Every year, on the first day of school, I would review sign-out procedures for going to the restroom or the bubbler. There was one type of situation that didn’t require my permission in advance of the departure. Sign-out was unnecessary if a child felt like they were going to throw up since I had a “no puking in the classroom” rule. From day one, all a student who felt nauseated would have to do is cover their mouth and make a run for the door. As long as someone saw them, they could leave. We knew where they were going. If they didn’t return from the bathroom within a couple of minutes (to ask to go to the nurse), then someone would go and look for them.
In the time I taught fourth and fifth grade, no child every threw up in my classroom. Kids were known to have thrown up on the way to the bathroom. Heck, one even vomited on the threshold of the door. But no one ever threw up in Ms. Shubitz’s classroom. It was a streak even the kids were proud of on my last day as a classroom teacher.
I have been really fortunate, as a parent, to have had a child who has only thrown up twice — until today. Today saw more vomit than I care to think about. (Isabelle threw up twice before 8 a.m. and once after we tucked her into her bed this evening.) As I sat there mopping up vomit, washing her face, spraying carpet cleaner on the floor, and doing laundry, I was reminded there is no truer love than the love we show our children when they’re sick. I loved my students, but I don’t think I could’ve ever handled from any of them what I cleaned up from my own child today. (I did have three students throw up on a field trip to the Lower East Side once. I was quite proud of myself for not throwing up on one of them as he puked into a paper bag beside me. I took the three of them into a coffee shop to get washed up, but fortunately they were old enough to clean themselves up.)
On top of Isabelle’s stomach bug, she also had a 103.2 degree fever this afternoon. Needless to say I canceled her speech and OT for tomorrow. While I’m hoping she’ll be back at preschool on Wednesday (since I have to be in two different schools that day), I won’t send her to school to:
a) make other kids sick, or
b) be miserable while I’m gone a whole day.
We shall see what tomorrow brings, but I have a feeling I will be rescheduling my writing workshop visits for another day. And that’s the other thing about having kids… they make you realize what is really important. Yes, I have a commitment, but when you’re the only childcare option (i.e., my parents and in-laws live out of state), your sick child comes first.