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I arrived at my local kid class center a few minutes early. I was doing a makeup. I usually go to the class during the day. This was an early evening makeup, though. Immediately, I saw him: The little boy lying on the floor in the corner. His eyes glassy, his nose snotty. He was coughing. He kept coughing. And coughing. And coughing. I finally couldn’t help myself. “Does he have a cold,” I asked his mom. “Yes, he does,” she said with a smile. Then she corralled him into the gym with the rest of the 18 to 30-month-old kids. I went in with a bit of trepidation. Within five minutes, though, I was boiling mad, and on my way home. The kid did not stop coughing the entire time we were in there. Not even for a second. Cough, cough, cough without the benefit of a crooked elbow to stop the spread of germs.

That mom was a working mom, and that may be one of the reasons her kid was out in public with a hacking cough. Before you get upset or think I am bashing working moms, remember I am a working mom, too. I just have the benefit of in-home childcare. When my kids get sick, I take care of them or have my mom or husband here. That mom? I would bet anything that that mom brings her kid to a daycare center. She’s probably used to lots of drippy nosed, coughing little kids being around her kid, so she had no problem whatsoever exposing my little girl to her kid’s germs. It’s how she survives. If working moms had to stay home every time their kids got sick they would never get to go to work. They would be home all the time. And I am not saying anything negative about having your child in daycare, or choosing one daycare option over another. But back to my kid and that Typhoid Mark (or whatever his name is).

Lady, I get the fact that you can’t keep your kid home from daycare when he is sick. I do. I work full-time, too, but I can make my own hours. Most of these blog posts and probably 75 percent of my paid writing is done between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. You probably have a job that you need to be at, hence the kid in daycare issue. Trust me, I thank God every day that I don’t have that problem. But you can keep your kid home from an optional event like a class, playdate or family gathering without getting in trouble with your boss. And just to reiterate: It’s not just working moms who are guilty of this type of indiscretion. I’ve heard SAHMs say that yes, they should have stayed home from this event or that one, but they just couldn’t STAND to be home with their kid another minute. That they needed to get out, and it was really just a little sniffle anyway.

Well, whether you’re a SAHM or a working mom: If your kid has green boogies flowing out her nose, and she can’t stop coughing, she should be home. Sorry, I don’t care if you’re going stir crazy or you don’t feel like dealing with a sad, disappointed kid. Take her to a park. Take her for a walk. Bring her somewhere that she can’t infect someone else. Keep her away from my kid.

Not sure if you should keep your kid home? Here are some common sense guidelines. Pass them along to the mom or dad you know who has none (common sense, that is). These come to you courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Public Health Association, which jointly published national illness exclusion guidelines in 1992, revising them in 2002. Kids should be free of these symptoms for a full 24 hours before mixing with other kids or until a doctor gives the okay.

  • Fever over 100.5 Fahrenheit; children must be fever-free for a full 24 hours.
  • Persistent diarrhea. (Meaning one or more loose stools and you should keep ‘em at home.)
  • Two or more episodes of vomiting
  • Any rash that has “open, weeping wounds.”
  • Pink or red conjunctiva with white or yellow eye discharge, often with matted eyelids after sleep.
  • Persistent, uncontrolled cough
  • Lethargy that is more than expected tiredness
  • Inexplicable irritability or persistent crying
  • Difficult breathing
  • Wheezing
  • Mouth sores with drooling

p.s. As of 11:54 a.m. ET: Some Facebook friends have said this post is especially harsh on working moms. As a child of a working mom (Dad died when I was six), I can remember going to school sick because my mom had no other choice. I have lived this. Of course I don’t think ALL working moms are thoughtless and careless, but some are. Some are, people. Just as some SAHMs are.

How do you deal with sick kids? Have you ever brought your sick kid somewhere that you shouldn’t have? What do you think of moms and dads who show such blatant disregard for other families? Enter the fray, people. Don’t be afraid…

4 Responses to “(Some) Working Moms Just Don’t Care”

  1. Melissa says:

    I work at the American College of Nurse-Midwives, which has the friendliest working parent policy I’ve ever seen. We’re able to bring our babies to work until they are 6 months old, and my coworkers occasionally bring their sick children to work with them. I suppose that’s a good middle ground when they’re just sick enough to not go to school, but not so sick that they can’t sit quietly and color or draw.

  2. Leslie says:

    I think it has nothing to do with daycare or working or non-working moms. I think it has to do with entitlement, and selfishness. There are a ton of selfish moms out there. This mom is obviously one of them.

    Working or SAH, women who want to do what they want do what they want. End of story. I’ll bet if that mom were a SAHM, she’d be at that class with her kid too.

    I can’t stomach that kind of person. I would never bring my child somewhere when I knew he was sick. But I see it all the time from all sorts of moms.

  3. sheri says:

    Not only do people do take their kid to unnecessary events when they are sick ALL the time, they take themselves out to unnecessary events when they are sick ALL the time. I often wonder what it is that is so important about going to the movies, or a concert, or Barnes & Noble when you are obviously sick. How can we expect parents to teach their kids to cough into their elbows when they don’t do it themselves? You have totally hit a nerve with me on this. In other societies they allow themselves to be sick and would never dream of going out, not only out of courtesy but also because they don’t feel well, why push?
    If you keep your kid home as much as possible when they are sick, they will get better faster! Rest, rest, rest, it is good for our bodies, and good for the soul.

  4. susandelg says:

    Hmmm. As a working mom, I have had the option of telecommuting when my daughter was sick. She was in a home-based daycare in a very loving environment, but the daycare provider, rightfully so, did not tolerate sick kids in her home. Green boogies were a big no no, and if they showed up during the day after she was dropped off, I always got a call to come and get her. A slight cough or runny nose was okay, but anything beyond that always warranted a call. A persistent cough would definitely have been cause for a pickup, and if I dropped her off like that, I would have gotten a nasty look and my diaper bag back immediately. My rule of thumb has always been if you’re too sick to go to school or daycare, you’re definitely too sick to go and do anything social. If I didn’t have a job that allowed me to have the flexibility to work from home, I’m not sure how I would have handled Joy being sick. It would have been much more challenging. But I can tell you definitely that I would not have gone to a class to expose other children to my obviously sick one. I don’t necessarily agree that that kind of lack of respect is an indicator of a working mother — I think it’s definitely an indicator of a person that I would not want to get know, though. I’ve canceled many a playdate and missed many events keeping Joy home while sick. That’s just plain courtesy. And PS, I know many SAHMs who would have brought the sick child to the class.

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