(By D. Hanousek)
"This germ is your germ. This germ is my germ."
As my three-year-old son lays passed out on the couch after throwing up three times this morning, I realize that I have a confession to make. I don't care if my kid gets your kid sick.
Sure, I kept my son home from preschool today—for him, not for you. Think about all those times your boss told you to go home from work wen you were sneezing, sporting red, goopy eyes, and coughing up a lung onto the conference table. You boss was right. But not because you should protect your colleagues from the plague you're spreading in the communal bathroom. You should go home when you're sick because you are sick and need to rest to get better. (Your colleagues are going to get sick anyway. And you look gross.)
Now, when it comes to kids in San Francisco, all you have to do is go to a playground where one kid has a runny nose to see how most parents react to kid germs. You may see other parents giving nasty looks to the parent of said snotty child, or coaxing their children to another part of the playground. The most awesome passive-aggressive SF parent breaks out the hand sanitizer and after slathering his or her child, offers the rest of the life-saving salve to the parent of the snotty child. They are, of course careful not to touch the parent in the transaction, saying, “No need to return it. It's yours.” Other parents simply state, “You know, your child has a runny nose,” as if you had no idea and also, did you know, DID YOU KNOW, you are responsible for spreading illness? (My guess that many of these parents are also anti-vaccine, but, don't even get me started on that.) You're in a public playground. There are germs on every square inch of that place! It's not one child's fault, so why point fingers?
This morning, after setting my son down on the couch in clean jammies, a sippy cup filled with watered-down juice, and Gnomeo and Juliet, I promptly posted on Facebook that I was home with my son who puked his brains out in the car a mere block from his preschool. The first comment was from a friend we had seen over the weekend. She felt horrible because she thought that her son had gotten my son sick. Now I felt bad. It wasn't her fault. It wasn't her son's fault. Maybe the germs did come from their house, but the fact is, kids get sick. And they're going to get sick either this week, next week, or the week after that. You can't avoid it. You just deal with it.
Germs are out there. Even in the most pristine homes, schools, and businesses. If you think that my kid got your kid sick because they played with the same Legos a few days ago, I don't care. You should focus your energy on helping your child to feel better, not griping about other peoples' parenting.