Sick Kid Stays Home

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Categories Medical, Parenting, School

This morning started out a little hectic. I’d failed to turn on the alarm clock before I went to bed. M was the one to wake us with her wails. “It’s past 7:00. We’re going to be tardy! Why didn’t you wake us, Mommy? This is all your fault.”

I told her that I thought we could still make it to school by 7:45.

“No, I can’t do this. I can’t do this!” M continued to scream. 7-year-olds are nothing if not dramatic.

I reminded M that she had informed us just yesterday that she was a problem-solving genius. We could solve this problem. I pulled my twin daughters’ winter clothes off the shelf at the top of their closet. A cold front came in last night, dropping our high temperatures for the day 20°F overnight. I pulled M’s pants on while she grabbed a shirt, then switched to J to help her with a shirt. Each kid was handed a sweatshirt and two granola bars. I handed M a hairbrush and sent J to the bathroom to brush her teeth.

They would have switched tasks, except that when I departed to pull on my own sweatpants (thank goodness that it’s my work from home day!), M came running to me. “J’s throwing up, Mommy! J’s sick!”

Sure enough, J was retching into the bathroom sink. M gagged at the sight of her, but managed to avoid joining in the festivities. I helped J rinse out her mouth, handed her a bowl and towel, and ushered both kids into the car. Somewhere in there I managed to get pants and a shirt on, although I’m unsure how that came to pass. Bras are for sissies, right? Or at least not for working from home.

We were on the road at our regular time, even though M did have to work on her teeth with one of the disposable toothbrushes I keep in the car for days like this. I didn’t account for the rain. Mommy fail. The line of cars dropping kids off at school was several blocks long. We didn’t park until 7:50, giving us plenty of time to talk in the car.

M was frightened and worried. Was J going to get a fever? Would she throw up more? How much school would she miss? What if she felt worse? I told M that I would call her teacher if J took a turn for the worse. If she didn’t hear from me, she could assume that J was the same or better. That seemed to satisfy her. She did ask to be picked up immediately after school instead of going to afterschool care, which seemed a reasonable request.

When we went into the office, the front desk staff, including one of my daughters’ best friend’s mom, told the girls to rush to class. They wouldn’t be considered tardy because they were aware of the traffic backup. I asked what I needed to do to let them know that J would be staying home, since she was throwing up. I would just need to bring in a note on the day that she returned to school.

On the drive home, J sat with her bowl in her lap and observed that it felt weird to be in the car without M. I had to agree with her when Katy Perry’s “Roar” came on the radio. M usually sings along. J tried to fill in for her, but her singing hasn’t quite reached M’s level of tonality yet.

As soon as we got home, J threw up again, then apologized for making me clean the sink. I told her that it didn’t bother me at all; I just wanted her to feel better. After a while, she felt up to a few bites of dry Rice Crispies. I’ve let J have a lot of screen time today to be able to have work time myself, although it’s hard to focus when I’m snuggled up with her, thinking every breath portends another vomiting session.

We’ll see how M did at school by herself. After all, while M doesn’t feel the need to be in the same classroom as J, she does need to know that she’s okay. J hasn’t asked about M. My kids are getting bigger and more independent. I like it.

When one kid is sick, do you send the others to school or daycare?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at and Multicultural Mothering.

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Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 10-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. They live in the Austin, TX suburbs, where Sadia works full time in information technology. She contributes to a number of parenting websites and magazines and also runs The Mommy Blogging Guide, where she answers mommy bloggers' technical questions.

2 thoughts on “Sick Kid Stays Home”

  1. When my daughters started preschool they passed everything around to one another (and me!) so I would typically keep all four home. By the second year of preschool I only kept kids home if they showed any symptoms. As they’ve grown they don’t all necessarily get sick if one is sick. It was certainly an adjustment for them the first time I sent three to school and kept one home but in the end the ones who weren’t sick were happy to go to school and do something fun. Hopefully M was able to concentrate on school and will come home full of stories to share with J.

  2. We only have a year of preschool under our belts, but we did have a couple of times when one of my girls was sick and the other wasn’t. It was never a second thought for me; I took the well child to school and stayed home with the sick one. The only case I could see for doing this differently would be if the sick child were far too ill to go along for the car ride to school and back.

    I was so surprised when a local fellow twin mom said that if one of her girls is sick, she keeps them both home. “They would be devastated not to be together,” she told me.

    I haven’t made the decision on whether to put our girls in the same classroom in Kindergarten — that largely depends on which school system I choose — but I feel like it’s been a really positive experience the couple of times we’ve been able to have one girl at school by herself. Both my girls have handled it really well.

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