The sickness blame game
Who do you blame when your kids brings bugs home?
Sick again? That’ll teach you for staying at home from work, you mutter into your weak tea. You were perfectly fine, two days ago, but then 24 hours in the same house as your toddler with the streaming nose has left you crippled. Of course, he’s fine, now, but you’re back at the office, and your colleagues are sending you dagger-looks.

When you have children, it’s very hard not to blame them when you start feeling sick. Particularly if it’s something like chicken pox, which thought you had as a child, but that must’ve been one of the other rash-things. Measles, perhaps.  After a few days off work looking after your kid, you use up the last of what was your leave so you can sit, hunched, surrounded by balled-up tissues.

Think about it, though: You send your child into a seething hot-bed of germs. No matter how many vitamins you may be plying him with, he’s bound to pick up some of the bugs from his classmates. He’s going to get sick, and, when he does, it’s not all that fair to blame him when he passes it on to you.

I once had a mom get upset with my son for “giving her child chicken pox”. It was as if she thought it came gift-wrapped and with his name written on it. Sure, almost the entire class went through it, but her own child’s bug came directly from mine. I don’t think I ever managed to stop reciprocating the resentment that mom showed my son.

One of the hardest parts of parenting is getting sick. Many moms will tell you, as they sob into their Marmite toast (which is all they’ve been able to keep down for three days), that moms just don’t get sick. Wait, scrap that: They can’t get sick. After all, who’d cook, and clean, and fetch, and run baths, and so on, and so on? Same with dads., depending on the division of labour, of course.

There are negotiations to be had: I stayed off last time, when the kid had flu, now you can ease him through his projectile vomiting. Yes, I understand that you’re the keynote speaker at the conference, but I have to get my annual report to The Boss. Those conversations.

And when one of you has lost the stay-at-home-with-sick-kid discussion, and your child (who is now quite perky and asking for treats while Barney is on repeat) has settled down to an impromptu holiday, the resentment can build up.

Even more so, when you just KNOW that the puke-covered mattress is about to make you feel like a victim of the plague, but your little world isn’t going to pause long enough for you to rest.

Trouble is, that’s just one of what those eternal optimists (the liars!) call “the joys of parenting”. You can all go get the flu injection, eat vitamins like Smarties or keep your house as spotless as an operation theatre, but the bugs will get through.

Just don’t blame the kid. He isn’t Ground Zero for all illnesses.  And, shame, he looks so helpless when he really is sick, that it’s hard to maintain a heart of stone. Poor kid.

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