I'm not one of those parents who will pull their kids out of school for a ski trip. I even get worried about so-called "legitimate" reasons, like doctor or dentist appointments. In fact, one of the great ironies I've found is how while dental health is considered vitally important to school success, the whole "obtaining the dental health" requires school absences since the dental offices don't open until school starts and then close at 3pm, around the time most schools let out. A stat is floating around about how poor dental health is the #1 reason for absences, and yet regular preventative care also requires absences. Go figure. (It is nearing the end of February, with its heart-positive messages - so remember that there is a link between dental health and heart health!)
At any rate, Splig is home today, and it isn't because of a dentist appointment. Instead, he has a fever and an upset tummy. He vomited last night, although I brushed it off because his energy was high and his smile was bright, so I figured he was just too over-energized. This morning it was a different story.
Splig has been absent no other days this year, although did leave a tad early one day for an aforementioned dental appointment. Last year he was absent for two days because he split his chin open and required 17 stitches. It was not a fun situation, and we let the Cat stay home one day as well because he had been up all night while we were in the ER. Those absences definitely seemed justified.
But the sick-on-the-couch-with-a-fever absence makes me nervous.
No, I'm not saying that Splig is faking it, although he does look a little brighter now that he's had some clear soda and toast. Rather, there is definitely pressure to keep kids in school even when they are sick. (Ironically enough though, the school once called to tell me the Cat had vomited and I should bring him home, but I insisted it was nerves, so refused to pick him up. I was right.)
It is insane.
After all, if people kept their kids home to begin with, the whole yuck wouldn't spread as much. How much learning do the kids really experience if they are uncomfortable? And behavioral problems when kids are sick can be pretty disruptive. When parents send their sick kids to school they just perpetuate the whole sick-cycle.
Recovering from just a single day out can be extremely difficult. Thankfully Splig is only in 1st grade, so it isn't a big deal, but with every grade level the responsibility grows exponentially. I remember vividly a time that I was quite sick during junior high, and how long it took for me to "catch up." It is tough to have double-the-work when not quite 100% yet.
And then there is the whole parental-inconvenience angle. If a kid is sick, mom's appointments must go bye-bye. Of course, I'd put more weight into a pressing work meeting than a spa date, but various parents draw the line different places.
Some schools have "perfect attendance" rewards. Our particular school doesn't, and I am glad. Still, my kids know exactly how many days they've been absent, and the Cat was furious with me last year because he had that single absence from his brother's injury which meant he was no longer "perfect."
So Splig's record is "tarnished," although I'm willing to bet that had he gone to school he would have exhausted their supply of tissues at best, and created quite a mess for the custodian at worst. Plus, with his rather affectionate nature, I guarantee he would have passed on the bug to his friends.
I'm sure I made the right decision, but I know there are plenty of parents who wouldn't have dared let their child stay home today, particularly if they had a full schedule like I did. Of course, many of those same parents would happily pull their kid out for a ski vacay, so I shouldn't lose any sleep over it!