Sam has been immunized, but apparently the vaccine is only 80-90% effective (so there’s something to look forward to, folks). His doctor recommended we isolate Sam (and Maggie) for two days, just to see what developed.
Quarantining your kids is tough. Nothing brings on the crazy for me more than being home bound with the kids for more than five consecutive hours. That’s a bummer, but there’s a bigger bother: sick kids make it tough for you to get to work.
And of course, Cliff was in Dallas.
Virtually every time our kids have gotten sick – like more than one day off work sick – it’s been while one of us was traveling for work. It’s as if Sam takes a look at our Google calendar, sees Cliff will be in Baltimore at the end of the month, and decides, “Okay. Stomach bug it is!”
It happened one time while I was on a work trip, sharing a hotel room with a colleague. Cliff called at six a.m. to say Sam was sick. He had to get to work that day, could I help find a friend who could care for Sam? So I locked myself in the hotel bathroom and began calling every stay at home parent I knew. Let me take this opportunity to apologize to anyone I might have woken up that day.
And then there are the days where you’re both in town and a child is sick: whose schedule gets forced to change?
Undoubtedly, there are parents out there who feel such great sympathy for their wheezing, poxy children that they feel no regret at calling their boss to say, once again, “Sorry, I can’t make it today.” I’m just not one of them. Sure, I want to take care of my kiddos, but I also want to take care of my task list. So in no way is this advice at all – because giving advice would somehow imply a level of expertise that I simply do not have – but here’s how we handle the “Who-Stays-Home?” decision making:
1. Advance planning: Sometimes your child shows up at the side of your bed at 3 a.m., reeking of vomit. Surprise! But sometimes, you send them to bed the night before with the suspicion that tomorrow isn’t going to go as planned. Develop a Plan B before you go to bed: look at your next day’s calendars, put Grandma on reserve, respond to a few urgent work emails. If things go better than expected, terrific. If not, at least you don’t have to formulate a sick day plan at 6 a.m.
2. Triage: When it becomes apparent that Sam or Maggie has a sick day on the docket, the first thing we do is assess the urgency of our calendars: if Cliff only has a few phone calls and I have a pressing deadline, it’s his turn. Easy enough, right?
But of course, sometimes you both have nasty days. For that, we keep a short list of friends who have a hard time saying no.
3. Shift Change: Since we’re lucky enough not to be bound to an office every day, Cliff and I can sometimes cover a sick day by trading off: he takes the morning, I’m home in time for him to work the afternoon. The logistics are tough but manageable.
4. Recovery: When one of us does take a day off to care for a sick Sam, the one who went to work tries to get home early. When Cliff does this, it allows me to squeeze in an hour of work at the end of the day – returning urgent emails, etc., so that I can start fresh the next day.
Turns out, Sam probably didn’t have chicken pox after all. But it took two days off work last week to figure that out. That’s one more hurdle we’ve cleared. Now if we can just avoid the stomach bug going around at the babysitter’s …