This week one of my children has been poorly with a throat infection, this has lead to me not going to the studio to work on my orders of dog paintings, more snuggle up at home administering Calpol, Nurofen & Antibiotics. Today she is 90% better. Before leaving for work this morning, my husband muttered something about his concern of resilience in children... it got me thinking....
When my babies were born one of my studio-sisters (whose children are 10 years older than my own) gave me some really precious advice. She said that being a self-employed creative, I have the self-starting gene. This means that I have the ability to self-start projects, shows, etc, etc and although I was running my own business, I should never begrudge my children their school holidays or illness days when I need to down tools and be at home with them.
I've thought much about this piece of advice over the years. The days when I am simply itching to get to the studio to work but my children need me to be at home - those 6 weeks of summer, 3 weeks of Easter, half terms, illness days and other. True to my dear friend's advice, I have done my best to never make them feel bad and arranged my work accordingly, sometimes through gritted teeth admittedly.
I am blessed that my children haven't encountered mega-illnesses and of course, am thankful for this every day. So, talking more about the everyday illnesses our children inevitably get through childhood - how tough are you at making them go to school and get on with it? I have a feeling I'm a bit of a softie.
Apparently, the average attendance per school year is 95%. A quick read through of Mumsnet posts on this subject suggests there are some pretty military mums & dads out there who are super hot on not having days off. No screens or TV on a day off school - which discourages the youngster from skiving unless properly ill due to utter boredom and no days off unless really poorly.
Over time, this naturally sends great messages to our offspring about dealing with everyday life and getting on with it. A teacher can't let down 30 kids because of a sniffle, parking their workload onto other already stretched staff that will need to cover their lessons as well (Carl is a teacher so I know a bit about it - he's had zero days of in his 4 years of his current job). But where is that fine line between giving your child day off to rest in order to knock the illness on the head - and being way too lenient?
Speaking only for myself, I come from the line of thinking that kids need to rest early in the appearence of an illness. As a family, used to have weekends that I scored out on our wall diary in a thick red pen. These weekends were our 'not getting dressed' weekends. Complete rest. Taken mainly in the winter, these weekends were about watching films, eating good enjoyable food together and lounging like a pack of lions from one room to another. Now my children are older I'm not so in command of them and these weekends occur more happenstance than being forced, perhaps once every 2 or 3 months.
You always know I think. Deep in your tummy about whether your child should rest at home or be at school, organised play dates, etc. Apart from the obvious, such as are they as white as a ghost, temperature readings, pain, etc. I think my tummy gives me some pretty good feedback about if rest is needed. One day off can save a week off. One day rest, with medication (obvs not always needed) can see a bug off - rather than developing into the whole shebang bringing the family down with it too.
The only time I really chanced it was when my son was about 2 - he looked pale but was still chatty and bubbly. We were going to the party of the century with all our mates. Dorms were organised for the children, baby monitors installed and dinner supremo was being prepared by the hosts. I knew in my tummy it was probably not a good idea and to my knowledge, this is the only time I haven't listened to my intuition.
On arrival to this much anticipated party, like, just inside the front door of our friend's beautiful home, my son projectile vomited all over the freshly installed Farrow & Ball hallway wallpaper - this he continued to do so for the rest of the night, leaving us seriously un-partying locked away in an upstairs bedroom, not wanting to put him through the 2hr drive home through the night. Embarrassed was not the word and of course, over the next couple of weeks, everyone fell foul of the bug he had literally bought to the party. The shame, the shame.
There are of course rules and regulations about school attendance and for good reason, you can find them all over the net, and the odd times I have needed to speak to the attendance officer at school, they have been super-helpful and reassuring so if you are worried, call them and chat it over.
I have no illusions that 'Mother Knows Best' and of course, illness can strike in many stealth ways - the thought keeps me awake at night. My share here is about everyday gripes, bugs, colds, sore throats and the ilk. If you are concerned about other illnesses, please speak with your GP - 99.9% of them are lovely.
So, over to you dear reader - where is your fine line? I'd love to know.