Are you sicker than a 5th grader?

This school year is off to a fine start. In four weeks, I’ve missed a combined five days of work nursing sick kids. That’s 1.25 days missed per week, and it’s still warm out. I can’t wait to see what January looks like. Maybe I’ll be lucky and get fired by then, so I can open up my in-home hospital ward full time. It’s too bad nurses don’t wear the traditional white uniform with the Red Cross cap anymore. I bet I would rock that outfit. Scrubs do nothing for my figure.

I used to tell my wife I would happily become the at-home parent once all the kids were in school. I should be careful what I joke about. Now that all the kids are in school, I am being sucked into at-home parenthood whether I like it or not. This is not our best case scenario, as we’re a family that needs two incomes more than ever. Furthermore, we will continue to need two incomes until forever.

The snot and puke season normally starts around New Year’s Day and runs through the next New Year’s Eve, but it’s typically heaviest in the winter months. This year, we’ll be heading into those heavy months with a viral momentum. We’re really going to hit the ground puking.

I can’t decide between the casual, shirt sleeve frock (right), or the full, formal dress uniform (left) for my new school day outfit.

Aside from the normal viruses, we have in the past year contracted Hand Foot and Mouth Disease and Impetigo. At first, I suspected the doctor was just making up these names, as I’d not heard of them before they came home from school. But it turns out they’re real diseases kids get in the 21st century.

I grew up in a little ranch house, crowded with seven siblings, in the 1970s. If you had to pick one decade to be especially disease infested, wouldn’t you guess the ‘70s? But I don’t remember any of us getting diseases like this. We got the pukes for a day, then went back to school the next. Or we caught a cold and went to school anyway. Nobody caught anything you had to actually ask a doctor about. Our only spots were chicken pox.

I can’t remember any of us being down with the Flu. We might have had a cow with Hoof and Mouth Disease, but she kept that to herself. We once heard rumors of a kid, two towns over, getting Strep, but we couldn’t verify it since we rarely went more than one town over in our travels. It sounded bad though. Strep seemed like the Black Death to us. Now, my kids celebrate the Vernal Equinox with a case of Strep each year.

Is my memory bad or are kids sick more often now than we were 40+ years ago? If so, why? Is it all the anti-bacterial soap? Should we go back to washing their mouths out with good old fashioned lye soap?

Maybe instead of going to the pharmacy so often, we need to spend more time reaching under cows.


21 comments on “Are you sicker than a 5th grader?

  1. beth says:

    I’m a pre-k/kindy teacher so my immune system is pretty built up but there is always a new mutation

  2. floatinggold says:

    Maybe you will get all the illnesses out of the way NOW and the actual winter will be better?
    I have no idea why things are different now, compared to before. I received awards for not missing a single day of school for YEARS in a row. I wasn’t able to stay at home unless I was really sick.

    • That’s a nice thought, but I’m not holding my breath on winter being better.
      My kids lost their chances for perfect attendance awards in the first week of school. Well, I guess the pressure’s off now.

  3. thegsandwich says:

    The good news is it’s not lice, which is the worst. Anything is better than three weeks of nitpicking, even cleaning up vomit. Do you remember the Swine Flu? My kid was one of the first to come down with that, and now we’re all worried about EEE (Eastern Equine Encyphalitis), which is carried by misquotes and nearly always fatal. People are being advised to stay inside, particularly at dawn and dusk until the first frost. So chin up Dad. Things could be worse.

  4. GoofyEd says:

    In my opinion, a prime reason for spreading germs is not enough parents like you. You sacrifice pay for your boys. To many other parents send their kids to school ‘cause they’re too busy to do otherwise…or they don’t even know their child is “contagious”. Maybe LaRay can get you a white coat from the supply closet at LAC.

  5. Gibber says:

    Well that just sucks. Here’s hoping your regular sick season is a well season this year.

  6. AmyRose🌹 says:

    It’s not your imagination, Scott, that kids are sicker today then they were 40 years ago. I could write a book why. Throw in depleted soils, polluted air and water, and this craze about diseases that is actually creating super bugs. Yep, and that is only for starters.

  7. Margy says:

    In days of yore (when I was a kid or when I had kids) there was no immunization for measles, mumps or chicken pox. No flu shots. They were all just illnesses everyone eventually got. Some things made you sicker than others, but we didn’t try to keep kids from being exposed to or from getting any of those things.

    Is that the difference from today? Did we develop a better immune system from having had all those things than what kids have now from not having had some of those things? Perhaps, or perhaps not..

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