I remember a time when people used to pretend to be sick in order to get a day off work or school. Now, however, it would seem that people are pretending to be well in order to go to work or school. It’s a bizarre new phenomenon and one I struggle to understand. I mean there you are sitting at your desk or toiling away in your laboratory or in close contact with colleagues over a design tableau and they are coughing, spluttering and sneezing all over you. There’s no doubt that the germs will be passed around and around until everyone succumbs and there’s no one left standing. People, if you’re sick, you’re sick. Stay at home, away from the rest of us and when you’re better you’ll be welcomed back with open arms, or at least as much enthusiasm as usual.
Obviously, when you’re self employed or not paid for sick leave it’s potentially a different story. It can be very tough indeed to take some time out to look after yourself. But, speaking from experience, it’s worth it, both for your own health and that of the people you share a work space with.
These days the city Mayor awards certificates to children who attend school all year without missing even one day. Every child likes a reward and with the added bonus of seeing their photograph in the paper, this award is something they strive for. It would appear that this is something that parents strive for too. Maybe they see it as a testament to their success at this parenting lark. Every day they manage to get the children dressed in their uniform and presented at the gates in time before rushing off to work or the gym or home. A little sniffle? They’ll be fine. A bit of a temperature? A quiet day in school will sort them out, but they mustn’t ruin their chances of getting that award.
Is it really that important and what it is actually teaching our children? Dedication is all very admirable but are children insisting on turning up to school when they are sick or are parents sending them in with their eyes on the prize? I firmly believe that they need to learn to listen to their bodies and understand the message they are being sent. Sometimes, if you’re sick you’re sick and you need to rest. If they don’t hear this now then they will turn into those beloved colleagues who absolutely insist on rocking up to work white faced and miserable spreading the germs for all to share and taking out half the office in the process. As a working parent myself, believe me I understand only too well what an absolute nightmare it is when you hear that groan during the night or look at that white face across the breakfast table. But sometimes a child is unwell and needs a little time out.
Now, I’m all for rewarding children for making an effort but this is not really about effort or achievement for that matter. It’s a lottery to be honest. For those children with immune systems of steel, congratulations, we reward you. Well done on getting through another year, where, through sheer force of will, you have managed to avoid picking up a nasty bug. What a pity it is for those poor souls who have any medical issues or are just super talented at picking up germs and bugs. They are unlikely to ever hear their name called by the Mayor and can only watch each year as their healthier classmates get the coveted prize. I hate to see a child sidelined for any reason and this just doesn’t sit well with me at all. Now, obviously there may be a small number of parents who disappear on term time holidays but that’s a different problem and a whole other conversation.
None of my three have ever received that certificate and to be honest I don’t feel like we’ve missed out. Instead I have spent mornings with them curled up in bed or wrapped up on the couch encouraging them to sleep or watching movies when I should be attending to precious work issues but that’s family life for you. So apologies to my boss and the school principals but if we’re under the weather we’re very firmly staying put until we can face our responsibilities again.