sister’s flight is delayed.  My mother moves to Hawaii (this really happened!).  “Honey, it’s your turn to call in sick,” I yell to my husband, only occasionally with positive results.  Can’t he see that I really, really need my haircut?

It’s bad enough if the child is sick during the day, but it’s even worse when your kid is sick all night.  It’s especially rigorous when there are stomach issues involved.  Until our kids were about 5, they were somehow unable to notify us of the pending urge to upchuck.  I have laundered a lot of sheets and beach towels in the middle of the night.  It was my goal to get my kids to aim into a bowl before they started kindergarten, and I succeeded.

Fortunately, I have not had a full-time 9-to-5 job since we’ve had kids.  However, I have seen many desperate working parents do things to sneak sick kids into school — rubbing their runny noses dry (which is rather temporary), loading them up with Tylenol to mask the fever, and giving them cough medicine to stop their hacking.  I understand their difficult dilemma, but then the illness spreads like wildfire throughout the campus, multiplying the problem for even more working parents.

As much as I complain about my life being inconvenienced by the illnesses of my children, I can assure you that I don’t mind tending to them at all.  I love knowing that with a tender touch, some chicken soup, and a big dose of prayer, I am helping my kids feel a little better.

As for my morning workout, I decided to be a decent mom after all and go get Meg at school.  I left mid-workout, but not without telling everyone around me to save my spot.  They laughed.  I walked into the nurse’s office to get my daughter who was lying on the bed.  She looked relieved to see me.  She was not feigning her dizziness and had to be steadied to the car.

“My teacher and the nurse asked me if I was having ‘girl trouble,’ but I’m not,” stated my 12-year.  She also told me that she couldn’t believe how many students stop by the nurse’s office all morning, thus proving my point about desperate parents and their sick children.

I dropped her off at home, encouraging her to drink some fluids and go back to bed.  I also asked her to keep a bowl nearby.  Good thing I live close to both the gym and the school, because I was back within 22 minutes flat to a room full of incredulous people.

“Thanks for saving my spot,” I said to my friends, and I continued my workout.

I love being a mom.

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Ever sneak in sick kids to nurseries, childcare, or schools?  Tell me about your experience!