We’ve basically made it through the first month of school, and it’s usually around this time of year that I start to ask myself: who are these asshats sending their sick kids to class?

I’ve learned to accept the fact that the first two weeks are germ central.  Kids leave the wide open spaces of summer behind and are clustered into classrooms, where they’re soon busy touching every single thing within reach.  Within twenty minutes you have germs everywhere and hundreds of little incubators ready to carry them back out into the world.

I realize that the first few weeks are going to be full of sniffles and such, but once we’re into September I expect things to settle down.  Kids catch coughs and colds and that’s just life, but some of the junk floating around their rooms right now is ridiculous.

My face when your germy kids breathe all over mine.
My face when your germy kids breathe all over mine.

Let’s take Johnny as an example.  By 9:00am he’s got his head down on his desk, eyes glassy and clearly feeling miserable.  You can’t tell me your child popped out of bed bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to tackle the day, only to be a limp, clammy noodle at his desk an hour later.  Doesn’t happen.

Kids who are that sick act puny at breakfast, barely nibbling a thing and looking like death on toast. But their parents have work or appointments or (for any number of reasons) they don’t want their plans disrupted, so they tell the kid to tough it out and drop them off at school.

I get it.  You’ve got a schedule to keep, things that need to get done, and unexpectedly having a sick kid out of school screws it all up.  There’ve been times when this has happened at our house – I’d have a dozen things on my day’s To Do list when a kid wakes up feverish or puking.  Suddenly my brain’s exploding because my plans just went right out the window.

But that’s the gig.

Parenting turns your life upside down and inside out all the time, often for reasons far less important than sickness, but having kids means you’re willing to do what it takes.  Even if that means rescheduling two of your own appointments, blowing off a mountain of laundry, and putting everything on hold to dose Tylenol and supply saltines all day long.

When another family doesn’t pull their share of the load and sends their kid to suffer at school, they’re dumping the germs into the community pool.  Suddenly my kid is exposed to whatever crappola yours is carrying around, and one of several things happens.

If we’re lucky, it’ll be nothing.  My kid’s stellar immune system glances at your kid’s germs and body checks them across the room.  Slightly less lucky (for me), my kid becomes a carrier.  No, she won’t get sick, but she’ll tote the germs around school, further infecting the student body.  Even worse, she’ll carry the damn things home to me, and my immune system sucks.  All someone has to do is sneeze in my general direction and I’m buried in tissues for days.

Worst case scenario?  Your kid’s sick, and now mine is, too.  Eventually the school will end up sending your kid home so your life’s going to hell anyway, but like a powerful riptide you’ve pulled me out to sea with you.  Now my house is a germ cesspool with a bug running rampant, one that will most likely sweep at least three of us off our feet.

So for the love of all things holy, suck it up and accept the fact that life has handed you a time out. That as inconvenient as it might be, you’re going to have to adapt until your kid pulls out of the hole.

I’m pretty sure that’s in the parenting handbook somewhere.