Bracing for the storm

Avian pox - skin affected (chicken)

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Whenever I hear of a potential snowstorm, I always think about families with school age children. I imagine the children giddy with excitement, sleeping with fingers crossed. Then I imagine the parents, up late in the evening deep in negotiations about who would take the day off. Perhaps they are panicked and already calling local babysitters, grandparents or friends.  Perhaps they are lucky enough to work for a progressive company that allows them to work from home.  Even then, they are still probably strategizing about how they can possibly get work done and be responsive with stir-crazy kids running around the house.

This is exactly how I feel when I hear about contagious illnesses going around at our daycare center.  It’s always the same.  If it’s not your child who is sick, a notice is sent home saying that a child in such-and-such classroom has such-and-such illness.  There is often a helpful flyer attached, outlining symptoms and reminding parents that we cannot drop off our child if he has a fever, or is vomiting, or is covered with oozing sores.

Within one week, we received three notices for:  (1)  hand, foot and mouth disease, (2) chicken pox, and (3) head lice.  P and I have debated the relative merits of each.  Out of the three, he’d probably be most horrified with the lice situation.  He’s already talked about shaving the girls’ heads if they get it (this is the one time I can be grateful that they barely have any hair on their heads).  P did not go to public school most of his life and apparently never lived through the experience of everyone having to put their coats/hats in plastic bags on their coathooks.  I’m not alone on that one, right?  There’s also the social stigma that you and your children are presumed dirty, and people gossip that you are also an animal hoarder and turned down an offer for a TLC reality show.   Finally, there’s the sheer exhaustion of not only having to de-louse the family, but also washing, vacuuming and bagging every soft item in your house.

I’ve already done some preparatory research on this one, and was thrilled to find out that you can OUTSOURCE lice removal!  This is a definitely a problem that I’d be happy solving by throwing some money at it.   I’ve also learned that tea tree oil is a natural “deterrent” to lice.  For what it’s worth, I’ve bought out Target’s entire stock of California Baby Tea Tree and Lavender Shampoos.  Finally, I am going to ask the daycare director why on earth the Toddler 3 classroom has what B affectionately calls “the hat box” where all the children’s hats are thrown in willynilly to teach the children how to locate their own outdoor gear.  Seriously, am I the only person who ever had to do the bag the coat and hat thing at school???

Personally, I would have thought chicken pox was the worst.  I’ve never had it, and I don’t think any of the three children are fully immune.  O’s never been immunized (you have to be 12 months old), and neither E nor B have had the booster you receive at four years old.  And I’ve heard that getting the Pox is 1000 times worse when you are an adult.  At the end of my last pregnancy,  I learned more than I ever wanted to know about the Pox and shingles after my midwife went into panic mode when someone I work with was diagnosed with shingles.  And, for the record, I now have medical proof that I have NO immunity to the Pox.  Mom.

Unfortunately, it was a friend of mine’s baby who got the Pox.  And she had to stay out of day care for ten days.  I am planning to return to work on Monday after having been out for over SIX WEEKS; any of us getting the Pox would probably be tantamount to having my personal items currently in my office shipped home to me with a note thanking me for my service.  Of one month. Every time I’ve seen any spot on me or Owen, I’ve freaked out and totally analyzed it.  O had scratched himself on his nose, and I had what could actually be a tiny stretch mark.  Sorry, TMI sidenote, but how is it possible that I have had three pregnancies and never had a single stretch mark and now suddenly developed one after my baby is five months old???? 

So, while we would’ve voted for hand, foot and mouth disease (which is also our Pediatrician’s “favorite” because, and I quote, it is a “sign of fall”), I’m now starting to back off it as a preferred issue.  A mom friend recently recanted her tale of its intrusion on her family.  Apparently, you get all these sores in your throat that make it impossible to drink anything.  In her mind, all three afflictions are equally bad.  I don’t know, but that sounds like at least one more trip to Childrens Hospital to me whereas the others you probably recover at home.

And so we all wait and brace for the storm.  With three kids in full-time day care, one or more is bound to be sick at any given time.  As one of my Facebook friends noted in her status update today:  “There is no fear in life greater than that of a healthy parent in a house full of stomach bugs.”  Or, in my case: there is no fear in life greater than that of a working parent who has been on disability for over six weeks in a brand new job in a daycare full of sick children.

Keep your fingers crossed for us.  As my sister said to me last week:  2012 can be someone else’s crappy year!

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